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Philosophia
October 25th, 2007, 08:22 AM
THE VISIT TO THE DEAD. {88}

"Then, when we had got down to the sea shore we drew our ship
into the water and got her mast and sails into her; we also put
the sheep on board and took our places, weeping and in great
distress of mind. Circe, that great and cunning goddess, sent us
a fair wind that blew dead aft and staid steadily with us
keeping our sails all the time well filled; so we did whatever
wanted doing to the ship's gear and let her go as the wind and
helmsman headed her. All day long her sails were full as she
held her course over the sea, but when the sun went down and
darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep waters of
the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the Cimmerians
who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the
sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again
out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long
melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship, took
the sheep out of her, and went along by the waters of Oceanus
till we came to the place of which Circe had told us.

"Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my
sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a
drink-offering to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then
with wine, and thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley
meal over the whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless
ghosts, and promising them that when I got back to Ithaca I
would sacrifice a barren heifer for them, the best I had, and
would load the pyre with good things. I also particularly
promised that Teiresias should have a black sheep to himself,
the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed sufficiently to the
dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the blood run
into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from
Erebus--brides, {89} young bachelors, old men worn out with
toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had
been killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with
blood; they came from every quarter and flitted round the trench
with a strange kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale
with fear. When I saw them coming I told the men to be quick and
flay the carcasses of the two dead sheep and make burnt
offerings of them, and at the same time to repeat prayers to
Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I was with my sword
drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts come near the
blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.

"The first ghost that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for
he had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body
unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much
else to do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him:
'Elpenor,' said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom
and darkness? You have got here on foot quicker than I have with
my ship.'

"'Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my
own unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of
Circe's house, and never thought of coming down again by the
great staircase but fell right off the roof and broke my neck,
so my soul came down to the house of Hades. And now I beseech
you by all those whom you have left behind you, though they are
not here, by your wife, by the father who brought you up when
you were a child, and by Telemachus who is the one hope of your
house, do what I shall now ask you. I know that when you leave
this limbo you will again hold your ship for the Aeaean island.
Do not go thence leaving me unwaked and unburied behind you, or
I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever
armour I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may
tell people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was,
and plant over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was
yet alive and with my messmates.' And I said, 'My poor fellow, I
will do all that you have asked of me.'

"Thus, then, did we sit and hold sad talk with one another, I on
the one side of the trench with my sword held over the blood,
and the ghost of my comrade saying all this to me from the other
side. Then came the ghost of my dead mother Anticlea, daughter
to Autolycus. I had left her alive when I set out for Troy and
was moved to tears when I saw her, but even so, for all my
sorrow I would not let her come near the blood till I had asked
my questions of Teiresias.

"Then came also the ghost of Theban Teiresias, with his golden
sceptre in his hand. He knew me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, why, poor man, have you left the light of day and come
down to visit the dead in this sad place? Stand back from the
trench and withdraw your sword that I may drink of the blood and
answer your questions truly.'

"So I drew back, and sheathed my sword, whereon when he had
drank of the blood he began with his prophecy.

"'You want to know,' said he, 'about your return home, but
heaven will make this hard for you. I do not think that you will
escape the eye of Neptune, who still nurses his bitter grudge
against you for having blinded his son. Still, after much
suffering you may get home if you can restrain yourself and your
companions when your ship reaches the Thrinacian island, where
you will find the sheep and cattle belonging to the sun, who
sees and gives ear to everything. If you leave these flocks
unharmed and think of nothing but of getting home, you may yet
after much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm them, then I
forewarn you of the destruction both of your ship and of your
men. Even though you may yourself escape, you will return in bad
plight after losing all your men, [in another man's ship, and
you will find trouble in your house, which will be overrun by
high-handed people, who are devouring your substance under the
pretext of paying court and making presents to your wife.

