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

For sleep, when it hath once the eyelids veil'd, 100 All reminiscence blots of all alike, Both good and ill; but me the Gods afflict Not seldom ev'n in dreams, and at my side, This night again, one lay resembling him; Such as my own Ulysses when he join'd Achaia's warriors; my exulting heart No airy dream believed it, but a truth. While thus she spake, in orient gold enthroned Came forth the morn; Ulysses, as she wept, Heard plain her lamentation; him that sound 110 Alarm'd; he thought her present, and himself Known to her. Gath'ring hastily the cloak His cov'ring, and the fleeces, them he placed Together on a throne within the hall, But bore the bull's-hide forth into the air. Then, lifting high his hands to Jove, he pray'd. Eternal Sire! if over moist and dry Ye have with good-will sped me to my home After much suff'ring, grant me from the lips Of some domestic now awake, to hear 120 Words of propitious omen, and thyself Vouchsafe me still some other sign abroad. Such pray'r he made, and Jove omniscient heard. Sudden he thunder'd from the radiant heights Olympian; glad, Ulysses heard the sound. A woman, next, a labourer at the mill Hard by, where all the palace-mills were wrought, Gave him the omen of propitious sound. Twelve maidens, day by day, toil'd at the mills, Meal grinding, some, of barley, some, of wheat, 130 Marrow of man.[90] The rest (their portion ground) All slept; she only from her task as yet Ceas'd not, for she was feeblest of them all; She rested on her mill, and thus pronounced The happy omen by her Lord desired. Jove, Father, Governor of heav'n and earth! Loud thou hast thunder'd from the starry skies By no cloud veil'd; a sign propitious, giv'n To whom I know not; but oh grant the pray'r Of a poor bond-woman! appoint their feast 140 This day, the last that in Ulysses' house The suitors shall enjoy, for whom I drudge, With aching heart and trembling knees their meal Grinding continual. Feast they here no more! She ended, and the list'ning Chief received With equal joy both signs; for well he hoped That he should punish soon those guilty men. And now the other maidens in the hall Assembling, kindled on the hearth again Th' unwearied blaze; then, godlike from his couch 150 Arose Telemachus, and, fresh-attired, Athwart his shoulders his bright faulchion slung, Bound his fair sandals to his feet, and took His sturdy spear pointed with glitt'ring brass; Advancing to the portal, there he stood, And Euryclea thus, his nurse, bespake. Nurse! have ye with respectful notice serv'd Our guest? or hath he found a sordid couch E'en where he might? for, prudent though she be, My mother, inattentive oft, the worse 160 Treats kindly, and the better sends away. Whom Euryclea answer'd, thus, discrete. Blame not, my son! who merits not thy blame. The guest sat drinking till he would no more, And ate, till, question'd, he replied—Enough. But when the hour of sleep call'd him to rest, She gave commandment to her female train To spread his couch. Yet he, like one forlorn, And, through despair, indiff'rent to himself, Both bed and rugs refused, and in the porch 170 On skins of sheep and on an undress'd hide Reposed, where we threw cov'ring over him. She ceas'd, and, grasping his bright-headed spear, Forth went the Prince attended, as he went, By his fleet hounds; to the assembled Greeks In council with majestic gait he moved, And Euryclea, daughter wise of Ops, Pisenor's son, call'd to the serving-maids. Haste ye! be diligent! sweep the palace-floor And sprinkle it; then give the sumptuous seats 180 Their purple coverings. Let others cleanse With sponges all the tables, wash and rince The beakers well, and goblets rich-emboss'd; Run others to the fountain, and bring thence Water with speed. The suitors will not long Be absent, but will early come to-day, For this day is a public festival.[91] So she; whom all, obedient, heard; forth went Together, twenty to the crystal fount, While in their sev'ral provinces the rest 190 Bestirr'd them brisk at home. Then enter'd all The suitors, and began cleaving the wood. Meantime, the women from the fountain came, Whom soon the swine-herd follow'd, driving three His fattest brawns; them in the spacious court He feeding left, and to Ulysses' side Approaching, courteously bespake the Chief. Guest! look the Greecians on thee with respect At length, or still disdainful as before? Then, answer thus Ulysses wise return'd. 200 Yes—and I would that vengeance from the Gods Might pay their insolence, who in a house Not theirs, dominion exercise, and plan Unseemly projects, shameless as they are! Thus they conferr'd; and now Melanthius came The goat-herd, driving, with the aid of two His fellow-swains, the fattest of his goats To feast the suitors. In the sounding porch The goats he tied, then, drawing near, in terms Reproachful thus assail'd Ulysses' ear. 210 How, stranger? persever'st thou, begging, still To vex the suitors? wilt thou not depart? Scarce shall we settle this dispute, I judge, Till we have tasted each the other's fist; Thou art unreasonable thus to beg Here always—have the Greeks no feasts beside? He spake, to whom Ulysses answer none Return'd, but shook his brows, and, silent, framed Terrible purposes. Then, third, approach'd Chief o'er the herds, Philoetius; fatted goats 220 He for the suitors brought, with which he drove An heifer; (ferry-men had pass'd them o'er, Carriers of all who on their coast arrive) He tied them in the sounding porch, then stood Beside the swine-herd, to whom thus he said. Who is this guest, Eumaeus, here arrived So lately? from what nation hath he come? What parentage and country boasts the man? I pity him, whose figure seems to speak Royalty in him. Heav'n will surely plunge 230 The race of common wand'rers deep in woe, If thus it destine even Kings to mourn. He ceas'd; and, with his right hand, drawing nigh, Welcom'd Ulysses, whom he thus bespake. Hail venerable guest! and be thy lot Prosp'rous at least hereafter, who art held At present in the bonds of num'rous ills. Thou, Jupiter, of all the Gods, art most Severe, and spar'st not to inflict distress Even on creatures from thyself derived.[92] 240 I had no sooner mark'd thee, than my eyes Swam, and the sweat gush'd from me at the thought Of dear Ulysses; for if yet he live And see the sun, such tatters, I suppose, He wears, a wand'rer among human-kind. But if already with the dead he dwell In Pluto's drear abode, oh then, alas For kind Ulysses! who consign'd to me, While yet a boy, his Cephalenian herds, And they have now encreas'd to such a store 250 Innumerable of broad-fronted beeves, As only care like mine could have produced. These, by command of others, I transport For their regale, who neither heed his son, Nor tremble at the anger of the Gods, But long have wish'd ardently to divide And share the substance of our absent Lord. Me, therefore, this thought occupies, and haunts My mind not seldom; while the heir survives It were no small offence to drive his herds 260 Afar, and migrate to a foreign land; Yet here to dwell, suff'ring oppressive wrongs While I attend another's beeves, appears Still less supportable; and I had fled, And I had served some other mighty Chief Long since, (for patience fails me to endure My present lot) but that I cherish still Some hope of my ill-fated Lord's return, To rid his palace of those lawless guests. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. 