Celtic Junction Arts Review
The Odyssey in Irish: At Home at Last
Translation by Réamonn Ó Cairáin
Please find below an Irish Language translation of a section from the Odyssey which was entitled Sa bhaile ar deireadh meaning ‘at home at last’. I was invited to translate some sections from the later part of the Odyssey by Liam Carson, director of Imram – Irish language literary festival which took place in October 2019. The wonderful Ciara Ní É read the script I prepared on the night which was near capacity audience in Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar, Dublin. For the same night, Irish language author Darach Ó Scolaí translated some earlier sections in the Odyssey and his pieces were read by Barra Ó Súilleabháin. Both Darach and me were asked by Liam because we both have produced versions of the great Irish Epic Táin Bó Cuailgne. Having worked on the Táin proved to be a great help with working on the ancient Greek poem of Homer.
What I did to complete this challenging task was to translate the text (see below) into meaning and then worked from that crib to develop the Irish language version. I received some initial guidance from Fiachra Mac Góráin, Associate Professor of Classics at University College London. He suggested using this version, THE ODYSSEY TRANSLATED BY A. T. MURRAY.
Later, I used part of this translation for a reading event organised by Flash-Fiction Armagh in Armagh County Museum held in February 2020 which had the theme, Stray Sod, where people can find themselves lost in familiar territory.
Sa bhaile ar deireadh /
At home at last
Thóg an muicí, Eomaeas, Odaiséas a fhad lena theach féin i bhfeisteas fir déirce. Bhí an prionnteach lán le lucht suirí Phéanalopae, bean chéile Odaiséis.
‘Téigh thusa ar aghaidh isteach anois,’ arsa Odaiséas leis an mhuicí, ‘agus fanfaidh mé tamall i do dhiaidh le nach mbeidh aon locht ortsa as mé a mhealladh chun an tí seo. Tá mé féin, faraor, cleachta go maith le greadadh agus le greasáil faoin am seo. Ní beag an méid a d’fhulaing mé i lár cathanna agus ar bharr tonnta. Ní bheidh sa mhéid atá romham i mo theach féin ach tuilleadh fulaingthe anuas ar an chuid eile atá fulaingthe agam le scór bliain anuas. Ach is measa ar fad bolg folamh ná aon fhulaingt eile. Is é an t-ocras is cúis le gach olc. Cuireann sé fir amach ar an fharraige achrannach le dochar agus doirteadh fola a dhéanamh ar dhaoine i dtíortha eile.’
Agus iad ag caint, thóg cú a bhí ina luí in aice láimhe a cheann. Bhioraigh sé a chuid cluas. Argas a bhí ann, cú ionúin de chuid Odaiséis é féin, a d’fhág sé ina dhiaidh nuair a bhí air seolta a thógáil le dul ar Chogadh na Traí. Ní raibh faill aige pléisiúr a bhaint as Argas nuair a bhí sé ina chú óg lán brí. Ag an tús agus a mháistir ar shiúl, ba ghnáth leis na gasúir óga Argas a thabhairt amach ag seilg na ngabhar agus na ngiorriacha. Ach le fada anois faraor, rinneadh neamart air agus é fágtha ar charn aoiligh ag doras an tí. Lá i ndiaidh lae, oíche i ndiaidh oíche a luigh sé ansin ar snámh le míolta agus le cuiteoga. Cé gur aithin Argas a mháistir ina sheasamh ina aice, ní raibh de chumhacht fágtha ann é féin a tharraingt níos cóngaraí dá mháistir. Nuair a d’amharc Odaiséas síos air, chroith sé a ruball agus lig dá chluasa titim. Chlaon Odaiséas a cheann ar shiúl ó Eomaeas le nach bhfeicfeadh sé na deora ag titim óna shúile. ‘Is iontach liom go bhfuil an cú breá sin caite ar an charn aoiligh mar sin,’ ar sé le hEomaeas. ‘Tá an chuma air go raibh cruth na maitheasa air tráth. An raibh lúth na gcos aige nó an madadh tábla a bhí ann le cur ar taispeáint do lucht féasta?’
