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The Odyssey of Homer
by Homer
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he To speed his passage o'er the boundless waves. So Menelaus spake, the spear-renown'd. My errand thus accomplish'd, I return'd— And by the Gods with gales propitious blest, Was wafted swiftly to my native shore. He spake, and tumult in his mother's heart So speaking, raised. Consolatory, next, The godlike Theoclymenus began. 180 Consort revered of Laertiades! Little the Spartan knew, but list to me, For I will plainly prophesy and sure. Be Jove of all in heav'n my witness first, Then this thy hospitable board, and, last, The household Gods of the illustrious Chief Ulysses, at whose hearth I have arrived,[74] That, even now, within his native isle Ulysses somewhere sits, or creeps obscure, Witness of these enormities, and seeds 190 Sowing of dire destruction for his foes; So sure an augury, while on the deck Reclining of the gallant bark, I saw, And with loud voice proclaim'd it to thy son. Him answer'd then Penelope discrete. Grant heav'n, my guest, that this good word of thine Fail not! then shalt thou soon such bounty share And friendship at my hands, that at first sight Whoe'er shall meet thee shall pronounce thee blest. Thus they conferr'd. Meantime the suitors hurl'd 200 The quoit and lance on the smooth area spread Before Ulysses' gate, the custom'd scene Of their contentions, sports, and clamours rude. But when the hour of supper now approach'd, And from the pastures on all sides the sheep Came with their wonted drivers, Medon then (For he of all the heralds pleas'd them most, And waited at the board) them thus address'd. Enough of play, young princes! ent'ring now The house, prepare we sedulous our feast, 210 Since in well-timed refreshment harm is none. He spake, whose admonition pleas'd. At once All, rising, sought the palace; there arrived, Each cast his mantle off, which on his throne Or couch he spread, then, brisk, to slaughter fell Of many a victim; sheep and goats and brawns They slew, all fatted, and a pastur'd ox, Hast'ning the banquet; nor with less dispatch Ulysses and Eumaeus now prepared To seek the town, when thus the swain began. 220 My guest! since thy fixt purpose is to seek This day the city as my master bade, Though I, in truth, much rather wish thee here A keeper of our herds, yet, through respect And rev'rence of his orders, whose reproof I dread, for masters seldom gently chide, I would be gone. Arise, let us depart, For day already is far-spent, and soon The air of even-tide will chill thee more. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. 230 It is enough. I understand. Thou speak'st To one intelligent. Let us depart, And lead, thyself, the way; but give me, first, (If thou have one already hewn) a staff To lean on, for ye have described the road Rugged, and ofttimes dang'rous to the foot. So saying, his tatter'd wallet o'er his back He cast, suspended by a leathern twist, Eumaeus gratified him with a staff, And forth they went, leaving the cottage kept 240 By dogs and swains. He city-ward his King Led on, in form a squalid beggar old, Halting, and in unseemly garb attired. But when, slow-travelling the craggy way, They now approach'd the town, and had attain'd The marble fountain deep, which with its streams Pellucid all the citizens supplied, (Ithacus had that fountain framed of old With Neritus and Polyctor, over which A grove of water-nourish'd alders hung 250 Circular on all sides, while cold the rill Ran from the rock, on whose tall summit stood The altar of the nymphs, by all who pass'd With sacrifice frequented, still, and pray'r) Melantheus, son of Dolius, at that fount Met them; the chosen goats of ev'ry flock, With two assistants, from the field he drove, The suitors' supper. He, seeing them both, In surly accent boorish, such as fired Ulysses with resentment, thus began. 260 Ay—this is well—The villain leads the vile— Thus evermore the Gods join like to like. Thou clumsy swine-herd, whither would'st conduct This morsel-hunting mendicant obscene, Defiler base of banquets? many a post Shall he rub smooth that props him while he begs Lean alms, sole object of his low pursuit, Who ne'er to sword or tripod yet aspired. Would'st thou afford him to me for a guard Or sweeper of my stalls, or to supply 270 My kids with leaves, he should on bulkier thewes Supported stand, though nourish'd but with whey. But no such useful arts hath he acquired, Nor likes he work, but rather much to extort From others food for his unsated maw. But mark my prophecy, for it is true, At famed Ulysses' house should he arrive, His sides shall shatter many a footstool hurl'd Against them by the offended princes there. He spake, and drawing nigh, with his rais'd foot, 280 Insolent as he was and brutish, smote Ulysses' haunch, yet shook not from his path The firm-set Chief, who, doubtful, mused awhile Whether to rush on him, and with his staff To slay him, or uplifting him on high, Downward to dash him headlong; but his wrath Restraining, calm he suffer'd the affront. Him then Eumaeus with indignant look Rebuking, rais'd his hands, and fervent pray'd. Nymphs of the fountains, progeny of Jove! 290 If e'er Ulysses on your altar burn'd The thighs of fatted lambs or kidlings, grant This my request. O let the Hero soon, Conducted by some Deity, return! So shall he quell that arrogance which safe Thou now indulgest, roaming day by day The city, while bad shepherds mar the flocks. To whom the goat-herd answer thus return'd Melantheus. Marvellous! how rare a speech The subtle cur hath framed! whom I will send 300 Far hence at a convenient time on board My bark, and sell him at no little gain. I would, that he who bears the silver bow As sure might pierce Telemachus this day In his own house, or that the suitors might, As that same wand'rer shall return no more! He said, and them left pacing slow along, But soon, himself, at his Lord's house arrived; There ent'ring bold, he with the suitors sat Opposite to Eurymachus, for him 310 He valued most. The sewers his portion placed Of meat before him, and the maiden, chief Directress of the household gave him bread. And now, Ulysses, with the swain his friend Approach'd, when, hearing the harmonious lyre, Both stood, for Phemius had begun his song. He grasp'd the swine-herd's hand, and thus he said. This house, Eumaeus! of Ulysses seems Passing magnificent, and to be known With ease for his among a thousand more. 320 One pile supports another, and a wall Crested with battlements surrounds the court; Firm, too, the folding doors all force of man Defy; but num'rous guests, as I perceive, Now feast within; witness the sav'ry steam Fast-fuming upward, and the sounding harp, Divine associate of the festive board. To whom, Eumaeus, thou didst thus reply. Thou hast well-guess'd; no wonder, thou art quick On ev'ry theme; but let us well forecast 330 This business. Wilt thou, ent'ring first, thyself, The splendid mansion, with the suitors mix, Me leaving here? or shall I lead the way While thou remain'st behind? yet linger not, Lest, seeing thee without, some servant strike Or drive thee hence. Consider which were best. Him answer'd, then, the patient Hero bold. It is enough. I understand. Thou speak'st To one intelligent. Lead thou the way Me leaving here, for neither stripes nor blows 340 To me are strange. Much exercised with pain In fight and on the Deep, I have long since Learn'd patience. Follow, next, what follow may! But, to suppress the appetite, I deem Impossible; the stomach is a source Of ills to man, an avaricious gulph Destructive, which to satiate, ships are rigg'd, Seas travers'd, and fierce battles waged remote. Thus they discoursing stood; Argus the while, Ulysses' dog, uplifted where he lay 350 His head and ears erect. Ulysses him Had bred long since, himself, but rarely used, Departing, first, to Ilium. Him the youths In other days led frequent to the chace Of wild goat, hart and hare; but now he lodg'd A poor old cast-off, of his Lord forlorn, Where mules and oxen had before the gate Much ordure left, with which Ulysses' hinds Should, in due time, manure his spacious fields. There lay, with dog-devouring vermin foul 360 All over, Argus; soon as he perceived Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears Clapp'd close, and with his tail glad sign he gave Of gratulation, impotent to rise And to approach his master as of old. Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear Unmark'd, and of Eumaeus quick enquired. I can but wonder seeing such a dog Thus lodg'd, Eumaeus! beautiful in form He is, past doubt, but whether he hath been 370 As fleet as fair I know not; rather such Perchance as masters sometimes keep to grace Their tables, nourish'd more for shew than use. To whom, Eumaeus, thou didst thus reply. He is the dog of one dead far remote. But had he now such feat-performing strength As when Ulysses left him, going hence To Ilium, in one moment thou shouldst mark, Astonish'd, his agility and force. He never in the sylvan deep recess 380 The wild beast saw that 'scaped him, and he track'd Their steps infallible; but he hath now No comfort, for (the master dead afar) The heedless servants care not for his dog. Domestics, missing once their Lord's controul, Grow wilful, and refuse their proper tasks; For whom Jove dooms to servitude, he takes At once the half of that man's worth away. He said, and, ent'ring at the portal, join'd The suitors. Then his destiny released 390 Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see Ulysses in the twentieth year restored. Godlike Telemachus, long ere the rest, Marking the swine-herd's entrance, with a nod Summon'd him to approach. Eumaeus cast His eye around, and seeing vacant there The seat which the dispenser of the feast Was wont to occupy while he supplied The num'rous guests, planted it right before Telemachus, and at his table sat, 400 On which the herald placed for him his share Of meat, and from the baskets gave him bread. Soon after him, Ulysses enter'd slow The palace, like a squalid beggar old, Staff-propp'd, and in loose tatters foul attired. Within the portal on the ashen sill He sat, and, seeming languid, lean'd against A cypress pillar by the builder's art Polish'd long since, and planted at the door. Then took Telemachus a loaf entire 410 Forth from the elegant basket, and of flesh A portion large as his two hands contained, And, beck'ning close the swine-herd, charged him thus. These to the stranger; whom advise to ask Some dole from ev'ry suitor; bashful fear Ill suits the mendicant by want oppress'd. He spake; Eumaeus went, and where he sat Arriving, in wing'd accents thus began. Telemachus, oh stranger, sends thee these, And counsels thee to importune for more 420 The suitors, one by one; for bashful fear Ill suits the mendicant by want oppress'd. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. Jove, King of all, grant ev'ry good on earth To kind Telemachus, and the complete Accomplishment of all that he desires! He said, and with both hands outspread, the mess Receiving as he sat, on his worn bag Disposed it at his feet. Long as the bard Chaunted, he ate, and when he ceas'd to eat, 430 Then also ceas'd the bard divine to sing. And now ensued loud clamour in the hall And tumult, when Minerva, drawing nigh To Laertiades, impell'd the Chief Crusts to collect, or any pittance small At ev'ry suitor's hand, for trial's sake Of just and unjust; yet deliv'rance none From evil she design'd for any there. From left to right[75] his progress he began Petitioning, with outstretch'd hands, the throng, 440 As one familiar with the beggar's art. They, pitying, gave to him, but view'd him still With wonder, and enquiries mutual made Who, and whence was he? Then the goat-herd rose Melanthius, and th' assembly thus address'd. Hear me, ye suitors of th' illustrious Queen! This guest, of whom ye ask, I have beheld Elsewhere; the swine-herd brought him; but himself I know not, neither who nor whence he is. So he; then thus Antinoues stern rebuked 450 The swine-herd. Ah, notorious as thou art, Why hast thou shewn this vagabond the way Into the city? are we not enough Infested with these troublers of our feasts? Deem'st it a trifle that such numbers eat At thy Lord's cost, and hast thou, therefore, led This fellow hither, found we know not where? To whom, Eumaeus, thou didst thus reply. Antinoues! though of high degree, thou speak'st Not wisely. What man to another's house 460 Repairs to invite him to a feast, unless He be of those who by profession serve The public, prophet, healer of disease, Ingenious artist, or some bard divine Whose music may exhilarate the guests? These, and such only, are in ev'ry land Call'd to the banquet; none invites the poor, Who much consume, and no requital yield. But thou of all the suitors roughly treat'st Ulysses' servants most, and chiefly me; 470 Yet thee I heed not, while the virtuous Queen Dwells in this palace, and her godlike son. To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied. Peace! answer not verbose a man like him. Antinoues hath a tongue accustom'd much To tauntings, and promotes them in the rest. Then, turning to Antinoues, quick he said— Antinoues! as a father for his son Takes thought, so thou for me, who bidd'st me chase The stranger harshly hence; but God forbid![76] 480 Impart to him. I grudge not, but myself Exhort thee to it; neither, in this cause, Fear thou the Queen, or in the least regard Whatever menial throughout all the house Of famed Ulysses. Ah! within thy breast Dwells no such thought; thou lov'st not to impart To others, but to gratify thyself. To whom Antinoues answer thus return'd. High-soaring and intemp'rate in thy speech How hast thou said, Telemachus? Would all 490 As much bestow on him, he should not seek Admittance here again three months to come. So saying, he seized the stool which, banqueting, He press'd with his nice feet, and from beneath The table forth advanced it into view. The rest all gave to him, with bread and flesh Filling his wallet, and Ulysses, now, Returning to his threshold, there to taste The bounty of the Greeks, paused in his way Beside Antinoues, whom he thus address'd. 500 Kind sir! vouchsafe to me! for thou appear'st Not least, but greatest of the Achaians here, And hast a kingly look. It might become Thee therefore above others to bestow, So should I praise thee wheresoe'er I roam. I also lived the happy owner once Of such a stately mansion, and have giv'n To num'rous wand'rers (whencesoe'er they came) All that they needed; I was also served By many, and enjoy'd all that denotes 510 The envied owner opulent and blest. But Jove (for so it pleas'd him) hath reduced My all to nothing, prompting me, in league With rovers of the Deep, to sail afar To AEgypt, for my sure destruction there. Within th' AEgyptian stream my barks well-oar'd I station'd, and, enjoining strict my friends To watch them close-attendant at their side, Commanded spies into the hill-tops; but they, Under the impulse of a spirit rash 520 And hot for quarrel, the well-cultur'd fields Pillaged of the AEgyptians, captive led Their wives and little-ones, and slew the men. Ere long, the loud alarm their city reach'd. Down came the citizens, by dawn of day, With horse and foot and with the gleam of arms Filling the plain. Then Jove with panic dread Struck all my people; none found courage more To stand, for mischiefs swarm'd on ev'ry side. There, num'rous by the glitt'ring spear we fell 530 Slaughter'd, while others they conducted thence Alive to servitude; but me they gave To Dmetor, King in Cyprus, Jasus' son; He entertained me liberally, and thence This land I reach'd, but poor and woe-begone. Then answer thus Antinoues harsh return'd. What daemon introduced this nuisance here, This troubler of our feast? stand yonder, keep Due distance from my table, or expect To see an AEgypt and a Cyprus worse 540 Than those, bold mendicant and void of shame! Thou hauntest each, and, inconsid'rate, each Gives to thee, because gifts at other's cost Are cheap, and, plentifully serv'd themselves, They squander, heedless, viands not their own. To whom Ulysses while he slow retired. Gods! how illib'ral with that specious form! Thou wouldst not grant the poor a grain of salt From thy own board, who at another's fed So nobly, canst thou not spare a crust to me. 550 He spake; then raged Antinoues still the more, And in wing'd accents, louring, thus replied. Take such dismission now as thou deserv'st, Opprobrious! hast thou dared to scoff at me? So saying, he seized his stool, and on the joint Of his right shoulder smote him; firm as rock He stood, by no such force to be displaced, But silent shook his brows, and dreadful deeds Of vengeance ruminating, sought again His seat the threshold, where his bag full-charged 560 He grounded, and the suitors thus address'd. Hear now, ye suitors of the matchless Queen, My bosom's dictates. Trivial is the harm, Scarce felt, if, fighting for his own, his sheep Perchance, or beeves, a man receive a blow. But me Antinoues struck for that I ask'd Food from him merely to appease the pangs Of hunger, source of num'rous ills to man. If then the poor man have a God t' avenge His wrongs, I pray to him that death may seize 570 Antinoues, ere his nuptial hour arrive! To whom Antinoues answer thus return'd, Son of Eupithes. Either seated there Or going hence, eat, stranger, and be still; Lest for thy insolence, by hand or foot We drag thee forth, and thou be flay'd alive. He ceased, whom all indignant heard, and thus Ev'n his own proud companions censured him. Antinoues! thou didst not well to smite The wretched vagabond. O thou art doom'd 580 For ever, if there be a God in heav'n;[77] For, in similitude of strangers oft, The Gods, who can with ease all shapes assume, Repair to populous cities, where they mark The outrageous and the righteous deeds of men. So they, for whose reproof he little cared. But in his heart Telemachus that blow Resented, anguish-torn, yet not a tear He shed, but silent shook his brows, and mused Terrible things. Penelope, meantime, 590 Told of the wand'rer so abused beneath Her roof, among her maidens thus exclaim'd. So may Apollo, glorious archer, smite Thee also. Then Eurynome replied, Oh might our pray'rs prevail, none of them all Should see bright-charioted Aurora more. Her answer'd then Penelope discrete. Nurse! they are odious all, for that alike All teem with mischief; but Antinoues' looks Remind me ever of the gloom of death. 600 A stranger hath arrived who, begging, roams The house, (for so his penury enjoins) The rest have giv'n him, and have fill'd his bag With viands, but Antinoues hath bruised His shoulder with a foot-stool hurl'd at him. While thus the Queen conversing with her train In her own chamber sat, Ulysses made Plenteous repast. Then, calling to her side Eumaeus, thus she signified her will. Eumaeus, noble friend! bid now approach 610 Yon stranger. I would speak with him, and ask If he has seen Ulysses, or have heard Tidings, perchance, of the afflicted Chief, For much a wand'rer by his garb he seems. To whom, Eumaeus, thou didst thus reply. Were those Achaians silent, thou shouldst hear, O Queen! a tale that would console thy heart. Three nights I housed him, and within my cot Three days detain'd him, (for his ship he left A fugitive, and came direct to me) 620 But half untold his hist'ry still remains. As when his eye one fixes on a bard From heav'n instructed in such themes as charm The ear of mortals, ever as he sings The people press, insatiable, to hear, So, in my cottage, seated at my side, That stranger with his tale enchanted me. Laertes, he affirms, hath been his guest Erewhile in Crete, where Minos' race resides, And thence he hath arrived, after great loss, 630 A suppliant to the very earth abased; He adds, that in Thesprotia's neighbour realm He of Ulysses heard, both that he lives, And that he comes laden with riches home. To whom Penelope, discrete, replied. Haste; call him. I would hear, myself, his tale. Meantime, let these, or in the palace gate Sport jocular, or here; their hearts are light, For their possessions are secure; their wine None drinks, or eats their viands, save their own, 640 While my abode, day after day, themselves Haunting, my beeves and sheep and fatted goats Slay for the banquet, and my casks exhaust Extravagant, whence endless waste ensues; For no such friend as was Ulysses once Have I to expel the mischief. But might he Revisit once his native shores again, Then, aided by his son, he should avenge, Incontinent, the wrongs which now I mourn. Then sneezed Telemachus with sudden force, 650 That all the palace rang; his mother laugh'd, And in wing'd accents thus the swain bespake. Haste—bid him hither—hear'st thou not the sneeze Propitious of my son? oh might it prove A presage of inevitable death To all these revellers! may none escape! Now mark me well. Should the event his tale Confirm, at my own hands he shall receive Mantle and tunic both for his reward. She spake; he went, and where Ulysses sat 660 Arriving, in wing'd accents thus began. Penelope, my venerable friend! Calls thee, the mother of Telemachus. Oppress'd by num'rous troubles, she desires To ask thee tidings of her absent Lord. And should the event verify thy report, Thy meed shall be (a boon which much thou need'st) Tunic and mantle; but she gives no more; Thy sustenance thou must, as now, obtain,[78] Begging it at their hands who chuse to give. 670 Then thus Ulysses, Hero toil-inured. Eumaeus! readily I can relate Truth, and truth only, to the prudent Queen Icarius' daughter; for of him I know Much, and have suff'red sorrows like his own. But dread I feel of this imperious throng Perverse, whose riot and outrageous acts Of violence echo through the vault of heav'n. And, even now, when for no fault of mine Yon suitor struck me as I pass'd, and fill'd 680 My flesh with pain, neither Telemachus Nor any interposed to stay his arm. Now, therefore, let Penelope, although Impatient, till the sun descend postpone Her questions; then she may enquire secure When comes her husband, and may nearer place My seat to the hearth-side, for thinly clad Thou know'st I am, whose aid I first implored. He ceas'd; at whose reply Eumaeus sought Again the Queen, but ere he yet had pass'd 690 The threshold, thus she greeted his return. Com'st thou alone, Eumaeus? why delays The invited wand'rer? dreads he other harm? Or sees he aught that with a bashful awe Fills him? the bashful poor are poor indeed. To whom, Eumaeus, thou didst thus reply. He hath well spoken; none who would decline The rudeness of this contumelious throng Could answer otherwise; thee he entreats To wait till sun-set, and that course, O Queen, 700 Thou shalt thyself far more commodious find, To hold thy conf'rence with the guest, alone. Then answer thus Penelope return'd. The stranger, I perceive, is not unwise, Whoe'er he be, for on the earth are none Proud, insolent, and profligate as these. So spake the Queen. Then (all his message told) The good Eumaeus to the suitors went Again, and with his head inclined toward Telemachus, lest others should his words 710 Witness, in accents wing'd him thus address'd. Friend and kind master! I return to keep My herds, and to attend my rural charge, Whence we are both sustain'd. Keep thou, meantime, All here with vigilance, but chiefly watch For thy own good, and save thyself from harm; For num'rous here brood mischief, whom the Gods Exterminate, ere yet their plots prevail! To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied. So be it, father! and (thy evening-mess 720 Eaten) depart; to-morrow come again, Bringing fair victims hither; I will keep, I and the Gods, meantime, all here secure. He ended; then resumed once more the swain His polish'd seat, and, both with wine and food Now satiate, to his charge return'd, the court Leaving and all the palace throng'd with guests; They (for it now was evening) all alike Turn'd jovial to the song and to the dance.