270 Herdsman! since neither void of sense thou seem'st, Nor yet dishonest, but myself am sure That thou art owner of a mind discrete, Hear therefore, for I swear! bold I attest Jove and this hospitable board, and these The Lares[93] of the noble Chief, whose hearth Protects me now, that, ere thy going hence, Ulysses surely shall have reach'd his home, And thou shalt see him, if thou wilt, thyself, Slaying the suitors who now lord it here. 280 Him answer'd then the keeper of his beeves. Oh stranger! would but the Saturnian King Perform that word, thou should'st be taught (thyself Eye-witness of it) what an arm is mine. Eumaeus also ev'ry power of heav'n Entreated, that Ulysses might possess His home again. Thus mutual they conferr'd. Meantime, in conf'rence close the suitors plann'd Death for Telemachus; but while they sat Consulting, on their left the bird of Jove 290 An eagle soar'd, grasping a tim'rous dove. Then, thus, Amphinomus the rest bespake. Oh friends! our consultation how to slay Telemachus, will never smoothly run To its effect; but let us to the feast. So spake Amphinomus, whose counsel pleased. Then, all into the royal house repaired, And on the thrones and couches throwing off Their mantles, slew the fatted goats, the brawns, The sheep full-sized, and heifer of the herd. 300 The roasted entrails first they shared, then fill'd The beakers, and the swine-herd placed the cups, Philoetius, chief intendant of the beeves, Served all with baskets elegant of bread, While all their cups Melanthius charged with wine, And they assail'd at once the ready feast. Meantime Telemachus, with forecast shrewd, Fast by the marble threshold, but within The spacious hall his father placed, to whom A sordid seat he gave and scanty board. 310 A portion of the entrails, next, he set Before him, fill'd a golden goblet high, And thus, in presence of them all, began. There seated now, drink as the suitors drink. I will, myself, their biting taunts forbid, And violence. This edifice is mine, Not public property; my father first Possess'd it, and my right from him descends. Suitors! controul your tongues, nor with your hands Offend, lest contest fierce and war ensue. 320 He ceas'd: they gnawing, sat, their lips, aghast With wonder that Telemachus in his speech Such boldness used. Then spake Eupithes' son, Antinoues, and the assembly thus address'd. Let pass, ye Greeks! the language of the Prince, Harsh as it is, and big with threats to us. Had Jove permitted, his orations here, Although thus eloquent, ere now had ceased. So spake Antinoues, whom Ulysses' son Heard unconcern'd. And now the heralds came 330 In solemn pomp, conducting through the streets A sacred hecatomb, when in the grove Umbrageous of Apollo, King shaft-arm'd, The assembled Greecians met. The sav'ry roast Finish'd, and from the spits withdrawn, each shared His portion of the noble feast, and such As they enjoy'd themselves the attendants placed Before Ulysses, for the Hero's son Himself, Telemachus, had so enjoined. But Pallas (that they might exasp'rate more 340 Ulysses) suffer'd not the suitor Chiefs To banquet, guiltless of heart-piercing scoffs Malign. There was a certain suitor named Ctesippus, born in Samos; base of mind Was he and profligate, but, in the wealth Confiding of his father, woo'd the wife Of long-exiled Ulysses. From his seat The haughty suitors thus that man address'd. Ye noble suitors, I would speak; attend! The guest is served; he hath already shared 350 Equal with us; nor less the laws demand Of hospitality; for neither just It were nor decent, that a guest, received Here by Telemachus, should be denied His portion of the feast. Come then—myself Will give to him, that he may also give To her who laved him in the bath, or else To whatsoever menial here he will. So saying, he from a basket near at hand Heav'd an ox-foot, and with a vig'rous arm 360 Hurl'd it. Ulysses gently bow'd his head, Shunning the blow, but gratified his just Resentment with a broad sardonic smile[94] Of dread significance. He smote the wall. Then thus Telemachus rebuked the deed. Ctesippus, thou art fortunate; the bone Struck not the stranger, for he shunn'd the blow; Else, I had surely thrust my glitt'ring lance Right through thee; then, no hymenaeal rites Of thine should have employ'd thy father here, 370 But thy funereal. No man therefore treat Me with indignity within these walls, For though of late a child, I can discern Now, and distinguish between good and ill. Suffice it that we patiently endure To be spectators daily of our sheep Slaughter'd, our bread consumed, our stores of wine Wasted; for what can one to all opposed? Come then—persist no longer in offence And hostile hate of me; or if ye wish 380 To slay me, pause not. It were better far To die, and I had rather much be slain, Than thus to witness your atrocious deeds Day after day; to see our guests abused, With blows insulted, and the women dragg'd With a licentious violence obscene From side to side of all this fair abode. He said, and all sat silent, till at length Thus Agelaues spake, Diastor's son. My friends! let none with contradiction thwart 390 And rude reply, words rational and just; Assault no more the stranger, nor of all The servants of renown'd Ulysses here Harm any. My advice, both to the Queen And to Telemachus, shall gentle be, May it but please them. While the hope survived Within your bosoms of the safe return Of wise Ulysses to his native isle, So long good reason was that she should use Delay, and hold our wooing in suspence; 400 For had Ulysses come, that course had proved Wisest and best; but that he comes no more Appears, now, manifest. Thou, therefore, Prince! Seeking thy mother, counsel her to wed The noblest, and who offers richest dow'r, That thou, for thy peculiar, may'st enjoy Thy own inheritance in peace and ease, And she, departing, find another home. To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied. I swear by Jove, and by my father's woes, 410 Who either hath deceased far from his home, Or lives a wand'rer, that I interpose No hindrance to her nuptials. Let her wed Who offers most, and even whom she will. But to dismiss her rudely were a deed Unfilial—That I dare not—God forbid! So spake Telemachus. Then Pallas struck The suitors with delirium; wide they stretch'd Their jaws with unspontaneous laughter loud; Their meat dripp'd blood; tears fill'd their eyes, and dire Presages of approaching woe, their hearts. 421 Then thus the prophet Theoclymenus.[95] Ah miserable men! what curse is this That takes you now? night wraps itself around Your faces, bodies, limbs; the palace shakes With peals of groans—and oh, what floods ye weep! I see the walls and arches dappled thick With gore; the vestibule is throng'd, the court On all sides throng'd with apparitions grim Of slaughter'd men sinking into the gloom 430 Of Erebus; the sun is blotted out From heav'n, and midnight whelms you premature. He said, they, hearing, laugh'd; and thus the son Of Polybus, Eurymachus replied. This wand'rer from a distant shore hath left His wits behind. Hoa there! conduct him hence Into the forum; since he dreams it night Already, teach him there that it is day. Then answer'd godlike Theoclymenus. I have no need, Eurymachus, of guides 440 To lead me hence, for I have eyes and ears, The use of both my feet, and of a mind In no respect irrational or wild. These shall conduct me forth, for well I know That evil threatens you, such, too, as none Shall 'scape of all the suitors, whose delight Is to insult the unoffending guest Received beneath this hospitable roof. He said, and, issuing from the palace, sought Piraeus' house, who gladly welcom'd him. 450 Then all the suitors on each other cast A look significant, and, to provoke Telemachus the more, fleer'd at his guests. Of whom a youth thus, insolent began. No living wight, Telemachus, had e'er Guests such as thine. Witness, we know not who, This hungry vagabond, whose means of life Are none, and who hath neither skill nor force To earn them, a mere burthen on the ground. Witness the other also, who upstarts 460 A prophet suddenly. Take my advice; I counsel wisely; send them both on board Some gallant bark to Sicily for sale; Thus shall they somewhat profit thee at last. So spake the suitors, whom Telemachus Heard unconcern'd, and, silent, look'd and look'd Toward his father, watching still the time When he should punish that licentious throng. Meantime, Icarius' daughter, who had placed Her splendid seat opposite, heard distinct 470 Their taunting speeches. They, with noisy mirth, Feasted deliciously, for they had slain Many a fat victim; but a sadder feast Than, soon, the Goddess and the warrior Chief Should furnish for them, none shall ever share. Of which their crimes had furnish'd first the cause.

