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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 24

Translated by S. Butcher and A. Lang

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 The Ithacans bury the wooers, and sitting in council resolve on revenge. And coming near the house of Laertes, are met by Odysseus, and Laertes with Telemachus and servants, the whole number twelve, and are overcome, and submit.

 Now Cyllenian Hermes called forth from the halls the souls of the wooers, and he held in his hand his wand that is fair and golden, wherewith he lulls the eyes of men, of whomso he will, while others again he even wakens out of sleep. Herewith he roused and led the souls who followed gibbering. And even as bats flit gibbering in the secret place of a wondrous cave, when one has fallen down from the cluster on the rock, where they cling each to each up aloft, even so the souls gibbered as they fared together, and Hermes, the helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Oceanus and the White Rock, past the gates of the Sun they sped and the land of dreams, and soon they came to the mead of asphodel, where dwell the souls, the phantoms of men outworn. There they found the soul of Achilles son of Peleus, and the souls of Patroclus, and of noble Antilochus, and of Aias, who in face and form was goodliest of all the Danaans after the noble son of Peleus.

 So these were flocking round Achilles, and the spirit of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, drew nigh sorrowful; and about him were gathered all the other shades, as many as perished with him in the house of Aegisthus, and met their doom. Now the soul of the son of Peleus spake to him first, saying:

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