Odysseus fought in the Trojan Wars and after twenty years of fighting in various places against various monsters, he eventually returns home to Ithaca. Here, he approaches his palace for the first time, led by the faithful swineherd, Eumaeus.
THE DEATH OF ARGOS
Meanwhile Odysseus arrived along with the swineherd. They stopped in front of the palace, and all around them echoed the sound of the lyre; it was Phemius striking the chords of the prelude as he began his song. Odysseus took hold of the swineherd’s hand, and he said, “This house right here must be Odysseus’ palace. How splendid it is, and how easy to pick it out at a glance from a hundred others. One building leads into the next, and the courtyard is very well built, with its corniced wall, and the double doors are so solid that no enemy could break through. A crowd must be feasting inside now. I can smell the roast meat, and I hear the lyre, which the gods have made the crown of a banquet.”
Then, in response to his words, Eumaeus, you said, “It is easy for someone as clever as you to notice that kind of thing. But now we need to consider what we should do. Either you enter the palace first and approach the suitors, and I will stay here, or you stay here if you wish, and I will go first. But don’t be too long; someone may see you waiting and throw a stone or a spear at you. Please be careful.”
Odysseus said to him, “All right. I understand. You go in first, and I will remain behind. I am accustomed to being beaten and having things thrown at me. My heart has endured. Before now I have suffered great hardships, both on the sea and in war and if I must suffer another hardship so be it. But a man can’t hide the belly’s accursèd craving, which causes so many evils and makes us sail ships across the vast sea to bring war upon distant people.”
As they spoke, a dog who was lying there lifted his head and pricked up his ears. It was Argos, Odysseus’ dog; he had trained him and brought him up as a puppy, but never hunted with him before he sailed off to Troy. In earlier times the young men had taken him out with them to hunt for wild goats and deer and hares, but he had grown old in his master’s absence, and now he lay abandoned on one of the heaps of mule and cattle dung that piled up outside the front gates until the farmhands could come by and cart it off to manure the fields. And so the dog Argos lay there, covered with ticks. As soon as he was aware of Odysseus, he wagged his tail and flattened his ears, but he lacked the strength to get up and go to his master. Odysseus wiped a tear away, turning aside to keep the swineherd from seeing it, and he said, “Eumaeus, it is surprising that such a dog, of such quality, should be lying here on a dunghill. He is a beauty, but I can’t tell if his looks were matched by his speed or if he was one of those pampered table dogs, which are kept around just for show.”
Then, in response to his words, Eumaeus, you said, “This is the dog of a man who died far away. If he were now what he used to be when Odysseus left and sailed off to Troy, you would be astonished at his power and speed. No animal could escape him in the deep forest once he began to track it. What an amazing nose he had! But misfortune has fallen upon him now that his master is dead in some far-distant land, and the women are all too thoughtless to take any care of him. Servants are always like that: when their masters aren’t right there to give them their orders, they slack off, get lazy, and no longer do an honest day’s work, for Zeus almighty takes half the good out of a man on the day he becomes a slave.”
With these words he entered the palace and went to the hall where the suitors were assembled at one of their banquets. And just then death came and darkened the eyes of Argos, who had seen Odysseus again after twenty years.
From Homer’s Odyssey
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
We love this story of Odysseus and his faithful old dog, Argos and we love Brigitte Bardot, mostly because she dedicated her life to the welfare of animals. And we love animals here at The Vampire’s Wife. We love animals. We love animals. We love animals. We love animals. We love animals. We love animals.