FOOTNOTES:

[73] Proteus.

[74] The hearth was the altar on which the lares or household-gods were worshipped.

[75] That he might begin auspiciously. Wine was served in the same direction. F.

[76] Here again Theos occurs in the abstract.

[77] Ei de pou tis epouranios theos esi

Eustathius, and Clarke after him, understand an aposiopesis here, as if the speaker meant to say—what if there should be? or—suppose there should be? But the sentence seems to fall in better with what follows interpreted as above, and it is a sense of the passage not unwarranted by the opinion of other commentators. See Schaufelbergerus.

[78] This seems added by Eumaeus to cut off from Ulysses the hope that might otherwise tempt him to use fiction.



BOOK XVIII

ARGUMENT

The beggar Irus arrives at the palace; a combat takes place between him and Ulysses, in which Irus is by one blow vanquished. Penelope appears to the suitors, and having reminded them of the presents which she had a right to expect from them, receives a gift from each. Eurymachus, provoked by a speech of Ulysses, flings a foot-stool at him, which knocks down the cup-bearer; a general tumult is the consequence, which continues, till by the advice of Telemachus, seconded by Amphinomus, the suitors retire to their respective homes.

Now came a public mendicant, a man Accustom'd, seeking alms, to roam the streets Of Ithaca; one never sated yet With food or drink; yet muscle had he none, Or strength of limb, though giant-built in show. Arnaeus was the name which at his birth His mother gave him, but the youthful band Of suitors, whom as messenger he served, All named him Irus. He, arriving, sought To drive Ulysses forth from his own home, 10 And in rough accents rude him thus rebuked. Forth from the porch, old man! lest by the foot I drag thee quickly forth. Seest not how all Wink on me, and by signs give me command To drag thee hence? nor is it aught but shame That checks me. Yet arise, lest soon with fists Thou force me to adjust our diff'rence. To whom Ulysses, low'ring dark, replied. Peace, fellow! neither word nor deed of mine Wrongs thee, nor feel I envy at the boon, 20 However plentiful, which thou receiv'st. The sill may hold us both; thou dost not well To envy others; thou appear'st like me A vagrant; plenty is the gift of heav'n. But urge me not to trial of our fists, Lest thou provoke me, and I stain with blood Thy bosom and thy lips, old as I am. So, my attendance should to-morrow prove More tranquil here; for thou should'st leave, I judge, Ulysses' mansion, never to return. 30 Then answer'd Irus, kindling with disdain. Gods! with what volubility of speech The table-hunter prates, like an old hag Collied with chimney-smutch! but ah beware! For I intend thee mischief, and to dash With both hands ev'ry grinder from thy gums, As men untooth a pig pilf'ring the corn. Come—gird thee, that all here may view the strife— But how wilt thou oppose one young as I? Thus on the threshold of the lofty gate 40 They, wrangling, chafed each other, whose dispute The high-born youth Antinoues mark'd; he laugh'd Delighted, and the suitors thus address'd. Oh friends! no pastime ever yet occurr'd Pleasant as this which, now, the Gods themselves Afford us. Irus and the stranger brawl As they would box. Haste—let us urge them on. He said; at once loud-laughing all arose; The ill-clad disputants they round about Encompass'd, and Antinoues thus began. 50 Attend ye noble suitors to my voice. Two paunches lie of goats here on the fire, Which fill'd with fat and blood we set apart For supper; he who conquers, and in force Superior proves, shall freely take the paunch Which he prefers, and shall with us thenceforth Feast always; neither will we here admit Poor man beside to beg at our repasts. He spake, whom all approved; next, artful Chief Ulysses thus, dissembling, them address'd. 60 Princes! unequal is the strife between A young man and an old with mis'ry worn; But hunger, always counsellor of ill, Me moves to fight, that many a bruise received, I may be foil'd at last. Now swear ye all A solemn oath, that none, for Irus' sake Shall, interposing, smite me with his fist Clandestine, forcing me to yield the prize. He ceas'd, and, as he bade, all present swore A solemn oath; then thus, amid them all 70 Standing, Telemachus majestic spake. Guest! if thy courage and thy manly mind Prompt thee to banish this man hence, no force Fear thou beside, for who smites thee, shall find Yet other foes to cope with; I am here In the host's office, and the royal Chiefs Eurymachus and Antinoues, alike Discrete, accord unanimous with me. He ceas'd, whom all approved. Then, with his rags Ulysses braced for decency his loins 80 Around, but gave to view his brawny thighs Proportion'd fair, and stripp'd his shoulders broad, His chest and arms robust; while, at his side, Dilating more the Hero's limbs and more Minerva stood; the assembly with fixt eyes Astonish'd gazed on him, and, looking full On his next friend, a suitor thus remark'd. Irus shall be in Irus found no more. He hath pull'd evil on himself. What thewes And what a haunch the senior's tatters hid! 90 So he—meantime in Irus' heart arose Horrible tumult; yet, his loins by force Girding, the servants dragg'd him to the fight Pale, and his flesh all quiv'ring as he came; Whose terrors thus Antinoues sharp rebuked. Now, wherefore liv'st, and why wast ever born Thou mountain-mass of earth! if such dismay Shake thee at thought of combat with a man Ancient as he, and worn with many woes? But mark, I threaten not in vain; should he 100 O'ercome thee, and in force superior prove, To Echetus thou go'st; my sable bark Shall waft thee to Epirus, where he reigns Enemy of mankind; of nose and ears He shall despoil thee with his ruthless steel, And tearing by the roots the parts away[79] That mark thy sex, shall cast them to the dogs. He said; His limbs new terrors at that sound Shook under him; into the middle space They led him, and each raised his hands on high. 110 Then doubtful stood Ulysses toil-inured, Whether to strike him lifeless to the earth At once, or fell him with a managed blow. To smite with managed force at length he chose As wisest, lest, betray'd by his own strength, He should be known. With elevated fists Both stood; him Irus on the shoulder struck, But he his adversary on the neck Pash'd close beneath his ear; he split the bones, And blood in sable streams ran from his mouth. 120 With many an hideous yell he dropp'd, his teeth Chatter'd, and with his heels he drumm'd the ground. The wooers, at that sight, lifting their hands In glad surprize, laugh'd all their breath away. Then, through the vestibule, and right across The court, Ulysses dragg'd him by the foot Into the portico, where propping him Against the wall, and giving him his staff, In accents wing'd he bade him thus farewell. There seated now, dogs drive and swine away, 130 Nor claim (thyself so base) supreme controul O'er other guests and mendicants, lest harm Reach thee, hereafter, heavier still than this. So saying, his tatter'd wallet o'er his back He threw suspended by its leathern twist, And tow'rd the threshold turning, sat again, They laughing ceaseless still, the palace-door Re-enter'd, and him, courteous, thus bespake. Jove, and all Jove's assessors in the skies Vouchsafe thee, stranger, whatsoe'er it be, 140 Thy heart's desire! who hast our ears reliev'd From that insatiate beggar's irksome tone. Soon to Epirus he shall go dispatch'd To Echetus the King, pest of mankind. So they, to whose propitious words the Chief Listen'd delighted. Then Antinoues placed The paunch before him, and Amphinomus Two loaves, selected from the rest; he fill'd A goblet also, drank to him, and said, My father, hail! O stranger, be thy lot 150 Hereafter blest, though adverse now and hard! To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. To me, Amphinomus, endued thou seem'st With much discretion, who art also son Of such a sire, whose fair report I know, Dulichian Nysus, opulent and good. Fame speaks thee his, and thou appear'st a man Judicious; hear me, therefore; mark me well. Earth nourishes, of all that breathe or creep, No creature weak as man; for while the Gods 160 Grant him prosperity and health, no fear Hath he, or thought, that he shall ever mourn; But when the Gods with evils unforeseen Smite him, he bears them with a grudging mind; For such as the complexion of his lot By the appointment of the Sire of all, Such is the colour of the mind of man. I, too, have been familiar in my day With wealth and ease, but I was then self-will'd, And many wrong'd, embolden'd by the thought 170 Of my own father's and my brethren's pow'r. Let no man, therefore, be unjust, but each Use modestly what gift soe'er of heav'n. So do not these. These ever bent I see On deeds injurious, the possessions large Consuming, and dishonouring the wife Of one, who will not, as I judge, remain Long absent from his home, but is, perchance, Ev'n at the door. Thee, therefore, may the Gods Steal hence in time! ah, meet not his return 180 To his own country! for they will not part, (He and the suitors) without blood, I think, If once he enter at these gates again! He ended, and, libation pouring, quaff'd The generous juice, then in the prince's hand Replaced the cup; he, pensive, and his head Inclining low, pass'd from him; for his heart Forboded ill; yet 'scaped not even he, But in the snare of Pallas caught, his life To the heroic arm and spear resign'd 190 Of brave Telemachus. Reaching, at length, The seat whence he had ris'n, he sat again. Minerva then, Goddess, caerulean-eyed, Prompted Icarius' daughter to appear Before the suitors; so to expose the more Their drift iniquitous, and that herself More bright than ever in her husband's eyes Might shine, and in her son's. Much mirth she feign'd,[80] And, bursting into laughter, thus began. I wish, Eurynome! (who never felt 200 That wish till now) though I detest them all, To appear before the suitors, in whose ears I will admonish, for his good, my son, Not to associate with that lawless crew Too much, who speak him fair, but foul intend. Then answer thus Eurynome return'd. My daughter! wisely hast thou said and well. Go! bathe thee and anoint thy face, then give To thy dear son such counsel as thou wilt Without reserve; but shew not there thy cheeks 210 Sullied with tears, for profit none accrues From grief like thine, that never knows a change. And he is now bearded, and hath attained That age which thou wast wont with warmest pray'r To implore the Gods that he might live to see. Her answer'd then Penelope discrete. Persuade not me, though studious of my good, To bathe, Eurynome! or to anoint My face with oil; for all my charms the Gods Inhabitants of Olympus then destroy'd, 220 When he, embarking, left me. Go, command Hippodamia and Autonoee That they attend me to the hall, and wait Beside me there; for decency forbids That I should enter to the men, alone. She ceas'd, and through the house the ancient dame Hasted to summon whom she had enjoin'd. But Pallas, Goddess of the azure eyes, Diffused, meantime, the kindly dew of sleep Around Icarius' daughter; on her couch 230 Reclining, soon as she reclin'd, she dozed, And yielded to soft slumber all her frame. Then, that the suitors might admire her more, The glorious Goddess cloath'd her, as she lay, With beauty of the skies; her lovely face She with ambrosia purified, with such As Cytherea chaplet-crown'd employs Herself, when in the eye-ensnaring dance She joins the Graces; to a statelier height Beneath her touch, and ampler size she grew, 240 And fairer than the elephantine bone Fresh from the carver's hand. These gifts conferr'd Divine, the awful Deity retired. And now, loud-prattling as they came, arrived Her handmaids; sleep forsook her at the sound, She wiped away a tear, and thus she said. Me gentle sleep, sad mourner as I am, Hath here involved. O would that by a death As gentle chaste Diana would herself This moment set me free, that I might waste 250 My life no longer in heart-felt regret Of a lamented husband's