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When Agamemnon and Menelaus, son of Atreus, were assembling the leaders who
had pledged themselves to attack Troy, they came to the island of Ithaca to
Ulysses, son of Laertes. He had been warned by an oracle that if he went to Troy
he would return home alone and in need, with his comrades lost, after twenty
years. And so when he learned that spokesmen would come to him, he put on a
cap, pretending madness, and yoked a horse and an ox to the plow. Palamedes felt
he was pretending when he saw this, and taking his son Telemachus from the
cradle, put him in front of the plow with the words: Give up your pretense and
come and join the allies. Then Ulysses promised that he would come; from that
time he was hostile to Palamedes.
When Ulysses was returning from Tory to his country Ithaca, he was carried by a
storm to the Cicones. He attacked their town, Ismarus, and distributed the spoils
among his comrades. From there he went to the Lotus Eaters, quite good men,
whose custom it was to eat the lotus, a flower growing from the leaves. This food
was so sweet that those who tasted it would forget to return home. Two men sent to
them by Ulysses, on tasting the plants they gave, forgot to return to the ships. He
bound them and brought them back himself.
From there he went to the Cyclops Polyphemus , son of Neputune, to whom a
prophecy had been given by the augur Telemus, son of Eurymus, that he should
beware of being blinded by Ulysses. He had one eye in the middle of his forehead,
and feasted on human flesh. After he drove his flock back into the cave he would
place a great stone weight at the door. He shut Ulysses and his comrades within,
and started to devour the men. When Ulysses saw that he could not cope with his
size and ferocity, he made him drunk with the wine he had received from Maron,
and said that he was called Noman. And so, when Ulysses was burning out his eye
with a glowing stake, he summoned the other Cyclopes with is cries, and called to
them from the closed cave, Noman in blinding me! They thought he was
speaking in sport, and did not heed. But Ulysses tied his comrades to the sheep and
himself to the ram, and in this way they got out.
He came to Aeolus, son of Hellen, to whom control of the winds had been given by
Jove. He welcomed Ulysses hospitably, and gave him as a gift a bag full of winds.
But his comrades took it, thinking it to be gold and silver, and when they wished to

divide it, they opened the bag secretly, and the winds rushed out. He was carried
again to Aeolus, who cast him out because the divinity of the gods seemed hostile
to him.
He came to the Laestrygonians, whose king was Antiphates . . . Some he devoured
and shattered eleven of his ships, with the exception of the one in which Ulysses
escaped when his comrades had been lost.
He came to the island of Aenaria, to Circe, daughter of Sol, who, by giving a
potion, used to change men into wild beasts. When he sent Eurylochus to her with
twenty-two of his men, she changed them from human form; but Eurylochus in
fear did not enter, but fled and reported to Ulysses. Ulysses himself alone went to
her, but on the way Mercury gave him a charm, and showed him how to deceive
Circe. After he came to Circe and took the cup from her, at Mercurys suggestion
he put in the charm, and drew his sword, threatening to kill her unless she restored
his comrades. Then Circe knew that this had not happened without the will of the
gods, and so, promising that she would not do the like to him, she restored his
comrades to their earlier forms. She herself lay with him, conceived, and bore two
sons, Nausithous and Telegonus.
From there he set out for Lake Avernus, descended into the Lower World, and
found there his comrade Elpenor, whom he had left behind at Circes. He asked
Elpenor how he had come there, and Elpenor replied that in his drunkenness he had
fallen down the ladder and broken his neck. He begged him to give him burial
when he returned to the upper world, and place his oar on his grave. There he also
spoke to his mother, Anticlia, about the end of his journey. Then he returned to the
upper world, buried Elpenor, and fixed the oar on his tomb as he had asked.
Next he came to the Sirens, daughters of the Muse Melpomene and Achelous,
women in the upper parts of their bodies but bird below. It was their fate to live
only so long as mortals who heard their song failed to pass by. Ulysses, instructed
by Circe, daughter of Sol, stopped up the ears of his comrades with wax, had
himself bound to the wooden mast, and thus sailed by.
From there he came to Scylla, daughter of Typhon, who was woman above, but
fish from the hips down, with six dogs joined to her body. She snatched and
devoured six men from Ulysses ship. He had come to the island of Sicily to the
sacred herds of Sol, but their flesh lowed when his comrades cooked it in a brazen
kettle. He had been warned by Tiresias and by Circe, too, not to touch them, and as
a result he lost many comrades there. Borne on to Charybdis, who three times a
day sucked down the water and three times belched it up, by Tiresias warning he

passed by. But Sol was angry because his herd had been harmed. (When Ulysses
had come to the island, and at Tiresias warning forbade anyones touching the
herd, his comrades seized some cattle while he slept; as they were cooking them
the flesh lowed from the brazen kettle.) For his reason Jove struck his ship with a
thunderbolt and burned it.
Wandering from this, his comrades lost in the shipwreck, he swam to the island of
Aeaea, where the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas, lived. She enamoured of the
handsome form of Ulysses, kept him a whole year, and was unwilling to release
him until Mercury, by Joves command, bade her release him. When a raft had
been made there, Calypso sent him off with an abundance of provisions, but
Neptune shattered the raft with his waves because he had blinded his son, the
Cyclops. While he was being tossed about by the waves, Leucothoe, who we call
Mater Matuta, who lives forever in the sea, gave him her girdle to bind around his
chest, to buoy him up. When he had done this, he swam to safety.
From there he came to the island of the Phaeacians, and hid his nakedness under
the leaves of trees. There Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous, brought garments
to the stream to wash. He crept out from the leaves and begged help from her.
Moved by pity, she gave him a mantle, and led him to her father. Alcinous
welcomed him with generous hospitality, honoured him with gifts, and sent him to
his country, Ithaca.
By Mercurys wrath, he was shipwrecked again. After the twentieth year, with the
loss of his comrades, he returned alone to his country. On reaching his home,
unrecognized, he found suitors who sought to marry Penelope occupying his
palace, so he pretended to be a stranger. But his nurse Euryclia, while bathing his
feet, recognized him as Ulysses by a scar. Later, with the help of Minerva, he and
his son Telemachus and two servants killed the suitors with arrows.