FOOTNOTES:

[88] That is, how shall I escape the vengeance of their kindred?

[89] Aedon, Cleothera, Merope.

[90] muelon andron.

[91] The new moon.

[92] He is often called—pater andron te theon te.

[93] Household Gods who presided over the hearth.

[94] A smile of displeasure.

[95] Who had sought refuge in the ship of Telemachus when he left Sparta, and came with him to Ithaca.



BOOK XXI

ARGUMENT

Penelope proposes to the suitors a contest with the bow, herself the prize. They prove unable to bend the bow; when Ulysses having with some difficulty possessed himself of it, manages it with the utmost ease, and dispatches his arrow through twelve rings erected for the trial.

Minerva, now, Goddess caerulean-eyed, Prompted Icarius' daughter, the discrete Penelope, with bow and rings to prove Her suitors in Ulysses' courts, a game Terrible in conclusion to them all. First, taking in her hand the brazen key Well-forged, and fitted with an iv'ry grasp, Attended by the women of her train She sought her inmost chamber, the recess In which she kept the treasures of her Lord, 10 His brass, his gold, and steel elaborate. Here lay his stubborn bow, and quiver fill'd With num'rous shafts, a fatal store. That bow He had received and quiver from the hand Of godlike Iphitus Eurytides, Whom, in Messenia,[96] in the house he met Of brave Orsilochus. Ulysses came Demanding payment of arrearage due From all that land; for a Messenian fleet Had borne from Ithaca three hundred sheep, 20 With all their shepherds; for which cause, ere yet Adult, he voyaged to that distant shore, Deputed by his sire, and by the Chiefs Of Ithaca, to make the just demand. But Iphitus had thither come to seek Twelve mares and twelve mule colts which he had lost, A search that cost him soon a bloody death. For, coming to the house of Hercules The valiant task-performing son of Jove, He perish'd there, slain by his cruel host 30 Who, heedless of heav'n's wrath, and of the rights Of his own board, first fed, then slaughter'd him; For in his house the mares and colts were hidden. He, therefore, occupied in that concern, Meeting Ulysses there, gave him the bow Which, erst, huge Eurytus had borne, and which Himself had from his dying sire received. Ulysses, in return, on him bestowed A spear and sword, pledges of future love And hospitality; but never more 40 They met each other at the friendly board, For, ere that hour arrived, the son of Jove Slew his own guest, the godlike Iphitus. Thus came the bow into Ulysses' hands, Which, never in his gallant barks he bore To battle with him, (though he used it oft In times of peace) but left it safely stored At home, a dear memorial of his friend. Soon as, divinest of her sex, arrived At that same chamber, with her foot she press'd 50 The oaken threshold bright, on which the hand Of no mean architect had stretch'd the line, Who had erected also on each side The posts on which the splendid portals hung, She loos'd the ring and brace, then introduced The key, and aiming at them from without,[97] Struck back the bolts. The portals, at that stroke, Sent forth a tone deep as the pastur'd bull's, And flew wide open. She, ascending, next, The elevated floor on which the chests 60 That held her own fragrant apparel stood, With lifted hand aloft took down the bow In its embroider'd bow-case safe enclosed. Then, sitting there, she lay'd it on her knees, Weeping aloud, and drew it from the case. Thus weeping over it long time she sat, Till satiate, at the last, with grief and tears, Descending by the palace steps she sought Again the haughty suitors, with the bow Elastic, and the quiver in her hand 70 Replete with pointed shafts, a deadly store. Her maidens, as she went, bore after her A coffer fill'd with prizes by her Lord, Much brass and steel; and when at length she came, Loveliest of women, where the suitors sat, Between the pillars of the stately dome Pausing, before her beauteous face she held Her lucid veil, and by two matrons chaste Supported, the assembly thus address'd. Ye noble suitors hear, who rudely haunt 80 This palace of a Chief long absent hence, Whose substance ye have now long time consumed, Nor palliative have yet contrived, or could, Save your ambition to make me a bride— Attend this game to which I call you forth. Now suitors! prove yourselves with this huge bow Of wide-renown'd Ulysses; he who draws Easiest the bow, and who his arrow sends Through twice six rings, he takes me to his home, And I must leave this mansion of my youth 90 Plenteous, magnificent, which, doubtless, oft I shall remember even in my dreams. So saying, she bade Eumaeus lay the bow Before them, and the twice six rings of steel. He wept, received them, and obey'd; nor wept The herdsman less, seeing the bow which erst His Lord had occupied; when at their tears Indignant, thus, Antinoues began. Ye rural drones, whose purblind eyes see not Beyond the present hour, egregious fools! 100 Why weeping trouble ye the Queen, too much Before afflicted for her husband lost? Either partake the banquet silently, Or else go weep abroad, leaving the bow, That stubborn test, to us; for none, I judge, None here shall bend this polish'd bow with ease, Since in this whole assembly I discern None like Ulysses, whom myself have seen And recollect, though I was then a boy. He said, but in his heart, meantime, the hope 110 Cherish'd, that he should bend, himself, the bow, And pass the rings; yet was he destin'd first Of all that company to taste the steel Of brave Ulysses' shaft, whom in that house He had so oft dishonour'd, and had urged So oft all others to the like offence. Amidst them, then, the sacred might arose Of young Telemachus, who thus began. Saturnian Jove questionless hath deprived Me of all reason. My own mother, fam'd 120 For wisdom as she is, makes known to all Her purpose to abandon this abode And follow a new mate, while, heedless, I Trifle and laugh as I were still a child. But come, ye suitors! since the prize is such, A woman like to whom none can be found This day in all Achaia; on the shores Of sacred Pylus; in the cities proud Of Argos or Mycenae; or even here In Ithaca; or yet within the walls 130 Of black Epirus; and since this yourselves Know also, wherefore should I speak her praise? Come then, delay not, waste not time in vain Excuses, turn not from the proof, but bend The bow, that thus the issue may be known. I also will, myself, that task essay; And should I bend the bow, and pass the rings, Then shall not my illustrious mother leave Her son forlorn, forsaking this abode To follow a new spouse, while I remain 140 Disconsolate, although of age to bear, Successful as my sire, the prize away. So saying, he started from his seat, cast off His purple cloak, and lay'd his sword aside, Then fix'd, himself, the rings, furrowing the earth By line, and op'ning one long trench for all, And stamping close the glebe. Amazement seized All present, seeing with how prompt a skill He executed, though untaught, his task. Then, hasting to the portal, there he stood. 150 Thrice, struggling, he essay'd to bend the bow, And thrice desisted, hoping still to draw The bow-string home, and shoot through all the rings.[98] And now the fourth time striving with full force He had prevail'd to string it, but his sire Forbad his eager efforts by a sign. Then thus the royal youth to all around— Gods! either I shall prove of little force Hereafter, and for manly feats unapt, Or I am yet too young, and have not strength 160 To quell the aggressor's contumely. But come— (For ye have strength surpassing mine) try ye The bow, and bring this contest to an end. He ceas'd, and set the bow down on the floor, Reclining it against the shaven pannels smooth That lined the wall; the arrow next he placed, Leaning against the bow's bright-polish'd horn, And to the seat, whence he had ris'n, return'd. Then thus Eupithes' son, Antinoues spake. My friends! come forth successive from the right,[99] 170 Where he who ministers the cup begins. So spake Antinoues, and his counsel pleased. Then, first, Leiodes, Oenop's son, arose. He was their soothsayer, and ever sat Beside the beaker, inmost of them all. To him alone, of all, licentious deeds Were odious, and, with indignation fired, He witness'd the excesses of the rest. He then took foremost up the shaft and bow, And, station'd at the portal, strove to bend 180 But bent it not, fatiguing, first, his hands Delicate and uncustom'd to the toil. He ceased, and the assembly thus bespake. My friends, I speed not; let another try; For many Princes shall this bow of life Bereave, since death more eligible seems, Far more, than loss of her, for whom we meet Continual here, expecting still the prize. Some suitor, haply, at this moment, hopes That he shall wed whom long he hath desired, 190 Ulysses' wife, Penelope; let him Essay the bow, and, trial made, address His spousal offers to some other fair Among the long-stoled Princesses of Greece, This Princess leaving his, whose proffer'd gifts Shall please her most, and whom the Fates ordain. He said, and set the bow down on the floor, Reclining it against the shaven pannels smooth That lined the wall; the arrow, next, he placed, Leaning against the bow's bright-polish'd horn, 200 And to the seat whence he had ris'n return'd. Then him Antinoues, angry, thus reproved. What word, Leiodes, grating to our ears Hath scap'd thy lips? I hear it with disdain. Shall this bow fatal prove to many a Prince, Because thou hast, thyself, too feeble proved To bend it? no. Thou wast not born to bend The unpliant bow, or to direct the shaft, But here are nobler who shall soon prevail. He said, and to Melanthius gave command, 210 The goat-herd. Hence, Melanthius, kindle fire; Beside it place, with fleeces spread, a form Of length commodious; from within procure A large round cake of suet next, with which When we have chafed and suppled the tough bow Before the fire, we will again essay To bend it, and decide the doubtful strife. He ended, and Melanthius, kindling fire Beside it placed, with fleeces spread, a form Of length commodious; next, he brought a cake 220 Ample and round of suet from within, With which they chafed the bow, then tried again To bend, but bent it not; superior strength To theirs that task required. Yet two, the rest In force surpassing, made no trial yet, Antinoues, and Eurymachus the brave. Then went the herdsman and the swine-herd forth Together; after whom, the glorious Chief Himself the house left also, and when all Without the court had met, with gentle speech 230 Ulysses, then, the faithful pair address'd. Herdsman! and thou, Eumaeus! shall I keep A certain secret close, or shall I speak Outright? my spirit prompts me, and I will. What welcome should Ulysses at your hands Receive, arriving suddenly at home, Some God his guide; would ye the suitors aid, Or would ye aid Ulysses? answer true. Then thus the chief intendant of his herds. Would Jove but grant me my desire, to see 240 Once more the Hero, and would some kind Pow'r, Restore him, I would shew thee soon an arm Strenuous to serve him, and a dauntless heart. Eumaeus, also, fervently implored The Gods in pray'r, that they would render back Ulysses to his home. He, then, convinced Of their unfeigning honesty, began. Behold him! I am he myself, arrived After long suff'rings in the twentieth year! I know how welcome to yourselves alone 250 Of all my train I come, for I have heard None others praying for my safe return. I therefore tell you truth; should heav'n subdue The suitors under me, ye shall receive Each at my hands a bride, with lands and house Near to my own, and ye shall be thenceforth Dear friends and brothers of the Prince my son. Lo! also this indisputable proof That ye may know and trust me. View it here. It is the scar which in Parnassus erst 260 (Where with the sons I hunted of renown'd Autolycus) I from a boar received. So saying, he stripp'd his tatters, and unveil'd The whole broad scar; then, soon as they had seen And surely recognized the mark, each cast His arms around Ulysses, wept, embraced And press'd him to his bosom, kissing oft His brows and shoulders, who as oft their hands And foreheads kiss'd, nor had the setting sun Beheld them satisfied, but that himself 270 Ulysses thus admonished them, and said. Cease now from tears, lest any, coming forth, Mark and report them to our foes within. Now, to the hall again, but one by one, Not all at once, I foremost, then yourselves, And this shall be the sign. Full well I know That, all unanimous, they will oppose Deliv'ry of the bow and shafts to me; But thou, (proceeding with it to my seat) Eumaeus, noble friend! shalt give the bow 280 Into my grasp; then bid the women close The massy doors, and should they hear a groan Or other noise made by the Princes shut Within the hall, let none set step abroad, But all work silent. Be the palace-door Thy charge, my good Philoetius! key it fast Without a moment's pause, and fix the brace.