"'When you get home you will take your revenge on these suitors;
and after you have killed them by force or fraud in your own
house, you must take a well made oar and carry it on and on,
till you come to a country where the people have never heard of
the sea and do not even mix salt with their food, nor do they
know anything about ships, and oars that are as the wings of a
ship. I will give you this certain token which cannot escape
your notice. A wayfarer will meet you and will say it must be a
winnowing shovel that you have got upon your shoulder; on this
you must fix the oar in the ground and sacrifice a ram, a bull,
and a boar to Neptune. {90} Then go home and offer hecatombs to
all the gods in heaven one after the other. As for yourself,
death shall come to you from the sea, and your life shall ebb
away very gently when you are full of years and peace of mind,
and your people shall bless you. All that I have said will come
true].' {91}

"'This,' I answered, 'must be as it may please heaven, but tell
me and tell me and tell me true, I see my poor mother's ghost
close by us; she is sitting by the blood without saying a word,
and though I am her own son she does not remember me and speak
to me; tell me, Sir, how I can make her know me.'

"'That,' said he, 'I can soon do. Any ghost that you let taste
of the blood will talk with you like a reasonable being, but if
you do not let them have any blood they will go away again.'

"On this the ghost of Teiresias went back to the house of Hades,
for his prophecyings had now been spoken, but I sat still where
I was until my mother came up and tasted the blood. Then she
knew me at once and spoke fondly to me, saying, 'My son, how did
you come down to this abode of darkness while you are still
alive? It is a hard thing for the living to see these places,
for between us and them there are great and terrible waters, and
there is Oceanus, which no man can cross on foot, but he must
have a good ship to take him. Are you all this time trying to
find your way home from Troy, and have you never yet got back to
Ithaca nor seen your wife in your own house?'

"'Mother,' said I, 'I was forced to come here to consult the
ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias. I have never yet been
near the Achaean land nor set foot on my native country, and I
have had nothing but one long series of misfortunes from the
very first day that I set out with Agamemnon for Ilius, the land
of noble steeds, to fight the Trojans. But tell me, and tell me
true, in what way did you die? Did you have a long illness, or
did heaven vouchsafe you a gentle easy passage to eternity? Tell
me also about my father, and the son whom I left behind me, is
my property still in their hands, or has some one else got hold
of it, who thinks that I shall not return to claim it? Tell me
again what my wife intends doing, and in what mind she is; does
she live with my son and guard my estate securely, or has she
made the best match she could and married again?'

"My mother answered, 'Your wife still remains in your house, but
she is in great distress of mind and spends her whole time in
tears both night and day. No one as yet has got possession of
your fine property, and Telemachus still holds your lands
undisturbed. He has to entertain largely, as of course he must,
considering his position as a magistrate, {92} and how every one
invites him; your father remains at his old place in the country
and never goes near the town. He has no comfortable bed nor
bedding; in the winter he sleeps on the floor in front of the
fire with the men and goes about all in rags, but in summer,
when the warm weather comes on again, he lies out in the
vineyard on a bed of vine leaves thrown any how upon the ground.
He grieves continually about your never having come home, and
suffers more and more as he grows older. As for my own end it
was in this wise: heaven did not take me swiftly and painlessly
in my own house, nor was I attacked by any illness such as those
that generally wear people out and kill them, but my longing to
know what you were doing and the force of my affection for
you--this it was that was the death of me.' {93}

"Then I tried to find some way of embracing my poor mother's
ghost. Thrice I sprang towards her and tried to clasp her in my
arms, but each time she flitted from my embrace as it were a
dream or phantom, and being touched to the quick I said to her,
'Mother, why do you not stay still when I would embrace you? If
we could throw our arms around one another we might find sad
comfort in the sharing of our sorrows even in the house of
Hades; does Proserpine want to lay a still further load of grief
upon me by mocking me with a phantom only?'

"'My son,' she answered, 'most ill-fated of all mankind, it is
not Proserpine that is beguiling you, but all people are like
this when they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and
bones together; these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire
as soon as life has left the body, and the soul flits away as
though it were a dream. Now, however, go back to the light of
day as soon as you can, and note all these things that you may
tell them to your wife hereafter.'

"Thus did we converse, and anon Proserpine sent up the ghosts of
the wives and daughters of all the most famous men. They
gathered in crowds about the blood, and I considered how I might
question them severally. In the end I deemed that it would be
best to draw the keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh, and
keep them from all drinking the blood at once. So they came up
one after the other, and each one as I questioned her told me
her race and lineage.

