Nestor & Pester

When sunrise bathed Telemakhe's fair sail a second time with the pink light of morning they were rowing just off the coast of Pylos. Perched on the railing Telemakhe could first smell the savoury smoke, then see the signs of offerings being made to the deity Poseidon. Nine clans of around five hundred people came forward with nine bulls each and made sacrifice burning the beef thighbones in their own fat.

The ship was beached nearby and the crew disembarked swiftly in order to join the feasting which would soon follow. The crowd graciously welcomed them. Telemakhe held back. A concerned look wrinkling her forehead.

Mentor wandered to her side and spoke, "Have you suddenly become shy now? Telemakhe, the bold speaker of only two days past?"

Telemakhe blushed. "I'm still surprised that I am actually doing this. I've come to quiz King Nestor about my mother's whereabouts. I haven't prepared any fancy speeches, nor have I brought rich gifts. I'm afraid I may seem rather rude to the old gentleman."

"Take heart. The right words will come to you. Nestor is a longtime friend of Odysseus' and he loves to recite a good history; you will hear no lies from him. Trust events to unfold in your favour. In any case I believe you can always turn bad to indifferent events to your best advantage," said Mentor his fingertips shimmering as he pointed out where Nestor was sitting onshore amidst his sons and daughters.

As Telemakhe and Mentor climbed off the ship, Nestor's son Peisistratos made his way to them. He helped them down the last few steps of the rope ladder, then led them to soft, curly lambskin seats between his father and himself. As portions of the sacrifice were passed around for eating, he ensured that the choicest bits made it to their plates.

Soon the golden chalice with the figure of the palace on it was held within Peisistratos' hands. He poured purple honeyed wine into its deep bowl in order to make libations to the divine. Turning to Mentor he said, "You have found us feasting in Poseidon's honour. As such I ask that you and your friend make offerings to the deities and pray for our well-being. I notice that the young woman is about my age and that you are her senior, therefore I feel it appropriate to give you this honour first."

Both Mentor and Telemakhe were pleased with his selection criteria. Telemakhe looked more carefully at this young man. He had a gentle frequent smile and behaved respectfully toward everyone to whom he spoke.

Mentor took the cup and stood with it upraised. "Poseidon, old earthshaker, on the behalf of all present I ask that you grant the wishes of all who seek your help this day. I ask too that you bring honour upon the house of Nestor, that you bless every citizen of Pylos in fair exchange for these their gifts to you and, finally, that Telemakhe and I are successful in the errand we set out upon only yesterday." Beneath his breath Mentor whispered, "And I shall see to it that all is so done." He then poured out a generous offering, followed by passing the shining chalice to Telemakhe who also made prayer and offering.

Nestor turned and smiled at Telemakhe. He peered at her features, a small light of recognition struggling behind his face.

The Tale of a Troy Boy.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps