HotFreeBooks.com
The Odyssey of Homer
by Homer
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

FOOTNOTES:

[38] It is supposed by Eustathius that the pastures being infested by gad flies and other noxious insects in the day-time, they drove their sheep a-field in the morning, which by their wool were defended from them, and their cattle in the evening, when the insects had withdrawn. It is one of the few passages in Homer that must lie at the mercy of conjecture.

[39] The word has the authority of Shakspeare, and signifies overhanging.



BOOK XI

ARGUMENT

Ulysses relates to Alcinoues his voyage to the infernal regions, his conference there with the prophet Tiresias concerning his return to Ithaca, and gives him an account of the heroes, heroines, and others whom he saw there.

Arriving on the shore, and launching, first, Our bark into the sacred Deep, we set Our mast and sails, and stow'd secure on board The ram and ewe, then, weeping, and with hearts Sad and disconsolate, embark'd ourselves. And now, melodious Circe, nymph divine, Sent after us a canvas-stretching breeze, Pleasant companion of our course, and we (The decks and benches clear'd) untoiling sat, While managed gales sped swift the bark along. 10 All day, with sails distended, e'er the Deep She flew, and when the sun, at length, declined, And twilight dim had shadow'd all the ways, Approach'd the bourn of Ocean's vast profound. The city, there, of the Cimmerians stands With clouds and darkness veil'd, on whom the sun Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye, Or when he climbs the starry arch, or when Earthward he slopes again his west'ring wheels,[40] But sad night canopies the woeful race. 20 We haled the bark aground, and, landing there The ram and sable ewe, journey'd beside The Deep, till we arrived where Circe bade. Here, Perimedes' son Eurylochus Held fast the destined sacrifice, while I Scoop'd with my sword the soil, op'ning a trench Ell-broad on ev'ry side, then pour'd around Libation consecrate to all the dead, First, milk with honey mixt, then luscious wine, Then water, sprinkling, last, meal over all. 30 This done, adoring the unreal forms And shadows of the dead, I vow'd to slay, (Return'd to Ithaca) in my own abode, An heifer barren yet, fairest and best Of all my herds, and to enrich the pile With delicacies, such as please the shades. But, in peculiar, to the Theban seer I vow'd a sable ram, largest and best Of all my flocks. When thus I had implored With vows and pray'r, the nations of the dead, 40 Piercing the victims next, I turn'd them both To bleed into the trench; then swarming came From Erebus the shades of the deceased, Brides, youths unwedded, seniors long with woe Oppress'd, and tender girls yet new to grief. Came also many a warrior by the spear In battle pierced, with armour gore-distain'd, And all the multitude around the foss Stalk'd shrieking dreadful; me pale horror seized. I next, importunate, my people urged, 50 Flaying the victims which myself had slain, To burn them, and to supplicate in pray'r Illustrious Pluto and dread Proserpine. Then down I sat, and with drawn faulchion chased The ghosts, nor suffer'd them to approach the blood, Till with Tiresias I should first confer. The spirit, first, of my companion came, Elpenor; for no burial honours yet Had he received, but we had left his corse In Circe's palace, tombless, undeplored, 60 Ourselves by pressure urged of other cares. Touch'd with compassion seeing him, I wept, And in wing'd accents brief him thus bespake. Elpenor! how cam'st thou into the realms Of darkness? Hast thou, though on foot, so far Outstripp'd my speed, who in my bark arrived? So I, to whom with tears he thus replied. Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd! Fool'd by some daemon and the intemp'rate bowl, I perish'd in the house of Circe; there 70 The deep-descending steps heedless I miss'd, And fell precipitated from the roof. With neck-bone broken from the vertebrae Outstretch'd I lay; my spirit sought the shades. But now, by those whom thou hast left at home, By thy Penelope, and by thy fire, The gentle nourisher of thy infant growth, And by thy only son Telemachus I make my suit to thee. For, sure, I know That from the house of Pluto safe return'd, 80 Thou shalt ere long thy gallant vessel moor At the AEaean isle. Ah! there arrived Remember me. Leave me not undeplored Nor uninhumed, lest, for my sake, the Gods In vengeance visit thee; but with my arms (What arms soe'er I left) burn me, and raise A kind memorial of me on the coast, Heap'd high with earth; that an unhappy man May yet enjoy an unforgotten name. Thus do at my request, and on my hill 90 Funereal, plant the oar with which I row'd, While yet I lived a mariner of thine. He spake, to whom thus answer I return'd. Poor youth! I will perform thy whole desire. Thus we, there sitting, doleful converse held, With outstretch'd faulchion, I, guarding the blood, And my companion's shadowy semblance sad Meantime discoursing me on various themes. The soul of my departed mother, next, Of Anticleia came, daughter of brave 100 Autolycus; whom, when I sought the shores Of Ilium, I had living left at home. Seeing her, with compassion touch'd, I wept, Yet even her, (although it pain'd my soul) Forbad, relentless, to approach the blood, Till with Tiresias I should first confer. Then came the spirit of the Theban seer Himself, his golden sceptre in his hand, Who knew me, and, enquiring, thus began. Why, hapless Chief! leaving the cheerful day, 110 Arriv'st thou to behold the dead, and this Unpleasant land? but, from the trench awhile Receding, turn thy faulchion keen away, That I may drink the blood, and tell thee truth. He spake; I thence receding, deep infix'd My sword bright-studded in the sheath again. The noble prophet then, approaching, drank The blood, and, satisfied, address'd me thus. Thou seek'st a pleasant voyage home again, Renown'd Ulysses! but a God will make 120 That voyage difficult; for, as I judge, Thou wilt not pass by Neptune unperceiv'd, Whose anger follows thee, for that thou hast Deprived his son Cyclops of his eye. At length, however, after num'rous woes Endur'd, thou may'st attain thy native isle, If thy own appetite thou wilt controul And theirs who follow thee, what time thy bark Well-built, shall at Thrinacia's shore arrive,[41] Escaped from perils of the gloomy Deep. 130 There shall ye find grazing the flocks and herds Of the all-seeing and all-hearing Sun, Which, if attentive to thy safe return, Thou leave unharm'd, though after num'rous woes, Ye may at length arrive in Ithaca. But if thou violate them, I denounce Destruction on thy ship and all thy band, And though thyself escape, late shalt thou reach Thy home and hard-bested,[42] in a strange bark, All thy companions lost; trouble beside 140 Awaits thee there, for thou shalt find within Proud suitors of thy noble wife, who waste Thy substance, and with promis'd spousal gifts Ceaseless solicit her to wed; yet well Shalt thou avenge all their injurious deeds. That once perform'd, and ev'ry suitor slain Either by stratagem, or face to face, In thy own palace, bearing, as thou go'st, A shapely oar, journey, till thou hast found A people who the sea know not, nor eat 150 Food salted; they trim galley crimson prow'd Have ne'er beheld, nor yet smooth-shaven oar, With which the vessel wing'd scuds o'er the waves. Well thou shalt know them; this shall be the sign— When thou shalt meet a trav'ler, who shall name The oar on thy broad shoulder borne, a van,[43] There, deep infixing it within the soil, Worship the King of Ocean with a bull, A ram, and a lascivious boar, then seek Thy home again, and sacrifice at home 160 An hecatomb to the Immortal Gods, Adoring each duly, and in his course. So shalt thou die in peace a gentle death, Remote from Ocean; it shall find thee late, In soft serenity of age, the Chief Of a blest people.—I have told thee truth. He spake, to whom I answer thus return'd. Tiresias! thou, I doubt not, hast reveal'd The ordinance of heav'n. But tell me, Seer! And truly. I behold my mother's shade; 170 Silent she sits beside the blood, nor word Nor even look vouchsafes to her own son. How shall she learn, prophet, that I am her's? So I, to whom Tiresias quick replied. The course is easy. Learn it, taught by me. What shade soe'er, by leave of thee obtain'd, Shall taste the blood, that shade will tell thee truth; The rest, prohibited, will all retire. When thus the spirit of the royal Seer Had his prophetic mind reveal'd, again 180 He enter'd Pluto's gates; but I unmoved Still waited till my mother's shade approach'd; She drank the blood, then knew me, and in words Wing'd with affection, plaintive, thus began. My son! how hast thou enter'd, still alive, This darksome region? Difficult it is For living man to view the realms of death. Broad rivers roll, and awful floods between, But chief, the Ocean, which to pass on foot, Or without ship, impossible is found. 190 Hast thou, long wand'ring in thy voyage home From Ilium, with thy ship and crew arrived, Ithaca and thy consort yet unseen? She spake, to whom this answer I return'd. My mother! me necessity constrain'd To Pluto's dwelling, anxious to consult Theban Tiresias; for I have not yet Approach'd Achaia, nor have touch'd the shore Of Ithaca, but suff'ring ceaseless woe Have roam'd, since first in Agamemnon's train 200 I went to combat with the sons of Troy. But speak, my mother, and the truth alone; What stroke of fate slew thee? Fell'st thou a prey To some slow malady? or by the shafts Of gentle Dian suddenly subdued? Speak to me also of my ancient Sire, And of Telemachus, whom I left at home; Possess I still unalienate and safe My property, or hath some happier Chief Admittance free into my fortunes gain'd, 210 No hope subsisting more of my return? The mind and purpose of my wedded wife Declare thou also. Dwells she with our son Faithful to my domestic interests, Or is she wedded to some Chief of Greece? I ceas'd, when thus the venerable shade. Not so; she faithful still and patient dwells Thy roof beneath; but all her days and nights Devoting sad to anguish and to tears. Thy fortunes still are thine; Telemachus 220 Cultivates, undisturb'd, thy land, and sits At many a noble banquet, such as well Beseems the splendour of his princely state, For all invite him; at his farm retired Thy father dwells, nor to the city comes, For aught; nor bed, nor furniture of bed, Furr'd cloaks or splendid arras he enjoys, But, with his servile hinds all winter sleeps In ashes and in dust at the hearth-side, Coarsely attired; again, when summer comes, 230 Or genial autumn, on the fallen leaves In any nook, not curious where, he finds There, stretch'd forlorn, nourishing grief, he weeps Thy lot, enfeebled now by num'rous years. So perish'd I; such fate I also found; Me, neither the right-aiming arch'ress struck, Diana, with her gentle shafts, nor me Distemper slew, my limbs by slow degrees But sure, bereaving of their little life, 240 But long regret, tender solicitude, And recollection of thy kindness past, These, my Ulysses! fatal proved to me. She said; I, ardent wish'd to clasp the shade Of my departed mother; thrice I sprang Toward her, by desire impetuous urged, And thrice she flitted from between my arms, Light as a passing shadow or a dream. Then, pierced by keener grief, in accents wing'd With filial earnestness I thus replied. 