20 Jan Homer: Odyssey: Book V: Odysseus And Calypso
For information concerning Sabidius’ previous translations of books of the “Odyssey”, the reader is referred to the introduction to his translation of Book VIII, published on this blog on 22 October 2019. Now, Sabidius has returned to the “Odyssey” in order to translate the whole of Book V, the first book in which Odysseus, himself, actually appears.
A brief summary of the content of this book is set out here. After a council of the gods in which Athene pleads to Jupiter that Odysseus should be released from his captivity on the island of Ogygia, Hermes is sent to tell the nymph Calypso that she must release Odysseus. This she does, after some reluctance, and Odysseus sails off in search of Ithaca in a ship he has built with Calypso’s help, but the sea-god Poseidon, still furious with Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, creates a huge storm, which wrecks his ship and nearly kills him. After he has surmounted great difficulties in the stormy sea, Odysseus is eventually carried ashore on the island of Scheria, where the Phaeacians live. He sinks to rest in a pile of leaves, from which at the beginning of Book VI he will emerge semi-naked to meet the beguiling Princess Nausicaa.
While Book V is not, perhaps, one of the best-known books of the “Odyssey”, it contains some remarkable passages, notably perhaps ll. 75-153, which describe Hermes’ visit to Calypso, and ll. 201-224, in which Calypso tries to persuade Odysseus to remain with her, and he explains why he is so set on going – both of these extracts were translated by Sabidius for publication on this blog as long ago as 17 September 2010. The second part of the Book, from about l. 262 onwards, is concerned with Poseidon’s vendetta against Odysseus and the terrible storm scenes, perhaps the most vivid in Homer. As is so often the case with storm scenes in classical literature, the verse is relatively challenging to translate, particularly when similes are involved.
Perhaps one of the surprising aspects of the “Odyssey” is the fact that Odysseus was allegedly ‘imprisoned’ on Ogygia for seven years, When you consider that it took him ten long years to get back to his native island of Ithaca, it is rather extraordinary that he spent as much as seven of them with Calypso. It is true that, when we first meet Odysseus on l. 151, he is sitting on the shore, weeping in misery, but we can hardly believe that such tears were flowing for all of those seven years. No, for much of that time, Odysseus’ imprisonment must have been consensual, and indeed even while he was building his ship, he still spent his nights enjoying sexual relations with the nymph. After all, Calypso is regularly described, with superlative force, as “δῖα θεάων”, the most divine of goddesses, quite a compliment indeed. So one’s feelings of sadness for Odysseus for his time spent with the lovely nymph are inevitably limited. And it is also worth remembering that during his earlier sojourn on the island of Aeaea with the goddess, Circe, his men became restless that Odysseus was so slow to move on.
Ll. 1-42. Zeus sends Hermes to Calypso.
Now Dawn arose from her bed beside the illustrious Tithonus to bring daylight to immortals and mortals; and the gods were seated in their assembly, and among them (was) the high-thundering Zeus, whose might is supreme. To them Athene was recounting the many woes of Odysseus, having recalled (them) to her mind – for it was a matter of concern to her that he was in the dwelling of the nymph (i.e. Calypso, who lived on the isle of Ogygia): “Father Zeus, and (all) the rest of (you) blessed gods that exist forever, let no sceptred king be deliberately gentle and kind, or keep his mind on what is right and proper, but let him always be harsh and work evil (deeds), seeing that not one of those people whom he ruled remembers divine Odysseus, and yet he was kind like a father (to them). But he lies inactive on an island, suffering grievous woes in the halls of the nymph Calypso, who keeps him (there) by force; and he cannot return to his native land; for he (has) at hand no ships with oars and companions who could send him on his way over the sea’s broad back. And now also (men) are seeking to slay his beloved son (i.e. Telemachus) on his journey home; for he has made his way to sacred Pylos and noble Lacedaemon (i.e. Sparta) in quest of news of his father.”
Then, cloud-gathering Zeus addressed her (i.e. Athene) in reply: “My child, what words have escaped your lips (lit. the barrier of your teeth)? For did you not devise this plan yourself, so that Odysseus might indeed take his revenge on those (men) when he returns? And, (as for) Telemachus, may you guide (him) in your wisdom – for (so) you can – so that he may reach his native land quite unharmed, and the suitors may return in their ship baffled.”
