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Ithaka

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With the peace brokered by glow-eyed Athene
godlike Odysseus went
into his own house, with his son
the well-speaking Telemakhos
taking with him radiant Penelopeia
she whose wit matched his own
and he made ready his reception room;
it had been much damaged by battle.
Into it he took Eupeithes
whose son had been Antinoos, the first
killed in the game laid out
by deathless Gods.

Into it he also took Polubos, father of taunting Eurumakhos
and many other of the braided Akhaians
those long-haired men of rock-strewn Ithaka
in order to make himself again lord of his own land.
Some of these men still trembled
with the fear laid on them by Pallas Athene
and of thought-full Odysseus they were afraid.
No dealing would they have with him.
Then young Telemakhos,
grown son of far-famed Odysseus
spoke to them. “Men of Ithaka,
be not afraid. Was not my father kind to you
before the Gods sent him on his far-flung voyage?
Why then are you afraid? Indeed, you should rejoice.
Pallas Athene, bearer of the great shield
has blessed him to be our lord again. I shall be joyful
in his service.”
And saying this, he knelt before the seat of Odysseus.

The warriors of Ithaka
gazed on him as he rose to stand at his father’s side.
Here was the brave lord indeed,
his heir kindly spoken yet stronger than they. Telemakhos
who would have the throne of Ithaka from his father
spoke again.
“Good Akhaians, is this not your king?”

Then Euenor
whose son had been Leokritos
rose and said
“This man killed my son, and his father Odysseus
killed many of yours.
Let them both die for it.”
Many of the Akhaians listened to him
and remembered the great battle Athene
in face and body yet like Mentor
had caused them to forget; their rage was stirred
but crafty Odysseus said nothing
and stilled his son’s words.

Now Damastor, the father of Agelaos
spoke caution;
“This man has defeated our sons;
they were young and stronger than we
and outnumbered him by many.
What hope have we to vanquish him,
he of the deadly bow? His spear casts
a long shadow indeed.”
Thus the men of Ithaka heard
and of long-suffering Odysseus
they were afraid.

The heart of Odysseus was filled
with sorrow at these words.
He who had journeyed so long to come
at last to his homeland
had no wish for fearful obedience.
Thus spoke Odysseus to the braided Akhaians:
“Brothers, you have no need
for fear. Though I have killed your sons
the suitors of Penelopeia
I have mourned in my heart for the speed
of my arrows – if only they had not hit their marks
or better still, had not been fired.
Yet this was needful, in its time.
What man among you
would not defend his household
and his life? Sweet Penelopeia
my son, brave Telemakhos
all my servants and myself
it was we your sons set themselves upon. See: their bronze has wounded us.”
And Telemakhos showed to the assembly the binding on his wrist
flesh torn by a spearhead in the fray.

“Look upon me, brother Akhaians,” said Odysseus again.
“Do you not see your king? Do you not see the man
you thought long lost
the journeyer gone from Troy, stranded far from home?
I have returned to you
to find my house taken over, my wife and child besieged
your sons courting my Penelopeia though I yet lived
and you wonder at my anger. I tell you,
men of my beloved Ithaka,
that my retribution was just.”
Now the fathers of the suitors heard these words
and said among themselves
“He speaks truth.”

The wisdom of the Gods was laid upon crafty Odysseus,
and to his speech the people listened.
He spoke to them wise words and soothed their fears;
he was installed again in his own household
the power of a king put in his hand.

“My brothers,” he said
to the long-haired Akhaians
“all, from the moment of my leaving in the hollow ships,
has been put against my return here. My courage faltered
many days against Poseidon on the sea
in the cave of the Kuklops, the death of my companions
but always my heart grew strong again
at the thought of sweet Ithaka.”
And so the hearts and minds of the Akhaians were filled with joy
at the return of long-suffering Odysseus.

Sea-ringed Ithaka prospered
in the care of thought-full Odysseus, her lord
and glow-eyed Athene smiled on the man, my Muse
as he slept again at last
in the arms of Penelopeia.

ΠΕΙΡΑΡ
The End