The Odyssey of Homer

Date: 1879

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Chapter III Early Greek Society as Pictured in the Homeric Poems



A Popular Assembly


So spake he, and led the way forth from the council, and all the other sceptered chiefs rose with him and obeyed the shepherd of the host; and the people hastened to them. . . . And the place of assemblage was in an uproar, and the earth echoed again as the hosts sate them down, and there was turmoil. Nine heralds restrained them with shouting, if perchance they might refrain from clamor, and hearken to their kings, the fosterlings of Zeus. And hardly at the last would the people sit, and keep them to their benches and cease from noise. Then stood up Lord Agamemnon bearing his scepter, that Hephæstus1 had wrought curiously. . . . Thereon he leaned and spake his saying to the Argives.2

"My friends, Danaan warriors, men of Ares’3 company, Zeus hath bound me with might in grievous blindness of soul. Hard of heart is he, for that erewhile he promised me and pledged his nod that not till I had wasted well-walled Ilium should I return. Now see I that he planned a cruel wile and biddeth me return to Argos dishonored, with the loss of many of my folk. So meseems it pleaseth most mighty Zeus, who hath laid low the head of many a city, yea, and shall lay low; for his is highest power. Shame is this even for them that come after to hear; how so goodly and great a folk of the Achæans thus vainly warred a bootless war, and fought scantier enemies, and no end thereof is yet seen. . . . Already have nine years passed away, and our ships’ timbers have rotted and the tackling is loosed; while there our wives and little children sit in our halls awaiting us; yet is our task utterly unaccomplished where-for we came hither. So come, even as I shall bid, let us all obey. Let us flee with our ships to our dear native land; for now shall we never take wide-wayed Troy."

So spake he, and stirred the spirit in the breasts of all throughout the multitude, as many as had not heard the counsel. And the assembly swayed like high sea-waves . . . that east wind and south wind raise, rushing upon them from the clouds of Father Zeus. And even as when the west wind cometh to stir a deep cornfield with violent blast, and the ears bow down, so was all the assembly stirred. And they with shouting hasted toward the ships; and the dust from beneath their feet rose and stood on high. Then each man bade his neighbor to seize the ships and drag them into the bright salt sea. . . .

1 , translated by Lang, Leaf, and Myers. 2d edition. London, 1892. Macmillan and Co. , translated by S. H. Butcher and Andrew Lang. London, 1879. Macmillan and Co.

2Iliad, ii, 84–154.

1 The divine smith.

2 The Greeks at Troy are spoken of by the poet as Argives, Danaans, and Achæans.

3 God of war.

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Chicago: S. H. Butcher and Andrew Lang, trans., The Odyssey of Homer in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 27–28. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . The Odyssey of Homer, translted by S. H. Butcher and Andrew Lang, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 27–28. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: (trans.), The Odyssey of Homer. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.27–28. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from