"The first I saw was Tyro. She was daughter of Salmoneus and
wife of Cretheus the son of Aeolus. {94} She fell in love with
the river Enipeus who is much the most beautiful river in the
whole world. Once when she was taking a walk by his side as
usual, Neptune, disguised as her lover, lay with her at the
mouth of the river, and a huge blue wave arched itself like a
mountain over them to hide both woman and god, whereon he loosed
her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber. When the god
had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in his own
and said, 'Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of the
gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this
time twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so
now go home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.'

"Then he dived under the sea, and she in due course bore Pelias
and Neleus, who both of them served Jove with all their might.
Pelias was a great breeder of sheep and lived in Iolcus, but the
other lived in Pylos. The rest of her children were by Cretheus,
namely, Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon, who was a mighty warrior
and charioteer.

"Next to her I saw Antiope, daughter to Asopus, who could boast
of having slept in the arms of even Jove himself, and who bore
him two sons Amphion and Zethus. These founded Thebes with its
seven gates, and built a wall all round it; for strong though
they were they could not hold Thebes till they had walled it.

"Then I saw Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon, who also bore to
Jove indomitable Hercules; and Megara who was daughter to great
King Creon, and married the redoubtable son of Amphitryon.

"I also saw fair Epicaste mother of king Oedipodes whose awful
lot it was to marry her own son without suspecting it. He
married her after having killed his father, but the gods
proclaimed the whole story to the world; whereon he remained
king of Thebes, in great grief for the spite the gods had borne
him; but Epicaste went to the house of the mighty jailor Hades,
having hanged herself for grief, and the avenging spirits
haunted him as for an outraged mother--to his ruing bitterly
thereafter.

"Then I saw Chloris, whom Neleus married for her beauty, having
given priceless presents for her. She was youngest daughter to
Amphion son of Iasus and king of Minyan Orchomenus, and was
Queen in Pylos. She bore Nestor, Chromius, and Periclymenus, and
she also bore that marvellously lovely woman Pero, who was wooed
by all the country round; but Neleus would only give her to him
who should raid the cattle of Iphicles from the grazing grounds
of Phylace, and this was a hard task. The only man who would
undertake to raid them was a certain excellent seer, {95} but
the will of heaven was against him, for the rangers of the
cattle caught him and put him in prison; nevertheless when a
full year had passed and the same season came round again,
Iphicles set him at liberty, after he had expounded all the
oracles of heaven. Thus, then, was the will of Jove
accomplished.

"And I saw Leda the wife of Tyndarus, who bore him two famous
sons, Castor breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer.
Both these heroes are lying under the earth, though they are
still alive, for by a special dispensation of Jove, they die and
come to life again, each one of them every other day throughout
all time, and they have the rank of gods.

"After her I saw Iphimedeia wife of Aloeus who boasted the
embrace of Neptune. She bore two sons Otus and Ephialtes, but
both were short lived. They were the finest children that were
ever born in this world, and the best looking, Orion only
excepted; for at nine years old they were nine fathoms high, and
measured nine cubits round the chest. They threatened to make
war with the gods in Olympus, and tried to set Mount Ossa on the
top of Mount Olympus, and Mount Pelion on the top of Ossa, that
they might scale heaven itself, and they would have done it too
if they had been grown up, but Apollo, son of Leto, killed both
of them, before they had got so much as a sign of hair upon
their cheeks or chin.

"Then I saw Phaedra, and Procris, and fair Ariadne daughter of
the magician Minos, whom Theseus was carrying off from Crete to
Athens, but he did not enjoy her, for before he could do so
Diana killed her in the island of Dia on account of what Bacchus
had said against her.

"I also saw Maera and Clymene and hateful Eriphyle, who sold her
own husband for gold. But it would take me all night if I were
to name every single one of the wives and daughters of heroes
whom I saw, and it is time for me to go to bed, either on board
ship with my crew, or here. As for my escort, heaven and
yourselves will see to it."

