It’s a terrier’s world, we just live in it

Argos recognizes Odysseus

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Argos with Penelope and Odysseus

Now, as they talked on, a dog that lay there

lifted up his muzzle, pricked his ears …

It was Argos, long-enduring Odysseus’ dog

he trained as a puppy once, but little joy he got

since all too soon he shipped to sacred Troy.

In the old days young hunters loved to set him

coursing after the wild goats and deer and hares.

But now with his master gone he lay there, castaway,

on piles of dung from mules and cattle, heaps collecting

out before the gates till Odysseus’ serving -men

could cart it off to manure the king’s estates.

Infested with ticks, half-dead from neglect,

here lay the hound, old Argos.

But the moment he sensed Odysseus standing by

he thumped his tail, nuzzling low, and his ears dropped,

though he had no strength to drag himself an inch

toward his master. Odysseus glanced to the side

and flicked away a tear, hiding it from Eumaeus,

diverting his friend in a hasty, offhand way:

“Strange, Eumaeus, look, a dog like this,

lying here on a dung-hill…

what handsome lines! But I can’t say for sure

if he had the running speed to match his looks or he was only the sort that gentry spoil at table,

show-dogs masters pamper for their points.”

You told the stranger, Eumaeus, loyal swineherd,

“Here – it’s all too true – here’s the dog of a man

who died in foreign parts. But if he had now

the form and flair he had in his glory days –

as Odysseus left him, sailing off to Troy –

you’d be amazed to see such speed, such strength.

No quarry he chased in the deepest, darkest woods

could ever slip this hound. A champion tracker too!

Ah, but he’s run out of luck now, poor fellow …

his master’s dead and gone, so far from home,

and the heartless women tend him not at all.”

The Odyssey. By Homer. Translation by Robert Fagles.


Written by aterrier

June 23, 2008 at 4:28 am

Posted in hound

Tagged with , , ,

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