various worth And virtue, for in Greece no Peer had he! She said, and through her chambers' stately door Issuing, descended; neither went she sole, But with those two fair menials of her train. Arriving, most majestic of her sex, In presence of the num'rous guests, beneath The portal of the stately dome she stood Between her maidens, with her lucid veil 260 Mantling her lovely cheeks. Then, ev'ry knee Trembled, and ev'ry heart with am'rous heat Dissolv'd, her charms all coveting alike, While to Telemachus her son she spake. Telemachus! thou art no longer wise As once thou wast, and even when a child. For thriven as thou art, and at full size Arrived of man, so fair proportion'd, too, That ev'n a stranger, looking on thy growth And beauty, would pronounce thee nobly born, 270 Yet is thy intellect still immature. For what is this? why suffer'st thou a guest To be abused in thy own palace? how? Know'st not that if the stranger seated here Endure vexation, the disgrace is thine? Her answer'd, then, Telemachus discrete. I blame thee not, my mother, that thou feel'st Thine anger moved; yet want I not a mind Able to mark and to discern between Evil and good, child as I lately was, 280 Although I find not promptitude of thought Sufficient always, overaw'd and check'd By such a multitude, all bent alike On mischief, of whom none takes part with me. But Irus and the stranger have not fought, Urged by the suitors, and the stranger prov'd Victorious; yes—heav'n knows how much I wish That, (in the palace some, some in the court) The suitors all sat vanquish'd, with their heads Depending low, and with enfeebled limbs, 290 Even as that same Irus, while I speak, With chin on bosom propp'd at the hall-gate Sits drunkard-like, incapable to stand Erect, or to regain his proper home. So they; and now addressing to the Queen His speech, Eurymachus thus interposed. O daughter of Icarius! could all eyes Throughout Iaesian Argos[81] view thy charms, Discrete Penelope! more suitors still Assembling in thy courts would banquet here 300 From morn to eve; for thou surpassest far In beauty, stature, worth, all womankind. To whom replied Penelope discrete. The Gods, Eurymachus! reduced to nought My virtue, beauty, stature, when the Greeks, Whom my Ulysses follow'd, sail'd to Troy. Could he, returning, my domestic charge Himself intend, far better would my fame Be so secured, and wider far diffused. But I am wretched now, such storms the Gods 310 Of woe have sent me. When he left his home, Clasping my wrist with his right hand, he said. My love! for I imagine not that all The warrior Greeks shall safe from Troy return, Since fame reports the Trojans brave in fight, Skill'd in the spear, mighty to draw the bow, And nimble vaulters to the backs of steeds High-mettled, which to speediest issue bring The dreadful struggle of all-wasting war— I know not, therefore, whether heav'n intend 320 My safe return, or I must perish there. But manage thou at home. Cherish, as now, While I am absent, or more dearly still My parents, and what time our son thou seest Mature, then wed; wed even whom thou wilt, And hence to a new home.—Such were his words, All which shall full accomplishment ere long Receive. The day is near, when hapless I, Lost to all comfort by the will of Jove, Must meet the nuptials that my soul abhors. 330 But this thought now afflicts me, and my mind Continual haunts. Such was not heretofore The suitors' custom'd practice; all who chose To engage in competition for a wife Well-qualitied and well-endow'd, produced From their own herds and fatted flocks a feast For the bride's friends, and splendid presents made, But never ate as ye, at others' cost. She ceased; then brave Ulysses toil-inured Rejoiced that, soothing them, she sought to draw 340 From each some gift, although on other views, And more important far, himself intent. Then thus Antinoues, Eupithes' son. Icarius' daughter wise! only accept Such gifts as we shall bring, for gifts demand That grace, nor can be decently refused; But to our rural labours, or elsewhere Depart not we, till first thy choice be made Of the Achaian, chief in thy esteem. Antinoues spake, whose answer all approved. 350 Then each dispatch'd his herald who should bring His master's gift. Antinoues' herald, first A mantle of surpassing beauty brought, Wide, various, with no fewer clasps adorn'd Than twelve, all golden, and to ev'ry clasp Was fitted opposite its eye exact. Next, to Eurymachus his herald bore A necklace of wrought gold, with amber rich Bestudded, ev'ry bead bright as a sun. Two servants for Eurydamas produced 360 Ear-pendants fashion'd with laborious art, Broad, triple-gemm'd, of brilliant light profuse. The herald of Polyctor's son, the prince Pisander, brought a collar to his Lord, A sumptuous ornament. Each Greecian gave, And each a gift dissimilar from all. Then, loveliest of her sex, turning away, She sought her chamber, whom her maidens fair Attended, charged with those illustrious gifts. Then turn'd, they all to dance and pleasant song 370 Joyous, expecting the approach of ev'n. Ere long the dusky evening came, and them Found sporting still. Then, placing in the hall Three hearths that should illumine wide the house, They compass'd them around with fuel-wood Long-season'd and new-split, mingling the sticks With torches. The attendant women watch'd And fed those fires by turns, to whom, himself, Their unknown Sov'reign thus his speech address'd. Ye maidens of the long-regretted Chief 380 Ulysses! to the inner-courts retire, And to your virtuous Queen, that following there Your sev'ral tasks, spinning and combing wool, Ye may amuse her; I, meantime, for these Will furnish light, and should they chuse to stay Till golden morn appear, they shall not tire My patience aught, for I can much endure. He said; they, titt'ring, on each other gazed. But one, Melantho with the blooming cheeks, Rebuked him rudely. Dolius was her sire, 390 But by Penelope she had been reared With care maternal, and in infant years Supplied with many a toy; yet even she Felt not her mistress' sorrows in her heart, But, of Eurymachus enamour'd, oft His lewd embraces met; she, with sharp speech Reproachful, to Ulysses thus replied. Why—what a brainsick vagabond art thou! Who neither wilt to the smith's forge retire For sleep, nor to the public portico, 400 But here remaining, with audacious prate Disturb'st this num'rous company, restrain'd By no respect or fear; either thou art With wine intoxicated, or, perchance, Art always fool, and therefore babblest now. Say, art thou drunk with joy that thou hast foiled The beggar Irus? Tremble, lest a man Stronger than Irus suddenly arise, Who on thy temples pelting thee with blows Far heavier than his, shall drive thee hence 410 With many a bruise, and foul with thy own blood. To whom Ulysses, frowning stern, replied. Snarler! Telemachus shall be inform'd This moment of thy eloquent harangue, That he may hew thee for it, limb from limb. So saying, he scared the women; back they flew Into the house, but each with falt'ring knees Through dread, for they believ'd his threats sincere. He, then illumin'd by the triple blaze, Watch'd close the lights, busy from hearth to hearth, 420 But in his soul, meantime, far other thoughts Revolved, tremendous, not conceived in vain. Nor Pallas (that they might exasp'rate more Laertes' son) permitted to abstain From heart-corroding bitterness of speech Those suitors proud, of whom Eurymachus, Offspring of Polybus, while thus he jeer'd Ulysses, set the others in a roar. Hear me, ye suitors of the illustrious Queen! I shall promulge my thought. This man, methinks, 430 Not unconducted by the Gods, hath reach'd Ulysses' mansion, for to me the light Of yonder torches altogether seems His own, an emanation from his head, Which not the smallest growth of hair obscures. He ended; and the city-waster Chief Himself accosted next. Art thou disposed To serve me, friend! would I afford thee hire, A labourer at my farm? thou shalt not want Sufficient wages; thou may'st there collect 440 Stones for my fences, and may'st plant my oaks, For which I would supply thee all the year With food, and cloaths, and sandals for thy feet. But thou hast learn'd less creditable arts, Nor hast a will to work, preferring much By beggary from others to extort Wherewith to feed thy never-sated maw. Then answer, thus, Ulysses wise return'd. Forbear, Eurymachus; for were we match'd In work against each other, thou and I, 450 Mowing in spring-time, when the days are long, I with my well-bent sickle in my hand, Thou arm'd with one as keen, for trial sake Of our ability to toil unfed Till night, grass still sufficing for the proof.— Or if, again, it were our task to drive Yoked oxen of the noblest breed, sleek-hair'd, Big-limb'd, both batten'd to the full with grass, Their age and aptitude for work the same Not soon to be fatigued, and were the field 460 In size four acres, with a glebe through which The share might smoothly slide, then should'st thou see How strait my furrow should be cut and true.— Or should Saturnian Jove this day excite Here, battle, or elsewhere, and were I arm'd With two bright spears and with a shield, and bore A brazen casque well-fitted to my brows, Me, then, thou should'st perceive mingling in fight Amid the foremost Chiefs, nor with the crime Of idle beggary should'st upbraid me more. 470 But thou art much a railer, one whose heart Pity moves not, and seem'st a mighty man And valiant to thyself, only because Thou herd'st with few, and those of little worth. But should Ulysses come, at his own isle Again arrived, wide as these portals are, To thee, at once, too narrow they should seem To shoot thee forth with speed enough abroad. He ceased—then tenfold indignation fired Eurymachus; he furrow'd deep his brow 480 With frowns, and in wing'd accents thus replied. Wretch, I shall roughly handle thee anon, Who thus with fluent prate presumptuous dar'st Disturb this num'rous company, restrain'd By no respect or fear. Either thou art With wine intoxicated, or, perchance, Art always fool, and therefore babblest now; Or thou art frantic haply with delight That thou hast foil'd yon vagabond obscure. So saying, he seized a stool; but to the knees 490 Ulysses flew of the Dulichian Prince Amphinomus, and sat, fearing incensed Eurymachus; he on his better hand Smote full the cup-bearer; on the hall-floor Loud rang the fallen beaker, and himself Lay on his back clamouring in the dust. Strait through the dusky hall tumult ensued Among the suitors, of whom thus, a youth, With eyes directed to the next, exclaim'd. Would that this rambling stranger had elsewhere 500 Perish'd, or ever he had here arrived, Then no such uproar had he caused as this! This doth the beggar; he it is for whom We wrangle thus, and may despair of peace Or pleasure more; now look for strife alone. Then in the midst Telemachus upstood Majestic, and the suitors thus bespake. Sirs! ye are mad, and can no longer eat Or drink in peace; some daemon troubles you. But since ye all have feasted, to your homes 510 Go now, and, at your pleasure, to your beds; Soonest were best, but I thrust no man hence. He ceased; they gnawing stood their lips, aghast With wonder that Telemachus in his speech Such boldness used. Then rose Amphinomus, Brave son of Nisus offspring of the King Aretus, and the assembly thus address'd. My friends! let none with contradiction thwart And rude reply words rational and just; Assault no more the stranger, nor of all 520 The servants of renown'd Ulysses here Harm any. Come. Let the cup-bearer fill To all, that due libation made, to rest We may repair at home, leaving the Prince To accommodate beneath his father's roof The stranger, for he is the Prince's guest. He ended, whose advice none disapproved. The Hero Mulius then, Dulichian-born, And herald of Amphinomus, the cup Filling, dispensed it, as he stood, to all; 530 They, pouring forth to the Immortals, quaff'd The luscious bev'rage, and when each had made Libation, and such measure as he would Of wine had drunk, then all to rest retired.

