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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Translated by S. Butcher and A. Lang

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Rhapsodies of the Odyssey
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Summary of the Odyssey

Preface and Introduction


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Page 13

 DAY 1 (Book i).

 The ordained time has now arrived, when by the counsels of the Gods, Odysseus is to be brought home to free his house, to avenge himself on the wooers, and recover his kingdom. The chief agent in his restoration is Pallas Athene; the first book opens with her prayer to Zeus that Odysseus may be delivered. For this purpose Hermes is to be sent to Calypso to bid her release Odysseus, while Pallas Athene in the shape of Mentor, a friend of Odysseus, visits Telemachus in Ithaca. She bids him call an assembly of the people, dismiss the wooers to their homes, and his mother to her father's house, and go in quest of his own father, in Pylos, the city of Nestor, and Sparta, the home of Menelaus. Telemachus recognises the Goddess, and the first day closes.


 DAY 2 (Book ii).

 Telemachus assembles the people, but he has not the heart to carry out Athene's advice. He cannot send the wooers away, nor turn his mother out of her house. He rather weakly appeals to the wooers' consciences, and announces his intention of going to seek his father. They answer with scorn, but are warned of their fate, which is even at the doors, by Halitherses. His prophecy (first made when Odysseus set out for Troy) tallies with the prophecy of Teiresias, and the prayer of the Cyclops. The reader will observe a series of portents, prophecies, and omens, which grow more numerous and admonishing as their doom draws nearer to the wooers. Their hearts, however, are hardened, and they mock at Telemachus, who, after an interview with Athene, borrows a ship and secretly sets out for Pylos. Athene accompanies him, and his friends man his galley.


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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


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