Here he ended, and the guests sat all of them enthralled and
speechless throughout the covered cloister. Then Arete said to
them:--

"What do you think of this man, O Phaeacians? Is he not tall and
good looking, and is he not clever? True, he is my own guest,
but all of you share in the distinction. Do not be in a hurry to
send him away, nor niggardly in the presents you make to one who
is in such great need, for heaven has blessed all of you with
great abundance."

Then spoke the aged hero Echeneus who was one of the oldest men
among them, "My friends," said he, "what our august queen has
just said to us is both reasonable and to the purpose, therefore
be persuaded by it; but the decision whether in word or deed
rests ultimately with King Alcinous."

"The thing shall be done," exclaimed Alcinous, "as surely as I
still live and reign over the Phaeacians. Our guest is indeed
very anxious to get home, still we must persuade him to remain
with us until to-morrow, by which time I shall be able to get
together the whole sum that I mean to give him. As regards his
escort it will be a matter for you all, and mine above all
others as the chief person among you."

And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, if you were to bid me to
stay here for a whole twelve months, and then speed me on my
way, loaded with your noble gifts, I should obey you gladly and
it would redound greatly to my advantage, for I should return
fuller-handed to my own people, and should thus be more
respected and beloved by all who see me when I get back to
Ithaca."

"Ulysses," replied Alcinous, "not one of us who sees you has any
idea that you are a charlatan or a swindler. I know there are
many people going about who tell such plausible stories that it
is very hard to see through them, but there is a style about
your language which assures me of your good disposition.
Moreover you have told the story of your own misfortunes, and
those of the Argives, as though you were a practiced bard; but
tell me, and tell me true, whether you saw any of the mighty
heroes who went to Troy at the same time with yourself, and
perished there. The evenings are still at their longest, and it
is not yet bed time--go on, therefore, with your divine story,
for I could stay here listening till tomorrow morning, so long
as you will continue to tell us of your adventures."

"Alcinous," answered Ulysses, "there is a time for making
speeches, and a time for going to bed; nevertheless, since you
so desire, I will not refrain from telling you the still sadder
tale of those of my comrades who did not fall fighting with the
Trojans, but perished on their return, through the treachery of
a wicked woman.

"When Proserpine had dismissed the female ghosts in all
directions, the ghost of Agamemnon son of Atreus came sadly up
to me, surrounded by those who had perished with him in the
house of Aegisthus. As soon as he had tasted the blood, he knew
me, and weeping bitterly stretched out his arms towards me to
embrace me; but he had no strength nor substance any more, and I
too wept and pitied him as I beheld him. 'How did you come by
your death,' said I, 'King Agamemnon? Did Neptune raise his
winds and waves against you when you were at sea, or did your
enemies make an end of you on the main land when you were
cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or while they were fighting in
defence of their wives and city?'

"'Ulysses,' he answered, 'noble son of Laertes, I was not lost
at sea in any storm of Neptune's raising, nor did my foes
despatch me upon the mainland, but Aegisthus and my wicked wife
were the death of me between them. He asked me to his house,
feasted me, and then butchered me most miserably as though I
were a fat beast in a slaughter house, while all around me my
comrades were slain like sheep or pigs for the wedding
breakfast, or picnic, or gorgeous banquet of some great
nobleman. You must have seen numbers of men killed either in a
general engagement, or in single combat, but you never saw
anything so truly pitiable as the way in which we fell in that
cloister, with the mixing bowl and the loaded tables lying all
about, and the ground reeking with our blood. I heard Priam's
daughter Cassandra scream as Clytemnestra killed her close
beside me. I lay dying upon the earth with the sword in my body,
and raised my hands to kill the slut of a murderess, but she
slipped away from me; she would not even close my lips nor my
eyes when I was dying, for there is nothing in this world so
cruel and so shameless as a woman when she has fallen into such
guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own husband! I thought I
was going to be welcomed home by my children and my servants,
but her abominable crime has brought disgrace on herself and all
women who shall come after--even on the good ones.'

"And I said, 'In truth Jove has hated the house of Atreus from
first to last in the matter of their women's counsels. See how
many of us fell for Helen's sake, and now it seems that
Clytemnestra hatched mischief against you too during your
absence.'