(So) he spoke, and then he addressed his son Hermes face to face: “Hermes, since you are ever our messenger in all other (matters), tell the fair-tressed nymph (i.e. Calypso) of our fixed resolve concerning the return home of stout-hearted Odysseus that he may return escorted neither by the gods nor by mortal men; but that, suffering woes on a stoutly-bound raft, he may come on the twentieth day to richly-soiled Scheria, to the land of the Phaeacians, who are near of kin to the gods; they shall honour him greatly in their hearts, and shall send (him) on a ship to his native land, after giving (him) bronze and gold and raiment aplenty, in such quantities as Odysseus could never have taken away from Troy, even if had come (home) unscathed, having been allotted his fair share of the spoil. For so it is his destiny to see his friends, and to return to his high-roofed house and his native land (once more).”
Ll. 43-91. Hermes visits Calypso.
So he spoke, and his messenger, the slayer of Argus (i.e. Hermes), did not disobey. Then, he quickly fastened his beautiful sandals of imperishable gold which carried him, in conjunction with blasts of wind, over the sea and over the boundless land. And he took up the wand with which he can cast a spell over the eyes of whichever men he wishes, and then awaken them from sleep as well. Holding this in his hand, the mighty slayer of Argus made his flight. Then. from the upper air he came to (the coast of) Pieria (i.e. a mountainous region of Greece, containing Mount Olympus, bordering the northern Aegean Sea) and dropped down to the sea; then, he skimmed over the waves like a sea-gull, which in its pursuit of fish over the fearsome troughs of the barren sea, soaks its thick plumage with the spray. So, in such a fashion, Hermes was borne upon the multitudinous waves. But, when the reached that island which lay afar off (i.e. Ogygia), there he left the violet-coloured sea, and came to land, (and on he went,) until he reached a great cave, in which the fair-tressed nymph (i.e. Calypso) was living; and he found that she was within.
A great fire was burning on the hearth, and the odour of burning (logs) of easily cleft cedarwood and juniper was wafting far across the island; and inside she was singing with a beautiful voice, and, as she plied her loom, she wove with a golden shuttle. And around the cave there grew a flourishing copse, of alders and black poplars and fragrant cypress-trees. And there birds with extended wings were wont to roost, owls and hawks and chattering sea-crows (i.e. cormorants), for whom matters of the sea are their business. And there a luxuriant vine trailed around the hollow cave, and sprouted bunches of grapes. And fountains, four in a row, were flowing with clear water close to one another, turning this way and that. And (all) around (them) the soft meadows were abounding in violets and parsley. There, indeed, even an immortal, if he chanced to come upon (it), might admire (the place) as he looked at (it), and be glad at heart.
Standing there, the Argus-slaying messenger (of the gods) gazed (in wonder). But, when he had marvelled all (these things) in his heart, forthwith he went into the wide cave. And Calypso, most divine of goddesses, did not fail to recognise him, when she saw (him) face to face; for the immortal gods are not unknown to one another, not even if one dwells in a home far away. But he did not find great-hearted Odysseus within, as one might have thought he would, but he weeps, as he sits on the shore in his accustomed spot, rending his heart with tears, and groans and sorrows. He continued to stare at the barren sea, shedding tears. Then, Calypso, most divine of goddesses, questioned Hermes, after she had seated (him) in a bright shining chair: “Why, pray, have you come to me, Hermes of the golden wand, honoured and welcome (though you are)? For you have not visited at all often before. Say whatever is in your mind! My heart prompts me to do your bidding, if I can do (it), and it is (something) that has been done. But follow me further, so that I can place food and drink (lit. guest-gifts) beside you.”
Ll. 92-147. Hermes explains his mission.
So, having spoken thus, the goddess set a table before (him), which she heaped with ambrosia, and mixed the red nectar (in the cup). So, the Argus-slaying messenger (of the gods) ate and drank. But, when he had dined and had satisfied his appetite with food, then he addressed her with these words in reply: “You, a goddess, ask me, a god, why I have come: and I will tell you the reason truthfully; for you bid (me to do so). (It was) Zeus (who) bade me come hither against my will; who would willingly speed across such an unspeakably great (expanse of) salt water? Nor (is there) close at hand any city of mortals who would offer sacrifices and choice hecatombs (i.e. public sacrifices of a hundred bullocks) to the gods. But it is just not possible for any god to evade or frustrate in any way the will of Zeus. He says that there is here with you a man, most woeful of all those warriors who fought around Priam’s city for nine years, and in the tenth, having sacked the city, they went home; but on their journey home they sinned against Athene, who roused against them a violent wind and towering waves. There all the rest of his noble companions perished, but the wind and the waves that bore (him) brought him here. Now I command you to send him off as soon as possible; for (it is) not his fate to perish here far from his friends, but it is his destiny to see those friends and to reach his high-roofed house and his native-land (once more).”
