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.
Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,
our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.
So long as the gods grant him power, spring in his knees,
he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.
But then, when the happy gods bring on the long hard times,
bear them he must, against his will, and steel his heart.
Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,
turn as the days turn . . .
So I cannot tell if the gods will sail me home again
or I’ll go down out there, on the fields of Troy,
but all things here must rest in your control.
Watch over my father and mother in the palace,
just as now, or perhaps a little more,
when I am far from home.
But once you see the beard on the boy’s cheek,
you wed the man you like, and leave your house behind.