T h e G o d d e s s
A t h e n a
i n H o m e r ' s
O d y s s e y ( 15 )
But the suitors on the other side
shouted aloud in the living room, and first Agelaus, son of Damastor, rebuked
-Mentor, let not Ulysses beguile
you with his words to fight against the suitors and bear aid to himself.
 For in this wise, it seems
to me, shall our will be brought to pass: when we have killed these men,
father and son, thereafter shall you too be slain with them, such deeds
are you minded to do in these living rooms: with your own head shall you
pay the price.
But when with the sword we have
stripped you of your might,  all the possessions that you has within
doors and in the fields we will mingle with those of Ulysses, and will
not suffer your sons or your daughters to dwell in your living rooms, nor
your faithful wife to fare at large in the city of Ithaca.
So he spoke, and Athena
waxed the more wroth at heart,  and she rebuked Ulysses with
-Ulysses, no longer has you steadfast
might nor any valor, such as was your when for high-born Helen of the white
arms you did for nine years battle with the Trojans unceasingly, and many
men you slew in dread conflict,  and by your counsel was the broad-wayed
city of Priam taken.
How is it that now, when you has
come to your house and your own possessions, you shrink with wailing from
playing the man, and that against the suitors?
Nay, friend, come to this place
and take your stand by my side, and see my deeds, that you may know what
manner of man  Mentor, son of Alcimus, is to repay kindness in the
middle of the enemy.
She spoke, but did not give him strength
utterly to turn the course of the battle, but still made trial of the might
and valor of Ulysses and his glorious son; and for herself,  she flew
up to the roof-beam of the smoky living room, and sat there in the guise
of a swallow to look upon.
 So he spoke, and they all hurled
their spears, as he bade, eagerly; but Athena
made all vain.
One man smote the door-post of the
well-built living room, another the close-fitting door, another's ashen
spear, heavy with bronze, struck upon the wall.
 But when they had avoided the
spears of the suitors, first among them spoke the much-enduring goodly
-Friends, now I give the word
that we too cast our spears into the throng of the suitors, who are minded
to slay us in addition to their former wrongs.
 So he spoke, and they all hurled
their sharp spears with sure aim.
Ulysses smote Demoptolemus, Telemachus
Euryades, the swineherd Elatus, and the herdsmen of the cattle slew Peisander.
So these all at the same moment bit
the vast floor with their teeth,  and the suitors drew back to the
innermost part of the living room. But the others sprang forward and drew
forth their spears from the dead bodies.
Then again the suitors hurled their
sharp spears eagerly, but Athena made them
vain, many as they were.
One man  smote the door-post
of the well-built living room, another the close-fitting door, another's
ashen spear, heavy with bronze, struck upon the wall. But Amphimedon smote
Telemachus on the hand by the wrist, a grazing blow, and the bronze tore
the surface of the skin. And Ctesippus with his long spear  grazed
the shoulder of Eumaeus above his shield, but the spear flew over and fell
upon the ground.
Then once more Ulysses, the wise
and crafty-minded, and his company hurled their sharp spears into the throng
of the suitors, and again Ulysses, the sacker of cities, smote Eurydamas,
and Telemachus Amphimedon, the swineherd Polybus,  and thereafter
the herdsman of the cattle smote Ctesippus in the breast, and boasted over
-Son of Polytherses, you lover
of revilings, never more at all do you speak big, yielding to folly, but
leave the matter to the Gods, since really they are mightier far.
 This is your gift of welcome
to match the hoof which of late you gave to godlike Ulysses, when he went
begging through the house.
But Ulysses wounded the son of Damastor
in close fight with a thrust of his long spear, and Telemachus wounded
Leiocritus, son of Evenor,  with a spear-thrust full upon the groin,
and drove the bronze clean through, and he fell headlong and struck the
ground full with his forehead.
held up her aegis, the bane of mortals, on high from the roof, and the
minds of the suitors were panic-stricken, and they fled through the living
rooms like a herd of cows  that the darting gad-fly falls upon and
drives along in the season of spring, when the long days come.