So he (i.e. Hermes) spoke, and Calypso, most divine of goddesses, shuddered, and she spoke and addressed him with these winged words: “Gods, you are hard-hearted and jealous above (all) others, (you) who are outraged at goddesses lying openly with men, (even) if one has made (a man) her husband. So (it was) when rosy-fingered Dawn took to herself Orion, and (you) gods, (while) living at ease (yourselves) greatly outraged at her (conduct), until chaste Artemis of the golden throne assailed (him) in Ortygia (i.e. Delos) and slew (him) with her gentle shafts. And so (it was again) when Demeter of the lovely tresses, giving way to her desire, united in love with Iasion and lay with him in the thrice-ploughed fallow land; nor was Zeus unaware (of this) for long, and smote him with a bright thunderbolt and slew (him). And so again, (you) gods, do you now begrudge me that I should live with a mortal man. Yet, I saved him, as he strode around the keel (all) alone, when Zeus struck his swift ship with a bright thunderbolt and shattered (it) in the midst of the wine-dark sea. All the rest of his fine companions perished there, but the wind and the waves that bore (him) brought (him) hither. I tended him with kindness and told (him) I would make him immortal and ageless all his days. But, since it is not possible for any other god to evade or frustrate in any way the will of Zeus who bears the aegis, let him go his way over the barren sea, if he (so) urges and commands it; but I shall not escort him anywhere; for I (have) at hand no oared ships and crewmen, which could send him off over the sea’s broad back. But I shall counsel him with a ready heart, nor shall I conceal (anything), so that he may reach his native land quite unscathed.”
Then, the Argus-slaying messenger (of the gods) answered her (thus): “So, send (him) off now, and be wary of the wrath of Zeus, lest one day, in his malice, he may treat you harshly in some way.”
Ll. 148-191. Calypso promises to free Odysseus.
Speaking thus, the mighty killer of Argus went his way; and the queenly nymph went to great-hearted Odysseus, since she had hearkened to the message of Zeus. She found him sitting on the shore; his eyes were never dry of tears, and life’s sweetness was ebbing away (from him) in tearful longing for his journey home, since the nymph no longer pleased him. Although, at night, he had to sleep (with her) in the hollow cavern, the unwilling beside the willing, by day he would sit on the rocks and sands, rending his heart with tears, and groans, and sorrows, and he continued to stare at the barren sea, shedding tears. Then, coming close (to him), the most divine of goddesses addressed (him thus): “Unhappy (man), lament here no longer, I pray (you), nor pine away your life. For, even now, with a very ready heart, I will send you on your way. But come, cut some long timbers with this ax make ready a broad raft; and construct a half-deck high above it, so that it can carry you over the misty deep. And I will place within (it) food, and water and red wine satisfying to your taste, which should curb your hunger, and I shall clothe (you) in raiment; then, I shall send a fair wind behind you, so that you may return to your native land quite unscathed, if the gods who hold broad heaven will (it), for they are stronger (than I) both in planning and in fulfilment.
So she spoke, and the noble much-enduring Odysseus shuddered, and spoke to her and addressed (her) in these winged words: “Goddess, you are planning something other than this, and not just my send-off, when you bid me traverse the great depths of the sea, dread and grievous (that they are); no trim swift-flying ships, exulting in the winds of Zeus, pass over (it). But I shall not set foot in a raft against your wishes, unless, goddess, you take it upon yourself to swear a mighty oath to me, that you are not plotting some terrible misery to myself.”
So she spoke, but Calypso, most divine of goddesses, smiled, and stroked him with her hand, and she spoke these words (to him) as she uttered (them) aloud: “You are truly a knave, and (what) a devious (mind) you have, that you should be minded to utter such words (to me). Now, let earth and the broad heaven above and the down-flowing waters of the Styx, which are (the source) of the greatest and the most fearful oath for the blessed gods in this earth, be my witness that I am not plotting some terrible misery to yourself. But I shall be minded, and shall consider within myself, what things I should be resolved to do for myself, whenever such a need should come upon me; For I, too, have a mind (that is) righteous, for the heart in this breast (of mine is) not made of iron, but is full of compassion.”