"'Be sure, therefore,' continued Agamemnon, 'and not be too
friendly even with your own wife. Do not tell her all that you
know perfectly well yourself. Tell her a part only, and keep
your own counsel about the rest. Not that your wife, Ulysses, is
likely to murder you, for Penelope is a very admirable woman,
and has an excellent nature. We left her a young bride with an
infant at her breast when we set out for Troy. This child no
doubt is now grown up happily to man's estate, {96} and he and
his father will have a joyful meeting and embrace one another as
it is right they should do, whereas my wicked wife did not even
allow me the happiness of looking upon my son, but killed me ere
I could do so. Furthermore I say--and lay my saying to your
heart--do not tell people when you are bringing your ship to
Ithaca, but steal a march upon them, for after all this there is
no trusting women. But now tell me, and tell me true, can you
give me any news of my son Orestes? Is he in Orchomenus, or at
Pylos, or is he at Sparta with Menelaus--for I presume that he
is still living.'

"And I said, 'Agamemnon, why do you ask me? I do not know
whether your son is alive or dead, and it is not right to talk
when one does not know.'

"As we two sat weeping and talking thus sadly with one another
the ghost of Achilles came up to us with Patroclus, Antilochus,
and Ajax who was the finest and goodliest man of all the Danaans
after the son of Peleus. The fleet descendant of Aeacus knew me
and spoke piteously, saying, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes,
what deed of daring will you undertake next, that you venture
down to the house of Hades among us silly dead, who are but the
ghosts of them that can labour no more?'

"And I said, 'Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the
Achaeans, I came to consult Teiresias, and see if he could
advise me about my return home to Ithaca, for I have never yet
been able to get near the Achaean land, nor to set foot in my
own country, but have been in trouble all the time. As for you,
Achilles, no one was ever yet so fortunate as you have been, nor
ever will be, for you were adored by all us Argives as long as
you were alive, and now that you are here you are a great prince
among the dead. Do not, therefore, take it so much to heart even
if you are dead.'

"'Say not a word,' he answered, 'in death's favour; I would
rather be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above
ground than king of kings among the dead. But give me news about
my son; is he gone to the wars and will he be a great soldier,
or is this not so? Tell me also if you have heard anything about
my father Peleus--does he still rule among the Myrmidons, or do
they show him no respect throughout Hellas and Phthia now that
he is old and his limbs fail him? Could I but stand by his side,
in the light of day, with the same strength that I had when I
killed the bravest of our foes upon the plain of Troy--could I
but be as I then was and go even for a short time to my father's
house, any one who tried to do him violence or supersede him
would soon rue it.'

"'I have heard nothing,' I answered, 'of Peleus, but I can tell
you all about your son Neoptolemus, for I took him in my own
ship from Scyros with the Achaeans. In our councils of war
before Troy he was always first to speak, and his judgement was
unerring. Nestor and I were the only two who could surpass him;
and when it came to fighting on the plain of Troy, he would
never remain with the body of his men, but would dash on far in
front, foremost of them all in valour. Many a man did he kill in
battle--I cannot name every single one of those whom he slew
while fighting on the side of the Argives, but will only say how
he killed that valiant hero Eurypylus son of Telephus, who was
the handsomest man I ever saw except Memnon; many others also of
the Ceteians fell around him by reason of a woman's bribes.
Moreover, when all the bravest of the Argives went inside the
horse that Epeus had made, and it was left to me to settle when
we should either open the door of our ambuscade, or close it,
though all the other leaders and chief men among the Danaans
were drying their eyes and quaking in every limb, I never once
saw him turn pale nor wipe a tear from his cheek; he was all the
time urging me to break out from the horse--grasping the handle
of his sword and his bronze-shod spear, and breathing fury
against the foe. Yet when we had sacked the city of Priam he got
his handsome share of the prize money and went on board (such is
the fortune of war) without a wound upon him, neither from a
thrown spear nor in close combat, for the rage of Mars is a
matter of great chance.'

"When I had told him this, the ghost of Achilles strode off
across a meadow full of asphodel, exulting over what I had said
concerning the prowess of his son.

