Goats

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 20 Sep 2011 14:09 and updated at 20 Sep 2011 14:09

ODYSSEY NOUN

ody.02 Telemachus took this speech as of good omen and rose at once, for he was bursting with what he had to say. He stood in the middle of the assembly and the good herald Pisenor brought him his staff. Then, turning to Aegyptius, Sir"," said he, "it is I, as you will shortly learn, who have convened you, for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I have not got wind of any host approaching about which I would warn you, nor is there any matter of public moment on which I would speak. My grieveance is purely personal, and turns on Two great misfortunes which have fallen upon my house. The first of these is the loss of my excellent father, who was chief among all you here present, and was like a father to every one of you; the second is much more serious, and ere long will be the utter ruin of my estate. The sons of all the chief men among you are pestering my mother to marry them against her will. They are afraid to go to her father Icarius, asking him to choose the one he likes best, and to provide marriage gifts for his daughter, but day by day they keep hanging about my father s house, sacrificing our Oxen, Sheep, and fat Goats for their banquets, and never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of wine they drink. No estate can stand such recklessness; we have now no Ulysses to ward off harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own against them. I shall never all my days be as good a man as he was, still I would indeed defend myself if I had power to do so, for I cannot stand
ody.02 Thus spoke Minerva daughter of Jove, and Telemachus lost no time in doing as the Goddess told him. He went moodily and found the suitors flaying Goats and singeing Pigs in the outer court. Antinous came up to him at once and laughed as he took his hand in his own, saying, Telemachus", my fine fire eater, bear no more ill blood neither in word nor deed, but eat and drink with us as you used to do. The Achaeans will find you in everything a ship and a picked crew to boot so that you can set sail for Pylos at once and get news of your noble father."
ody.04 Son" of Atreus," replied Telemachus, "do not press me to stay longer; I should be contented to remain with you for another Twelve months; I find your conversation so delightful that I should never once wish myself at home with my parents; but my crew whom I have left at Pylos are already impatient, and you are detaining me from them. As for any present you may be disposed to make me, I had rather that it should he a piece of plate. I will take no Horses back with me to Ithaca, but will leave them to adorn your own stables, for you have much flat ground in your kingdom where lotus thrives, as also meadowsweet and wheat and barley, and oats with their white and spreading ears; whereas in Ithaca we have neither open fields nor racecourses, and the country is more fit for Goats than Horses, and I like it the better for that. None of our islands have much level ground, suitable for Horses, and Ithaca least of all."
ody.09 "Now off their harbour there lies a wooded and fertile island not quite close to the land of the Cyclopes, but still not far. It is overrun with wild Goats, that breed there in great numbers and are never disturbed by foot of man; for sportsmen who as a rule will suffer so much hardship in forest or among mountain precipices do not go there, nor yet again is it ever ploughed or fed down, but it lies a wilderness untilled and unsown from year to year, and has no living thing upon it but only Goats. For the Cyclopes have no ships, nor yet shipwrights who could make ships for them; they cannot therefore go from city to city, or sail over the sea to one another s country as people who have ships can do; if they had had these they would have colonized the island, for it is a very good one, and would yield everything in due season. There are meadows that in some places come right down to the sea shore, well watered and full of luscious grass; grapes would do there excellently; there is level land for ploughing, and it would always yield heavily at harvest time, for the soil is deep. There is a good harbour where no cables are wanted, nor yet anchors, nor need a ship be moored, but all one has to do is to beach one s vessel and stay there till the wind becomes fair for putting out to sea again. At the head of the harbour there is a spring of clear water coming out of a cave, and there are poplars growing all round it.
ody.09 "When the child of morning, rosy fingered Dawn, appeared, we admired the island and wandered all over it, while the nymphs Jove s daughters roused the wild Goats that we might get some meat for our dinner. On this we fetched our spears and bows and arrows from the ships, and dividing ourselves into Three bands began to shoot the Goats. Heaven sent us excellent sport; I had Twelve ships with me, and each ship got Nine Goats, while my own ship had ten; thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we ate and drank our fill, and we had plenty of wine left, for each one of us had taken many jars full when we sacked the city of the Cicons, and this had not yet run out. While we were feasting we kept turning our eyes towards the land of the Cyclopes, which was hard by, and saw the smoke of their stubble fires. We could almost fancy we heard their voices and the bleating of their Sheep and Goats, but when the sun went down and it came on dark, we camped down upon the beach, and next morning I called a council.