[100] He ended, and, returning to the hall, Resumed his seat; nor stay'd his servants long Without, but follow'd their illustrious Lord. 290 Eurymachus was busily employ'd Turning the bow, and chafing it before The sprightly blaze, but, after all, could find No pow'r to bend it. Disappointment wrung A groan from his proud heart, and thus he said. Alas! not only for myself I grieve, But grieve for all. Nor, though I mourn the loss Of such a bride, mourn I that loss alone, (For lovely Greecians may be found no few In Ithaca, and in the neighbour isles) 300 But should we so inferior prove at last To brave Ulysses, that no force of ours Can bend his bow, we are for ever shamed. To whom Antinoues, thus, Eupithes' son. Not so; (as even thou art well-assured Thyself, Eurymachus!) but Phoebus claims This day his own. Who then, on such a day, Would strive to bend it? Let it rather rest. And should we leave the rings where now they stand, I trust that none ent'ring Ulysses' house 310 Will dare displace them. Cup-bearer, attend! Serve all with wine, that, first, libation made, We may religiously lay down the bow. Command ye too Melanthius, that he drive Hither the fairest goats of all his flocks At dawn of day, that burning first, the thighs To the ethereal archer, we may make New trial, and decide, at length, the strife. So spake Antinoues, and his counsel pleased. The heralds, then, pour'd water on their hands, 320 While youths crown'd high the goblets which they bore From right to left, distributing to all. When each had made libation, and had drunk Till well sufficed, then, artful to effect His shrewd designs, Ulysses thus began. Hear, O ye suitors of the illustrious Queen, My bosom's dictates. But I shall entreat Chiefly Eurymachus and the godlike youth Antinoues, whose advice is wisely giv'n. Tamper no longer with the bow, but leave 330 The matter with the Gods, who shall decide The strife to-morrow, fav'ring whom they will. Meantime, grant me the polish'd bow, that I May trial make among you of my force, If I retain it still in like degree As erst, or whether wand'ring and defect Of nourishment have worn it all away. He said, whom they with indignation heard Extreme, alarm'd lest he should bend the bow, And sternly thus Antinoues replied. 340 Desperate vagabond! ah wretch deprived Of reason utterly! art not content? Esteem'st it not distinction proud enough To feast with us the nobles of the land? None robs thee of thy share, thou witnessest Our whole discourse, which, save thyself alone, No needy vagrant is allow'd to hear. Thou art befool'd by wine, as many have been, Wide-throated drinkers, unrestrain'd by rule. Wine in the mansion of the mighty Chief 350 Pirithoues, made the valiant Centaur mad Eurytion, at the Lapithaean feast.[101] He drank to drunkenness, and being drunk, Committed great enormities beneath Pirithoues' roof, and such as fill'd with rage The Hero-guests; who therefore by his feet Dragg'd him right through the vestibule, amerced Of nose and ears, and he departed thence Provoked to frenzy by that foul disgrace, Whence war between the human kind arose 360 And the bold Centaurs—but he first incurred By his ebriety that mulct severe. Great evil, also, if thou bend the bow, To thee I prophesy; for thou shalt find Advocate or protector none in all This people, but we will dispatch thee hence Incontinent on board a sable bark To Echetus, the scourge of human kind, From whom is no escape. Drink then in peace, And contest shun with younger men than thou. 370 Him answer'd, then, Penelope discrete. Antinoues! neither seemly were the deed Nor just, to maim or harm whatever guest Whom here arrived Telemachus receives. Canst thou expect, that should he even prove Stronger than ye, and bend the massy bow, He will conduct me hence to his own home, And make me his own bride? No such design His heart conceives, or hope; nor let a dread So vain the mind of any overcloud 380 Who banquets here, since it dishonours me. So she; to whom Eurymachus reply'd, Offspring of Polybus. O matchless Queen! Icarius' prudent daughter! none suspects That thou wilt wed with him; a mate so mean Should ill become thee; but we fear the tongues Of either sex, lest some Achaian say Hereafter, (one inferior far to us) Ah! how unworthy are they to compare With him whose wife they seek! to bend his bow 390 Pass'd all their pow'r, yet this poor vagabond, Arriving from what country none can tell, Bent it with ease, and shot through all the rings. So will they speak, and so shall we be shamed. Then answer, thus, Penelope return'd. No fair report, Eurymachus, attends Their names or can, who, riotous as ye, The house dishonour, and consume the wealth Of such a Chief. Why shame ye thus yourselves? The guest is of athletic frame, well form'd, 400 And large of limb; he boasts him also sprung From noble ancestry. Come then—consent— Give him the bow, that we may see the proof; For thus I say, and thus will I perform; Sure as he bends it, and Apollo gives To him that glory, tunic fair and cloak Shall be his meed from me, a javelin keen To guard him against men and dogs, a sword Of double edge, and sandals for his feet, And I will send him whither most he would. 410 Her answer'd then prudent Telemachus. Mother—the bow is mine; and, save myself, No Greek hath right to give it, or refuse. None who in rock-bound Ithaca possess Dominion, none in the steed-pastured isles Of Elis, if I chose to make the bow His own for ever, should that choice controul. But thou into the house repairing, ply Spindle and loom, thy province, and enjoin Diligence to thy maidens; for the bow 420 Is man's concern alone, and shall be mine Especially, since I am master here. She heard astonish'd, and the prudent speech Reposing of her son deep in her heart, Withdrew; then mounting with her female train To her superior chamber, there she wept Her lost Ulysses, till Minerva bathed With balmy dews of sleep her weary lids. And now the noble swine-herd bore the bow Toward Ulysses, but with one voice all 430 The suitors, clamorous, reproved the deed, Of whom a youth, thus, insolent exclaim'd. Thou clumsy swine-herd, whither bear'st the bow, Delirious wretch? the hounds that thou hast train'd Shall eat thee at thy solitary home Ere long, let but Apollo prove, at last, Propitious to us, and the Pow'rs of heav'n. So they, whom hearing he replaced the bow Where erst it stood, terrified at the sound Of such loud menaces; on the other side 440 Telemachus as loud assail'd his ear. Friend! forward with the bow; or soon repent That thou obey'dst the many. I will else With huge stones drive thee, younger as I am, Back to the field. My strength surpasses thine. I would to heav'n that I in force excell'd As far, and prowess, every suitor here! So would I soon give rude dismission hence To some, who live but to imagine harm. He ceased, whose words the suitors laughing heard. 450 And, for their sake, in part their wrath resign'd Against Telemachus; then through the hall Eumaeus bore, and to Ulysses' hand Consign'd the bow; next, summoning abroad The ancient nurse, he gave her thus in charge. It is the pleasure of Telemachus, Sage Euryclea! that thou key secure The doors; and should you hear, perchance, a groan Or other noise made by the Princes shut Within the hall, let none look, curious, forth, 460 But each in quietness pursue her work. So he; nor flew his words useless away, But she, incontinent, shut fast the doors. Then, noiseless, sprang Philoetius forth, who closed The portals also of the palace-court. A ship-rope of AEgyptian reed, it chanced, Lay in the vestibule; with that he braced The doors securely, and re-entring fill'd Again his seat, but watchful, eyed his Lord. He, now, assaying with his hand the bow, 470 Made curious trial of it ev'ry way, And turn'd it on all sides, lest haply worms Had in its master's absence drill'd the horn. Then thus a suitor to his next remark'd. He hath an eye, methinks, exactly skill'd In bows, and steals them; or perhaps, at home, Hath such himself, or feels a strong desire To make them; so inquisitive the rogue Adept in mischief, shifts it to and fro! To whom another, insolent, replied. 480 I wish him like prosperity in all His efforts, as attends his effort made On this same bow, which he shall never bend. So they; but when the wary Hero wise Had made his hand familiar with the bow Poising it and examining—at once— As when in harp and song adept, a bard Unlab'ring strains the chord to a new lyre, The twisted entrails of a sheep below With fingers nice inserting, and above, 490 With such facility Ulysses bent His own huge bow, and with his right hand play'd The nerve, which in its quick vibration sang Clear as the swallow's voice. Keen anguish seized The suitors, wan grew ev'ry cheek, and Jove Gave him his rolling thunder for a sign. That omen, granted to him by the son Of wily Saturn, with delight he heard. He took a shaft that at the table-side Lay ready drawn; but in his quiver's womb 500 The rest yet slept, by those Achaians proud To be, ere long, experienced. True he lodg'd The arrow on the centre of the bow, And, occupying still his seat, drew home Nerve and notch'd arrow-head; with stedfast sight He aimed and sent it; right through all the rings From first to last the steel-charged weapon flew Issuing beyond, and to his son he spake. Thou need'st not blush, young Prince, to have received A guest like me; neither my arrow swerved, 510 Nor labour'd I long time to draw the bow; My strength is unimpair'd, not such as these In scorn affirm it. But the waning day Calls us to supper, after which succeeds[102] Jocund variety, the song, the harp, With all that heightens and adorns the feast. He said, and with his brows gave him the sign. At once the son of the illustrious Chief Slung his keen faulchion, grasp'd his spear, and stood Arm'd bright for battle at his father's side. 520