Ll. 192-261. Odysseus builds his raft.
So saying, the most divine of goddesses went her way swiftly; and then he followed in the footsteps of the goddess. Goddess and man came to the hollow cavern, and there he sat down on the chair from which Hermes had (just) got up, and the nymph set beside him all (manner of) food to eat and drink, such as mortal men consume. And she, herself, took her seat facing the divine Odysseus, and her handmaids placed ambrosia and nectar beside her. And they put out their hands to the good things lying ready before (them). But, when they had had their fill of food and drink, Calypso, most divine of goddesses, began her speech with these (words): “Zeus-born son of Laertes, ever resourceful Odysseus, so you now wish to go home to your native land at once, (do you)? Well then, may you still have joy (of it)! If you could know in your mind how many troubles fate has in store for you before you reach your native land, you would remain here with me on this very spot and guard this house, and you would be immortal, yet still desiring to see your wife, for whom you long all the time every day. In very truth, I claim not to be inferior to her, either in form or in stature, since it is not seemly in any way that mortals should compete with immortals in body and looks.”
Then, Odysseus, (the man of) many wiles, addressed her in reply: “Queenly goddess, do not be angry with me about this; I, myself, know full well that Penelope, excelling in thoughtfulness, (as she does,) seems weaker to look upon than you in appearance and stature; for she is a mortal, and you are immortal and ageless. But even so, I wish, and I yearn every day, to return home, and to see the day of my homecoming. But, if again one of the gods should wreck (me) on the wine-dark sea, I shall endure (it), having in my breast a heart inured to suffering; for I have suffered very much already, and have toiled much amid the waves and in war; and let this be added to these (things).”
So he spoke, and the sun set and the darkness came on; and the two of them went into the innermost recess of the hollow cavern, and they delighted in their love-making, as they kept one beside one the other.
As soon as the child of the morning, rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, Odysseus donned a cloak and a tunic, and the nymph, herself, put on a long white robe, finely-woven and beautiful, and she cast about her waist a lovely golden girdle, and a veil from the top of her head. Then, she began to plan the voyage of the great-hearted Odysseus; she gave him a great axe, well-fitted to his hands, made of bronze (and) sharpened on both sides; and on it (was) a most beautiful handle of olive-wood, securely fastened; next she gave (him) an adze of polished metal; then she led the way to the fringes of the island (i.e. Ogygia), where tall trees had grown: there was alder, and poplar, and fir reaching to the sky, long sapless (and) well-seasoned (wood), which would sail lightly for him. But, when she had shown (him) where the tall trees grew, Calypso, most divine of goddesses, returned to her home, while he began to fell timber, and his work proceeded swiftly. He felled twenty (trees) in all, and trimmed (them) with the axe; then, he skilfully smoothed (them), and made them straight with a carpenter’s line. Meanwhile, Calypso, most divine of goddesses, brought (him) a boring-tool; and he bored all (the pieces of wood) and fitted (them) one to another; and he hammered it together with pegs and joints. As wide as a man, well-skilled in carpentry, marks out the hull of a broad-beamed merchant vessel, so wide did Odysseus make his broad raft. Then, he made decking planks, on which to stand, fitting (them) with closely-packed ribs; then, he finished (it) off with long planks along the gunwales. And in (it) he set up a mast, and a yard-arm fitted to it; then, he also made a rudder, by which he might steer. And he fenced it in with wicker-work hurdles all around, to be a shelter against the waves, and he strewed much brushwood (along the bottom). Meanwhile, Calypso, most divine of goddesses, brought (him) cloth to make a sail; and he skilfully fashioned that too. Then, he bound braces, and halyards, and sheets on to it, and then, with levers, he hauled the (raft) down into the shining sea.
Ll. 262-312. Poseidon raises a storm.