ody.09 "I went on board, bidding my men to do so also and loose the hawsers; so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars. When we got to the land, which was not far, there, on the face of a cliff near the sea, we saw a great cave overhung with laurels. It was a station for a great many Sheep and Goats, and outside there was a large yard, with a high wall round it made of stones built into the ground and of trees both pine and oak. This was the abode of a huge monster who was then away from home shepherding his flocks. He would have nothing to do with other people, but led the life of an outlaw. He was a horrid creature, not like a human being at all, but resembling rather some crag that stands out boldly against the sky on the top of a high mountain.
ody.09 "We lit a fire, offered some of the cheeses in sacrifice, ate others of them, and then sat waiting till the Cyclops should come in with his Sheep. When he came, he brought in with him a huge load of dry firewood to light the fire for his supper, and this he flung with such a noise on to the floor of his cave that we hid ourselves for fear at the far end of the cavern. Meanwhile he drove all the ewes inside, as well as the she Goats that he was going to milk, leaving the males, both rams and he Goats, outside in the yards. Then he rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the cave so huge that Two and Twenty strong Four wheeled waggons would not be enough to draw it from its place against the doorway. When he had so done he sat down and milked his ewes and Goats, all in due course, and then let each of them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside in wicker strainers, but the other half he poured into bowls that he might drink it for his supper. When he had got through with all his work, he lit the fire, and then caught sight of us, whereon he said:
ody.09 "When the child of morning, rosy fingered Dawn, appeared, he again lit his fire, milked his Goats and ewes, all quite rightly, and then let each have her own young one; as soon as he had got through with all his work, he clutched up Two more of my men, and began eating them for his morning s meal. Presently, with the utmost ease, he rolled the stone away from the door and drove out his Sheep, but he at once put it back again as easily as though he were merely clapping the lid on to a quiver full of arrows. As soon as he had done so he shouted, and cried Shoo, shoo, after his Sheep to drive them on to the mountain; so I was left to scheme some way of taking my revenge and covering myself with glory.
ody.09 "In the end I deemed it would be the best plan to do as follows. The Cyclops had a great club which was lying near one of the Sheep pens; it was of green olive wood, and he had cut it intending to use it for a staff as soon as it should be dry. It was so huge that we could only compare it to the mast of a Twenty oared merchant vessel of large burden, and able to venture out into open sea. I went up to this club and cut off about Six feet of it; I then gave this piece to the men and told them to fine it evenly off at one end, which they proceeded to do, and lastly I brought it to a point myself, charring the end in the fire to make it harder. When I had done this I hid it under dung, which was lying about all over the cave, and told the men to cast lots which of them should venture along with myself to lift it and bore it into the monster s eye while he was asleep. The lot fell upon the very Four whom I should have chosen, and I myself made five. In the evening the wretch came back from shepherding, and drove his flocks into the cave this time driving them all inside, and not leaving any in the yards; I suppose some fancy must have taken him, or a God must have prompted him to do so. As soon as he had put the stone back to its place against the door, he sat down, milked his ewes and his Goats all quite rightly, and then let each have her own young one; when he had got through with all this work, he gripped up Two more of my men, and made his supper off them. So I went up to
ody.10 "Thence we sailed sadly on till the men were worn out with long and fruitless rowing, for there was no longer any wind to help them. Six days, night and day did we toil, and on the seventh day we reached the rocky stronghold of Lamus Telepylus, the city of the Laestrygonians, where the shepherd who is driving in his Sheep and Goats [to be milked] salutes him who is driving out his flock [to feed] and this last answers the salute. In that country a man who could do without sleep might earn double wages, one as a herdsman of Cattle, and another as a shepherd, for they work much the same by night as they do by day.
ody.13 Minerva answered, Stranger", you must be very simple, or must have come from somewhere a long way off, not to know what country this is. It is a very celebrated place, and everybody knows it East and West. It is rugged and not a good driving country, but it is by no means a bid island for what there is of it. It grows any quantity of corn and also wine, for it is watered both by rain and dew; it breeds Cattle also and Goats; all kinds of timber grow here, and there are watering places where the water never runs dry; so, sir, the name of Ithaca is known even as far as Troy, which I understand to be a long way off from this Achaean country."
