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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Homer Bilingual Anthology : THE UNDERWORLD - 3

From Homer's Iliad, * Rhapsody 11. 1-332, 385-640, * Translated by S. Butler, * Greek Fonts 


The first ghost that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him: 'Elpenor,' said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom and darkness? You have got here on foot quicker than I have with my ship.'

'Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my own unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of Circe's house, and never thought of coming down again by the great staircase but fell right off the roof and broke my neck, so my soul came down to the house of Hades. And now I beseech you by all those whom you have left behind you, though they are not here, by your wife, by the father who brought you up when you were a child, and by Telemachus who is the one hope of your house, do what I shall now ask you. I know that when you leave this limbo you will again hold your ship for the Aeaean island. Do not go thence leaving me unwaked and unburied behind you, or I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever armour I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may tell people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was, and plant over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was yet alive and with my messmates.' And I said, 'My poor fellow, I will do all that you have asked of me.'

Thus, then, did we sit and hold sad talk with one another, I on the one side of the trench with my sword held over the blood, and the ghost of my comrade saying all this to me from the other side. Then came the ghost of my dead mother Anticlea, daughter to Autolycus. I had left her alive when I set out for Troy and was moved to tears when I saw her, but even so, for all my sorrow I would not let her come near the blood till I had asked my questions of Teiresias.

Πρώτη δὲ ψυχὴ Ἐλπήνορος ἦλθεν ἑταίρου· οὐ γάρ πω ἐτέθαπτο ὑπὸ χθονὸς εὐρυοδείης· σῶμα γὰρ ἐν Κίρκης μεγάρῳ κατελείπομεν ἡμεῖς ἄκλαυτον καὶ ἄθαπτον͵ ἐπεὶ πόνος ἄλλος ἔπειγε. τὸν μὲν ἐγὼ δάκρυσα ἰδὼν ἐλέησά τε θυμῷ καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδων· Ἐλπῆνορ͵ πῶς ἦλθες ὑπὸ ζόφον ἠερόεντα; ἔφθης πεζὸς ἰὼν ἢ ἐγὼ σὺν νηῒ μελαίνῃ. 

ὣς ἐφάμην͵ ὁ δέ μ΄ οἰμώξας ἠμείβετο μύθῳ· ἆσέ με δαίμονος αἶσα κακὴ καὶ ἀθέσφατος οἶνος· Κίρκης δ΄ ἐν μεγάρῳ καταλέγμενος οὐκ ἐνόησα ἄψορρον καταβῆναι ἰὼν ἐς κλίμακα μακρήν͵ ἀλλὰ καταντικρὺ τέγεος πέσον· ἐκ δέ μοι αὐχὴν ἀστραγάλων ἐάγη͵ ψυχὴ δ΄ Ἄϊδόσδε κατῆλθε. νῦν δέ σε τῶν ὄπιθεν γουνάζομαι͵ οὐ παρεόντων͵ πρός τ΄ ἀλόχου καὶ πατρός͵ ὅ σ΄ ἔτρεφε τυτθὸν ἐόντα͵ Τηλεμάχου θ΄͵ ὃν μοῦνον ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἔλειπες· οἶδα γὰρ ὡς ἐνθένδε κιὼν δόμου ἐξ Ἀΐδαο νῆσον ἐς Αἰαίην σχήσεις εὐεργέα νῆα· ἔνθα σ΄ ἔπειτα͵ ἄναξ͵ κέλομαι μνήσασθαι ἐμεῖο. μή μ΄ ἄκλαυτον ἄθαπτον ἰὼν ὄπιθεν καταλείπειν νοσφισθείς͵ μή τοί τι θεῶν μήνιμα γένωμαι͵ ἀλλά με κακκῆαι σὺν τεύχεσιν͵ ἅσσα μοί ἐστι͵ σῆμά τέ μοι χεῦαι πολιῆς ἐπὶ θινὶ θαλάσσης͵ ἀνδρὸς δυστήνοιο͵ καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι· ταῦτά τέ μοι τελέσαι πῆξαί τ΄ ἐπὶ τύμβῳ ἐρετμόν͵ τῷ καὶ ζωὸς ἔρεσσον ἐὼν μετ΄ ἐμοῖσ΄ ἑτάροισιν. ὣς ἔφατ΄͵ αὐτὰρ ἐγώ μιν ἀμειβόμενος προσέειπον· ταῦτά τοι͵ ὦ δύστηνε͵ τελευτήσω τε καὶ ἕρξω. 

νῶϊ μὲν ὣς ἐπέεσσιν ἀμειβομένω στυγεροῖσιν ἥμεθ΄͵ ἐγὼ μὲν ἄνευθεν ἐφ΄ αἵματι φάσγανον ἴσχων͵ εἴδωλον δ΄ ἑτέρωθεν ἑταίρου πόλλ΄ ἀγόρευεν. ἦλθε δ΄ ἐπὶ ψυχὴ μητρὸς κατατεθνηυίης͵ Αὐτολύκου θυγάτηρ μεγαλήτορος Ἀντίκλεια͵ τὴν ζωὴν κατέλειπον ἰὼν εἰς Ἴλιον ἱρήν. τὴν μὲν ἐγὼ δάκρυσα ἰδὼν ἐλέησά τε θυμῷ· ἀλλ΄ οὐδ΄ ὧς εἴων προτέρην͵ πυκινόν περ ἀχεύων͵ αἵματος ἄσσον ἴμεν πρὶν Τειρεσίαο πυθέσθαι.

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