XXIII TELEMACHUS HEADS FOR HOME
The goddess, Pallas Athene came to Telemachus where he lay in a room of Menelaus’ house. His companion, Peisistratus was asleep, but Telemachus was awake, thinking about his father.
Athene stood in front of his bed and said to him, ‘Telemachus, Its time for you to return. Come, wake Menelaus, and let him send you upon your way.’
Then Telemachus woke Peisistratus out of his sleep and told him that it was best that they should be going on their journey. But Peisistratus said, ‘Wait until it is dawn, Telemachus.’
Then when it was light King Menelaus came to them. When he heard that they would depart he told the lady Helen to tell the maids to prepare a meal for them. He, with Helen his wife, and Megapenthes, his son, went down into his treasure chamber and gave to Telemachus a two-handled cup and a great mixing bowl of silver. Helen took out of a chest a beautiful robe that she herself had made and embroidered. They went to where Telemachus stood by the chariot with Peisistratus ready to depart. Then Menelaus gave him the beautiful two-handled cup that had been a gift to himself from the king of the Sidonians. Megapenthes came up with the great bowl of silver and put it in the chariot, and beautiful Helen came to him holding the embroidered robe.
‘I too have a gift for you dear child ‘ she said. ‘Take this robe home and give it to your mother to look after. I want you to have it to give to your bride when you bring her into your father’s home.’
Then Telemachus and Peisistratus said farewell to Menelaus and Helen who had treated them so kindly. As they were ready to go Menelaus poured out of a golden cup wine as an offering to the gods. And as Menelaus poured it out, Telemachus prayed that he might find Odysseus, his father, in his home.
Now as he prayed a bird flew over the horses’ heads. It was an eagle, and it carried in its talons a goose that belonged to the farmyard. Telemachus asked Menelaus if this was a sign from Zeus, the greatest of the Gods.
Then said Helen, ‘Hear me now, for I will prophesy from this sign to you. Just as that eagle has flown down from the mountain and killed a goose of the farmyard, so will Odysseus come from far to his home and kill the wooers who are there.’
‘May Zeus grant that it be so,’ said Telemachus. He spoke and lashed the horses, and they sped across the plain.
When they came near the city of Pylos, Telemachus spoke to his companion, Peisistratus, and said, ‘Do not take me past my ship, Peisistratus. Your good father expects me to return to his house, but I am afraid that if I did, he, out of friendliness, would want me to stay for many days. But I know that I should now return to Ithaka.’
The son of Nestor turned the horses towards the sea and they drove the chariot to where Telemachus’ ship was anchored. Then Telemachus gathered his followers, and he told them take on board the presents that Menelaus and Helen had given him.
They did this, and they raised the mast and the sails and the rowers took their seats on the benches. A breeze came and the sails took it and Telemachus and his companions sailed towards home. Telemachus did not know it but, his father, Odysseus, was even then nearing his home.