250 My mother, why elud'st thou my attempt To clasp thee, that ev'n here, in Pluto's realm, We might to full satiety indulge Our grief, enfolded in each other's arms? Hath Proserpine, alas! only dispatch'd A shadow to me, to augment my woe? Then, instant, thus the venerable form. Ah, son! thou most afflicted of mankind! On thee, Jove's daughter, Proserpine, obtrudes No airy semblance vain; but such the state 260 And nature is of mortals once deceased. For they nor muscle have, nor flesh, nor bone; All those (the spirit from the body once Divorced) the violence of fire consumes, And, like a dream, the soul flies swift away. But haste thou back to light, and, taught thyself These sacred truths, hereafter teach thy spouse. Thus mutual we conferr'd. Then, thither came, Encouraged forth by royal Proserpine, Shades female num'rous, all who consorts, erst, 270 Or daughters were of mighty Chiefs renown'd. About the sable blood frequent they swarm'd. But I, consid'ring sat, how I might each Interrogate, and thus resolv'd. My sword Forth drawing from beside my sturdy thigh, Firm I prohibited the ghosts to drink The blood together; they successive came; Each told her own distress; I question'd all. There, first, the high-born Tyro I beheld; She claim'd Salmoneus as her sire, and wife 280 Was once of Cretheus, son of AEolus. Enamour'd of Enipeus, stream divine, Loveliest of all that water earth, beside His limpid current she was wont to stray, When Ocean's God, (Enipeus' form assumed) Within the eddy-whirling river's mouth Embraced her; there, while the o'er-arching flood, Uplifted mountainous, conceal'd the God And his fair human bride, her virgin zone He loos'd, and o'er her eyes sweet sleep diffused. 290 His am'rous purpose satisfied, he grasp'd Her hand, affectionate, and thus he said. Rejoice in this my love, and when the year Shall tend to consummation of its course, Thou shalt produce illustrious twins, for love Immortal never is unfruitful love. Rear them with all a mother's care; meantime, Hence to thy home. Be silent. Name it not. For I am Neptune, Shaker of the shores. So saying, he plunged into the billowy Deep. 300 She pregnant grown, Pelias and Neleus bore, Both, valiant ministers of mighty Jove. In wide-spread Iaeolchus Pelias dwelt, Of num'rous flocks possess'd; but his abode Amid the sands of Pylus Neleus chose. To Cretheus wedded next, the lovely nymph Yet other sons, AEson and Pheres bore, And Amythaon of equestrian fame. I, next, the daughter of Asopus saw, Antiope; she gloried to have known 310 Th' embrace of Jove himself, to whom she brought A double progeny, Amphion named And Zethus; they the seven-gated Thebes Founded and girded with strong tow'rs, because, Though puissant Heroes both, in spacious Thebes Unfenced by tow'rs, they could not dwell secure. Alcmena, next, wife of Amphitryon I saw; she in the arms of sov'reign Jove The lion-hearted Hercules conceiv'd, And, after, bore to Creon brave in fight 320 His daughter Megara, by the noble son Unconquer'd of Amphitryon espoused. The beauteous Epicaste[44] saw I then, Mother of Oedipus, who guilt incurr'd Prodigious, wedded, unintentional, To her own son; his father first he slew, Then wedded her, which soon the Gods divulged. He, under vengeance of offended heav'n, In pleasant Thebes dwelt miserable, King Of the Cadmean race; she to the gates 330 Of Ades brazen-barr'd despairing went, Self-strangled by a cord fasten'd aloft To her own palace-roof, and woes bequeath'd (Such as the Fury sisters execute Innumerable) to her guilty son. There also saw I Chloris, loveliest fair, Whom Neleus woo'd and won with spousal gifts Inestimable, by her beauty charm'd She youngest daughter was of Iasus' son, Amphion, in old time a sov'reign prince 340 In Minueian Orchomenus, And King of Pylus. Three illustrious sons She bore to Neleus, Nestor, Chromius, And Periclymenus the wide-renown'd, And, last, produced a wonder of the earth, Pero, by ev'ry neighbour prince around In marriage sought; but Neleus her on none Deign'd to bestow, save only on the Chief Who should from Phylace drive off the beeves (Broad-fronted, and with jealous care secured) 350 Of valiant Iphicles. One undertook That task alone, a prophet high in fame, Melampus; but the Fates fast bound him there In rig'rous bonds by rustic hands imposed. At length (the year, with all its months and days Concluded, and the new-born year begun) Illustrious Iphicles releas'd the seer, Grateful for all the oracles resolved,[45] Till then obscure. So stood the will of Jove. Next, Leda, wife of Tyndarus I saw, 360 Who bore to Tyndarus a noble pair, Castor the bold, and Pollux cestus-famed. They pris'ners in the fertile womb of earth, Though living, dwell, and even there from Jove High priv'lege gain; alternate they revive And die, and dignity partake divine. The comfort of Aloeus, next, I view'd, Iphimedeia; she th' embrace profess'd Of Neptune to have shared, to whom she bore Two sons; short-lived they were, but godlike both, 370 Otus and Ephialtes far-renown'd. Orion sole except, all-bounteous Earth Ne'er nourish'd forms for beauty or for size To be admired as theirs; in his ninth year Each measur'd, broad, nine cubits, and the height Was found nine ells of each. Against the Gods Themselves they threaten'd war, and to excite The din of battle in the realms above. To the Olympian summit they essay'd To heave up Ossa, and to Ossa's crown 380 Branch-waving Pelion; so to climb the heav'ns. Nor had they failed, maturer grown in might, To accomplish that emprize, but them the son[46] Of radiant-hair'd Latona and of Jove Slew both, ere yet the down of blooming youth Thick-sprung, their cheeks or chins had tufted o'er. Phaedra I also there, and Procris saw, And Ariadne for her beauty praised, Whose sire was all-wise Minos. Theseus her From Crete toward the fruitful region bore 390 Of sacred Athens, but enjoy'd not there, For, first, she perish'd by Diana's shafts In Dia, Bacchus witnessing her crime.[47] Maera and Clymene I saw beside, And odious Eriphyle, who received The price in gold of her own husband's life. But all the wives of Heroes whom I saw, And all their daughters can I not relate; Night, first, would fail; and even now the hour Calls me to rest either on board my bark, 400 Or here; meantime, I in yourselves confide, And in the Gods to shape my conduct home. He ceased; the whole assembly silent sat, Charm'd into ecstacy by his discourse Throughout the twilight hall, till, at the last, Areta iv'ry arm'd them thus bespake. Phaeacians! how appears he in your eyes This stranger, graceful as he is in port, In stature noble, and in mind discrete? My guest he is, but ye all share with me 410 That honour; him dismiss not, therefore, hence With haste, nor from such indigence withhold Supplies gratuitous; for ye are rich, And by kind heav'n with rare possessions blest. The Hero, next, Echeneus spake, a Chief Now ancient, eldest of Phaeacia's sons. Your prudent Queen, my friends, speaks not beside Her proper scope, but as beseems her well. Her voice obey; yet the effect of all Must on Alcinoues himself depend. 420 To whom Alcinoues, thus, the King, replied. I ratify the word. So shall be done, As surely as myself shall live supreme O'er all Phaeacia's maritime domain. Then let the guest, though anxious to depart, Wait till the morrow, that I may complete The whole donation. His safe conduct home Shall be the gen'ral care, but mine in Chief, To whom dominion o'er the rest belongs. Him answer'd, then, Ulysses ever-wise. 430 Alcinoues! Prince! exalted high o'er all Phaeacia's sons! should ye solicit, kind, My stay throughout the year, preparing still My conduct home, and with illustrious gifts Enriching me the while, ev'n that request Should please me well; the wealthier I return'd, The happier my condition; welcome more And more respectable I should appear In ev'ry eye to Ithaca restored. To whom Alcinoues answer thus return'd. 440 Ulysses! viewing thee, no fears we feel Lest thou, at length, some false pretender prove, Or subtle hypocrite, of whom no few Disseminated o'er its face the earth Sustains, adepts in fiction, and who frame Fables, where fables could be least surmised. Thy phrase well turn'd, and thy ingenuous mind Proclaim thee diff'rent far, who hast in strains Musical as a poet's voice, the woes Rehears'd of all thy Greecians, and thy own. 450 But say, and tell me true. Beheld'st thou there None of thy followers to the walls of Troy Slain in that warfare? Lo! the night is long— A night of utmost length; nor yet the hour Invites to sleep. Tell me thy wond'rous deeds, For I could watch till sacred dawn, could'st thou So long endure to tell me of thy toils. Then thus Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. Alcinoues! high exalted over all Phaeacia's sons! the time suffices yet 460 For converse both and sleep, and if thou wish To hear still more, I shall not spare to unfold More pitiable woes than these, sustain'd By my companions, in the end destroy'd; Who, saved from perils of disast'rous war At Ilium, perish'd yet in their return, Victims of a pernicious woman's crime.[48] Now, when chaste Proserpine had wide dispers'd Those female shades, the spirit sore distress'd Of Agamemnon, Atreus' son, appear'd; 470 Encircled by a throng, he came; by all Who with himself beneath AEgisthus' roof Their fate fulfill'd, perishing by the sword. He drank the blood, and knew me; shrill he wail'd And querulous; tears trickling bathed his cheeks, And with spread palms, through ardour of desire He sought to enfold me fast, but vigour none, Or force, as erst, his agile limbs inform'd. I, pity-moved, wept at the sight, and him, In accents wing'd by friendship, thus address'd. 480 Ah glorious son of Atreus, King of men! What hand inflicted the all-numbing stroke Of death on thee? Say, didst thou perish sunk By howling tempests irresistible Which Neptune raised, or on dry land by force Of hostile multitudes, while cutting off Beeves from the herd, or driving flocks away, Or fighting for Achaia's daughters, shut Within some city's bulwarks close besieged? I ceased, when Agamemnon thus replied. 