(Now) the fourth day came, and all (his work) had been accomplished; and on the fifth (day) the divine Calypso sent (him) from her island, after she had bathed (him) and and clothed (him) in fragrant raiment. And in the (raft) the goddess put one skin of dark wine, and another, a great (one, containing) water, and provisions, too, in a leather sack; and in it she put an abundance of delicious meats; and she sent forth a wind (that was) gentle and warm. Gladly then did godlike Odysseus spread his sail to the wind. And he sat and steered (the raft) skilfully with the rudder, nor did he let sleep fall upon his eyelids, as he watched the Pleiades and the late-setting Boötes, and the (Great) Bear, which (men) also call the Wain (as) an additional name, and it turns itself around and keeps watch on Orion (i.e. the Dog Star), and alone (among the constellations) it is without a share in the baths of Ocean; for Calypso, most divine of goddesses, had told him to keep this (star) on his left-hand (side) as he sailed across the sea. For seventeen days he sailed across the sea, and on the eighteenth there appeared the shadowy peaks of the land of the Phaeacians at the spot where (the land) lay nearest to him; and (the land) looked like a shield (laid) on the misty sea.
But our lord the Earthshaker (i.e. Poseidon), as he was returning from Ethiopia, saw him from afar from the mountains of the Solymi (i.e. a range of mountains in Lycia); for he was seen by him sailing on the sea. And he was the more wroth in his spirit, and, shaking his head, he spoke (thus) to his own heart: “Oh, the shame of it! The gods have surely changed their minds significantly concerning Odysseus, while I was among the Ethiopians, and now he is close to the land of the Phaeacians (i.e. Scheria), where it is his fate to escape the great bond of woe which has befallen him. But I still think I shall set in motion his fill of troubles.”
So saying, he (i.e. Poseidon) gathered the clouds, and, grasping his trident in his hands, he stirred up the sea; and he roused all the blasts of every kind of wind, and covered land and sea alike with clouds; and night was called forth from heaven. Then, the East Wind and the South Wind, and the stormy West Wind clashed together, and the sky-born North Wind (came), rolling a mighty wave (before it). Then, the knees of Odysseus were loosened, and his heart (failed him), and, oppressed in mind, he spoke to his great-hearted spirit: “Oh, me, wretched (as) I (am), what will become of me at the last? I fear that all (the words) the goddess spoke (were) true, (when) she said that, before I reached my native land, I should have my fill of woes on the sea, and all this is now being brought to pass. With such clouds does Zeus surround the broad heavens, and he has stirred up the sea and the blasts of very kind of wind are raging furiously. Now (is) my utter destruction certain. Thrice-blessed, indeed four times (blessed, are) those Danaans, who once perished in the wide (land of) Troy, while conferring their favour on the sons of Atreus (i.e. Agamemnon and Menelaus). Would that I had died and met my fate on that day when so many Trojans hurled their bronze-tipped spears at me (as I fought with them) around the body of the son of Peleus (i.e. Achilles). Then, I should have had my share of funeral rites, and the Achaeans would have spread my fame; but now it has been fated that I should be condemned to a miserable death.”
Ll. 313-387. Leucothea lends Odysseus her veil.
Even as he spoke, a great wave, crashing down from above, smote him with a terrible (force), and spun his raft around. Far from the raft, he fell, and he let the rudder slip from his hands; and the fierce blast of the winds that came (upon it) snapped the mast in the middle, and the sail and yard-arm fell far out into the sea. (The current) kept him under water for a long time, nor could he emerge at all quickly from beneath the onrush of the mighty wave, for, as you would expect, the clothing which the divine Calypso had given him weighed (him) down. At last, however, he came up, and spat from his mouth the bitter brine which flowed in streams from his head. But yet, distressed though he was, he did not forget his raft, but, having darted after (it) amid the waves, he got hold of it and sat down in the midst (of it), seeking to avoid the finality of death. Then, a great wave bore it along this way and that in accordance with the current. As when, in the autumn, the North Wind tosses the (balls of) thistle-stalks all over the plain, and they keep close to one another, so did the winds bear the (raft) this way and that over the sea; now, at one time, the South Wind would throw (it) to the North Wind to be swept along, and, at another, the East Wind would leave (it) to the West Wind to set (it) in motion.