ody.14 "Fall to, stranger," said he, "on a dish of servant s pork. The fat Pigs have to go to the suitors, who eat them up without shame or scruple; but the blessed Gods love not such shameful doings, and respect those who do what is lawful and right. Even the fierce free booters who go raiding on other people s land, and Jove gives them their spoil even they, when they have filled their ships and got home again live conscience stricken, and look fearfully for judgement; but some God seems to have told these people that Ulysses is dead and gone; they will not, therefore, go back to their own homes and make their offers of marriage in the usual way, but waste his estate by force, without fear or stint. Not a day or night comes out of heaven, but they sacrifice not one victim nor Two only, and they take the run of his wine, for he was exceedingly rich. No other great man either in Ithaca or on the mainland is as rich as he was; he had as much as Twenty men put together. I will tell you what he had. There are Twelve herds of Cattle upon the mainland, and as many flocks of Sheep, there are also twelve droves of Pigs, while his own men and hired strangers feed him Twelve widely spreading herds of Goats. Here in Ithaca he runs even large flocks of Goats on the far end of the island, and they are in the charge of excellent Goatherds. Each one of these sends the suitors the best Goat in the flock every day. As for myself, I am in charge of the Pigs that you see here, and I have to
ody.17 Thus did they converse. Meanwhile the suitors were throwing discs, or aiming with spears at a mark on the levelled ground in front of the house, and behaving with all their old insolence. But when it was now time for dinner, and the flock of Sheep and Goats had come into the town from all the country round, with their shepherds as usual, then Medon, who was their favourite servant, and who waited upon them at table, said, "Now then, my young masters, you have had enough sport, so come inside that we may get dinner ready. Dinner is not a bad thing, at dinner time."
ody.17 They left their sports as he told them, and when they were within the house, they laid their cloaks on the benches and seats inside, and then sacrificed some Sheep, Goats, Pigs, and a heifer, all of them fat and well grown. Thus they made ready for their meal. In the meantime Ulysses and the swineherd were about starting for the town, and the swineherd said, Stranger", I suppose you still want to go to town to day, as my master said you were to do; for my own part I should have liked you to stay here as a station hand, but I must do as my master tells me, or he will scold me later on, and a scolding from one s master is a very serious thing. Let us then be off, for it is now broad day; it will be night again directly and then you will find it colder."
ody.17 As he spoke he threw his shabby old tattered wallet over his shoulders, by the cord from which it hung, and Eumaeus gave him a stick to his liking. The Two then started, leaving the station in charge of the Dogs and herdsmen who remained behind; the swineherd led the way and his master followed after, looking like some broken down old tramp as he leaned upon his staff, and his clothes were all in rags. When they had got over the rough steep ground and were nearing the city, they reached the fountain from which the citizens drew their water. This had been made by Ithacus, Neritus, and Polyctor. There was a grove of water loving poplars planted in a circle all round it, and the clear cold water came down to it from a rock high up, while above the fountain there was an altar to the nymphs, at which all wayfarers used to sacrifice. Here Melanthius son of Dolius overtook them as he was driving down some Goats, the best in his flock, for the suitors dinner, and there were Two shepherds with him. When he saw Eumaeus and Ulysses he reviled them with outrageous and unseemly language, which made Ulysses very angry.
ody.17 As they were thus talking, a Dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Ulysses had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any work out of him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild Goats, or Deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of Mule and Cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away to manure the great close; and he was full of fleas. As soon as he saw Ulysses standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When Ulysses saw the Dog on the other side of the yard, dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said:
ody.17 "Call him here, then," said Penelope, "that I too may hear his story. As for the suitors, let them take their pleasure indoors or out as they will, for they have nothing to fret about. Their corn and wine remain unwasted in their houses with none but servants to consume them, while they keep hanging about our house day after day sacrificing our Oxen, Sheep, and fat Goats for their banquets, and never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of wine they drink. No estate can stand such recklessness, for we have now no Ulysses to protect us. If he were to come again, he and his son would soon have their revenge."
ody.18 The suitors all came up laughing, and gathered round the Two ragged tramps. "Listen to me," said Antinous, "there are some Goats paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat, and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to be the better man shall have his pick of the lot; he shall be free of our table and we will not allow any other beggar about the house at all."