490 Ulysses, noble Chief, Laertes' son For wisdom famed! I neither perish'd sunk By howling tempests irresistible Which Neptune raised, nor on dry land received From hostile multitudes the fatal blow, But me AEgisthus slew; my woeful death Confed'rate with my own pernicious wife He plotted, with a show of love sincere Bidding me to his board, where as the ox Is slaughter'd at his crib, he slaughter'd me. 500 Such was my dreadful death; carnage ensued Continual of my friends slain all around, Num'rous as boars bright-tusk'd at nuptial feast, Or feast convivial of some wealthy Chief. Thou hast already witness'd many a field With warriors overspread, slain one by one, But that dire scene had most thy pity moved, For we, with brimming beakers at our side, And underneath full tables bleeding lay. Blood floated all the pavement. Then the cries 510 Of Priam's daughter sounded in my ears Most pitiable of all. Cassandra's cries, Whom Clytemnestra close beside me slew. Expiring as I lay, I yet essay'd To grasp my faulchion, but the trayt'ress quick Withdrew herself, nor would vouchsafe to close My languid eyes, or prop my drooping chin Ev'n in the moment when I sought the shades. So that the thing breathes not, ruthless and fell As woman once resolv'd on such a deed 520 Detestable, as my base wife contrived, The murther of the husband of her youth. I thought to have return'd welcome to all, To my own children and domestic train; But she, past measure profligate, hath poured Shame on herself, on women yet unborn, And even on the virtuous of her sex. He ceas'd, to whom, thus, answer I return'd. Gods! how severely hath the thund'rer plagued The house of Atreus even from the first, 530 By female counsels! we for Helen's sake Have num'rous died, and Clytemnestra framed, While thou wast far remote, this snare for thee! So I, to whom Atrides thus replied. Thou, therefore, be not pliant overmuch To woman; trust her not with all thy mind, But half disclose to her, and half conceal. Yet, from thy consort's hand no bloody death, My friend, hast thou to fear; for passing wise Icarius' daughter is, far other thoughts, 540 Intelligent, and other plans, to frame. Her, going to the wars we left a bride New-wedded, and thy boy hung at her breast, Who, man himself, consorts ere now with men A prosp'rous youth; his father, safe restored To his own Ithaca, shall see him soon, And he shall clasp his father in his arms As nature bids; but me, my cruel one Indulged not with the dear delight to gaze On my Orestes, for she slew me first. 550 But listen; treasure what I now impart.[49] Steer secret to thy native isle; avoid Notice; for woman merits trust no more. Now tell me truth. Hear ye in whose abode My son resides? dwells he in Pylus, say, Or in Orchomenos, or else beneath My brother's roof in Sparta's wide domain? For my Orestes is not yet a shade. So he, to whom I answer thus return'd. Atrides, ask not me. Whether he live, 560 Or have already died, I nothing know; Mere words are vanity, and better spared. Thus we discoursing mutual stood, and tears Shedding disconsolate. The shade, meantime, Came of Achilles, Peleus' mighty son; Patroclus also, and Antilochus Appear'd, with Ajax, for proportion just And stature tall, (Pelides sole except) Distinguish'd above all Achaia's sons. The soul of swift AEacides at once 570 Knew me, and in wing'd accents thus began. Brave Laertiades, for wiles renown'd! What mightier enterprise than all the past Hath made thee here a guest? rash as thou art! How hast thou dared to penetrate the gloom Of Ades, dwelling of the shadowy dead, Semblances only of what once they were? He spake, to whom I, answ'ring, thus replied. O Peleus' son! Achilles! bravest far Of all Achaia's race! I here arrived 580 Seeking Tiresias, from his lips to learn, Perchance, how I might safe regain the coast Of craggy Ithaca; for tempest-toss'd Perpetual, I have neither yet approach'd Achaia's shore, or landed on my own. But as for thee, Achilles! never man Hath known felicity like thine, or shall, Whom living we all honour'd as a God, And who maintain'st, here resident, supreme Controul among the dead; indulge not then, 590 Achilles, causeless grief that thou hast died. I ceased, and answer thus instant received. Renown'd Ulysses! think not death a theme Of consolation; I had rather live The servile hind for hire, and eat the bread Of some man scantily himself sustain'd, Than sov'reign empire hold o'er all the shades. But come—speak to me of my noble boy; Proceeds he, as he promis'd, brave in arms, Or shuns he war? Say also, hast thou heard 600 Of royal Peleus? shares he still respect Among his num'rous Myrmidons, or scorn In Hellas and in Phthia, for that age Predominates in his enfeebled limbs? For help is none in me; the glorious sun No longer sees me such, as when in aid Of the Achaians I o'erspread the field Of spacious Troy with all their bravest slain. Oh might I, vigorous as then, repair[50] For one short moment to my father's house, 610 They all should tremble; I would shew an arm, Such as should daunt the fiercest who presumes To injure him, or to despise his age. Achilles spake, to whom I thus replied. Of noble Peleus have I nothing heard; But I will tell thee, as thou bidd'st, the truth Unfeign'd of Neoptolemus thy son; For him, myself, on board my hollow bark From Scyros to Achaia's host convey'd. Oft as in council under Ilium's walls 620 We met, he ever foremost was in speech, Nor spake erroneous; Nestor and myself Except, no Greecian could with him compare. Oft, too, as we with battle hemm'd around Troy's bulwarks, from among the mingled crowd Thy son sprang foremost into martial act, Inferior in heroic worth to none. Beneath him num'rous fell the sons of Troy In dreadful fight, nor have I pow'r to name Distinctly all, who by his glorious arm 630 Exerted in the cause of Greece, expired. Yet will I name Eurypylus, the son Of Telephus, an Hero whom his sword Of life bereaved, and all around him strew'd The plain with his Cetean warriors, won To Ilium's side by bribes to women giv'n.[51] Save noble Memnon only, I beheld No Chief at Ilium beautiful as he. Again, when we within the horse of wood Framed by Epeues sat, an ambush chos'n 640 Of all the bravest Greeks, and I in trust Was placed to open or to keep fast-closed The hollow fraud; then, ev'ry Chieftain there And Senator of Greece wiped from his cheeks The tears, and tremors felt in ev'ry limb; But never saw I changed to terror's hue His ruddy cheek, no tears wiped he away, But oft he press'd me to go forth, his suit With pray'rs enforcing, griping hard his hilt And his brass-burthen'd spear, and dire revenge 650 Denouncing, ardent, on the race of Troy. At length, when we had sack'd the lofty town Of Priam, laden with abundant spoils He safe embark'd, neither by spear or shaft Aught hurt, or in close fight by faulchion's edge, As oft in war befalls, where wounds are dealt Promiscuous at the will of fiery Mars. So I; then striding large, the spirit thence Withdrew of swift AEacides, along The hoary mead pacing,[52] with joy elate 660 That I had blazon'd bright his son's renown. The other souls of men by death dismiss'd Stood mournful by, sad uttering each his woes; The soul alone I saw standing remote Of Telamonian Ajax, still incensed That in our public contest for the arms Worn by Achilles, and by Thetis thrown Into dispute, my claim had strongest proved, Troy and Minerva judges of the cause. Disastrous victory! which I could wish 670 Not to have won, since for that armour's sake The earth hath cover'd Ajax, in his form And martial deeds superior far to all The Greecians, Peleus' matchless son except. I, seeking to appease him, thus began. O Ajax, son of glorious Telamon! Canst thou remember, even after death, Thy wrath against me, kindled for the sake Of those pernicious arms? arms which the Gods Ordain'd of such dire consequence to Greece, 680 Which caused thy death, our bulwark! Thee we mourn With grief perpetual, nor the death lament Of Peleus' son, Achilles, more than thine. Yet none is blameable; Jove evermore With bitt'rest hate pursued Achaia's host, And he ordain'd thy death. Hero! approach, That thou may'st hear the words with which I seek To sooth thee; let thy long displeasure cease! Quell all resentment in thy gen'rous breast! I spake; nought answer'd he, but sullen join'd 690 His fellow-ghosts; yet, angry as he was, I had prevail'd even on him to speak, Or had, at least, accosted him again, But that my bosom teem'd with strong desire Urgent, to see yet others of the dead. There saw I Minos, offspring famed of Jove; His golden sceptre in his hand, he sat Judge of the dead; they, pleading each in turn, His cause, some stood, some sat, filling the house Whose spacious folding-gates are never closed. 700 Orion next, huge ghost, engaged my view, Droves urging o'er the grassy mead, of beasts Which he had slain, himself, on the wild hills, With strong club arm'd of ever-during brass. There also Tityus on the ground I saw Extended, offspring of the glorious earth; Nine acres he o'erspread, and, at his side Station'd, two vultures on his liver prey'd, Scooping his entrails; nor sufficed his hands To fray them thence; for he had sought to force 710 Latona, illustrious concubine of Jove, What time the Goddess journey'd o'er the rocks Of Pytho into pleasant Panopeus. Next, suff'ring grievous torments, I beheld Tantalus; in a pool he stood, his chin Wash'd by the wave; thirst-parch'd he seem'd, but found Nought to assuage his thirst; for when he bow'd His hoary head, ardent to quaff, the flood Vanish'd absorb'd, and, at his feet, adust The soil appear'd, dried, instant, by the Gods. 720 Tall trees, fruit-laden, with inflected heads Stoop'd to him, pomegranates, apples bright, The luscious fig, and unctuous olive smooth; Which when with sudden grasp he would have seized, Winds hurl'd them high into the dusky clouds. There, too, the hard-task'd Sisyphus I saw, Thrusting before him, strenuous, a vast rock.[53] With hands and feet struggling, he shoved the stone Up to a hill-top; but the steep well-nigh Vanquish'd, by some great force repulsed,[54] the mass 730 Rush'd again, obstinate, down to the plain. Again, stretch'd prone, severe he toiled, the sweat Bathed all his weary limbs, and his head reek'd. The might of Hercules I, next, survey'd; His semblance; for himself their banquet shares With the Immortal Gods, and in his arms Enfolds neat-footed Hebe, daughter fair Of Jove, and of his golden-sandal'd spouse. Around him, clamorous as birds, the dead Swarm'd turbulent; he, gloomy-brow'd as night, 740 With uncased bow and arrow on the string Peer'd terrible from side to side, as one Ever in act to shoot; a dreadful belt He bore athwart his bosom, thong'd with gold. There, broider'd shone many a stupendous form, Bears, wild boars, lions with fire-flashing eyes, Fierce combats, battles, bloodshed, homicide. The artist, author of that belt, none such Before, produced, or after. Me his eye No sooner mark'd, than knowing me, in words 750 By sorrow quick suggested, he began. Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd! Ah, hapless Hero! thou art, doubtless, charged, Thou also, with some arduous labour, such As in the realms of day I once endured. Son was I of Saturnian Jove, yet woes Immense sustain'd, subjected to a King Inferior far to me, whose harsh commands Enjoin'd me many a terrible exploit. He even bade me on a time lead hence 760 The dog, that task believing above all Impracticable; yet from Ades him I dragg'd reluctant into light, by aid Of Hermes, and of Pallas azure-eyed. So saying, he penetrated deep again The abode of Pluto; but I still unmoved There stood expecting, curious, other shades To see of Heroes in old time deceased. And now, more ancient worthies still, and whom I wish'd, I had beheld, Pirithoues 770 And Theseus, glorious progeny of Gods, But nations, first, numberless of the dead Came shrieking hideous; me pale horror seized, Lest awful Proserpine should thither send The Gorgon-head from Ades, sight abhorr'd! I, therefore, hasting to the vessel, bade My crew embark, and cast the hawsers loose. They, quick embarking, on the benches sat. Down the Oceanus[55] the current bore My galley, winning, at the first, her way 780 With oars, then, wafted by propitious gales.