FOOTNOTES:

[96] A province of Laconia.

[97] The reader will of course observe, that the whole of this process implies a sort of mechanism very different from that with which we are acquainted.—The translation, I believe, is exact.

[98] This first attempt of Telemachus and the suitors was not an attempt to shoot, but to lodge the bow-string on the opposite horn, the bow having been released at one end, and slackened while it was laid by.

[99] Antinoues prescribes to them this manner of rising to the trial for the good omen's sake, the left-hand being held unpropitious.

[100] The desmos seems to have been a strap designed to close the only aperture by which the bolt could be displaced, and the door opened.

[101] When Pirithoues, one of the Lapithae, married Hippodamia, daughter of Adrastus, he invited the Centaurs to the wedding. The Centaurs, intoxicated with wine, attempted to ravish the wives of the Lapithae, who in resentment of that insult, slew them.

[102] This is an instance of the Sardanion mala toion mentioned in Book XX.; such as, perhaps, could not be easily paralleled. I question if there be a passage, either in ancient or modern tragedy, so truly terrible as this seeming levity of Ulysses, in the moment when he was going to begin the slaughter.



BOOK XXII

ARGUMENT

Ulysses, with some little assistance from Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philoetius, slays all the suitors, and twelve of the female servants who had allowed themselves an illicit intercourse with them, are hanged. Melanthius also is punished with miserable mutilation.