‘Leoga,’ arsa Eomaeas, ‘seo é an cú a bhfuair a mháistir bás i bhfad i gcéin. Mór an trua nach bhfaca tú an cú seo agus é i mbarr a mhaitheasa, sular fhág Odaiséas é ina dhiaidh nuair a chuaigh sé go dtí An Traí. B’iontach go deo an luas agus an neart a bhí sa chú seo. Níor éalaigh aon chreach uaidh agus é i mbun seilge. Ba ghéar i mbun tóraíochta é . Ach anois, nach trua a chás, anseo sa chlábar agus a mháistir caillte i bhfad óna bhaile dúchais. Ní thugann na mná aird ar bith air anois agus a máistir ar shiúl. Mar sin a bhíonn sé i gcónaí. Nuair a imíonn an máistir, imíonn a chumhacht leis. Ní dhéanann na searbhóntaí a gcuid dualgas. Is fíor an méid a deirtear: tógann Séas uilefheasach leath na maitheasa ón duine nuair a dhéantar sclábhaí de agus imíonn an mhaitheas ar fad nuair a chailltear an máistir.’
Chuaigh Odaiséas isteach sa teach ansin agus rinne a bhealach díreach chuig an phroinnteach le bheith i gcuideachta chaithréimeach challánach an lucht suirí agus iad i mbun féastaíochta. Ba ar an bhomaite sin a rug scamall dubh an bháis greim ar bheocht Argais i ndiaidh scór bliain ag fanacht le pilleadh a mháistir.
Ba é Teileamacas a chonaic an muicí ag teacht isteach chuig an phroinnteach ar dtús. D’iarr sé air teacht isteach a fhad leis. D’amharc Eomaeas thart agus thóg stól gur shuigh in aice le Teileamacas, mac an tí. Thug an t-aralt pláta feola agus bascaed dó.
Ina dhiaidh tamaill isteach le hOdaiséas é féin sa phroinnteach gléasta i mbratóga fir déirce agus é ag iompar maide an bhacaigh. Stad sé ar an tairseach taobh istigh den doras agus chuir a dhroim leis an chuaille ealaíonta a rinne siúinéir ardoilte dó blianta ó shin roimh chogadh na Traí. ‘Ní cara maith an náire ag fear in am an ghátair,’ a dúirt Teileamacas agus d’iarr ar an mhuicí arán agus dornán feola a thabhairt don strainséir seo. Ansin d’iarr sé ar an strainséir dul thart ar an lucht suirí ar lorg déirce.
‘Go mbeannaí Séas uilechumhachtach Teileamacas agus go méadaí sé a stór as an chineáltas domsa anseo inniu,’ arsa Odaiséas.
Chuir sé an bia a thug Teileamacas dó síos ar a sheanmhála gioblach ar an talamh. D’ith sé a chuid ansin fad agus a bhí siamsóir ó neamh, Déamadocas, ag canadh amhrán ó ríocht na bhflaitheas. Chríochnaigh an amhránaíocht agus chríochnaigh Odaiséas a chuid ag an am céanna. Thóg an lucht suirí raic ghránna nuair a tháinig deireadh leis an tsiamsaíocht uasal sa halla. D’eitil Ataene níos cóngaraí d’Odaiséas agus d’iarr air dul i measc an lucht suirí ar lorg déirce agus, ar an dóigh sin, bheadh sé ábalta foghlaim cé acu a bhí ionraic agus cé acu nach raibh ach an tsaint ina gcroí cé nach raibh fonn ar Ataene í féin oiread agus duine amháin den lucht suirí seo a spáráil ón scrios; scrios a tharraing siad orthu féin. Chuaigh an strainséir thart ar an lucht suirí agus a lámh sínte amach. Mheasfadh duine ar bith gur fear déirce a bhí ann le blianta fada. Bhí trua acu dó. Thug siad bia dó. Cuireadh iontas orthu a leithéid d’fhear a bheith ag dul thart sa chuideachta ardnósach seo. D’fhiafraigh siad dá chéile cérbh é an strainséir seo agus cérbh as é. Labhair Méalaintias, an tréadaí gabhar, ansin. ‘Éistigí a lucht suirí de chuid na banríona mór le rá, Péanalopae, cé hé an strainséir seo? Is cinnte go bhfaca mé roimhe é sular tháinig sé isteach i ndiaidh Eomaeais, an muicí. Ní cuimhin liom áfach, cén dream lena mbaineann sé.’