FOOTNOTES:

[40] Milton.

[41] The shore of Scilly commonly called Trinacria, but Euphonice by Homer, Thrinacia.

[42] The expression is used by Milton, and signifies—Beset with many difficulties.

[43] Mistaking the oar for a corn-van. A sure indication of his ignorance of maritime concerns.

[44] By the Tragedians called—Jocasta.

[45] Iphicles had been informed by the Oracles that he should have no children till instructed by a prophet how to obtain them; a service which Melampus had the good fortune to render him.

[46] Apollo.

[47] Bacchus accused her to Diana of having lain with Theseus in his temple, and the Goddess punished her with death.

[48] Probably meaning Helen.

[49] This is surely one of the most natural strokes to be found in any Poet. Convinced, for a moment, by the virtues of Penelope, he mentioned her with respect; but recollecting himself suddenly, involves even her in his general ill opinion of the sex, begotten in him by the crimes of Clytemnestra.

[50] Another most beautiful stroke of nature. Ere yet Ulysses has had opportunity to answer, the very thought that Peleus may possibly be insulted, fires him, and he takes the whole for granted. Thus is the impetuous character of Achilles sustained to the last moment!

[51] Gynaion eineka doron—Priam is said to have influenced by gifts the wife and mother of Eurypylus, to persuade him to the assistance of Troy, he being himself unwilling to engage. The passage through defect of history has long been dark, and commentators have adapted different senses to it, all conjectural. The Ceteans are said to have been a people of Mysia, of which Eurypylus was King.

[52] Kat' asphodelon leimona—Asphodel was planted on the graves and around the tombs of the deceased, and hence the supposition that the Stygian plain was clothed with asphodel. F.

[53] Basazonta must have this sense interpreted by what follows. To attempt to make the English numbers expressive as the Greek is a labour like that of Sisyphus. The Translator has done what he could.

[54] It is now, perhaps, impossible to ascertain with precision what Homer meant by the word krataiis, which he uses only here, and in the next book, where it is the name of Scylla's dam.—Anaides—is also of very doubtful explication.

[55] The two first lines of the following book seem to ascertain the true meaning of the conclusion of this, and to prove sufficiently that by Okeanos here Homer could not possibly intend any other than a river. In those lines he tells us in the plainest terms that the ship left the stream of the river Oceanus, and arrived in the open sea. Diodorus Siculus informs us that Okeanos had been a name anciently given to the Nile. See Clarke.



BOOK XII

ARGUMENT

Ulysses, pursuing his narrative, relates his return from the shades to Circe's island, the precautions given him by that Goddess, his escape from the Sirens, and from Scylla and Charybdis; his arrival in Sicily, where his companions, having slain and eaten the oxen of the Sun, are afterward shipwrecked and lost; and concludes the whole with an account of his arrival, alone, on the mast of his vessel, at the island of Calypso.