FOOTNOTES:

[79] Tradition says that Echetus, for a love-affair, condemned his daughter to lose her eyes, and to grind iron barley-grains, while her lover was doomed to suffer what Antinoues threatens to Irus. F.

[80] This seems the sort of laughter intended by the word Achreion.

[81] From Iaesus, once King of Peloponnesus.



BOOK XIX

ARGUMENT

Ulysses and Telemachus remove the arms from the hall to an upper-chamber. The Hero then confers with Penelope, to whom he gives a fictitious narrative of his adventures. Euryclea, while bathing Ulysses, discovers him by a scar on his knee, but he prevents her communication of that discovery to Penelope.

They went, but left the noble Chief behind In his own house, contriving by the aid Of Pallas, the destruction of them all, And thus, in accents wing'd, again he said. My son! we must remove and safe dispose All these my well-forged implements of war; And should the suitors, missing them, enquire Where are they? thou shalt answer smoothly thus— I have convey'd them from the reach of smoke, For they appear no more the same which erst 10 Ulysses, going hence to Ilium, left, So smirch'd and sullied by the breath of fire. This weightier reason (thou shalt also say) Some God suggested to me,—lest, inflamed With wine, ye wound each other in your brawls, Shaming both feast and courtship; for the view Itself of arms incites to their abuse. He ceased, and, in obedience to his will, Calling the ancient Euryclea forth, His nurse, Telemachus enjoin'd her thus. 20 Go—shut the women in; make fast the doors Of their apartment, while I safe dispose Elsewhere, my father's implements of war, Which, during his long absence, here have stood Till smoke hath sullied them. For I have been An infant hitherto, but, wiser grown, Would now remove them from the breath of fire. Then thus the gentle matron in return. Yes truly—and I wish that now, at length, Thou would'st assert the privilege of thy years, 30 My son, thyself assuming charge of all, Both house and stores; but who shall bear the light? Since they, it seems, who would, are all forbidden. To whom Telemachus discrete replied. This guest; for no man, from my table fed, Come whence he may; shall be an idler here. He ended, nor his words flew wing'd away, But Euryclea bolted every door. Then, starting to the task, Ulysses caught, And his illustrious son, the weapons thence, 40 Helmet, and bossy shield, and pointed spear, While Pallas from a golden lamp illumed The dusky way before them. At that sight Alarm'd, the Prince his father thus address'd. Whence—whence is this, my father? I behold A prodigy! the walls of the whole house, The arches, fir-tree beams, and pillars tall Shine in my view, as with the blaze of fire! Some Pow'r celestial, doubtless, is within. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. 50 Soft! ask no questions. Give no vent to thought, Such is the custom of the Pow'rs divine. Hence, thou, to bed. I stay, that I may yet Both in thy mother and her maidens move More curiosity; yes—she with tears Shall question me of all that I have seen. He ended, and the Prince, at his command, Guided by flaming torches, sought the couch Where he was wont to sleep, and there he slept On that night also, waiting the approach 60 Of sacred dawn. Thus was Ulysses left Alone, and planning sat in solitude, By Pallas' aid, the slaughter of his foes. At length, Diana-like, or like herself, All golden Venus, (her apartment left) Enter'd Penelope. Beside the hearth Her women planted her accustom'd seat With silver wreathed and ivory. That throne Icmalius made, artist renown'd, and join'd A footstool to its splendid frame beneath, 70 Which ever with an ample fleece they spread. There sat discrete Penelope; then came Her beautiful attendants from within, Who cleared the litter'd bread, the board, and cups From which the insolent companions drank. They also raked the embers from the hearths Now dim, and with fresh billets piled them high, Both for illumination and for warmth. Then yet again Melantho with rude speech Opprobrious, thus, assail'd Ulysses' ear. 80 Guest—wilt thou trouble us throughout the night Ranging the house? and linger'st thou a spy Watching the women? Hence—get thee abroad Glad of such fare as thou hast found, or soon With torches beaten we will thrust thee forth. To whom Ulysses, frowning stern, replied. Petulant woman! wherefore thus incensed Inveigh'st thou against me? is it because I am not sleek? because my garb is mean? Because I beg? thanks to necessity— 90 I would not else. But such as I appear, Such all who beg and all who wander are. I also lived the happy owner once Of such a stately mansion, and have giv'n To num'rous wand'rers, whencesoe'er they came, All that they needed; I was also served By many, and enjoy'd all that denotes The envied owner opulent and blest. But Jove (for so it pleas'd him) hath reduced My all to nothing. Therefore well beware 100 Thou also, mistress, lest a day arrive When all these charms by which thou shin'st among Thy sister-menials, fade; fear, too, lest her Thou should'st perchance irritate, whom thou serv'st, And lest Ulysses come, of whose return Hope yet survives; but even though the Chief Have perish'd, as ye think, and comes no more, Consider yet his son, how bright the gifts Shine of Apollo in the illustrious Prince Telemachus; no woman, unobserved 110 By him, can now commit a trespass here; His days of heedless infancy are past. He ended, whom Penelope discrete O'erhearing, her attendant sharp rebuked. Shameless, audacious woman! known to me Is thy great wickedness, which with thy life Thou shalt atone; for thou wast well aware, (Hearing it from myself) that I design'd To ask this stranger of my absent Lord, For whose dear sake I never cease to mourn. 120 Then to her household's governess she said. Bring now a seat, and spread it with a fleece, Eurynome! that, undisturb'd, the guest May hear and answer all that I shall ask. She ended. Then the matron brought in haste A polish'd seat, and spread it with a fleece, On which the toil-accustom'd Hero sat, And thus the chaste Penelope began. Stranger! my first enquiry shall be this— Who art thou? whence? where born? and sprung from whom? 130 Then answer thus Ulysses, wise, return'd. O Queen! uncensurable by the lips Of mortal man! thy glory climbs the skies Unrivall'd, like the praise of some great King Who o'er a num'rous people and renown'd Presiding like a Deity, maintains Justice and truth. The earth, under his sway, Her produce yields abundantly; the trees Fruit-laden bend; the lusty flocks bring forth; The Ocean teems with finny swarms beneath 140 His just controul, and all the land is blest. Me therefore, question of what else thou wilt In thy own palace, but forbear to ask From whom I sprang, and of my native land, Lest thou, reminding me of those sad themes, Augment my woes; for I have much endured; Nor were it seemly, in another's house, To pass the hours in sorrow and in tears, Wearisome when indulg'd with no regard To time or place; thy train (perchance thyself) 150 Would blame me, and I should reproach incur As one tear-deluged through excess of wine. Him answer'd then Penelope discrete. The immortal Gods, O stranger, then destroy'd My form, my grace, my beauty, when the Greeks Whom my Ulysses follow'd, sail'd to Troy. Could he, returning, my domestic charge Himself intend, far better would my fame Be so secured, and wider far diffused. But I am wretched now, such storms of woe 160 The Gods have sent me; for as many Chiefs As hold dominion in the neighbour isles Samos, Dulichium, and the forest-crown'd Zacynthus; others, also, rulers here In pleasant Ithaca, me, loth to wed, Woo ceaseless, and my household stores consume. I therefore, neither guest nor suppliant heed, Nor public herald more, but with regret Of my Ulysses wear my soul away. They, meantime, press my nuptials, which by art 170 I still procrastinate. Some God the thought Suggested to me, to commence a robe Of amplest measure and of subtlest woof, Laborious task; which done, I thus address'd them. Princes, my suitors! since the noble Chief Ulysses is no more, enforce not now My nuptials; wait till I shall finish first A fun'ral robe (lest all my threads be marr'd) Which for the ancient Hero I prepare Laertes, looking for the mournful hour 180 When fate shall snatch him to eternal rest. Else, I the censure dread of all my sex, Should he, so wealthy, want at last a shroud. Such was my speech; they, unsuspicious all, With my request complied. Thenceforth, all day I wove the ample web, and, by the aid Of torches, ravell'd it again at night. Three years by artifice I thus their suit Eluded safe; but when the fourth arrived, And the same season after many moons 190 And fleeting days return'd, passing my train Who had neglected to release the dogs, They came, surprized and reprimanded me. Thus, through necessity, not choice, at last I have perform'd it, in my own despight. But no escape from marriage now remains, Nor other subterfuge for me; meantime My parents urge my nuptials, and my son (Of age to note it) with disgust observes His wealth consumed; for he is now become 200 Adult, and abler than myself to rule The house, a Prince distinguish'd by the Gods, Yet, stranger, after all, speak thy descent; Say whence thou art; for not of fabulous birth Art thou, nor from the oak, nor from the rock. Her answer'd then Ulysses, ever-wise. O spouse revered of Laertiades! Resolv'st thou still to learn from whom I sprang? Learn then; but know that thou shalt much augment My present grief, natural to a man 210 Who hath, like me, long exiled from his home Through various cities of the sons of men Wander'd remote, and num'rous woes endured. Yet, though it pain me, I will tell thee all. There is a land amid the sable flood Call'd Crete; fair, fruitful, circled by the sea. Num'rous are her inhabitants, a race Not to be summ'd, and ninety towns she boasts. Diverse their language is; Achaians some, And some indigenous are; Cydonians there, 220 Crest-shaking Dorians, and Pelasgians dwell. One city in extent the rest exceeds, Cnossus; the city in which Minos reign'd, Who, ever at a nine years' close, conferr'd With Jove himself; from him my father sprang The brave Deucalion; for Deucalion's sons Were two, myself and King Idomeneus. To Ilium he, on board his gallant barks, Follow'd the Atridae. I, the youngest-born, By my illustrious name, AEthon, am known, 230 But he ranks foremost both in worth and years. There I beheld Ulysses, and within My walls receiv'd him; for a violent wind Had driv'n him from Malea (while he sought The shores of Troy) to Crete. The storm his barks Bore into the Amnisus, for the cave Of Ilythia known, a dang'rous port, And which with difficulty he attain'd. He, landing, instant to the city went, Seeking Idomeneus; his friend of old, 240 As he affirm'd, and one whom much he lov'd. But he was far remote, ten days