D’amharc Antanas síos ar an mhuicí agus ar sé, ‘A mhuicí gan náire, cad chuige ar tharraing tú a leithéid d’fhear chuig an chathair seo? Nach bhfuil barraíocht cladhairí agus páistí tréigthe againn cheana féin gan an diúlach falsa seo a thabhairt inár láthair le bheith ag cur isteach ar na fir uaisle seo i mbun féasta.’
‘Tá do chuid focal éagórach a Antanais, cé gur fear de shliocht uasal thú,’ arsa Eomaeas. ‘Cé a mheallfadh strainséir ó i bhfad i gcéin murar mháistir ceirde é ag ofráil seirbhíse don phobal; lia, tógálaí nó amhránaí tréitheach a spreagann an croí nó a leithéid? Bíonn tóir ar fhir mar sin ar fud an domhain. Is fíor duit nach mbeadh fear stuama ar bith ag iarraidh ualach na déirce a tharraingt air féin gan cúis mhaith. Ach tá tú féin níos cruachroíche ná duine ar bith eile den lucht suirí atá anseo ar lorg lámh na banríona. Bíonn tú garbh liomsa go háirithe. Ach is cuma liomsa a fhad agus a bheidh mo bhean dhea-mhéineach, Péanalopae, agus a mac, an máistir óg, Teileamacas, sa teach seo.’ Chuir Teileamacas cogar i gcluas an mhuicí. ‘Bí i do thost. Ní fiú a bheith ag caint mar sin leis. Tá clú agus cáil ar Antanas as a bheith ag cur corraí ar dhaoine é féin agus nuair nach mbíonn sé féin ag corraíl cúrsaí, bíonn sé ag spreagadh daoine eile le bheith i mbun achrainn le searbhóntaí an tí seo.’
Thiontaigh Teileamacas ar Antanas é féin ansin agus níor chuir sé fiacail ann. ‘Nach tú féin atá cineálta domsa; mar a bheadh athair ag tógáil mic, agus b’fhéidir go bhfuil an ceart agat iarraidh orainn an ruaig a chur ar an strainséir seo ar an dóigh nach mbeadh fonn airsean ná ar dhuine ar bith dá leithéid pilleadh go luath. Na déithe idir sin agus an drochrud. Is cóir glacadh lena leithéid agus greim le hithe a thabhairt dó. Ní bheadh aon doicheall ar bhean an tí ná ormsa ná ar an mháistir é féin, Odaiséas, dá mbeadh sé anseo, an méid beag seo a dhéanamh don fhear bhocht. Ach tá an chuma ar an scéal gur mó an spéis atá agatsa a bheith de shíor ag líonadh do bhoilg agus ag fliuchadh do bhéil ná bheith ag cuidiú le bochtán inár measc.’
D’fhreagair Antanas é. ‘Nach tú féin atá ceanndána. Is dalba an mhaise duit labhairt liomsa mar sin. Dá dtabharfadh na fir eile an méid céanna agus a thugaim féin dá mhacasamhail, bheimis réitithe de agus den chiapadh seo go ceann i bhfad.’ Leis sin, rug Antanas greim ar stól coise a bhí faoin tábla agus cuma air go raibh sé réidh í a chaitheamh le duine éigin. Thug na fir eile den lucht suirí déirc d’Odaiséas agus é ag dul thart orthu. Nuair a stop sé os comhair Antanais, áfach, níor thug seisean a dhath dó. ‘Tabhair dom rud éigin ar a laghad, a fhir uasail,’ arsa Odaiséas, ‘mar feictear domsa gur fear ríoga thú agus gur beag le do mhacasamhail tabhartas beag bia a thabhairt domsa. Ba chóir duit níos mó a thabhairt ná na fir eile agus má thugann, tabharfaidh mé ardmholadh duit as do chuid flaithiúlachta agus mé ag taisteal na tíre. Lá den tsaol, bhí teach mór de mo chuid féin agam agus thug mé déirc don iliomad coimhthíoch gan dídean a thagadh mo bhealach agus iad ar seachrán. Ba chuma liomsa cérbh iad ná cérbh as iad. Ba mhór mo stór ag an am sin agus bhí searbhóntaí go leor ag freastal orm. Bhí mo sháith de mhaoin an tsaoil agam. Ach ba í toil Shéas, mac Chronais, gach rud a chur ar neamhní rud a d’fhág anseo mé inniu nimhneach agus briste i ndiaidh mórán crá agus buarthaí.’