And even as vultures of crooked talons
and curved beaks come forth from the mountains and dart upon smaller birds,
which scour the plain, flying low beneath the clouds,  and the vultures
pounce upon them and slay them, and they have no defense or way of escape,
and men rejoice at the chase; even so did those others set upon the suitors
and smite them left and right through the living room. And therefrom rose
hideous groaning as heads were smitten, and all the floor swam with blood.
First they bathed and put on their
tunics, and the women arrayed themselves, and the divine minstrel took
the hollow lyre and aroused in them the desire  of sweet song and
So the great living room resounded
all about with the tread of dancing men and of fair-girdled women; and
thus would one speak who heard the noise from without the house:
-Aye, really some one has wedded
the queen wooed of many.  Cruel she was, nor had she the heart to
keep the great house of her wedded husband to the end, even till he should
So they would say, but they knew
not how these things were.
Meanwhile the housewife Eurynome
bathed the great-hearted Ulysses in his house, and anointed him with oil,
 and cast about him a fair cloak and a tunic; and over his head Athena
shed abundant beauty, making him taller to look upon and mightier, and
from his head she made locks to flow in curls like the hyacinth flower.
And as when a man overlays silver
with gold,  a cunning workman whom Hephaestus and Pallas
Athena have taught all manner of craft, and full of grace is the
work he produces, even so the Goddess shed grace on his head and shoulders,
and forth from the bath he came, in form like unto the immortals.
Then he sat down again on the chair
from which he had risen,  opposite his wife; and he spoke to her and
-Strange lady! to you beyond all
women have the dwellers on Olympus given a heart that cannot be softened.
No other woman would harden her
heart as you do, and stand aloof from her husband who after many grievous
toils  had come to her in the twentieth year to his native land.
Nay come, nurse, strew me a couch,
that all alone I may lay me down, for truly the heart in her breast is
So she spoke, and in his heart aroused
yet more the desire for lamentation; and he wept, holding in his arms his
dear and true-hearted wife.
And welcome as is the sight of land
to men that swim, whose well-built ship Poseidon  has smitten on the
sea as it was driven on by the wind and the swollen wave, and but few have
made their escape from the gray sea to the shore by swimming, and thickly
are their bodies crusted with brine, and gladly have they set foot on the
land and escaped from their evil case; even so welcome to her was her husband,
as she gazed upon him,  and from his neck she could in no wise let
her white arms go.
And now would the rosy-fingered Dawn
have arisen upon their weeping, had not the Goddess, bright-eyed Athena,
taken other counsel.
The long night she held back at the
end of its course, and likewise stayed the golden-throned Dawn at the streams
of Oceanus, and would not suffer her  to yoke her swift-footed horses
that bring light to men, Lampus and Phaethon, who are the colts that bear
Then again the Goddess, bright-eyed
took other counsel.
 When she judged that the heart
of Ulysses had had its fill of dalliance with his wife and of sleep, straightway
she roused from Oceanus golden-throned Dawn to bring light to men; and
Ulysses rose from his soft couch, and gave charge to his wife, saying:
 -Wife, by now have we had
our fill of many trials, you and I, you here, mourning over my troublous
journey home, while as for me, Zeus and the other Gods bound me fast in
sorrows far from my native land, all eager as I was to return.
But now that we have both come
to the couch of our desire,  do you care for the wealth that I have
within the living rooms; as for the flocks which the insolent suitors have
wasted, I shall myself get me many as booty, and others will the Achaeans
give, until they fill all my folds; but I truly will go to my well-wooded
farm  to see my noble father, who for my sake is sore distressed,
and on you, wife, do I lay this charge, wise though you are.
Straightway at the rising of the
sun will report go abroad concerning the suitors whom I slew in the living
rooms. Therefore go you up to your upper chamber with your handmaids, 
and remain there. Look you on no man, nor ask a question.
He spoke, and girt about his shoulders
his beautiful armor, and roused Telemachus and the cowherd and the swineherd,
and bade them all take weapons of war in their hands.
They did not disobey, but clad themselves
in bronze,  and opened the doors, and went forth, and Ulysses led
By now there was light over the earth,
but Athena hid them in night, and swiftly
led them forth from the city.