But the daughter of Cadmus (i.e. the King of Thebes), Ino of the beautiful ankles, saw him, (that is) Leucothea (i.e. the White Goddess), who was once a mortal (woman) with a human voice, but now in the depths of the salty sea she has won her share of honour from the gods. She pitied Odysseus in his wanderings, and with all the woes that he had, and she rose up from the water like a sea-gull on the wing, and sat on the stoutly-bound raft and said these words (to him): “(O) unhappy (man), how is it that Poseidon the Earthshaker has become so violently angry with you that he is sowing the seeds of so many evils for you? Yet, however much he desires (it), he will not utterly destroy you. Now, do exactly as I say, and you seem to me not to lack understanding; strip off these garments, and leave the raft to be borne by the winds, and, swimming with your hands, strive to reach the land of the Phaeacians, where it is your destiny to escape (the waves). Here, (take) this immortal veil and stretch (it) beneath your breast: (there is) no fear that you shall suffer anything or perish. But, as soon as you grasp the the dry land with your hands, undo (it) again, and cast it into the wine-dark sea far from the land, and turn your (eyes) away from (it).”
As she spoke, the goddess (i.e. Leucothea) gave (him) the veil, and then, like a sea-gull, she herself plunged back again into the tumultuous sea; and the dark waves hid her. Then, the much-enduring godlike Odysseus felt anxious, and, oppressed in mind, he spoke to his great-hearted spirit: “Woe is me, lest one of the immortals is again setting a snare for me, when she bids me abandon my raft. But, indeed, I shall not yet obey, since the land, where she said my place of refuge was, (was still) far away, when I beheld (it) with my own eyes. But this I shall do, as it seems to me to be the best (plan): as long as the planks shall hold together in their fastenings, so long shall I remain here, and endure the pains that I suffer; but, whenever a wave shakes my raft asunder, then I shall swim (for it), since I cannot think of anything better.”
While he pondered these (things) in his mind and heart, Poseidon the Earthshaker roused a huge wave, dreadful and grievous, (and) overarching, and drove (it) at him. And, as a strong wind will toss a dry heap of chaff, and scatter it hither and thither, so (the wave) scattered the long planks of the (raft). But Odysseus went astride a single plank, as if he were mounted on a riding horse, and he stripped off the garments that divine Calypso had given him. Then, he immediately wound the veil beneath his breast, and flung himself head-first into the sea, with hands outstretched, (and) ready to swim. And the lord Earthshaker saw (him), and, shaking his head, he spoke (thus) to his own heart: “So now, after you have suffered so many evils, go wandering over the deep sea, until you come into contact with people who are cherished by Zeus (i.e. the Phaeacians). Yet, I do not expect that you will find any fault with your buffeting.” So saying, he lashed his fair-maned horses, and came to Aegae (i.e. usually identified with an island off Euboea), where his glorious palace is (situated).
But at that point Athene, daughter of Zeus, thought otherwise. So indeed she checked the course of the other winds, and bade (them) all cease and lulled (them) to rest. But she roused the swift North Wind and beat down the waves in front of (him), until such time as Zeus-born Odysseus might make contact with the oar-loving Phaeacians and escape from death and the fates.
Ll. 388-450. Odysseus tries to land.
Then, for two nights and two days he was driven around by the solid sea, and often his heart had a premonition of destruction. But, when Dawn, with her fair locks, brought about the third day, then indeed did the wind cease and there was a still calm; then he, with a quick look forward, caught a glimpse of nearby land, as he was lifted up by a great wave. But, even as, when welcome to his children appears the life of a father, who lies in sickness suffering grievous pains, while he wastes away for a long time, and some malignant power assails him, but then, to his joy, the gods release him from his woes, so did the land and the wood seem welcome to Odysseus, and he swam on, eager to set foot on the land. But, when he was as far away as (a man’s voice) carries when he shouts, and he heard the booming sound of the sea upon the rocks – for the great wave thundered against the dry land, belching terribly, and everything was enwrapped in the spray of the sea; for there were no harbours or roadsteads (as) shelters for the ships, but projecting headlands, and reefs and crags – then Odysseus’ knees were loosened and his heart (failed him), and, in his anguish, he spoke thus to his great-hearted spirit: “Ah me, when Zeus has granted (me) to see this unexpected land, and I have cut my way across this deep sea and completed my journey, (but) there appears (to be) no way of escape from out of the grey brine. For offshore (there are) sharp crags, and the waves roar as they dash around (them), and sheer rock runs all around (them), and inshore the sea (is) deep, and there is no place where (a man) can plant both his feet, and (thus) escape ruin. If I should try to land, a huge wave may catch (me), and dash (me) against a stony rock. But, if I should try to swim on further in the hope that I may find some shelving beaches and a shelter from the sea, I fear that (another) squall may snatch me up again, and bear (me), groaning heavily, into the deep sea teeming with fish, or that some demon may let loose against me a great monster from the sea, and many of these does glorious Amphitrite (i.e. a sea-goddess and the consort of Poseidon) breed, for I know that the glorious Earthshaker is consumed with hatred against me.”
