Monday, 10 September 2007

A tale of love and loyalty

In Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, Ulysses was the King of the small island of Ithaca. He was married to the beautiful Penelope who gave him a son, Telemachus. At the beginning of their marriage, Greece was beset by war but Ulysses feigned madness in order to stay with his young bride. Unfortunately, his plot was dismantled and he had to go to war. In his absence of 20 years Penelope had many difficulties. She missed her husband. She was uncertain of his fate and was beset with numerous suitors who thought that a young widow and queen of a small but tidy kingdom were a great conquest. They pestered her to declare Ulysses dead and to choose a new husband from among them. Meanwhile, these suitors hung around the palace, ate her food, drank her wine, and consorted with several of her maidservants. Penelope was despondent by her husband's long absence and especially the mystery of his whereabouts. He could come home at any time - or never. Temporizing, she fended the suitors off for years, using stalling tactics that were wearing thin. She remained, however, faithful to Ulysses. Eventually, Ulysses came back to Ithaca. He arrived alone and upon landing, he was disguised as an old beggar. Ulysses’s faithful dog, Argos, was the first to recognize him in his rags. He had waited twenty years to see his master. Age, the bounding joy at seeing his master again and the anxious wait, killed the poor dog. The first human to recognize him was his old wet nurse, Euryclea, who knew him well enough to see through the rags, recognizing him by an old scar on his leg received when hunting boar. And so it goes on….


jmb said...

Well I'd be sceptical about the old dog even lasting so long, but when I had an aged miniature schnauzer, 15 yrs old, whom I had to lift up and down the stairs, I read that the oldest known schnauzer had lived to 26 yrs. I imagined myself lifting this dog for another ten years, but it wasn't so.

Flowerpot said...

oh, the love of a dog - no I know it's not entirely believable but does it matter?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for reminding me of this story. Poor, faithful dog!

Winchester whisperer said...

Oh well done ED! I'd forgotten about Argos. Did he see off Penelope's suitors as well?

Eurodog said...

Ulysses killed all twelve with one single arrow.
Mr and Mrs Ulysses lived happily ever after.