D’amharc Antanas síos air agus dúirt, ‘Cén dia gan chiall a sheol a leithéid de chrá croí chugainn agus muid i mbun féasta. Amach as m’amharc leat nó beidh an méid a d’fhulaing tú roimhe seo éadrom taobh leis an méid a tharlóidh duit anseo, a phlá gan náire. Tá gach fear sa phroinnteach uasal seo cráite agat agus cé gur thug siad duit go fial, is cuma leo, mar táthar ag tabhairt fuílleach fir eile duit.’ Tharraing Odaiséas siar ansin agus dúirt, ‘Is cosúil nach bhfuil an chiall agat atá inchurtha le do bhreáthacht mhaorga. Ní thabharfá an méid is lú don bhacach is mó fiúntas ach ag an am chéanna, suíonn tú ag tábla fir eile agus flúirse bia agus dí i do ghlac agat.’ Tháinig racht feirge ar Antanas leis sin . D’amharc sé ar an bhacach agus súil an donais ina chloigeann. Agus é ag drannadh mar a bheadh cú ann dúirt, ‘Ní fhágfaidh tú an halla seo agus na cleiteacha leat i ndiaidh na focail nimhe sin a rá liom.’ Leis sin, chaith sé an stól coise le hOdaiséas á bhualadh ar an droim ag bun na gualainne ach sheas Odaiséas chomh buan le carraig. Níor baineadh biongadh as. Chroith sé a cheann gan focal eile a rá.
Líonadh croí Odaiséis le fonn dorcha díoltais. Bhí am na cinniúna ag druidim leis. Smaoinigh sé ar a bhean chéile nach bhfaca sé le scór bliain agus ghairm sé ar Ataene teacht i gcabhair air arís.
THE ODYSSEY BOOK 17, TRANSLATED BY A. T. MURRAY
 Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus answered him: “I see, I give heed: this thou biddest one with understanding. But go thou before, and I will remain behind here; for no whit unused am I to blows and peltings. Staunch is my heart, for much evil have I suffered amid the waves and in war; let this too be added to what has gone before. But a ravening belly may no man hide, an accursed plague that brings many evils upon men. Because of it are the benched ships also made ready, that bear evil to foemen over the unresting sea.”
 Thus they spoke to one another. And a hound that lay there raised his head and pricked up his ears, Argos, the hound of Odysseus, of the steadfast heart, whom of old he had himself bred, but had no joy of him, for ere that he went to sacred Ilios. In days past the young men were wont to take the hound to hunt the wild goats, and deer, and hares; but now he lay neglected, his master gone, in the deep dung of mules and cattle, which lay in heaps before the doors, till the slaves of Odysseus should take it away to dung his wide lands. There lay the hound Argos, full of vermin; yet even now, when he marked Odysseus standing near, he wagged his tail and dropped both his ears, but nearer to his master he had no longer strength to move. Then Odysseus looked aside and wiped away a tear, easily hiding from Eumaeus what he did; and straightway he questioned him, and said: “Eumaeus, verily it is strange that this hound lies here in the dung. He is fine of form, but I do not clearly know whether he has speed of foot to match this beauty or whether he is merely as table-dogs are, which their masters keep for show.”