And now, borne seaward from the river-stream Of the Oceanus, we plow'd again The spacious Deep, and reach'd th' AEaean isle, Where, daughter of the dawn, Aurora takes Her choral sports, and whence the sun ascends. We, there arriving, thrust our bark aground On the smooth beach, then landed, and on shore Reposed, expectant of the sacred dawn. But soon as day-spring's daughter rosy-palm'd Look'd forth again, sending my friends before, 10 I bade them bring Elpenor's body down From the abode of Circe to the beach. Then, on the utmost headland of the coast We timber fell'd, and, sorrowing o'er the dead, His fun'ral rites water'd with tears profuse. The dead consumed, and with the dead his arms, We heap'd his tomb, and the sepulchral post Erecting, fix'd his shapely oar aloft. Thus, punctual, we perform'd; nor our return From Ades knew not Circe, but attired 20 In haste, ere long arrived, with whom appear'd Her female train with plenteous viands charged, And bright wine rosy-red. Amidst us all Standing, the beauteous Goddess thus began. Ah miserable! who have sought the shades Alive! while others of the human race Die only once, appointed twice to die! Come—take ye food; drink wine; and on the shore All day regale, for ye shall hence again At day-spring o'er the Deep; but I will mark 30 Myself your future course, nor uninform'd Leave you in aught, lest, through some dire mistake, By sea or land new mis'ries ye incur. The Goddess spake, whose invitation kind We glad accepted; thus we feasting sat Till set of sun, and quaffing richest wine; But when the sun went down and darkness fell, My crew beside the hawsers slept, while me The Goddess by the hand leading apart, First bade me sit, then, seated opposite, 40 Enquired, minute, of all that I had seen, And I, from first to last, recounted all. Then, thus the awful Goddess in return. Thus far thy toils are finish'd. Now attend! Mark well my words, of which the Gods will sure Themselves remind thee in the needful hour. First shalt thou reach the Sirens; they the hearts Enchant of all who on their coast arrive. The wretch, who unforewarn'd approaching, hears The Sirens' voice, his wife and little-ones 50 Ne'er fly to gratulate his glad return, But him the Sirens sitting in the meads Charm with mellifluous song, while all around The bones accumulated lie of men Now putrid, and the skins mould'ring away. But, pass them thou, and, lest thy people hear Those warblings, ere thou yet approach, fill all Their ears with wax moulded between thy palms; But as for thee—thou hear them if thou wilt. Yet let thy people bind thee to the mast 60 Erect, encompassing thy feet and arms With cordage well-secured to the mast-foot, So shalt thou, raptur'd, hear the Sirens' song. But if thou supplicate to be released, Or give such order, then, with added cords Let thy companions bind thee still the more. When thus thy people shall have safely pass'd The Sirens by, think not from me to learn What course thou next shalt steer; two will occur; Delib'rate chuse; I shall describe them both. 70 Here vaulted rocks impend, dash'd by the waves Immense of Amphitrite azure-eyed; The blessed Gods those rocks, Erratic, call. Birds cannot pass them safe; no, not the doves Which his ambrosia bear to Father Jove, But even of those doves the slipp'ry rock Proves fatal still to one, for which the God Supplies another, lest the number fail. No ship, what ship soever there arrives, Escapes them, but both mariners and planks 80 Whelm'd under billows of the Deep, or, caught By fiery tempests, sudden disappear. Those rocks the billow-cleaving bark alone The Argo, further'd by the vows of all, Pass'd safely, sailing from AEaeta's isle; Nor she had pass'd, but surely dash'd had been On those huge rocks, but that, propitious still To Jason, Juno sped her safe along. These rocks are two; one lifts his summit sharp High as the spacious heav'ns, wrapt in dun clouds 90 Perpetual, which nor autumn sees dispers'd Nor summer, for the sun shines never there; No mortal man might climb it or descend, Though twice ten hands and twice ten feet he own'd, For it is levigated as by art. Down scoop'd to Erebus, a cavern drear Yawns in the centre of its western side; Pass it, renown'd Ulysses! but aloof So far, that a keen arrow smartly sent Forth from thy bark should fail to reach the cave. 100 There Scylla dwells, and thence her howl is heard Tremendous; shrill her voice is as the note Of hound new-whelp'd, but hideous her aspect, Such as no mortal man, nor ev'n a God Encount'ring her, should with delight survey. Her feet are twelve, all fore-feet; six her necks Of hideous length, each clubb'd into a head Terrific, and each head with fangs is arm'd In triple row, thick planted, stored with death. Plunged to her middle in the hollow den 110 She lurks, protruding from the black abyss Her heads, with which the rav'ning monster dives In quest of dolphins, dog-fish, or of prey More bulky, such as in the roaring gulphs Of Amphitrite without end abounds. It is no seaman's boast that e'er he slipp'd Her cavern by, unharm'd. In ev'ry mouth She bears upcaught a mariner away. The other rock, Ulysses, thou shalt find Humbler, a bow-shot only from the first; 120 On this a wild fig grows broad-leav'd, and here Charybdis dire ingulphs the sable flood. Each day she thrice disgorges, and each day Thrice swallows it. Ah! well forewarn'd, beware What time she swallows, that thou come not nigh, For not himself, Neptune, could snatch thee thence. Close passing Scylla's rock, shoot swift thy bark Beyond it, since the loss of six alone Is better far than shipwreck made of all. So Circe spake, to whom I thus replied. 130 Tell me, O Goddess, next, and tell me true! If, chance, from fell Charybdis I escape, May I not also save from Scylla's force My people; should the monster threaten them? I said, and quick the Goddess in return. Unhappy! can exploits and toils of war Still please thee? yield'st not to the Gods themselves? She is no mortal, but a deathless pest, Impracticable, savage, battle-proof. Defence is vain; flight is thy sole resource. 140 For should'st thou linger putting on thy arms Beside the rock, beware, lest darting forth Her num'rous heads, she seize with ev'ry mouth A Greecian, and with others, even thee. Pass therefore swift, and passing, loud invoke Cratais, mother of this plague of man, Who will forbid her to assail thee more. Thou, next, shalt reach Thrinacia; there, the beeves And fatted flocks graze num'rous of the Sun; Sev'n herds; as many flocks of snowy fleece; 150 Fifty in each; they breed not, neither die, Nor are they kept by less than Goddesses, Lampetia fair, and Phaeethusa, both By nymph Neaera to Hyperion borne. Them, soon as she had train'd them to an age Proportion'd to that charge, their mother sent Into Thrinacia, there to dwell and keep Inviolate their father's flocks and herds. If, anxious for a safe return, thou spare Those herds and flocks, though after much endured, 160 Ye may at last your Ithaca regain; But should'st thou violate them, I foretell Destruction of thy ship and of thy crew, And though thyself escape, thou shalt return Late, in ill plight, and all thy friends destroy'd. She ended, and the golden morning dawn'd. Then, all-divine, her graceful steps she turn'd Back through the isle, and, at the beach arrived, I summon'd all my followers to ascend The bark again, and cast the hawsers loose. 170 They, at my voice, embarking, fill'd in ranks The seats, and rowing, thresh'd the hoary flood. And now, melodious Circe, nymph divine, Sent after us a canvas-stretching breeze, Pleasant companion of our course, and we (The decks and benches clear'd) untoiling sat, While managed gales sped swift the bark along. Then, with dejected heart, thus I began. Oh friends! (for it is needful that not one Or two alone the admonition hear 180 Of Circe, beauteous prophetess divine) To all I speak, that whether we escape Or perish, all may be, at least, forewarn'd. She bids us, first, avoid the dang'rous song Of the sweet Sirens and their flow'ry meads. Me only she permits those strains to hear; But ye shall bind me with coercion strong Of cordage well-secured to the mast-foot, And by no struggles to be loos'd of mine. But should I supplicate to be released 190 Or give such order, then, with added cords Be it your part to bind me still the more. Thus with distinct precaution I prepared My people; rapid in her course, meantime, My gallant bark approach'd the Sirens' isle, For brisk and favourable blew the wind. Then fell the wind suddenly, and serene A breathless calm ensued, while all around The billows slumber'd, lull'd by pow'r divine. Up-sprang my people, and the folded sails 200 Bestowing in the hold, sat to their oars, Which with their polish'd blades whiten'd the Deep. I, then, with edge of steel sev'ring minute A waxen cake, chafed it and moulded it Between my palms; ere long the ductile mass Grew warm, obedient to that ceaseless force, And to Hyperion's all-pervading beams. With that soft liniment I fill'd the ears Of my companions, man by man, and they My feet and arms with strong coercion bound 210 Of cordage to the mast-foot well secured. Then down they sat, and, rowing, thresh'd the brine. But when with rapid course we had arrived Within such distance as a voice may reach, Not unperceived by them the gliding bark Approach'd, and, thus, harmonious they began. Ulysses, Chief by ev'ry tongue extoll'd, Achaia's boast, oh hither steer thy bark! Here stay thy course, and listen to our lay! These shores none passes in his sable ship 220 Till, first, the warblings of our voice he hear, Then, happier hence and wiser he departs. All that the Greeks endured, and all the ills Inflicted by the Gods on Troy, we know, Know all that passes on the boundless earth. So they with voices sweet their music poured Melodious on my ear, winning with ease My heart's desire to listen, and by signs I bade my people, instant, set me free. But they incumbent row'd, and from their seats 230 Eurylochus and Perimedes sprang With added cords to bind me still the more. This danger past, and when the Sirens' voice, Now left remote, had lost its pow'r to charm, Then, my companions freeing from the wax Their ears, deliver'd me from my restraint. The island left afar, soon I discern'd Huge waves, and smoke, and horrid thund'rings heard. All sat aghast; forth flew at once the oars From ev'ry hand, and with a clash the waves 240 Smote all together; check'd, the galley stood, By billow-sweeping oars no longer urged, And I, throughout the bark, man after man Encouraged all, addressing thus my crew. We meet not, now, my friends, our first distress. This evil is not greater than we found When the huge Cyclops in his hollow den Imprison'd us, yet even thence we 'scaped, My intrepidity and fertile thought Opening the way; and we shall recollect 250 These dangers also, in due time, with joy. Come, then—pursue my counsel. Ye your seats Still occupying, smite the furrow'd flood With well-timed strokes, that by the will of Jove We may escape, perchance, this death, secure. To thee the pilot thus I speak, (my words Mark thou, for at thy touch the rudder moves) This smoke, and these tumultuous waves avoid; Steer wide of both; yet with an eye intent On yonder rock, lest unaware thou hold 260 Too near a course, and plunge us into harm. So I; with whose advice all, quick, complied. But Scylla I as yet named not, (that woe Without a cure) lest, terrified, my crew Should all renounce their oars, and crowd below. Just then, forgetful