advanced, Perhaps eleven, on his course to Troy. Him, therefore, I conducted to my home, Where hospitably, and with kindest care I entertain'd him, (for I wanted nought) And for himself procured and for his band,— By public contribution, corn, and wine, And beeves for food, that all might be sufficed. Twelve days his noble Greecians there abode, 250 Port-lock'd by Boreas blowing with a force Resistless even on the land, some God So roused his fury; but the thirteenth day The wind all fell, and they embark'd again. With many a fiction specious, as he sat, He thus her ear amused; she at the sound Melting, with fluent tears her cheeks bedew'd; And as the snow by Zephyrus diffused, Melts on the mountain tops, when Eurus breathes, And fills the channels of the running streams, 260 So melted she, and down her lovely cheeks Pour'd fast the tears, him mourning as remote Who sat beside her. Soft compassion touch'd Ulysses of his consort's silent woe; His eyes as they had been of steel or horn, Moved not, yet artful, he suppress'd his tears, And she, at length with overflowing grief Satiate, replied, and thus enquired again. Now, stranger, I shall prove thee, as I judge, If thou, indeed, hast entertain'd in Crete 270 My spouse and his brave followers, as thou say'st. Describe his raiment and himself; his own Appearance, and the appearance of his friends. Then her Ulysses answer'd, ever-wise. Hard is the task, O Queen! (so long a time Hath since elaps'd) to tell thee. Twenty years Have pass'd since he forsook my native isle, Yet, from my best remembrance, I will give A likeness of him, such as now I may. A double cloak, thick-piled, Moeonian dyed, 280 The noble Chief had on; two fast'nings held The golden clasp, and it display'd in front A well-wrought pattern with much art design'd. An hound between his fore-feet holding fast A dappled fawn, gaped eager on his prey. All wonder'd, seeing, how in lifeless gold Express'd, the dog with open mouth her throat Attempted still, and how the fawn with hoofs Thrust trembling forward, struggled to escape. That glorious mantle much I noticed, soft 290 To touch, as the dried garlick's glossy film; Such was the smoothness of it, and it shone Sun-bright; full many a maiden, trust me, view'd The splendid texture with admiring eyes. But mark me now; deep treasure in thy mind This word. I know not if Ulysses wore That cloak at home, or whether of his train Some warrior gave it to him on his way, Or else some host of his; for many loved Ulysses, and with him might few compare. 300 I gave to him, myself, a brazen sword, A purple cloak magnificent, and vest Of royal length, and when he sought his bark, With princely pomp dismiss'd him from the shore. An herald also waited on the Chief, Somewhat his Senior; him I next describe. His back was bunch'd, his visage swarthy, curl'd His poll, and he was named Eurybates; A man whom most of all his followers far Ulysses honour'd, for their minds were one. 310 He ceased; she recognising all the proofs Distinctly by Ulysses named, was moved Still more to weep, till with o'erflowing grief Satiate, at length she answer'd him again. Henceforth, O stranger, thou who hadst before My pity, shalt my rev'rence share and love, I folded for him (with these hands) the cloak Which thou describ'st, produced it when he went, And gave it to him; I that splendid clasp Attach'd to it myself, more to adorn 320 My honour'd Lord, whom to his native land Return'd secure I shall receive no more. In such an evil hour Ulysses went To that bad city never to be named. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. Consort revered of Laertiades! No longer let anxiety impair Thy beauteous form, nor any grief consume Thy spirits more for thy Ulysses' sake. And yet I blame thee not; a wife deprived 330 Of her first mate to whom she had produced Fair fruit of mutual love, would mourn his loss, Although he were inferior far to thine, Whom fame affirms the semblance of the Gods. But cease to mourn. Hear me. I will relate A faithful tale, nor will from thee withhold Such tidings of Ulysses living still, And of his safe return, as I have heard Lately, in yon neighb'ring opulent land Of the Thesprotians. He returns enrich'd 340 With many precious stores from those obtain'd Whom he hath visited; but he hath lost, Departing from Thrinacia's isle, his bark And all his lov'd companions in the Deep, For Jove was adverse to him, and the Sun, Whose beeves his followers slew. They perish'd all Amid the billowy flood; but Him, the keel Bestriding of his bark, the waves at length Cast forth on the Phaeacian's land, a race Allied to heav'n, who rev'renced like a God 350 Thy husband, honour'd him with num'rous gifts, And willing were to have convey'd him home. Ulysses, therefore, had attained long since His native shore, but that he deem'd it best To travel far, that he might still amass More wealth; so much Ulysses all mankind Excels in policy, and hath no peer. This information from Thesprotia's King I gain'd, from Phidon; to myself he swore, Libation off'ring under his own roof, 360 That both the bark was launch'd, and the stout crew Prepared, that should conduct him to his home. But me he first dismiss'd; for, as it chanced, A ship lay there of the Thesprotians, bound To corn-enrich'd Dulichium. All the wealth He shew'd me by the Chief amass'd, a store To feed the house of yet another Prince To the tenth generation; so immense His treasures were within that palace lodg'd. Himself he said was to Dodona gone, 370 Counsel to ask from the oracular oaks Sublime of Jove, how safest he might seek, After long exile thence, his native land, If openly were best, or in disguise. Thus, therefore, he is safe, and at his home Well-nigh arrived, nor shall his country long Want him. I swear it with a solemn oath. First Jove be witness, King and Lord of all! Next these domestic Gods of the renown'd Ulysses, in whose royal house I sit, 380 That thou shalt see my saying all fulfill'd. Ulysses shall this self-same year return, This self-same month, ere yet the next begin. Him answer'd then Penelope discrete. Grant heav'n, my guest, that this good word of thine Fail not! then, soon shalt thou such bounty share And friendship at my hands, that, at first sight, Whoe'er shall meet thee shall pronounce thee blest. But ah! my soul forebodes how it will prove; Neither Ulysses will return, nor thou 390 Receive safe conduct hence; for we have here None, such as once Ulysses was, to rule His household with authority, and to send With honourable convoy to his home The worthy guest, or to regale him here. Give him the bath, my maidens; spread his couch With linen soft, with fleecy gaberdines[82] And rugs of splendid hue, that he may lie Waiting, well-warm'd, the golden morn's return. Attend him also at the peep of day 400 With bath and unction, that, his seat resumed Here in the palace, he may be prepared For breakfast with Telemachus; and woe To him who shall presume to incommode Or cause him pain; that man shall be cashier'd Hence instant, burn his anger as it may. For how, my honour'd inmate! shalt thou learn That I in wisdom oeconomic aught Pass other women, if unbathed, unoiled, Ill-clad, thou sojourn here? man's life is short, 410 Whoso is cruel, and to cruel arts Addict, on him all men, while yet he lives, Call plagues and curses down, and after death Scorn and proverbial mock'ries hunt his name. But men, humane themselves, and giv'n by choice To offices humane, from land to land Are rumour'd honourably by their guests, And ev'ry tongue is busy in their praise. Her answer'd then, Ulysses, ever-wise. Consort revered of Laertiades! 420 Warm gaberdines and rugs of splendid hue To me have odious been, since first the sight Of Crete's snow-mantled mountain-tops I lost, Sweeping the billows with extended oars. No; I will pass, as I am wont to pass The sleepless night; for on a sordid couch Outstretch'd, full many a night have I reposed Till golden-charioted Aurora dawn'd. Nor me the foot-bath pleases more; my foot Shall none of all thy ministring maidens touch, 430 Unless there be some ancient matron grave Among them, who hath pangs of heart endured Num'rous, and keen as I have felt myself; Her I refuse not. She may touch my feet. Him answer'd then prudent Penelope. Dear guest! for of all trav'llers here arrived From distant regions, I have none received Discrete as thou, or whom I more have lov'd, So just thy matter is, and with such grace Express'd. I have an ancient maiden grave, 440 The nurse who at my hapless husband's birth Receiv'd him in her arms, and with kind care Maternal rear'd him; she shall wash thy feet, Although decrepid. Euryclea, rise! Wash one coeval with thy Lord; for such The feet and hands, it may be, are become Of my Ulysses now; since man beset With sorrow once, soon wrinkled grows and old. She said, then Euryclea with both hands Cov'ring her face, in tepid tears profuse 450 Dissolved, and thus in mournful strains began. Alas! my son, trouble for thy dear sake Distracts me. Jove surely of all mankind Thee hated most, though ever in thy heart Devoutly giv'n; for never mortal man So many thighs of fatted victims burn'd, And chosen hecatombs produced as thou To Jove the Thund'rer, him entreating still That he would grant thee a serene old age, And to instruct, thyself, thy glorious son. 460 Yet thus the God requites thee, cutting off All hope of thy return—oh ancient sir! Him too, perchance, where'er he sits a guest Beneath some foreign roof, the women taunt, As all these shameless ones have taunted thee, Fearing whose mock'ry thou forbidd'st their hands This office, which Icarius' daughter wise To me enjoins, and which I, glad perform. Yes, I will wash thy feet; both for her sake And for thy own,—for sight of thee hath raised 470 A tempest in my mind. Hear now the cause! Full many a guest forlorn we entertain, But never any have I seen, whose size, The fashion of whose foot and pitch of voice, Such likeness of Ulysses show'd, as thine. To whom Ulysses, ever-shrewd, replied. Such close similitude, O ancient dame! As thou observ'st between thy Lord and me, All, who have seen us both, have ever found. He said; then taking the resplendent vase 480 Allotted always to that use, she first Infused cold water largely, then, the warm. Ulysses (for beside the hearth he sat) Turn'd quick his face into the shade, alarm'd Lest, handling him, she should at once remark His scar, and all his stratagem unveil. She then, approaching, minister'd the bath To her own King, and at first touch discern'd That token, by a bright-tusk'd boar of old Impress'd, what time he to Parnassus went 490 To visit there Autolycus and his sons, His mother's noble sire, who all mankind In furtive arts and fraudful oaths excell'd.