 To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer and say: “Aye, verily this is the hound of a man that has died in a far land. If he were but in form and in action such as he was when Odysseus left him and went to Troy, thou wouldest soon be amazed at seeing his speed and his strength. No creature that he started in the depths of the thick wood could escape him, and in tracking too he was keen of scent. But now he is in evil plight, and his master has perished far from his native land, and the heedless women give him no care. Slaves, when their masters lose their power, are no longer minded thereafter to do honest service: for Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, takes away half his worth from a man, when the day of slavery comes upon him.”
 So saying, he entered the stately house and went straight to the hall to join the company of the lordly wooers. But as for Argos, the fate of black death seized him straightway when he had seen Odysseus in the twentieth year. Now as the swineherd came through the hall godlike Telemachus was far the first to see him, and quickly with a nod he called him and to his side. And Eumaeus looked about him and took a stool that lay near, on which the carver was wont to sit when carving for the wooers the many joints of meat, as they feasted in the hall. This he took and placed at the table of Telemachus, over against him, and there sat down himself. And a herald took a portion of meat and set it before him, and bread from out the basket.
 Night after him Odysseus entered the palace in the likeness of a woeful and aged beggar, leaning on a staff, and miserable was the raiment that he wore about his body. He sat down upon the ashen threshold within the doorway, leaning against a post of cypress wood, which of old a carpenter had skilfully planed, and made straight to the line. Then Telemachus called the swineherd to him, and, taking a whole loaf from out the beautiful basket, and all the meat his hands could hold in their grasp, spoke to him saying: “Take, and give this mess to yon stranger, and bid him go about himself and beg of the wooers one and all. Shame is no good comrade for a man that is in need.”
 So he spoke, and the swineherd went, when he had heard this saying, and coming up to Odysseus spoke to him winged words: “Stranger, Telemachus gives thee these, and bids thee go about and beg of the wooers one and all. Shame, he says, is no good thing in a beggar man.”
 Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said, “King Zeus, grant, I pray thee, that Telemachus may be blest among men, and may have all that his heart desires.”
 He spoke, and took the mess in both his hands and set it down there before his feet on his miserable wallet. Then he ate so long as the minstrel sang in the halls. But when he had dined and the divine minstrel was ceasing to sing, the wooers broke into uproar throughout the halls; but Athena drew close to the side of Odysseus, son of Laertes, and roused him to go among the wooers and gather bits of bread, and learn which of them were righteous and which lawless. Yet even so she was not minded to save one of them from ruin. So he set out to beg of every man, beginning on the right, stretching out his hand on every side, as though he had been long a beggar. And they pitied him and gave, and marvelled at him, asking one another who he was and whence he came. Then among them spoke Melanthius, the goatherd: “Hear me, wooers of the glorious queen, regarding this stranger, for verily I have seen him before. Truly it was the swineherd that led him hither, but of the man himself I know not surely from whence he declares his birth to be.”
 So he spoke, and Antinous rebuked the swineherd, saying: “Notorious swineherd, why, pray, didst thou bring this man to the city? Have we not vagabonds enough without him, nuisances of beggars to mar our feast? Dost thou not think it enough that they gather here and devour the substance of thy master, that thou dost bid this fellow too?”
 To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Antinous, no fair words are these thou speakest, noble though thou art. Who pray, of himself ever seeks out and bids a stranger from abroad, unless it be one of those that are masters of some public craft, a prophet, or a healer of ills, or a builder, aye, or a divine minstrel, who gives delight with his song? For these men are bidden all over the boundless earth. Yet a beggar would no man bid to be burden to himself. But thou art ever harsh above all the wooers to the slaves of Odysseus, and most of all to me; yet I care not, so long as my lady, the constant Penelope, lives in the hall, and godlike Telemachus.”
 Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Be silent: do not, I bid thee, answer yonder man with many words, for Antinous is wont ever in evil wise to provoke to anger with harsh words, aye, and urges on the others too.”
 With this he spoke winged words to Antinous: “Antinous, truly thou carest well for me, as a father for his son, seeing that thou biddest me drive yonder stranger from the hall with a word of compulsion. May the god never bring such a thing to pass. Nay, take and give him somewhat: I begrudge it not, but rather myself bid thee give. In this matter regard not my mother, no, nor any of the slaves that are in the house of divine Odysseus. But verily far other is the thought in thy breast; for thou art far more fain thyself to eat than to give to another.”