While he pondered this in his mind and heart, so a huge wave drove him towards the jagged headland.There would his skin have been scraped off, at the same time as his bones being broken, if the goddess, the bright-eyed Athene, had not put (an idea) into his mind: on he rushed, and grabbed hold of the rock with both his hands, and he clung to it groaning, while the great wave swept by. Thus, then, did he escape the (wave), but, in its backward flow, it smote him once more with full force, and flung him far out to sea. And, as when many a pebble sticks to the suckers of a squid, as it is dragged from its lair, so the skin from his sturdy hands was torn off against the rocks; and the great wave covered him. Then would the unhappy Odysseus have perished before his time, if bright-eyed Athene had not given (him) prudence. Emerging from the surf, (at the place) where it belched on the shore, he kept swimming along outside (it), looking towards the land (to see) if he might somewhere find some shelving beaches and refuges from the sea. But, when, as he swam, he came to the mouth of a fair-flowing river, which seemed to him (to be) the best place, (as it was) free of rocks, and -, moreover, it was a shelter from the wind, and he recognised (him as a god) as he flowed forth, and prayed to him in his heart: “Hear me. (O) king, whoever you are; I come to you with many prayers, as I try to escape the sea and the abuse of Poseidon. Venerated, even in the (mind of the) immortal gods, is that man who comes (as) a wanderer, even as I now come to your stream and to your knees, after much suffering. Take pity on me, (O) king; for I profess that I am your suppliant.”
Ll. 451-493. Odysseus reaches the shore.
As he finished speaking, forthwith the (river) stemmed its current, and held back the waves, and made (the water) calm before him, and brought him safely to the mouth of the river. Then he bent both his knees and (dropped) his sturdy arms (to his sides). For his spirit was crushed by the sea. And all his flesh was swollen and streams of sea (water) gushed from his mouth and nostrils; then, he lay down, breathless and speechless, (and) unable to move, and a terrible weariness came (upon) him. But, when he regained his breath and his spirit returned to his breast, then he loosed from himself the veil of the goddess. And he let it drop into the river as it was flowing out to sea, and a strong wave bore (it) swiftly downstream, and in a moment Ino received (it) in her own hands; then he, stepping back from the river, lay down in the rushes, and kissed the bountiful earth. Then, in his anguish, he spoke thus to his great-hearted spirit: “Oh woe (is) me, what have I suffered? What will now become of me in the end? If in this river (bed) I keep watch (throughout) this wretched night, (I fear) lest bitter frost and prolific dew may overcome (me) in my feebleness, as I gasp for breath. And the breeze from the river blows cold in the early morning. But, if I should climb up the slope to the shady wood, and lie down to rest in the thick brushwood, (to see) if my chill and my exhaustion might leave me, and sweet sleep should steal upon me, I fear that I may become the prey and spoil for wild beasts.”
Then, as he pondered within himself, (this) seemed to be the better (course); and he went his way to the wood; and he found it in a clearing near to water, and he crept under a pair of bushes, growing from the same spot: one (was) a thorn-bush; and the other (was) an olive. The damp strength of the hard-blowing winds could never blow through them, nor could the beaming sun ever beat (them) with his rays, nor could the rain penetrate right through (them); for so closely did they grow, intertwining the one with the other; beneath these Odysseus crept. And at once he gathered a broad bed of leaves with his hands; for there was a great and plentiful pile of leaves. enough to shelter two or three men at a time of storm, even if the the weather should be very bad indeed. The godlike much-enduring Odysseus saw (it) and was glad, and he lay down in the midst (of them), and heaped the pile of leaves over him. As when a man hides a firebrand under the black embers on a lonely farm, (a man) who does not have any neighbours nearby, (and so) saves a seed of fire, in order that he may not have to get a light from some other place, so Odysseus covered himself with leaves. And then Athene shed sleep upon his eyes, so that it might seal their lids and put an end to his toilsome weariness.