of the strict command Of Circe not to arm, I cloath'd me all In radiant armour, grasp'd two quiv'ring spears, And to the deck ascended at the prow, Expecting earliest notice there, what time 270 The rock-bred Scylla should annoy my friends. But I discern'd her not, nor could, although To weariness of sight the dusky rock I vigilant explored. Thus, many a groan Heaving, we navigated sad the streight, For here stood Scylla, while Charybdis there With hoarse throat deep absorb'd the briny flood. Oft as she vomited the deluge forth, Like water cauldron'd o'er a furious fire The whirling Deep all murmur'd, and the spray 280 On both those rocky summits fell in show'rs. But when she suck'd the salt wave down again, Then, all the pool appear'd wheeling about Within, the rock rebellow'd, and the sea Drawn off into that gulph disclosed to view The oozy bottom. Us pale horror seized. Thus, dreading death, with fast-set eyes we watch'd Charybdis; meantime, Scylla from the bark Caught six away, the bravest of my friends. With eyes, that moment, on my ship and crew 290 Retorted, I beheld the legs and arms Of those whom she uplifted in the air; On me they call'd, my name, the last, last time Pronouncing then, in agony of heart. As when from some bold point among the rocks The angler, with his taper rod in hand, Casts forth his bait to snare the smaller fry, He swings away remote his guarded line,[56] Then jerks his gasping prey forth from the Deep, So Scylla them raised gasping to the rock, 300 And at her cavern's mouth devour'd them loud- Shrieking, and stretching forth to me their arms In sign of hopeless mis'ry. Ne'er beheld These eyes in all the seas that I have roam'd, A sight so piteous, nor in all my toils. From Scylla and Charybdis dire escaped, We reach'd the noble island of the Sun Ere long, where bright Hyperion's beauteous herds Broad-fronted grazed, and his well-batten'd flocks. I, in the bark and on the sea, the voice 310 Of oxen bellowing in hovels heard, And of loud-bleating sheep; then dropp'd the word Into my memory of the sightless Seer, Theban Tiresias, and the caution strict Of Circe, my AEaean monitress, Who with such force had caution'd me to avoid The island of the Sun, joy of mankind. Thus then to my companions, sad, I spake. Hear ye, my friends! although long time distress'd, The words prophetic of the Theban seer 320 And of AEaean Circe, whose advice Was oft repeated to me to avoid This island of the Sun, joy of mankind. There, said the Goddess, dread your heaviest woes, Pass the isle, therefore, scudding swift away. I ceased; they me with consternation heard, And harshly thus Eurylochus replied. Ulysses, ruthless Chief! no toils impair Thy strength, of senseless iron thou art form'd, Who thy companions weary and o'erwatch'd 330 Forbidd'st to disembark on this fair isle, Where now, at last, we might with ease regale. Thou, rash, command'st us, leaving it afar, To roam all night the Ocean's dreary waste; But winds to ships injurious spring by night, And how shall we escape a dreadful death If, chance, a sudden gust from South arise Or stormy West, that dash in pieces oft The vessel, even in the Gods' despight? Prepare we rather now, as night enjoins, 340 Our evening fare beside the sable bark, In which at peep of day we may again Launch forth secure into the boundless flood. He ceas'd, whom all applauded. Then I knew That sorrow by the will of adverse heav'n Approach'd, and in wing'd accents thus replied. I suffer force, Eurylochus! and yield O'er-ruled by numbers. Come, then, swear ye all A solemn oath, that should we find an herd Or num'rous flock, none here shall either sheep 350 Or bullock slay, by appetite profane Seduced, but shall the viands eat content Which from immortal Circe we received. I spake; they readily a solemn oath Sware all, and when their oath was fully sworn, Within a creek where a fresh fountain rose They moor'd the bark, and, issuing, began Brisk preparation of their evening cheer. But when nor hunger now nor thirst remain'd Unsated, recollecting, then, their friends 360 By Scylla seized and at her cave devour'd, They mourn'd, nor ceased to mourn them, till they slept. The night's third portion come, when now the stars Had travers'd the mid-sky, cloud-gath'rer Jove Call'd forth a vehement wind with tempest charged, Menacing earth and sea with pitchy clouds Tremendous, and the night fell dark from heav'n. But when Aurora, daughter of the day, Look'd rosy forth, we haled, drawn inland more, Our bark into a grot, where nymphs were wont 370 Graceful to tread the dance, or to repose. Convening there my friends, I thus began. My friends! food fails us not, but bread is yet And wine on board. Abstain we from the herds, Lest harm ensue; for ye behold the flocks And herds of a most potent God, the Sun! Whose eye and watchful ear none may elude. So saying, I sway'd the gen'rous minds of all. A month complete the South wind ceaseless blew, Nor other wind blew next, save East and South, 380 Yet they, while neither food nor rosy wine Fail'd them, the herds harm'd not, through fear to die. But, our provisions failing, they employed Whole days in search of food, snaring with hooks Birds, fishes, of what kind soe'er they might. By famine urged. I solitary roam'd Meantime the isle, seeking by pray'r to move Some God to shew us a deliv'rance thence. When, roving thus the isle, I had at length Left all my crew remote, laving my hands 390 Where shelter warm I found from the rude blast, I supplicated ev'ry Pow'r above; But they my pray'rs answer'd with slumbers soft Shed o'er my eyes, and with pernicious art Eurylochus, the while, my friends harangued. My friends! afflicted as ye are, yet hear A fellow-suff'rer. Death, however caused, Abhorrence moves in miserable man, But death by famine is a fate of all Most to be fear'd. Come—let us hither drive 400 And sacrifice to the Immortal Pow'rs The best of all the oxen of the Sun, Resolving thus—that soon as we shall reach Our native Ithaca, we will erect To bright Hyperion an illustrious fane, Which with magnificent and num'rous gifts We will enrich. But should he chuse to sink Our vessel, for his stately beeves incensed, And should, with him, all heav'n conspire our death, I rather had with open mouth, at once, 410 Meeting the billows, perish, than by slow And pining waste here in this desert isle. So spake Eurylochus, whom all approved. Then, driving all the fattest of the herd Few paces only, (for the sacred beeves Grazed rarely distant from the bark) they stood Compassing them around, and, grasping each Green foliage newly pluck'd from saplings tall, (For barley none in all our bark remain'd) Worshipp'd the Gods in pray'r. Pray'r made, they slew And flay'd them, and the thighs with double fat 421 Investing, spread them o'er with slices crude. No wine had they with which to consecrate The blazing rites, but with libation poor Of water hallow'd the interior parts. Now, when the thighs were burnt, and each had shared His portion of the maw, and when the rest All-slash'd and scored hung roasting at the fire, Sleep, in that moment, suddenly my eyes Forsaking, to the shore I bent my way. 430 But ere the station of our bark I reach'd, The sav'ry steam greeted me. At the scent I wept aloud, and to the Gods exclaim'd. Oh Jupiter, and all ye Pow'rs above! With cruel sleep and fatal ye have lull'd My cares to rest, such horrible offence Meantime my rash companions have devised. Then, flew long-stoled Lampetia to the Sun At once with tidings of his slaughter'd beeves, And he, incensed, the Immortals thus address'd. 440 Jove, and ye everlasting Pow'rs divine! Avenge me instant on the crew profane Of Laertiades; Ulysses' friends Have dared to slay my beeves, which I with joy Beheld, both when I climb'd the starry heav'ns, And when to earth I sloped my "westring wheels," But if they yield me not amercement due And honourable for my loss, to Hell I will descend and give the ghosts my beams. Then, thus the cloud-assembler God replied. 450 Sun! shine thou still on the Immortal Pow'rs, And on the teeming earth, frail man's abode. My candent bolts can in a moment reach And split their flying bark in the mid-sea. These things Calypso told me, taught, herself, By herald Hermes, as she oft affirm'd. But when, descending to the shore, I reach'd At length my bark, with aspect stern and tone I reprimanded them, yet no redress Could frame, or remedy—the beeves were dead. 460 Soon follow'd signs portentous sent from heav'n. The skins all crept, and on the spits the flesh Both roast and raw bellow'd, as with the voice Of living beeves. Thus my devoted friends Driving the fattest oxen of the Sun, Feasted six days entire; but when the sev'nth By mandate of Saturnian Jove appeared, The storm then ceased to rage, and we, again Embarking, launch'd our galley, rear'd the mast, And gave our unfurl'd canvas to the wind. 470 The island left afar, and other land Appearing none, but sky alone and sea, Right o'er the hollow bark Saturnian Jove Hung a caerulean cloud, dark'ning the Deep. Not long my vessel ran, for, blowing wild, Now came shrill Zephyrus; a stormy gust Snapp'd sheer the shrouds on both sides; backward fell The mast, and with loose tackle strew'd the hold; Striking the pilot in the stern, it crush'd His scull together; he a diver's plunge 480 Made downward, and his noble spirit fled. Meantime, Jove thund'ring, hurl'd into the ship His bolts; she, smitten by the fires of Jove, Quaked all her length; with sulphur fill'd she reek'd, And o'er her sides headlong my people plunged Like sea-mews, interdicted by that stroke Of wrath divine to hope their country more. But I, the vessel still paced to and fro, Till, fever'd by the boist'rous waves, her sides Forsook the keel now left to float alone. 490 Snapp'd where it join'd the keel the mast had fall'n, But fell encircled with a leathern brace, Which it retain'd; binding with this the mast And keel together, on them both I sat, Borne helpless onward by the dreadful gale. And now the West subsided, and the South Arose instead, with mis'ry charged for me, That I might measure back my course again To dire Charybdis. All night long I drove, And when the sun arose, at Scylla's rock 500 Once more, and at Charybdis' gulph arrived. It was the time when she absorb'd profound The briny flood, but by a wave upborne I seized the branches fast of the wild-fig.[57] To which, bat-like, I clung; yet where to fix My foot secure found not, or where to ascend, For distant lay the roots, and distant shot The largest arms erect into the air, O'ershadowing all Charybdis; therefore hard I clench'd the boughs, till she disgorg'd again 510 Both keel and mast. Not undesired by me They came, though late; for at what hour the judge, After decision made of num'rous strifes[58] Between young candidates for honour, leaves The forum for refreshment' sake at home, Then was it that the mast and keel emerged. Deliver'd to a voluntary fall, Fast by those beams I dash'd into the flood, And seated on them both, with oary palms Impell'd them; nor the Sire of Gods and men 520 Permitted Scylla to discern me more, Else had I perish'd by her fangs at last. Nine days I floated thence, and, on the tenth Dark night, the Gods convey'd me to the isle Ogygia, habitation of divine Calypso, by whose hospitable aid And assiduity, my strength revived. But wherefore this? ye have already learn'd That hist'ry, thou and thy illustrious spouse; I told it yesterday, and hate a tale 530 Once amply told, then, needless, traced again.