Then, girding up his rags, Ulysses sprang With bow and full-charged quiver to the door; Loose on the broad stone at his feet he pour'd His arrows, and the suitors, thus, bespake. This prize, though difficult, hath been atchieved. Now for another mark which never man Struck yet, but I will strike it if I may, And if Apollo make that glory mine. He said, and at Antinoues aimed direct A bitter shaft; he, purposing to drink, 10 Both hands advanced toward the golden cup Twin-ear'd, nor aught suspected death so nigh. For who, at the full banquet, could suspect That any single guest, however brave, Should plan his death, and execute the blow? Yet him Ulysses with an arrow pierced Full in the throat, and through his neck behind Started the glitt'ring point. Aslant he droop'd; Down fell the goblet, through his nostrils flew The spouted blood, and spurning with his foot 20 The board, he spread his viands in the dust. Confusion, when they saw Antinoues fall'n, Seized all the suitors; from the thrones they sprang, Flew ev'ry way, and on all sides explored The palace-walls, but neither sturdy lance As erst, nor buckler could they there discern, Then, furious, to Ulysses thus they spake. Thy arrow, stranger, was ill-aimed; a man Is no just mark. Thou never shalt dispute Prize more. Inevitable death is thine. 30 For thou hast slain a Prince noblest of all In Ithaca, and shalt be vultures' food. Various their judgments were, but none believed That he had slain him wittingly, nor saw Th' infatuate men fate hov'ring o'er them all. Then thus Ulysses, louring dark, replied. O dogs! not fearing aught my safe return From Ilium, ye have shorn my substance close, Lain with my women forcibly, and sought, While yet I lived, to make my consort yours, 40 Heedless of the inhabitants of heav'n Alike, and of the just revenge of man. But death is on the wing; death for you all. He said; their cheeks all faded at the sound, And each with sharpen'd eyes search'd ev'ry nook For an escape from his impending doom, Till thus, alone, Eurymachus replied. If thou indeed art he, the mighty Chief Of Ithaca return'd, thou hast rehears'd With truth the crimes committed by the Greeks 50 Frequent, both in thy house and in thy field. But he, already, who was cause of all, Lies slain, Antinoues; he thy palace fill'd With outrage, not solicitous so much To win the fair Penelope, but thoughts Far diff'rent framing, which Saturnian Jove Hath baffled all; to rule, himself, supreme In noble Ithaca, when he had kill'd By an insidious stratagem thy son. But he is slain. Now therefore, spare thy own, 60 Thy people; public reparation due Shall sure be thine, and to appease thy wrath For all the waste that, eating, drinking here We have committed, we will yield thee, each, Full twenty beeves, gold paying thee beside And brass, till joy shall fill thee at the sight, However just thine anger was before. To whom Ulysses, frowning stern, replied, Eurymachus, would ye contribute each His whole inheritance, and other sums 70 Still add beside, ye should not, even so, These hands of mine bribe to abstain from blood, Till ev'ry suitor suffer for his wrong. Ye have your choice. Fight with me, or escape (Whoever may) the terrours of his fate, But ye all perish, if my thought be true. He ended, they with trembling knees and hearts All heard, whom thus Eurymachus address'd. To your defence, my friends! for respite none Will he to his victorious hands afford, 80 But, arm'd with bow and quiver, will dispatch Shafts from the door till he have slain us all. Therefore to arms—draw each his sword—oppose The tables to his shafts, and all at once Rush on him; that, dislodging him at least From portal and from threshold, we may give The city on all sides a loud alarm, So shall this archer soon have shot his last. Thus saying, he drew his brazen faulchion keen Of double edge, and with a dreadful cry 90 Sprang on him; but Ulysses with a shaft In that same moment through his bosom driv'n Transfix'd his liver, and down dropp'd his sword. He, staggering around his table, fell Convolv'd in agonies, and overturn'd Both food and wine; his forehead smote the floor; Woe fill'd his heart, and spurning with his heels His vacant seat, he shook it till he died. Then, with his faulchion drawn, Amphinomus Advanced to drive Ulysses from the door, 100 And fierce was his assault; but, from behind, Telemachus between his shoulders fix'd A brazen lance, and urged it through his breast. Full on his front, with hideous sound, he fell. Leaving the weapon planted in his spine Back flew Telemachus, lest, had he stood Drawing it forth, some enemy, perchance, Should either pierce him with a sudden thrust Oblique, or hew him with a downright edge. Swift, therefore, to his father's side he ran, 110 Whom reaching, in wing'd accents thus he said. My father! I will now bring thee a shield, An helmet, and two spears; I will enclose Myself in armour also, and will give Both to the herdsmen and Eumaeus arms Expedient now, and needful for us all. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. Run; fetch them, while I yet have arrows left, Lest, single, I be justled from the door. He said, and, at his word, forth went the Prince, 120 Seeking the chamber where he had secured The armour. Thence he took four shields, eight spears, With four hair-crested helmets, charged with which He hasted to his father's side again, And, arming first himself, furnish'd with arms His two attendants. Then, all clad alike In splendid brass, beside the dauntless Chief Ulysses, his auxiliars firm they stood. He, while a single arrow unemploy'd Lay at his foot, right-aiming, ever pierced 130 Some suitor through, and heaps on heaps they fell. But when his arrows fail'd the royal Chief, His bow reclining at the portal's side Against the palace-wall, he slung, himself, A four-fold buckler on his arm, he fix'd A casque whose crest wav'd awful o'er his brows On his illustrious head, and fill'd his gripe With two stout spears, well-headed both, with brass. There was a certain postern in the wall[103] At the gate-side, the customary pass 140 Into a narrow street, but barr'd secure. Ulysses bade his faithful swine-herd watch That egress, station'd near it, for it own'd One sole approach; then Agelaues loud Exhorting all the suitors, thus exclaim'd. Oh friends, will none, ascending to the door Of yonder postern, summon to our aid The populace, and spread a wide alarm? So shall this archer soon have shot his last. To whom the keeper of the goats replied 150 Melanthius. Agelaues! Prince renown'd! That may not be. The postern and the gate[104] Neighbour too near each other, and to force The narrow egress were a vain attempt; One valiant man might thence repulse us all. But come—myself will furnish you with arms Fetch'd from above; for there, as I suppose, (And not elsewhere) Ulysses and his son Have hidden them, and there they shall be found. So spake Melanthius, and, ascending, sought 160 Ulysses' chambers through the winding stairs And gall'ries of the house. Twelve bucklers thence He took, as many spears, and helmets bright As many, shagg'd with hair, then swift return'd And gave them to his friends. Trembled the heart Of brave Ulysses, and his knees, at sight Of his opposers putting armour on, And shaking each his spear; arduous indeed Now seem'd his task, and in wing'd accents brief Thus to his son Telemachus he spake. 170 Either some woman of our train contrives Hard battle for us, furnishing with arms The suitors, or Melanthius arms them all. Him answer'd then Telemachus discrete. Father, this fault was mine, and be it charged On none beside; I left the chamber-door Unbarr'd, which, more attentive than myself, Their spy perceived. But haste, Eumaeus, shut The chamber-door, observing well, the while, If any women of our train have done 180 This deed, or whether, as I more suspect, Melanthius, Dolius' son, have giv'n them arms. Thus mutual they conferr'd; meantime, again Melanthius to the chamber flew in quest Of other arms. Eumaeus, as he went, Mark'd him, and to Ulysses' thus he spake. Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd! Behold, the traytor, whom ourselves supposed, Seeks yet again the chamber! Tell me plain, Shall I, should I superior prove in force, 190 Slay him, or shall I drag him thence to thee, That he may suffer at thy hands the doom Due to his treasons perpetrated oft Against thee, here, even in thy own house? Then answer thus Ulysses shrewd return'd. I, with Telemachus, will here immew The lordly suitors close, rage as they may. Ye two, the while, bind fast Melanthius' hands And feet behind his back, then cast him bound Into the chamber, and (the door secured) 200 Pass underneath his arms a double chain, And by a pillar's top weigh him aloft Till he approach the rafters, there to endure, Living long time, the mis'ries he hath earned. He spake; they prompt obey'd; together both They sought the chamber, whom the wretch within Heard not, exploring ev'ry nook for arms. They watching stood the door, from which, at length, Forth came Melanthius, bearing in one hand A casque, and in the other a broad shield 210 Time-worn and chapp'd with drought, which in his youth Warlike Laertes had been wont to bear. Long time neglected it had lain, till age Had loosed the sutures of its bands. At once Both, springing on him, seized and drew him in Forcibly by his locks, then cast him down Prone on the pavement, trembling at his fate. With painful stricture of the cord his hands They bound and feet together at his back, As their illustrious master had enjoined, 220 Then weigh'd him with a double chain aloft By a tall pillar to the palace-roof, And thus, deriding him, Eumaeus spake. Now, good Melanthius, on that fleecy bed Reclined, as well befits thee, thou wilt watch All night, nor when the golden dawn forsakes The ocean stream, will she escape thine eye, But thou wilt duly to the palace drive The fattest goats, a banquet for thy friends. So saying, he left him in his dreadful sling. 230 Then, arming both, and barring fast the door, They sought brave Laertiades again. And now, courageous at the portal stood Those four, by numbers in the interior house Opposed of adversaries fierce in arms, When Pallas, in the form and with the voice Approach'd of Mentor, whom Laertes' son Beheld, and joyful at the sight, exclaim'd. Help, Mentor! help—now recollect a friend And benefactor, born when thou wast born. 240 So he, not unsuspicious that he saw Pallas, the heroine of heav'n. Meantime The suitors fill'd with menaces the dome, And Agelaues, first, Damastor's son, In accents harsh rebuked the Goddess thus. Beware, oh Mentor! that he lure thee not To oppose the suitors and to aid himself, For thus will we. Ulysses and his son Both slain, in vengeance of thy purpos'd deeds Against us, we will slay thee next, and thou 250 With thy own head shalt satisfy the wrong. Your force thus quell'd in battle, all thy wealth Whether in house or field, mingled with his, We will confiscate, neither will we leave Or son of thine, or daughter in thy house Alive, nor shall thy virtuous consort more Within the walls of Ithaca be seen. He ended, and his words with wrath inflamed Minerva's heart the more; incensed, she turn'd Towards Ulysses, whom she thus reproved. 260 Thou neither own'st the courage nor the force, Ulysses, now, which nine whole years thou showd'st At Ilium, waging battle obstinate For high-born Helen, and in horrid fight Destroying multitudes, till thy advice At last lay'd Priam's bulwark'd city low. Why, in possession of thy proper home And substance, mourn'st thou want of pow'r t'oppose The suitors? Stand beside me, mark my deeds, And thou shalt own Mentor Alcimides 270 A valiant friend, and mindful of thy love. She spake; nor made she victory as yet Entire his own, proving the valour, first, Both of the sire and of his glorious son, But, springing in a swallow's form aloft, Perch'd on a rafter of the splendid roof. Then, Agelaues animated loud The suitors, whom Eurynomus also roused, Amphimedon, and Demoptolemus, And Polyctorides, Pisander named, 280 And Polybus the brave; for noblest far Of all the suitor-chiefs who now survived And fought for life were these. The bow had quell'd And shafts, in quick succession sent, the rest. Then Agelaues, thus, harangued them all. We soon shall tame, O friends, this warrior's might, Whom Mentor, after all his airy vaunts Hath left, and at the portal now remain Themselves alone. Dismiss not therefore, all, Your spears together, but with six alone 290 Assail them first; Jove willing, we shall pierce Ulysses, and subduing him, shall slay With ease the rest; their force is safely scorn'd. He ceas'd; and, as he bade, six hurl'd the spear Together; but Minerva gave them all A devious flight; one struck a column, one The planks of the broad portal, and a third[105] Flung right his ashen beam pond'rous with brass Against the wall. Then (ev'ry suitor's spear Eluded) thus Ulysses gave the word— 300 Now friends! I counsel you that ye dismiss Your spears at them, who, not content with past Enormities, thirst also for our blood. He said, and with unerring aim, all threw Their glitt'ring spears. Ulysses on the ground Stretch'd Demoptolemus; Euryades Fell by Telemachus; the swine-herd slew Elatus; and the keeper of the beeves Pisander; in one moment all alike Lay grinding with their teeth the dusty floor. 