[83] For such endowments he by gift receiv'd From Hermes' self, to whom the thighs of kids He offer'd and of lambs, and, in return, The watchful Hermes never left his side. Autolycus arriving in the isle Of pleasant Ithaca, the new-born son Of his own daughter found, whom on his knees 500 At close of supper Euryclea placed, And thus the royal visitant address'd. Thyself, Autolycus! devise a name For thy own daughter's son, by num'rous pray'rs Of thine and fervent, from the Gods obtained. Then answer thus Autolycus return'd. My daughter and my daughter's spouse! the name Which I shall give your boy, that let him bear. Since after provocation and offence To numbers giv'n of either sex, I come, 510 Call him Ulysses;[84] and when, grown mature, He shall Parnassus visit, the abode Magnificent in which his mother dwelt, And where my treasures lie, from my own stores I will enrich and send him joyful home. Ulysses, therefore, that he might obtain Those princely gifts, went thither. Him arrived, With right-hand gratulation and with words Of welcome kind, Autolycus received, Nor less his offspring; but the mother most 520 Of his own mother clung around his neck, Amphithea; she with many a fervent kiss His forehead press'd, and his bright-beaming eyes. Then bade Autolycus his noble sons Set forth a banquet. They, at his command, Led in a fatted ox of the fifth year, Which slaying first, they spread him carved abroad, Then scored his flesh, transfixed it with the spits, And roasting all with culinary skill Exact, gave each his portion. Thus they sat 530 Feasting all day, and till the sun declined, But when the sun declined, and darkness fell, Each sought his couch, and took the gift of sleep. Then, soon as day-spring's daughter rosy-palm'd Aurora look'd abroad, forth went the hounds, And, with the hounds Ulysses, and the youths, Sons of Autolycus, to chase the boar. Arrived at the Parnassian mount, they climb'd His bushy sides, and to his airy heights Ere long attain'd. It was the pleasant hour 540 When from the gently-swelling flood profound The sun, emerging, first smote on the fields. The hunters reach'd the valley; foremost ran, Questing, the hounds; behind them, swift, the sons Came of Autolycus, with whom advanced The illustrious Prince Ulysses, pressing close The hounds, and brandishing his massy spear. There, hid in thickest shades, lay an huge boar. That covert neither rough winds blowing moist Could penetrate, nor could the noon-day sun 550 Smite through it, or fast-falling show'rs pervade, So thick it was, and underneath the ground With litter of dry foliage strew'd profuse. Hunters and dogs approaching him, his ear The sound of feet perceived; upridging high His bristly back and glaring fire, he sprang Forth from the shrubs, and in defiance stood Near and right opposite. Ulysses, first, Rush'd on him, elevating his long spear Ardent to wound him; but, preventing quick 560 His foe, the boar gash'd him above the knee. Much flesh, assailing him oblique, he tore With his rude tusk, but to the Hero's bone Pierced not; Ulysses his right shoulder reach'd; And with a deadly thrust impell'd the point Of his bright spear through him and far beyond. Loud yell'd the boar, sank in the dust, and died. Around Ulysses, then, the busy sons Throng'd of Autolycus; expert they braced The wound of the illustrious hunter bold, 570 With incantation staunched the sable blood, And sought in haste their father's house again, Whence, heal'd and gratified with splendid gifts They sent him soon rejoicing to his home, Themselves rejoicing also. Glad their son His parents saw again, and of the scar Enquired, where giv'n, and how? He told them all, How to Parnassus with his friends he went, Sons of Autolycus to hunt, and how A boar had gash'd him with his iv'ry tusk. 580 That scar, while chafing him with open palms, The matron knew; she left his foot to fall; Down dropp'd his leg into the vase; the brass Rang, and o'ertilted by the sudden shock, Poured forth the water, flooding wide the floor. Her spirit joy at once and sorrow seized; Tears fill'd her eyes; her intercepted voice Died in her throat; but to Ulysses' beard Her hand advancing, thus, at length, she spake. Thou art himself, Ulysses. Oh my son! 590 Dear to me, and my master as thou art, I knew thee not, till I had touch'd the scar. She said, and to Penelope her eyes Directed, all impatient to declare Her own Ulysses even then at home. But she, nor eye nor ear for aught that pass'd Had then, her fixt attention so entire Minerva had engaged. Then, darting forth His arms, the Hero with his right-hand close Compress'd her throat, and nearer to himself 600 Drawing her with his left, thus caution'd her. Why would'st thou ruin me? Thou gav'st me milk Thyself from thy own breast. See me return'd After long suff'rings, in the twentieth year, To my own land. But since (some God the thought Suggesting to thee) thou hast learn'd the truth, Silence! lest others learn it from thy lips. For this I say, nor shall the threat be vain; If God vouchsafe to me to overcome The haughty suitors, when I shall inflict 610 Death on the other women of my house, Although my nurse, thyself shalt also die. Him answer'd Euryclea then, discrete. My son! oh how could so severe a word Escape thy lips? my fortitude of mind Thou know'st, and even now shalt prove me firm As iron, secret as the stubborn rock. But hear and mark me well. Should'st thou prevail, Assisted by a Pow'r divine, to slay The haughty suitors, I will then, myself, 620 Give thee to know of all the female train Who have dishonour'd thee, and who respect. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. My nurse, it were superfluous; spare thy tongue That needless task. I can distinguish well Myself, between them, and shall know them all; But hold thy peace. Hush! leave it with the Gods. So he; then went the ancient matron forth, That she might serve him with a second bath, For the whole first was spilt. Thus, laved at length, 630 And smooth'd with oil, Ulysses nearer pull'd His seat toward the glowing hearth to enjoy More warmth, and drew his tatters o'er the scar. Then, prudent, thus Penelope began. One question, stranger, I shall yet propound, Though brief, for soon the hour of soft repose Grateful to all, and even to the sad Whom gentle sleep forsakes not, will arrive. But heav'n to me immeasurable woe Assigns,—whose sole delight is to consume 640 My days in sighs, while here retired I sit, Watching my maidens' labours and my own; But (night return'd, and all to bed retired) I press mine also, yet with deep regret And anguish lacerated, even there. As when at spring's first entrance, her sweet song The azure-crested nightingale renews, Daughter of Pandarus; within the grove's Thick foliage perch'd, she pours her echoing voice Now deep, now clear, still varying the strain 650 With which she mourns her Itylus, her son By royal Zethus, whom she, erring, slew,[85] So also I, by soul-distressing doubts Toss'd ever, muse if I shall here remain A faithful guardian of my son's affairs, My husband's bed respecting, and not less My own fair fame, or whether I shall him Of all my suitors follow to his home Who noblest seems, and offers richest dow'r. My son while he was infant yet, and own'd 660 An infant's mind, could never give consent That I should wed and leave him; but at length, Since he hath reached the stature of a man, He wishes my departure hence, the waste Viewing indignant by the suitors made. But I have dream'd. Hear, and expound my dream. My geese are twenty, which within my walls I feed with sodden wheat; they serve to amuse Sometimes my sorrow. From the mountains came An eagle, huge, hook-beak'd, brake all their necks, 670 And slew them; scatter'd on the palace-floor They lay, and he soar'd swift into the skies. Dream only as it was, I wept aloud, Till all my maidens, gather'd by my voice, Arriving, found me weeping still, and still Complaining, that the eagle had at once Slain all my geese. But, to the palace-roof Stooping again, he sat, and with a voice Of human sound, forbad my tears, and said— Courage! O daughter of the far-renown'd 680 Icarius! no vain dream thou hast beheld, But, in thy sleep, a truth. The slaughter'd geese Denote thy suitors. I who have appear'd An eagle in thy sight, am yet indeed Thy husband, who have now, at last, return'd, Death, horrid death designing for them all. He said; then waking at the voice, I cast An anxious look around, and saw my geese Beside their tray, all feeding as before. Her then Ulysses answer'd, ever-wise. 690 O Queen! it is not possible to miss Thy dream's plain import, since Ulysses' self Hath told thee the event; thy suitors all Must perish; not one suitor shall escape. To whom Penelope discrete replied. Dreams are inexplicable, O my guest! And oft-times mere delusions that receive No just accomplishment. There are two gates Through which the fleeting phantoms pass; of horn Is one, and one of ivory.[86] Such dreams 700 As through the thin-leaf'd iv'ry portal come Sooth, but perform not, utt'ring empty sounds; But such as through the polish'd horn escape, If, haply seen by any mortal eye, Prove faithful witnesses, and are fulfill'd. But through those gates my wond'rous dream, I think, Came not; thrice welcome were it else to me And to my son. Now mark my words; attend. This is the hated morn that from the house Removes me of Ulysses. I shall fix, 710 This day, the rings for trial to them all Of archership; Ulysses' custom was To plant twelve spikes, all regular arranged[87] Like galley-props, and crested with a ring, Then standing far remote, true in his aim He with his whizzing shaft would thrid them all. This is the contest in which now I mean To prove the suitors; him, who with most ease Shall bend the bow, and shoot through all the rings, I follow, this dear mansion of my youth 720 Leaving, so fair, so fill'd with ev'ry good, Though still to love it even in my dreams. Her answer'd then Ulysses, ever-wise. Consort revered of Laertiades! Postpone not this contention, but appoint Forthwith the trial; for Ulysses here Will sure arrive, ere they, (his polish'd bow Long tamp'ring) shall prevail to stretch the nerve, And speed the arrow through the iron rings. To whom Penelope replied discrete. 730 Would'st thou with thy sweet converse, O my guest! Here sooth me still, sleep ne'er should influence These eyes the while; but always to resist Sleep's pow'r is not for man, to whom the Gods Each circumstance of his condition here Fix universally. Myself will seek My own apartment at the palace-top, And there will lay me down on my sad couch, For such it hath been, and with tears of mine Ceaseless bedew'd, e'er since Ulysses went 740 To that bad city, never to be named. There will I sleep; but sleep thou here below, Either, thyself, preparing on the ground Thy couch, or on a couch by these prepared. So saying, she to her splendid chamber thence Retired, not sole, but by her female train Attended; there arrived, she wept her spouse, Her lov'd Ulysses, till Minerva dropp'd The balm of slumber on her weary lids.