FOOTNOTES:

[56] They passed the line through a pipe of horn, to secure it against the fishes' bite.

[57] See line 120.

[58] He had therefore held by the fig-tree from sunrise till afternoon.



BOOK XIII

ARGUMENT

Ulysses, having finished his narrative, and received additional presents from the Phaeacians, embarks; he is conveyed in his sleep to Ithaca, and in his sleep is landed on that island. The ship that carried him is in her return transformed by Neptune to a rock.

Minerva meets him on the shore, enables him to recollect his country, which, till enlightened by her, he believed to be a country strange to him, and they concert together the means of destroying the suitors. The Goddess then repairs to Sparta to call thence Telemachus, and Ulysses, by her aid disguised like a beggar, proceeds towards the cottage of Eumaeus.

He ceas'd; the whole assembly silent sat, Charm'd into ecstacy with his discourse Throughout the twilight hall. Then, thus the King. Ulysses, since beneath my brazen dome Sublime thou hast arrived, like woes, I trust, Thou shalt not in thy voyage hence sustain By tempests tost, though much to woe inured. To you, who daily in my presence quaff Your princely meed of gen'rous wine and hear The sacred bard, my pleasure, thus I speak. 10 The robes, wrought gold, and all the other gifts To this our guest, by the Phaeacian Chiefs Brought hither in the sumptuous coffer lie. But come—present ye to the stranger, each, An ample tripod also, with a vase Of smaller size, for which we will be paid By public impost; for the charge of all Excessive were by one alone defray'd. So spake Alcinoues, and his counsel pleased; Then, all retiring, sought repose at home. 20 But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn, Look'd rosy forth, each hasted to the bark With his illustrious present, which the might Of King Alcinoues, who himself her sides Ascended, safe beneath the seats bestowed, Lest it should harm or hinder, while he toil'd In rowing, some Phaeacian of the crew. The palace of Alcinoues seeking next, Together, they prepared a new regale. For them, in sacrifice, the sacred might[59] 30 Of King Alcinoues slew an ox to Jove Saturnian, cloud-girt governor of all. The thighs with fire prepared, all glad partook The noble feast; meantime, the bard divine Sang, sweet Demodocus, the people's joy. But oft Ulysses to the radiant sun Turn'd wistful eyes, anxious for his decline, Nor longer, now, patient of dull delay. As when some hungry swain whose sable beeves Have through the fallow dragg'd his pond'rous plow 40 All day, the setting sun views with delight For supper' sake, which with tir'd feet he seeks, So welcome to Ulysses' eyes appear'd The sun-set of that eve; directing, then, His speech to maritime Phaeacia's sons, But to Alcinoues chiefly, thus he said. Alcinoues, o'er Phaeacia's realm supreme! Libation made, dismiss ye me in peace, And farewell all! for what I wish'd, I have, Conductors hence, and honourable gifts 50 With which heav'n prosper me! and may the Gods Vouchsafe to me, at my return, to find All safe, my spotless consort and my friends! May ye, whom here I leave, gladden your wives And see your children blest, and may the pow'rs Immortal with all good enrich you all, And from calamity preserve the land! He ended, they unanimous, his speech Applauded loud, and bade dismiss the guest Who had so wisely spoken and so well. 60 Then thus Alcinoues to his herald spake. Pontonoues! charging high the beaker, bear To ev'ry guest beneath our roof the wine, That, pray'r preferr'd to the eternal Sire, We may dismiss our inmate to his home. Then, bore Pontonoues to ev'ry guest The brimming cup; they, where they sat, perform'd Libation due; but the illustrious Chief Ulysses, from his seat arising, placed A massy goblet in Areta's hand, 70 To whom in accents wing'd, grateful, he said. Farewell, O Queen, a long farewell, till age Arrive, and death, the appointed lot of all! I go; but be this people, and the King Alcinoues, and thy progeny, thy joy Yet many a year beneath this glorious roof! So saying, the Hero through the palace-gate Issued, whom, by Alcinoues' command, The royal herald to his vessel led. Three maidens also of Areta's train 80 His steps attended; one, the robe well-bleach'd And tunic bore; the corded coffer, one; And food the third, with wine of crimson hue. Arriving where the galley rode, each gave Her charge to some brave mariner on board, And all was safely stow'd. Meantime were spread Linen and arras on the deck astern, For his secure repose. And now the Chief Himself embarking, silent lay'd him down. Then, ev'ry rower to his bench repair'd; 90 They drew the loosen'd cable from its hold In the drill'd rock, and, resupine, at once With lusty strokes upturn'd the flashing waves. His eye-lids, soon, sleep, falling as a dew, Closed fast, death's simular, in sight the same. She, as four harness'd stallions o'er the plain Shooting together at the scourge's stroke, Toss high their manes, and rapid scour along, So mounted she the waves, while dark the flood Roll'd after her of the resounding Deep. 100 Steady she ran and safe, passing in speed The falcon, swiftest of the fowls of heav'n; With such rapidity she cut the waves, An hero bearing like the Gods above In wisdom, one familiar long with woe In fight sustain'd, and on the perilous flood, Though sleeping now serenely, and resign'd To sweet oblivion of all sorrow past. The brightest star of heav'n, precursor chief Of day-spring, now arose, when at the isle 110 (Her voyage soon perform'd) the bark arrived. There is a port sacred in Ithaca To Phorcys, hoary ancient of the Deep, Form'd by converging shores, prominent both And both abrupt, which from the spacious bay Exclude all boist'rous winds; within it, ships (The port once gain'd) uncabled ride secure. An olive, at the haven's head, expands Her branches wide, near to a pleasant cave Umbrageous, to the nymphs devoted named 120 The Naiads. In that cave beakers of stone And jars are seen; bees lodge their honey there; And there, on slender spindles of the rock The nymphs of rivers weave their wond'rous robes. Perennial springs water it, and it shows A twofold entrance; ingress one affords To mortal man, which Northward looks direct, But holier is the Southern far; by that No mortal enters, but the Gods alone. Familiar with that port before, they push'd 130 The vessel in; she, rapid, plow'd the sands With half her keel, such rowers urged her on. Descending from the well-bench'd bark ashore, They lifted forth Ulysses first, with all His splendid couch complete, then, lay'd him down Still wrapt in balmy slumber on the sands. His treasures, next, by the Phaeacian Chiefs At his departure given him as the meed Due to his wisdom, at the olive's foot They heap'd, without the road, lest, while he slept 140 Some passing traveller should rifle them. Then homeward thence they sped. Nor Ocean's God His threats forgot denounced against divine Ulysses, but with Jove thus first advised. Eternal Sire! I shall no longer share Respect and reverence among the Gods, Since, now, Phaeacia's mortal race have ceas'd To honour me, though from myself derived. It was my purpose, that by many an ill Harass'd, Ulysses should have reach'd his home, 150 Although to intercept him, whose return Thyself had promis'd, ne'er was my intent. But him fast-sleeping swiftly o'er the waves They have conducted, and have set him down In Ithaca, with countless gifts enrich'd, With brass, and tissued raiment, and with gold; Much treasure! more than he had home convey'd Even had he arrived with all his share Allotted to him of the spoils of Troy. To whom the cloud-assembler God replied. 160 What hast thou spoken, Shaker of the shores, Wide-ruling Neptune? Fear not; thee the Gods Will ne'er despise; dangerous were the deed To cast dishonour on a God by birth More ancient, and more potent far than they. But if, profanely rash, a mortal man Should dare to slight thee, to avenge the wrong Some future day is ever in thy pow'r. Accomplish all thy pleasure, thou art free. Him answer'd, then, the Shaker of the shores. 170 Jove cloud-enthroned! that pleasure I would soon Perform, as thou hast said, but that I watch Thy mind continual, fearful to offend. My purpose is, now to destroy amid The dreary Deep yon fair Phaeacian bark, Return'd from safe conveyance of her freight; So shall they waft such wand'rers home no more, And she shall hide their city, to a rock Transform'd of mountainous o'ershadowing size. Him, then, Jove answer'd, gath'rer of the clouds. 180 Perform it, O my brother, and the deed Thus done, shall best be done—What time the people Shall from the city her approach descry, Fix her to stone transform'd, but still in shape A gallant bark, near to the coast, that all May wonder, seeing her transform'd to stone Of size to hide their city from the view. These words once heard, the Shaker of the shores Instant to Scheria, maritime abode Of the Phaeacians, went. Arrived, he watch'd. 190 And now the flying bark full near approach'd, When Neptune, meeting her, with out-spread palm Depress'd her at a stroke, and she became Deep-rooted stone. Then Neptune went his way. Phaeacia's ship-ennobled sons meantime Conferring stood, and thus, in accents wing'd, Th' amazed spectator to his fellow spake. Ah! who hath sudden check'd the vessel's course Homeward? this moment she was all in view. Thus they, unconscious of the cause, to whom 200 Alcinoues, instructing them, replied. Ye Gods! a prophecy now strikes my mind With force, my father's. He was wont to say— Neptune resents it, that we safe conduct Natives of ev'ry region to their home. He also spake, prophetic, of a day When a Phaeacian gallant bark, return'd After conveyance of a stranger hence, Should perish in the dreary Deep, and changed To a huge mountain, cover all the town. 210 So spake my father, all whose words we see This day fulfill'd. Thus, therefore, act we all Unanimous; henceforth no longer bear The stranger home, when such shall here arrive; And we will sacrifice, without delay, Twelve chosen bulls to Neptune, if, perchance, He will commiserate us, and forbear To hide our town behind a mountain's height. He spake, they, terrified, the bulls prepared. Thus all Phaeacia's Senators and Chiefs 220 His altar compassing, in pray'r adored The Ocean's God. Meantime, Ulysses woke, Unconscious where; stretch'd on his native soil He lay, and knew it not, long-time exiled. For Pallas, progeny of Jove, a cloud Drew dense around him, that, ere yet agnized By others, he might wisdom learn from her, Neither to citizens, nor yet to friends Reveal'd, nor even to his own espoused, Till, first, he should avenge complete his wrongs 230 Domestic from those suitors proud sustained. All objects, therefore, in the Hero's eyes Seem'd alien, foot-paths long, commodious ports, Heav'n-climbing rocks, and trees of amplest growth. Arising, fixt he stood, his native soil Contemplating, till with expanded palms Both thighs he smote, and, plaintive, thus began. Ah me! what mortal race inhabits here? Rude are they, contumacious and unjust, Or hospitable, and who fear the Gods? 240 Where now shall I secrete these num'rous stores? Where wander I, myself? I would that still Phaeacians own'd them, and I had arrived In the dominions of some other King Magnanimous, who would have entertain'd And sent me to my native home secure! Now, neither know I where to place my wealth, Nor can I leave it here, lest it become Another's prey. Alas! Phaeacia's Chiefs Not altogether wise I deem or just, 250 Who have misplaced me in another land, Promis'd to bear me to the pleasant shores Of Ithaca, but have not so perform'd. Jove, guardian of the suppliant's rights, who all Transgressors marks, and punishes all wrong, Avenge me on the treach'rous race!