ody.19 Then the old Woman took the cauldron in which she was going to wash his feet, and poured plenty of cold water into it, adding hot till the bath was warm enough. Ulysses sat by the fire, but ere long he turned away from the light, for it occurred to him that when the old Woman had hold of his leg she would recognize a certain scar which it bore, whereon the whole truth would come out. And indeed as soon as she began washing her master, she at once knew the scar as one that had been given him by a wild Boar when he was hunting on Mount Parnassus with his excellent grandfather Autolycus who was the most accomplished thief and perjurer in the whole world and with the sons of Autolycus. Mercury himself had endowed him with this gift, for he used to burn the thigh bones of Goats and kids to him, so he took pleasure in his companionship. It happened once that Autolycus had gone to Ithaca and had found the child of his daughter just born. As soon as he had done supper Euryclea set the infant upon his knees and said, you must find a name for your grandson; you greatly wished that you might have one."
ody.20 Thus did they converse; meanwhile Melanthius the Goatherd came up, for he too was bringing in his best Goats for the suitors dinner; and he had Two shepherds with him. They tied the Goats up under the gatehouse, and then Melanthius began gibing at Ulysses. "Are you still here, stranger," said he, "to pester people by begging about the house? Why can you not go elsewhere? You and I shall not come to an understanding before we have given each other a taste of our fists. You beg without any sense of decency: are there not feasts elsewhere among the Achaeans, as well as here?"
ody.20 Ulysses made no answer, but bowed his head and brooded. Then a third man, Philoetius, joined them, who was bringing in a barren heifer and some Goats. These were brought over by the boatmen who are there to take people over when any one comes to them. So Philoetius made his heifer and his Goats secure under the gatehouse, and then went up to the swineherd. "Who, Swineherd," said he, "is this stranger that is lately come here? Is he one of your men? What is his family? Where does he come from? Poor fellow, he looks as if he had been some great man, but the Gods give sorrow to whom they will even to kings if it so pleases them
ody.20 The others assented, so they went inside and laid their cloaks on the benches and seats. They sacrificed the Sheep, Goats, Pigs, and the heifer, and when the inward meats were cooked they served them round. They mixed the wine in the mixing bowls, and the swineherd gave every man his cup, while Philoetius handed round the bread in the breadbaskets, and Melanthius poured them out their wine. Then they laid their hands upon the good things that were before them.
ody.21 "It shall not be so, Eurymachus," said Antinous, "and you know it yourself. To day is the feast of Apollo throughout all the land; who can string a bow on such a day as this? Put it on one side as for the axes they can stay where they are, for no one is likely to come to the house and take them away: let the cupbearer go round with his cups, that we may make our drink offerings and drop this matter of the bow; we will tell Melanthius to bring us in some Goats to morrow the best he has; we can then offer thigh bones to Apollo the mighty archer, and again make trial of the bow, so as to bring the contest to an end."
ody.22 Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said; they went to the store room, which they entered before Melanthius saw them, for he was busy searching for arms in the innermost part of the room, so the Two took their stand on either side of the door and waited. By and by Melanthius came out with a helmet in one hand, and an old dry rotted shield in the other, which had been borne by Laertes when he was young, but which had been long since thrown aside, and the straps had become unsewn; on this the Two seized him, dragged him back by the hair, and threw him struggling to the ground. They bent his hands and feet well behind his back, and bound them tight with a painful bond as Ulysses had told them; then they fastened a noose about his body and strung him up from a high pillar till he was close up to the rafters, and over him did you then vaunt, O swineherd Eumaeus, saying, Melanthius", you will pass the night on a soft bed as you deserve. You will know very well when morning comes from the streams of Oceanus, and it is time for you to be driving in your Goats for the suitors to feast on."
ody.23 Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. When she deemed that Ulysses had had both of his wife and of repose, she bade gold enthroned Dawn rise out of Oceanus that she might shed light upon mankind. On this, Ulysses rose from his comfortable bed and said to Penelope, Wife", we have both of us had our full share of troubles, you, here, in lamenting my absence, and I in being prevented from getting home though I was longing all the time to do so. Now, however, that we have at last come together, take care of the property that is in the house. As for the Sheep and Goats which the wicked suitors have eaten, I will take many myself by force from other people, and will compel the Achaeans to make good the rest till they shall have filled all my yards. I am now going to the wooded lands out in the country to see my father who has so long been grieved on my account, and to yourself I will give these instructions, though you have little need of them. At sunrise it will at once get abroad that I have been killing the suitors; go upstairs, therefore, and stay there with your Women. See nobody and ask no questions."

Arise Greece! from thy silent sleep, 2000 years long it is! Forget not, thy ancient culture, beautiful and marvelous it is!

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