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Ulysses for having blinded an eye of Polyphemus king of the Cyclopes. Polyphemus is
son to Neptune by the nymph Thoosa, daughter to the sea-king Phorcys; therefore
though he will not kill Ulysses outright, he torments him by preventing him from
getting home. Still, let us lay our heads together and see how we can help him to
return; Neptune will then be pacified, for if we are all of a mind he can hardly stand
out against us.” And Minerva said, “Father, son of Saturn, King of kings, if, then, the
gods now mean that Ulysses should get home, we should first send Mercury to the
Ogygian island to tell Calypso that we have made up our minds and that he is to
return. In the meantime I will go to Ithaca, to put heart into Ulysses’ son Telemachus; I
will embolden him to call the Achaeans in assembly, and speak out to the suitors of his
mother Penelope, who persist in eating up any number of his sheep and oxen; I will
also conduct him to Sparta and to Pylos, to see if he can hear anything about the return
of his dear father-for this will make people speak well of him.” So saying she bound on
her glittering golden sandals, imperishable, with which she can fly like the wind over
land or sea; she grasped the redoubtable bronze-shod spear, so stout and sturdy and
strong, wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased her, and down
she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus, whereon forthwith she was in
Ithaca, at the gateway of Ulysses’ house, disguised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the
Taphians, and she held a bronze spear in her hand. There she found the lordly suitors
seated on hides of the oxen which they had killed and eaten, and playing draughts in
front of the house. Menservants and pages were bustling about to wait upon them,
some mixing wine with water in the mixing-bowls, some cleaning down the tables with
wet sponges and laying them out again, and some cutting up great quantities of meat.
Telemachus saw her long before any one else did. He was sitting moodily among the
suitors thinking about his brave father, and how he would send them flying out of the
house, if he were to come to his own again and be honoured as in days gone by. Thus
brooding as he sat among them, he caught sight of Minerva and went straight to the
gate, for he was vexed that a stranger should be kept waiting for admittance. He took
her right hand in his own, and bade her give him her spear. “Welcome,” said he, “to
our house, and when you have partaken of food you shall tell us what you have come
for.” He led the way as he spoke, and Minerva followed him. When they were within
he took her spear and set it in the spear-stand against a strong bearing-post along with
the many other spears of his unhappy father, and he conducted her to a richly
decorated seat under which he threw a cloth of damask. There was a footstool also for
her feet, and he set another seat near her for himself, away from the suitors, that she
might not be annoyed while eating by their noise and insolence, and that he might ask
her more freely about his father.

A maid servant then brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer and poured it into
a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean table beside them. An
upper servant brought them bread, and offered them many good things of what there
was in the house, the carver fetched them plates of all manner of meats and set cups of
gold by their side, and a man-servant brought them wine and poured it out for them.
Then the suitors came in and took their places on the benches and seats. Forthwith men
servants poured water over their hands, maids went round with the bread-baskets,
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