—but hold— I will revise my stores, so shall I know If they have left me here of aught despoiled. So saying, he number'd carefully the gold, The vases, tripods bright, and tissued robes, 260 But nothing miss'd of all. Then he bewail'd His native isle, with pensive steps and slow Pacing the border of the billowy flood, Forlorn; but while he wept, Pallas approach'd, In form a shepherd stripling, girlish fair In feature, such as are the sons of Kings; A sumptuous mantle o'er his shoulders hung Twice-folded, sandals his nice feet upbore, And a smooth javelin glitter'd in his hand. Ulysses, joyful at the sight, his steps 270 Turn'd brisk toward her, whom he thus address'd. Sweet youth! since thee, of all mankind, I first Encounter in this land unknown, all hail! Come not with purposes of harm to me! These save, and save me also. I prefer To thee, as to some God, my pray'r, and clasp Thy knees a suppliant. Say, and tell me true, What land? what people? who inhabit here? Is this some isle delightful, or a shore Of fruitful main-land sloping to the sea? 280 Then Pallas, thus, Goddess caerulean-eyed. Stranger! thou sure art simple, or hast dwelt Far distant hence, if of this land thou ask. It is not, trust me, of so little note, But known to many, both to those who dwell Toward the sun-rise, and to others placed Behind it, distant in the dusky West. Rugged it is, not yielding level course To the swift steed, and yet no barren spot, However small, but rich in wheat and wine; 290 Nor wants it rain or fertilising dew, But pasture green to goats and beeves affords, Trees of all kinds, and fountains never dry. Ithaca therefore, stranger, is a name Known ev'n at Troy, a city, by report, At no small distance from Achaia's shore. The Goddess ceased; then, toil-enduring Chief Ulysses, happy in his native land, (So taught by Pallas, progeny of Jove) In accents wing'd her answ'ring, utter'd prompt 300 Not truth, but figments to truth opposite, For guile, in him, stood never at a pause. O'er yonder flood, even in spacious Crete[60] I heard of Ithaca, where now, it seems, I have, myself, with these my stores arrived; Not richer stores than, flying thence, I left To my own children; for from Crete I fled For slaughter of Orsilochus the swift, Son of Idomeneus, whom none in speed Could equal throughout all that spacious isle. 310 His purpose was to plunder me of all My Trojan spoils, which to obtain, much woe I had in battle and by storms endured, For that I would not gratify his Sire, Fighting beside him in the fields of Troy, But led a diff'rent band. Him from the field Returning homeward, with my brazen spear I smote, in ambush waiting his return At the road-side, with a confed'rate friend. Unwonted darkness over all the heav'ns 320 That night prevailed, nor any eye of man Observed us, but, unseen, I slew the youth. No sooner, then, with my sharp spear of life I had bereft him, than I sought a ship Mann'd by renown'd Phaeacians, whom with gifts Part of my spoils, and by requests, I won. I bade them land me on the Pylian shore, Or in fair Elis by th' Epeans ruled, But they, reluctant, were by violent winds Driv'n devious thence, for fraud they purposed none. 330 Thus through constraint we here arrived by night, And with much difficulty push'd the ship Into safe harbour, nor was mention made Of food by any, though all needed food, But, disembark'd in haste, on shore we lay. I, weary, slept profound, and they my goods Forth heaving from the bark, beside me placed The treasures on the sea-beach where I slept, Then, reimbarking, to the populous coast Steer'd of Sidonia, and me left forlorn. 340 He ceased; then smiled Minerva azure-eyed And stroaked his cheek, in form a woman now, Beauteous, majestic, in all elegant arts Accomplish'd, and with accents wing'd replied. Who passes thee in artifice well-framed And in imposture various, need shall find Of all his policy, although a God. Canst thou not cease, inventive as thou art And subtle, from the wiles which thou hast lov'd Since thou wast infant, and from tricks of speech 350 Delusive, even in thy native land? But come, dismiss we these ingenious shifts From our discourse, in which we both excel; For thou of all men in expedients most Abound'st and eloquence, and I, throughout All heav'n have praise for wisdom and for art. And know'st thou not thine Athenaean aid, Pallas, Jove's daughter, who in all thy toils Assist thee and defend? I gave thee pow'r T' engage the hearts of all Phaeacia's sons, 360 And here arrive ev'n now, counsels to frame Discrete with thee, and to conceal the stores Giv'n to thee by the rich Phaeacian Chiefs On my suggestion, at thy going thence. I will inform thee also what distress And hardship under thy own palace-roof Thou must endure; which, since constraint enjoins, Bear patiently, and neither man apprize Nor woman that thou hast arrived forlorn And vagabond, but silent undergo 370 What wrongs soever from the hands of men. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. O Goddess! thou art able to elude, Wherever met, the keenest eye of man, For thou all shapes assum'st; yet this I know Certainly, that I ever found thee kind, Long as Achaia's Heroes fought at Troy; But when (the lofty tow'rs of Priam laid In dust) we re-embark'd, and by the will Of heav'n Achaia's fleet was scatter'd wide, 380 Thenceforth, O daughter wise of Jove, I thee Saw not, nor thy appearance in my ship Once mark'd, to rid me of my num'rous woes, But always bearing in my breast a heart With anguish riv'n, I roam'd, till by the Gods Relieved at length, and till with gracious words Thyself didst in Phaeacia's opulent land Confirm my courage, and becam'st my guide. But I adjure thee in thy father's name— O tell me truly, (for I cannot hope 390 That I have reach'd fair Ithaca; I tread Some other soil, and thou affirm'st it mine To mock me merely, and deceive) oh say— Am I in Ithaca? in truth, at home? Thus then Minerva the caerulean-eyed. Such caution in thy breast always prevails Distrustful; but I know thee eloquent, With wisdom and with ready thought endued, And cannot leave thee, therefore, thus distress'd For what man, save Ulysses, new-return'd 400 After long wand'rings, would not pant to see At once his home, his children, and his wife? But thou preferr'st neither to know nor ask Concerning them, till some experience first Thou make of her whose wasted youth is spent In barren solitude, and who in tears Ceaseless her nights and woeful days consumes. I ne'er was ignorant, but well foreknew That not till after loss of all thy friends Thou should'st return; but loth I was to oppose 410 Neptune, my father's brother, sore incensed For his son's sake deprived of sight by thee. But, I will give thee proof—come now—survey These marks of Ithaca, and be convinced. This is the port of Phorcys, sea-born sage; That, the huge olive at the haven's head; Fast by it, thou behold'st the pleasant cove Umbrageous, to the nymphs devoted named The Naiads; this the broad-arch'd cavern is Where thou wast wont to offer to the nymphs 420 Many a whole hecatomb; and yonder stands The mountain Neritus with forests cloath'd. So saying, the Goddess scatter'd from before His eyes all darkness, and he knew the land. Then felt Ulysses, Hero toil-inured, Transport unutterable, seeing plain Once more his native isle. He kiss'd the glebe, And with uplifted hands the nymphs ador'd. Nymphs, Naiads, Jove's own daughters! I despair'd To see you more, whom yet with happy vows 430 I now can hail again. Gifts, as of old, We will hereafter at your shrines present, If Jove-born Pallas, huntress of the spoils, Grant life to me, and manhood to my son. Then Pallas, blue-eyed progeny of Jove. Take courage; trouble not thy mind with thoughts Now needless. Haste—delay not—far within This hallow'd cave's recess place we at once Thy precious stores, that they may thine remain, Then muse together on thy wisest course. 440 So saying, the Goddess enter'd deep the cave Caliginous, and its secret nooks explored From side to side; meantime, Ulysses brought All his stores into it, the gold, the brass, And robes magnificent, his gifts received From the Phaeacians; safe he lodg'd them all, And Pallas, daughter of Jove AEgis-arm'd, Closed fast, herself, the cavern with a stone. Then, on the consecrated olive's root Both seated, they in consultation plann'd 450 The deaths of those injurious suitors proud, And Pallas, blue-eyed Goddess, thus began. Laertes' noble son, Ulysses! think By what means likeliest thou shalt assail Those shameless suitors, who have now controuled Three years thy family, thy matchless wife With language amorous and with spousal gifts Urging importunate; but she, with tears Watching thy wish'd return, hope gives to all By messages of promise sent to each, 460 Framing far other purposes the while. Then answer thus Ulysses wise return'd. Ah, Agamemnon's miserable fate Had surely met me in my own abode, But for thy gracious warning, pow'r divine! Come then—Devise the means; teach me, thyself, The way to vengeance, and my soul inspire With daring fortitude, as when we loos'd Her radiant frontlet from the brows of Troy. Would'st thou with equal zeal, O Pallas! aid 470 Thy servant here, I would encounter thrice An hundred enemies, let me but perceive Thy dread divinity my prompt ally. Him answer'd then Pallas caerulean-eyed. And such I will be; not unmark'd by me, (Let once our time of enterprize arrive) Shalt thou assail them. Many, as I judge, Of those proud suitors who devour thy wealth Shall leave their brains, then, on thy palace floor. But come. Behold! I will disguise thee so 480 That none shall know thee! I will parch the skin On thy fair body; I will cause thee shed Thy wavy locks; I will enfold thee round In such a kirtle as the eyes of all Shall loath to look on; and I will deform With blurring rheums thy eyes, so vivid erst; So shall the suitors deem thee, and thy wife, And thy own son whom thou didst leave at home, Some sordid wretch obscure. But seek thou first Thy swine-herd's mansion; he, alike, intends 490 Thy good, and loves, affectionate, thy son And thy Penelope; thou shalt find the swain Tending his herd; they feed beneath the rock Corax, at side of Arethusa's fount, On acorns dieted, nutritious food To them, and drinking of the limpid stream. There waiting, question him of thy concerns, While I from Sparta praised for women fair Call home thy son Telemachus, a guest With Menelaus now, whom to consult 500 In spacious Lacedaemon he is gone, Anxious to learn if yet his father lives. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. And why, alas! all-knowing as thou art, Him left'st thou ignorant? was it that he, He also, wand'ring wide the barren Deep, Might suffer woe, while these devour his wealth? Him answer'd then Pallas caerulean-eyed. Grieve thou not much for him. I sent him forth Myself, that there arrived, he might acquire 510 Honour and fame. No suff'rings finds he there, But in Atrides' palace safe resides, Enjoying all abundance. Him, in truth, The suitors watch close ambush'd on the Deep, Intent to slay him ere he reach his home, But shall not as I judge, till of themselves The earth hide some who make thee, now, a prey. So saying, the Goddess touch'd him with a wand. At once o'er all his agile limbs she parch'd The polish'd skin; she wither'd to the root 520 His wavy locks; and cloath'd him with the hide Deform'd of wrinkled age; she charged with rheums His eyes before so vivid, and a cloak And kirtle gave him, tatter'd, both, and foul, And smutch'd with smoak; then, casting over all An huge old deer-skin bald, with a long staff She furnish'd him, and with a wallet patch'd On all sides, dangling by a twisted thong. Thus all their plan adjusted, diff'rent ways They took, and she, seeking Ulysses' son, 530 To Lacedaemon's spacious realm repair'd.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse