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The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

Menelaus and Helen, Book IV

The next day, the two princes met, and the Spartan King asked Telemachus the purpose of his visit.  Telemachus tells the King that he is searching for his father, and relates the troubles he is experiencing on Ithaca. Menelaus relates his encounter with Proteus, the old man of the sea, and his inquiry about his comrades at Troy.  Proteus related the death of Ajax the lesser at sea, and then informed Menelaus regarding the fate of his brother, Agamemnon at the hands of Aegisthus.  Proteus then told Menelaus that Odysseus was being held captive on Calypso's island. Finally, the old man of the sea foretold the fate of Menelaus: . . . the deathless one will sweep you off to the world's end the Elysian Fields, where gold-haired Rhadamanthys waits, where life glides on in immortal ease for a mortal man no snow, no winter onslaught, never a downpour there but night and day the Ocean River sends up breezes, singing winds of the West refreshing all mankind. All this because you are Helen's husband no- the gods count you the son-in-law of Zeus. (IV, 634-641) Menelaus, after hearing of his brother's fate, raised a mound to Agamemnon, as was the custom of the Greeks, sacrificed to the gods, and returned to Sparta.  His story finished, Menelaus prepared gifts for the princes, offering Telemachus fine horses and a chariot, which Telemachus politely declines, saying there was no room for horses to run on Ithaca.  Menelaus, seeing the wisdom of the prince's words, gave him a mixing bowl forged by the god Hephaestus himself. Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, the suitors plot to ambush Telemachus, and kill him if possible.  Penelope hears of the suitor's plots and retires to her rooms, distraught.  She falls asleep and Athena appears to Penelope in a dream, disguised as her sister Iphthime.  The goddess assures her that: “Your son will come home--it is decreed/He's never wronged the gods in any way” (IV, 907-8).  Athena assures Penelope that Telemachus has the favor of the goddess Athena.  When Penelope inquires about Odysseus, she is told that the goddess cannot reveal his destiny. The book ends with the suitors leaving the harbor to waylay Telemachus.
Menelaus and Helen