FOOTNOTES:

[82] A gaberdine is a shaggy cloak of coarse but warm materials. Such always make part of Homer's bed-furniture.

[83] Homer's morals seem to allow to a good man dissimulation, and even an ambiguous oath, should they be necessary to save him from a villain. Thus in Book XX. Telemachus swears by Zeus, that he does not hinder his mother from marrying whom she pleases of the wooers, though at the same time he is plotting their destruction with his father. F.

[84] In the Greek ODYSSEUS from the verb odysso—Irascor, I am angry.

[85] She intended to slay the son of her husband's brother Amphion, incited to it by the envy of his wife, who had six children, while herself had only two, but through mistake she slew her own son Itylus, and for her punishment was transformed by Jupiter into a nightingale.

[86] The difference of the two substances may perhaps serve to account for the preference given in this case to the gate of horn; horn being transparent, and as such emblematical of truth, while ivory, from its whiteness, promises light, but is, in fact, opaque. F.

[87] The translation here is somewhat pleonastic for the sake of perspicuity; the original is clear in itself, but not to us who have no such practice. Twelve stakes were fixt in the earth, each having a ring at the top; the order in which they stood was so exact, that an arrow sent with an even hand through the first ring, would pass them all.



BOOK XX

ARGUMENT

Ulysses, doubting whether he shall destroy or not the women servants who commit lewdness with the suitors, resolves at length to spare them for the present. He asks an omen from Jupiter, and that he would grant him also to hear some propitious words from the lips of one in the family. His petitions are both answered. Preparation is made for the feast. Whilst the suitors sit at table, Pallas smites them with a horrid frenzy. Theoclymenus, observing the strange effects of it, prophesies their destruction, and they deride his prophecy.

But in the vestibule the Hero lay On a bull's-hide undress'd, o'er which he spread The fleece of many a sheep slain by the Greeks, And, cover'd by the household's governess With a wide cloak, composed himself to rest. Yet slept he not, but meditating lay Woe to his enemies. Meantime, the train Of women, wonted to the suitors' arms, Issuing all mirth and laughter, in his soul A tempest raised of doubts, whether at once 10 To slay, or to permit them yet to give Their lusty paramours one last embrace. As growls the mastiff standing on the start For battle, if a stranger's foot approach Her cubs new-whelp'd—so growl'd Ulysses' heart, While wonder fill'd him at their impious deeds. But, smiting on his breast, thus he reproved The mutinous inhabitant within. Heart! bear it. Worse than this thou didst endure When, uncontroulable by force of man, 20 The Cyclops thy illustrious friends devour'd. Thy patience then fail'd not, till prudence found Deliv'rance for thee on the brink of fate. So disciplined the Hero his own heart, Which, tractable, endured the rigorous curb, And patient; yet he turn'd from side to side. As when some hungry swain turns oft a maw Unctuous and sav'ry on the burning coals, Quick expediting his desired repast, So he from side to side roll'd, pond'ring deep 30 How likeliest with success he might assail Those shameless suitors; one to many opposed. Then, sudden from the skies descending, came Minerva in a female form; her stand Above his head she took, and thus she spake. Why sleep'st thou not, unhappiest of mankind? Thou art at home; here dwells thy wife, and here Thy son; a son, whom all might wish their own. Then her Ulysses answer'd, ever-wise. O Goddess! true is all that thou hast said, 40 But, not without anxiety, I muse How, single as I am, I shall assail Those shameless suitors who frequent my courts Daily; and always their whole multitude. This weightier theme I meditate beside; Should I, with Jove's concurrence and with thine Prevail to slay them, how shall I escape, Myself, at last?[88] oh Goddess, weigh it well. Him answer'd then Pallas caerulean-eyed. Oh faithless man! a man will in his friend 50 Confide, though mortal, and in valour less And wisdom than himself; but I who keep Thee in all difficulties, am divine. I tell thee plainly. Were we hemm'd around By fifty troops of shouting warriors bent To slay thee, thou should'st yet securely drive The flocks away and cattle of them all. But yield to sleep's soft influence; for to lie All night thus watchful, is, itself, distress. Fear not. Deliv'rance waits, not far remote. 60 So saying, she o'er Ulysses' eyes diffused Soft slumbers, and when sleep that sooths the mind And nerves the limbs afresh had seized him once, To the Olympian summit swift return'd. But his chaste spouse awoke; she weeping sat On her soft couch, and, noblest of her sex, Satiate at length with tears, her pray'r address'd First to Diana of the Pow'rs above. Diana, awful progeny of Jove! I would that with a shaft this moment sped 70 Into my bosom, thou would'st here conclude My mournful life! or, oh that, as it flies, Snatching me through the pathless air, a storm Would whelm me deep in Ocean's restless tide! So, when the Gods their parents had destroy'd, Storms suddenly the beauteous daughters snatch'd[89] Of Pandarus away; them left forlorn Venus with curds, with honey and with wine Fed duly; Juno gave them to surpass All women in the charms of face and mind, 80 With graceful stature eminent the chaste Diana bless'd them, and in works of art Illustrious, Pallas taught them to excel. But when the foam-sprung Goddess to the skies A suitress went on their behalf, to obtain Blest nuptials for them from the Thund'rer Jove, (For Jove the happiness, himself, appoints, And the unhappiness of all below) Meantime, the Harpies ravishing away Those virgins, gave them to the Furies Three, 90 That they might serve them. O that me the Gods Inhabiting Olympus so would hide From human eyes for ever, or bright-hair'd Diana pierce me with a shaft, that while Ulysses yet engages all my thoughts, My days concluded, I might 'scape the pain Of gratifying some inferior Chief! This is supportable, when (all the day To sorrow giv'n) the mourner sleeps at night;

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