310 Back flew the suitors to the farthest wall, On whom those valiant four advancing, each Recover'd, quick, his weapon from the dead. Then hurl'd the desp'rate suitors yet again Their glitt'ring spears, but Pallas gave to each A frustrate course; one struck a column, one The planks of the broad portal, and a third Flung full his ashen beam against the wall. Yet pierced Amphimedon the Prince's wrist, But slightly, a skin-wound, and o'er his shield 320 Ctesippus reach'd the shoulder of the good Eumaeus, but his glancing weapon swift O'erflew the mark, and fell. And now the four, Ulysses, dauntless Hero, and his friends All hurl'd their spears together in return, Himself Ulysses, city-waster Chief, Wounded Eurydamas; Ulysses' son Amphimedon; the swine-herd Polybus; And in his breast the keeper of the beeves Ctesippus, glorying over whom, he cried. 330 Oh son of Polytherses! whose delight Hath been to taunt and jeer, never again Boast foolishly, but to the Gods commit Thy tongue, since they are mightier far than thou. Take this—a compensation for thy pledge Of hospitality, the huge ox-hoof, Which while he roam'd the palace, begging alms, Ulysses at thy bounteous hand received. So gloried he; then, grasping still his spear, Ulysses pierced Damastor's son, and, next, 340 Telemachus, enforcing his long beam Sheer through his bowels and his back, transpierced Leiocritus, he prostrate smote the floor. Then, Pallas from the lofty roof held forth Her host-confounding AEgis o'er their heads, With'ring their souls with fear. They through the hall Fled, scatter'd as an herd, which rapid-wing'd The gad-fly dissipates, infester fell Of beeves, when vernal suns shine hot and long. But, as when bow-beak'd vultures crooked-claw'd[106] 350 Stoop from the mountains on the smaller fowl; Terrified at the toils that spread the plain The flocks take wing, they, darting from above, Strike, seize, and slay, resistance or escape Is none, the fowler's heart leaps with delight, So they, pursuing through the spacious hall The suitors, smote them on all sides, their heads Sounded beneath the sword, with hideous groans The palace rang, and the floor foamed with blood. Then flew Leiodes to Ulysses' knees, 360 Which clasping, in wing'd accents thus he cried. I clasp thy knees, Ulysses! oh respect My suit, and spare me! Never have I word Injurious spoken, or injurious deed Attempted 'gainst the women of thy house, But others, so transgressing, oft forbad. Yet they abstain'd not, and a dreadful fate Due to their wickedness have, therefore, found. But I, their soothsayer alone, must fall, Though unoffending; such is the return 370 By mortals made for benefits received! To whom Ulysses, louring dark, replied. Is that thy boast? Hast thou indeed for these The seer's high office fill'd? Then, doubtless, oft Thy pray'r hath been that distant far might prove The day delectable of my return, And that my consort might thy own become To bear thee children; wherefore thee I doom To a dire death which thou shalt not avoid. So saying, he caught the faulchion from the floor 380 Which Agelaues had let fall, and smote Leiodes, while he kneel'd, athwart his neck So suddenly, that ere his tongue had ceased To plead for life, his head was in the dust. But Phemius, son of Terpius, bard divine, Who, through compulsion, with his song regaled The suitors, a like dreadful death escaped. Fast by the postern, harp in hand, he stood, Doubtful if, issuing, he should take his seat Beside the altar of Hercaean Jove,[107] 390 Where oft Ulysses offer'd, and his sire, Fat thighs of beeves, or whether he should haste, An earnest suppliant, to embrace his knees. That course, at length, most pleased him; then, between The beaker and an argent-studded throne He grounded his sweet lyre, and seizing fast The Hero's knees, him, suppliant, thus address'd. I clasp thy knees, Ulysses! oh respect My suit, and spare me. Thou shalt not escape Regret thyself hereafter, if thou slay 400 Me, charmer of the woes of Gods and men. Self-taught am I, and treasure in my mind Themes of all argument from heav'n inspired, And I can sing to thee as to a God. Ah, then, behead me not. Put ev'n the wish Far from thee! for thy own beloved son Can witness, that not drawn by choice, or driv'n By stress of want, resorting to thine house I have regaled these revellers so oft, But under force of mightier far than I. 410 So he; whose words soon as the sacred might Heard of Telemachus, approaching quick His father, thus, humane, he interposed. Hold, harm not with the vengeful faulchion's edge This blameless man; and we will also spare Medon the herald, who hath ever been A watchful guardian of my boyish years, Unless Philoetius have already slain him, Or else Eumaeus, or thyself, perchance, Unconscious, in the tumult of our foes. 420 He spake, whom Medon hearing (for he lay Beneath a throne, and in a new-stript hide Enfolded, trembling with the dread of death) Sprang from his hiding-place, and casting off The skin, flew to Telemachus, embraced His knees, and in wing'd accents thus exclaim'd. Prince! I am here—oh, pity me! repress Thine own, and pacify thy father's wrath, That he destroy not me, through fierce revenge Of their iniquities who have consumed 430 His wealth, and, in their folly scorn'd his son. To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied, Smiling complacent. Fear not; my own son Hath pleaded for thee. Therefore (taught thyself That truth) teach others the superior worth Of benefits with injuries compared. But go ye forth, thou and the sacred bard, That ye may sit distant in yonder court From all this carnage, while I give command, Myself, concerning it, to those within. 440 He ceas'd; they going forth, took each his seat Beside Jove's altar, but with careful looks Suspicious, dreading without cease the sword. Meantime Ulysses search'd his hall, in quest Of living foes, if any still survived Unpunish'd; but he found them all alike Welt'ring in dust and blood; num'rous they lay Like fishes when they strew the sinuous shore Of Ocean, from the grey gulph drawn aground In nets of many a mesh; they on the sands 450 Lie spread, athirst for the salt wave, till hot The gazing sun dries all their life away; So lay the suitors heap'd, and thus at length The prudent Chief gave order to his son. Telemachus! bid Euryclea come Quickly, the nurse, to whom I would impart The purpose which now occupies me most. He said; obedient to his sire, the Prince Smote on the door, and summon'd loud the nurse. Arise thou ancient governess of all 460 Our female menials, and come forth; attend My father; he hath somewhat for thine ear. So he; nor flew his words useless away, For, throwing wide the portal, forth she came, And, by Telemachus conducted, found Ere long Ulysses amid all the slain, With blood defiled and dust; dread he appear'd As from the pastur'd ox newly-devoured The lion stalking back; his ample chest With gory drops and his broad cheeks are hung, 470 Tremendous spectacle! such seem'd the Chief, Blood-stain'd all over. She, the carnage spread On all sides seeing, and the pools of blood, Felt impulse forcible to publish loud That wond'rous triumph; but her Lord repress'd The shout of rapture ere it burst abroad, And in wing'd accents thus his will enforced. Silent exult, O ancient matron dear! Shout not, be still. Unholy is the voice Of loud thanksgiving over slaughter'd men. 480 Their own atrocious deeds and the Gods' will Have slain all these; for whether noble guest Arrived or base, they scoff'd at all alike, And for their wickedness have, therefore, died. But say; of my domestic women, who Have scorn'd me, and whom find'st thou innocent? To whom good Euryclea thus replied. My son! I will declare the truth; thou keep'st Female domestics fifty in thy house, Whom we have made intelligent to comb 490 The fleece, and to perform whatever task. Of these, twice six have overpass'd the bounds Of modesty, respecting neither me, Nor yet the Queen; and thy own son, adult So lately, no permission had from her To regulate the women of her train. But I am gone, I fly with what hath pass'd To the Queen's ear, who nought suspects, so sound She sleeps, by some divinity composed. Then answer, thus, Ulysses wise returned. 500 Hush, and disturb her not. Go. Summon first Those wantons, who have long deserved to die. He ceas'd; then issued forth the ancient dame To summon those bad women, and, meantime, Calling his son, Philoetius, and Eumaeus, Ulysses in wing'd accents thus began. Bestir ye, and remove the dead; command Those women also to your help; then cleanse With bibulous sponges and with water all The seats and tables; when ye shall have thus 510 Set all in order, lead those women forth, And in the centre of the spacious court, Between the scull'ry and the outer-wall Smite them with your broad faulchions till they lose In death the mem'ry of their secret loves Indulged with wretches lawless as themselves. He ended, and the damsels came at once All forth, lamenting, and with tepid tears Show'ring the ground; with mutual labour, first, Bearing the bodies forth into the court, 520 They lodged them in the portico; meantime Ulysses, stern, enjoin'd them haste, and, urged By sad necessity, they bore all out. With sponges and with water, next, they cleansed The thrones and tables, while Telemachus Beesom'd the floor, Eumaeus in that work Aiding him and the keeper of the beeves, And those twelve damsels bearing forth the soil. Thus, order giv'n to all within, they, next, Led forth the women, whom they shut between 530 The scull'ry and the outer-wall in close Durance, from which no pris'ner could escape, And thus Telemachus discrete began. An honourable death is not for these By my advice, who have so often heap'd Reproach on mine and on my mother's head, And held lewd commerce with the suitor-train. He said, and noosing a strong galley-rope To an huge column, led the cord around The spacious dome, suspended so aloft 540 That none with quiv'ring feet might reach the floor. As when a flight of doves ent'ring the copse, Or broad-wing'd thrushes, strike against the net Within, ill rest, entangled, there they find, So they, suspended by the neck, expired All in one line together. Death abhorr'd! With restless feet awhile they beat the air, Then ceas'd. And now through vestibule and hall They led Melanthius forth. With ruthless steel They pared away his ears and nose, pluck'd forth 550 His parts of shame, destin'd to feed the dogs, And, still indignant, lopp'd his hands and feet. Then, laving each his feet and hands, they sought Again Ulysses; all their work was done, And thus the Chief to Euryclea spake. Bring blast-averting sulphur, nurse, bring fire! That I may fumigate my walls; then bid Penelope with her attendants down, And summon all the women of her train. But Euryclea, thus, his nurse, replied. 560 My son! thou hast well said; yet will I first Serve thee with vest and mantle. Stand not here In thy own palace cloath'd with tatters foul And beggarly—she will abhor the sight. Then answer thus Ulysses wise return'd. Not so. Bring fire for fumigation first. He said; nor Euryclea his lov'd nurse Longer delay'd, but sulphur brought and fire, When he with purifying steams, himself, Visited ev'ry part, the banquet-room, 570 The vestibule, the court. Ranging meantime His house magnificent, the matron call'd The women to attend their Lord in haste, And they attended, bearing each a torch. Then gather'd they around him all, sincere Welcoming his return; with close embrace Enfolding him, each kiss'd his brows, and each His shoulders, and his hands lock'd fast in hers. He, irresistible the impulse felt To sigh and weep, well recognizing all. 580