 Then Antinous answered him, and said: “Telemachus, thou braggart, unrestrained in daring, what a thing hast thou said! If all the wooers would but hand him as much as I, for full three months’ space this house would keep him at a distance.”
 So he spoke, and seized the footstool on which he was wont to rest his shining feet as he feasted, and shewed it from beneath the table, where it lay. But all the rest gave gifts, and filled the wallet with bread and bits of meat. And now Odysseus was like to have gone back again to the threshold, and to have made trial of the Achaeans without cost, but he paused by Antinous, and spoke to him, saying: “Friend, give me some gift; thou seemest not in my eyes to be the basest of the Achaeans, but rather the noblest, for thou art like a king. Therefore it is meet that thou shouldest give even a better portion of bread than the rest; so would I make thy fame known all over the boundless earth. For I too once dwelt in a house of my own among men, a rich man in a wealthy house, and full often I gave gifts to a wanderer, whosoever he was and with whatsoever need he came. Slaves too I had past counting, and all other things in abundance whereby men live well and are reputed wealthy.
 “But Zeus, son of Cronos, brought all to naught—so, I ween, was his good pleasure—who sent me forth with roaming pirates to go to Egypt, a far voyage, that I might meet my ruin; and in the river Aegyptus I moored my curved ships. Then verily I bade my trusty comrades to remain there by the ships and to guard the ships, and I sent out scouts to go to places of outlook. But my comrades, yielding to wantonness and led on by their own might, straightway set about wasting the fair fields of the men of Egypt; and they carried off the women and little children, and slew the men; and the cry came quickly to the city. Then, hearing the shouting, the people came forth at break of day, and the whole plain was filled with footmen and chariots and the flashing of bronze. And Zeus, who hurls the thunderbolt, cast an evil panic upon my comrades, and none had courage to take his stand and face the foe; for evil surrounded us on every side. So then they slew many of us with the sharp bronze, and others they led up to their city alive, to work for them perforce. But they gave me to a friend who met them to take to Cyprus, even to Dmetor, son of Iasus, who ruled mightily over Cyprus; and from thence am I now come hither, sore distressed.”
 Then Antinous answered him, and said: “What god has brought this bane hither to trouble our feast? Stand off yonder in the midst, away from my table, lest thou come presently to a bitter Egypt and a bitter Cyprus, seeing that thou art a bold and shameless beggar. Thou comest up to every man in turn, and they give recklessly; for there is no restraint or scruple in giving freely of another’s goods, since each man has plenty beside him.”
 Then Odysseus of many wiles drew back, and said to him: “Lo, now, it seems that thou at least hast not wits to match thy beauty. Thou wouldest not out of thine own substance give even a grain of salt to thy suppliant, thou who now, when sitting at another’s table, hadst not the heart to take of the bread and give me aught. Yet here lies plenty at thy hand.”
 So he spoke, and Antinous waxed the more wroth at heart, and with an angry glance from beneath his brows spoke to him winged words: “Now verily, methinks, thou shalt no more go forth from the hall in seemly fashion, since thou dost even utter words of reviling.”
 So saying, he seized the footstool and flung it, and struck Odysseus on the base of the right shoulder, where it joins the back. But he stood firm as a rock, nor did the missile of Antinous make him reel; but he shook his head in silence, pondering evil in the deep of his heart. Then back to the threshold he went and sat down, and down he laid his well-filled wallet; and he spoke among the wooers: “Hear me, wooers of the glorious queen, that I may say what the heart in my breast bids me. Verily there is no pain of heart nor any grief when a man is smitten while fighting for his own possessions, whether for his cattle or for his white sheep; but Antinous has smitten me for my wretched belly’s sake, an accursed plague that brings many evils upon men. Ah, if for beggars there are gods and avengers, may the doom of death come upon Antinous before his marriage.”
Learn more about the author Réamonn Ó Ciaráin and his role at Aonach Macha.