Ancient Greek Mythology

Homer's Odyssey

8th century BC, Ancient Greek.

'I once played host to a man who told me that he was from Ithaca,' Odysseus said. 'His father’s name was Laertes, I remember.'

Odysseus walked into the orchard and saw his father tending the ground around a tree. Laertes was dressed in old and patched working clothes and the sadness he felt at the absence of his son was still tangible, despite the almost two decades that had passed since he had last seen him.

'Excuse me for saying so, but you care for your trees and your plants much better than you do for yourself,' observed Odysseus as he approached his father. 'And could you tell me if this is the island of Ithaca? I once played host to a man who told me that he was from Ithaca. I gave him a silver bowl for mixing wine in, some cloaks and a quantity of gold when we parted, as any good host should to such a noble visitor. His father’s name was Laertes, I remember,’

'The island you are on is indeed Ithaca,' replied Laertes, 'but the man you are seeking is not here. Your gifts were given in vain, I regret, for I think he is probably dead. But tell me, and tell me honestly, how many years ago was it when you entertained him at your home? And what of yourself, who are you?'

'My name is Eperitus,' replied Odysseus. 'I am the son of Prince Apheidas and my palace is in Alybas. I have been blown off course. My ship is lying-up not far from here, although not in the city harbour. It is four years since Odysseus stayed with me as my guest.'

Story fragment recounted from: Shewring, Walter, with an introduction by Kirk, G. S., 1980, reprinted 2008. Homer: The Odyssey. Translated from ancient Greek with an introduction. Oxford University Press. Book XXIV, Odysseus and Laertes.

See for yourself

Homer – Wikipedia

Odysseus – Wikipedia

The Odyssey – Wikipedia

Laertes – Wikipedia

Homer: The Odyssey – English translation, Internet Classics Archive

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