Sacred Texts  Classics  Homer  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, [1922], at

Book V


The gods now held a second council, at which Minerva and Jove both spoke.

28 When Jove had done speaking he sent Mercury to Calypso

p. 29

to tell her that Ulysses was to return home, reaching the land of the Phæacians in twenty days. The Phæacians would load him with presents and send him on to Ithaca.

Mercury, therefore, flew over the sea like a cormorant that 43 fishes every hole and corner of the deep. In the course of time he reached Calypso's cave and told his story. Calypso was very angry, but seeing there was no help for it promised obedience. As soon as Mercury was gone she went to look for Ulysses, whom she found weeping as usual and looking out ever sadly upon the sea; she told him to build himself a raft and sail home upon it, but Ulysses was deeply suspicious and would not be reassured till she had sworn a very solemn oath that she meant him no harm, and was advising him in all good faith.

The pair then returned to Calypso's cave. "I cannot 192 understand," she said, "why you will not stay quietly here with me, instead of all the time thinking about this wife of yours. I cannot believe that I am any worse looking than she is. If you only knew how much hardship you will have to undergo 206 before you get back, you would stay where you are and let me make you immortal."

"Do not be angry with me," answered Ulysses, "you are 215 infinitely better looking than Penelope. You are a goddess, and she is but a mortal woman. There can be no comparison. Nevertheless, come what may, I have a craving to get back to my own home."

The next four days were spent in making the raft. Calypso 228 lent him her axe and auger and shewed him where the trees grew which would be driest and whose timber would be the 240 best seasoned, and Ulysses cut them down. He made the raft about as broad in the beam as people generally make a good big ship, and he gave it a rudder—that he might be able to 255 steer it.

Calypso then washed him, gave him clean clothes, and 264 he set out, steering his ship skilfully by means of the rudder. 270 He steered towards the Great Bear, which is also called the Wain, keeping it on his left hand, for so Calypso had advised him.

p. 30

278 All went well with him for seventeen days, and on the eighteenth he caught sight of the faint outlines of the Phæacian coast lying long and low upon the horizon.

282 Here, however, Neptune, who was on his way home from the Ethiopians, caught sight of him and saw the march that the other gods had stolen upon him during his absence. He therefore stirred the sea round with his trident, and raised a frightful hurricane, so that Ulysses could see nothing more, 294 everything being dark as night; presently he was washed overboard, but managed to regain his raft.

333 He was giving himself up for lost when Ino, also named Leucothea, took pity on him and flew on to his raft like a sea gull; she reassured him and gave him her veil, at the same time telling him to throw it back into the sea as soon as he reached land, and to turn his face away from the sea as he did so.

351 The storm still raged, and the raft went to pieces under its fury, whereon Ulysses bound Ino's veil under his arms and began to swim. Neptune on seeing this was satisfied and went away.

382 As soon as he was gone Minerva calmed all the winds except the North, which blew strong for two days and two nights, so that Ulysses was carried to the South again. On the morning of the third day he saw land quite close, but was nearly dashed to pieces against the rocks on trying to leave the 451 water. At last he found the mouth of a river, who, in answer to Ulysses's prayer, stayed his flow, so that Ulysses was able to swim inland and get on shore.

456 Nearly dead with exhaustion and in great doubt what to do, he first threw Ino's veil into the salt waters of the river, and then took shelter on the rising ground, inland. Here he covered himself with a thick bed of leaves and fell fast asleep.

Next: Book VI. The Meeting Between Ulysses and Nausicaa