"The ghosts of other dead men stood near me and told me each his
own melancholy tale; but that of Ajax son of Telamon alone held
aloof--still angry with me for having won the cause in our
dispute about the armour of Achilles. Thetis had offered it as
a prize, but the Trojan prisoners and Minerva were the judges.
Would that I had never gained the day in such a contest, for it
cost the life of Ajax, who was foremost of all the Danaans after
the son of Peleus, alike in stature and prowess.

"When I saw him I tried to pacify him and said, 'Ajax, will you
not forget and forgive even in death, but must the judgement
about that hateful armour still rankle with you? It cost us
Argives dear enough to lose such a tower of strength as you were
to us. We mourned you as much as we mourned Achilles son of
Peleus himself, nor can the blame be laid on anything but on the
spite which Jove bore against the Danaans, for it was this that
made him counsel your destruction--come hither, therefore, bring
your proud spirit into subjection, and hear what I can tell
you.'

"He would not answer, but turned away to Erebus and to the other
ghosts; nevertheless, I should have made him talk to me in spite
of his being so angry, or I should have gone on talking to him,
{97} only that there were still others among the dead whom I
desired to see.

"Then I saw Minos son of Jove with his golden sceptre in his
hand sitting in judgement on the dead, and the ghosts were
gathered sitting and standing round him in the spacious house of
Hades, to learn his sentences upon them.

"After him I saw huge Orion in a meadow full of asphodel driving
the ghosts of the wild beasts that he had killed upon the
mountains, and he had a great bronze club in his hand,
unbreakable for ever and ever.

"And I saw Tityus son of Gaia stretched upon the plain and
covering some nine acres of ground. Two vultures on either side
of him were digging their beaks into his liver, and he kept on
trying to beat them off with his hands, but could not; for he
had violated Jove's mistress Leto as she was going through
Panopeus on her way to Pytho.

"I saw also the dreadful fate of Tantalus, who stood in a lake
that reached his chin; he was dying to quench his thirst, but
could never reach the water, for whenever the poor creature
stooped to drink, it dried up and vanished, so that there was
nothing but dry ground--parched by the spite of heaven. There
were tall trees, moreover, that shed their fruit over his
head--pears, pomegranates, apples, sweet figs and juicy olives,
but whenever the poor creature stretched out his hand to take
some, the wind tossed the branches back again to the clouds.

"And I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his prodigious
stone with both his hands. With hands and feet he tried to roll
it up to the top of the hill, but always, just before he could
roll it over on to the other side, its weight would be too much
for him, and the pitiless stone {98} would come thundering down
again on to the plain. Then he would begin trying to push it up
hill again, and the sweat ran off him and the steam rose after
him.

"After him I saw mighty Hercules, but it was his phantom only,
for he is feasting ever with the immortal gods, and has lovely
Hebe to wife, who is daughter of Jove and Juno. The ghosts were
screaming round him like scared birds flying all whithers. He
looked black as night with his bare bow in his hands and his
arrow on the string, glaring around as though ever on the point
of taking aim. About his breast there was a wondrous golden belt
adorned in the most marvellous fashion with bears, wild boars,
and lions with gleaming eyes; there was also war, battle, and
death. The man who made that belt, do what he might, would
never be able to make another like it. Hercules knew me at once
when he saw me, and spoke piteously, saying, 'My poor Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, are you too leading the same sorry kind of
life that I did when I was above ground? I was son of Jove, but
I went through an infinity of suffering, for I became bondsman
to one who was far beneath me--a low fellow who set me all
manner of labours. He once sent me here to fetch the
hell-hound--for he did not think he could find anything harder
for me than this, but I got the hound out of Hades and brought
him to him, for Mercury and Minerva helped me.'

"On this Hercules went down again into the house of Hades, but I
stayed where I was in case some other of the mighty dead should
come to me. And I should have seen still other of them that are
gone before, whom I would fain have seen--Theseus and
Pirithous--glorious children of the gods, but so many thousands
of ghosts came round me and uttered such appalling cries, that I
was panic stricken lest Proserpine should send up from the house
of Hades the head of that awful monster Gorgon. On this I
hastened back to my ship and ordered my men to go on board at
once and loose the hawsers; so they embarked and took their
places, whereon the ship went down the stream of the river
Oceanus. We had to row at first, but presently a fair wind
sprang up.