FOOTNOTES:

[103] If the ancients found it difficult to ascertain clearly the situation of this ortothyre, well may we. The Translator has given it the position which to him appeared most probable.—There seem to have been two of these posterns, one leading to a part from which the town might be alarmed, the other to the chamber to which Telemachus went for armour. There was one, perhaps, on each side of the portal, and they appear to have been at some height above the floor.

[104] At which Ulysses stood.

[105] The deviation of three only is described, which must be understood, therefore, as instances of the ill success of all.

[106] In this simile we seem to have a curious account of the ancient manner of fowling. The nets (for nephea is used in that sense by Aristophanes) were spread on a plain; on an adjoining rising ground were stationed they who had charge of the vultures (such Homer calls them) which were trained to the sport. The alarm being given to the birds below, the vultures were loosed, when if any of them escaped their talons, the nets were ready to enclose them. See Eustathius Dacier. Clarke.

[107] So called because he was worshipped within the Erkos or wall that surrounded the court.



BOOK XXIII

ARGUMENT

Ulysses with some difficulty, convinces Penelope of his identity, who at length, overcome by force of evidence, receives him to her arms with transport. He entertains her with a recital of his adventures, and in his narration the principal events of the poem are recapitulated. In the morning, Ulysses, Telemachus, the herdsman and the swine-herd depart into the country.

And now, with exultation loud the nurse Again ascended, eager to apprize The Queen of her Ulysses' safe return; Joy braced her knees, with nimbleness of youth She stepp'd, and at her ear, her thus bespake. Arise, Penelope! dear daughter, see With thy own eyes thy daily wish fulfill'd. Ulysses is arrived; hath reach'd at last His native home, and all those suitors proud Hath slaughter'd, who his family distress'd, 10 His substance wasted, and controul'd his son. To whom Penelope discrete replied. Dear nurse! the Gods have surely ta'en away Thy judgment; they transform the wise to fools, And fools conduct to wisdom, and have marr'd Thy intellect, who wast discrete before. Why wilt thou mock me, wretched as I am, With tales extravagant? and why disturb Those slumbers sweet that seal'd so fast mine eyes? For such sweet slumbers have I never known 20 Since my Ulysses on his voyage sail'd To that bad city never to be named. Down instant to thy place again—begone— For had another of my maidens dared Disturb my sleep with tidings wild as these, I had dismiss'd her down into the house More roughly; but thine age excuses thee. To whom the venerable matron thus. I mock thee not, my child; no—he is come— Himself, Ulysses, even as I say, 30 That stranger, object of the scorn of all. Telemachus well knew his sire arrived, But prudently conceal'd the tidings, so To insure the more the suitors' punishment. So Euryclea she transported heard, And springing from the bed, wrapp'd in her arms The ancient woman shedding tears of joy, And in wing'd accents ardent thus replied. Ah then, dear nurse inform me! tell me true! Hath he indeed arriv'd as thou declar'st? 40 How dared he to assail alone that band Of shameless ones, for ever swarming here? Then Euryclea, thus, matron belov'd. I nothing saw or knew; but only heard Groans of the wounded; in th' interior house We trembling sat, and ev'ry door was fast. Thus all remain'd till by his father sent, Thy own son call'd me forth. Going, I found Ulysses compass'd by the slaughter'd dead. They cover'd wide the pavement, heaps on heaps. 50 It would have cheer'd thy heart to have beheld Thy husband lion-like with crimson stains Of slaughter and of dust all dappled o'er; Heap'd in the portal, at this moment, lie Their bodies, and he fumigates, meantime, The house with sulphur and with flames of fire, And hath, himself, sent me to bid thee down. Follow me, then, that ye may give your hearts To gladness, both, for ye have much endured; But the event, so long your soul's desire, 60 Is come; himself hath to his household Gods Alive return'd, thee and his son he finds Unharm'd and at your home, nor hath he left Unpunish'd one of all his enemies. Her answer'd, then, Penelope discrete. Ah dearest nurse! indulge not to excess This dang'rous triumph. Thou art well apprized How welcome his appearance here would prove To all, but chief, to me, and to his son, Fruit of our love. But these things are not so; 70 Some God, resentful of their evil deeds, And of their biting contumely severe, Hath slain those proud; for whether noble guest Arrived or base, alike they scoff'd at all, And for their wickedness have therefore died. But my Ulysses distant far, I know, From Greece hath perish'd, and returns no more. To whom thus Euryclea, nurse belov'd. What word my daughter had escaped thy lips, Who thus affirm'st thy husband, now within 80 And at his own hearth-side, for ever lost? Canst thou be thus incredulous? Hear again— I give thee yet proof past dispute, his scar Imprinted by a wild-boar's iv'ry tusk. Laving him I remark'd it, and desired, Myself, to tell thee, but he, ever-wise, Compressing with both hands my lips, forbad. Come, follow me. My life shall be the pledge. If I deceive thee, kill me as thou wilt. To whom Penelope, discrete, replied. 90 Ah, dearest nurse, sagacious as thou art, Thou little know'st to scan the counsels wise Of the eternal Gods. But let us seek My son, however, that I may behold The suitors dead, and him by whom they died. So saying, she left her chamber, musing much In her descent, whether to interrogate Her Lord apart, or whether to imprint, At once, his hands with kisses and his brows. O'erpassing light the portal-step of stone 100 She enter'd. He sat opposite, illumed By the hearth's sprightly blaze, and close before A pillar of the dome, waiting with eyes Downcast, till viewing him, his noble spouse Should speak to him; but she sat silent long, Her faculties in mute amazement held. By turns she riveted her eyes on his, And, seeing him so foul attired, by turns She recognized him not; then spake her son Telemachus, and her silence thus reprov'd. 110 My mother! ah my hapless and my most Obdurate mother! wherefore thus aloof Shunn'st thou my father, neither at his side Sitting affectionate, nor utt'ring word? Another wife lives not who could endure Such distance from her husband new-return'd To his own country in the twentieth year, After much hardship; but thy heart is still As ever, less impressible than stone, To whom Penelope, discrete, replied. 120 I am all wonder, O my son; my soul Is stunn'd within me; pow'r to speak to him Or to interrogate him have I none, Or ev'n to look on him; but if indeed He be Ulysses, and have reach'd his home, I shall believe it soon, by proof convinced Of signs known only to himself and me. She said; then smiled the Hero toil-inured, And in wing'd accents thus spake to his son. Leave thou, Telemachus, thy mother here 130 To sift and prove me; she will know me soon More certainly; she sees me ill-attired And squalid now; therefore she shews me scorn, And no belief hath yet that I am he. But we have need, thou and myself, of deep Deliberation. If a man have slain One only citizen, who leaves behind Few interested to avenge his death, Yet, flying, he forsakes both friends and home; But we have slain the noblest Princes far 140 Of Ithaca, on whom our city most Depended; therefore, I advise thee, think! Him, prudent, then answer'd Telemachus. Be that thy care, my father! for report Proclaims thee shrewdest of mankind, with whom In ingenuity may none compare. Lead thou; to follow thee shall be our part With prompt alacrity; nor shall, I judge, Courage be wanting to our utmost force. Thus then replied Ulysses, ever-wise. 150 To me the safest counsel and the best Seems this. First wash yourselves, and put ye on Your tunics; bid ye, next, the maidens take Their best attire, and let the bard divine Harping melodious play a sportive dance, That, whether passenger or neighbour near, All may imagine nuptials held within. So shall not loud report that we have slain All those, alarm the city, till we gain Our woods and fields, where, once arriv'd, such plans 160 We will devise, as Jove shall deign to inspire. He spake, and all, obedient, in the bath First laved themselves, then put their tunics on; The damsels also dress'd, and the sweet bard, Harping melodious, kindled strong desire In all, of jocund song and graceful dance. The palace under all its vaulted roof Remurmur'd to the feet of sportive youths And cinctured maidens, while no few abroad, Hearing such revelry within, remark'd— 170 The Queen with many wooers, weds at last. Ah fickle and unworthy fair! too frail Always to keep inviolate the house Of her first Lord, and wait for his return. So spake the people; but they little knew What had befall'n. Eurynome, meantime, With bath and unction serv'd the illustrious Chief Ulysses, and he saw himself attired Royally once again in his own house. Then, Pallas over all his features shed 180 Superior beauty, dignified his form With added amplitude, and pour'd his curls Like hyacinthine flow'rs down from his brows. As when some artist by Minerva made And Vulcan, wise to execute all tasks Ingenious, borders silver with a wreath Of gold, accomplishing a graceful work, Such grace the Goddess o'er his ample chest Copious diffused, and o'er his manly brows. He, godlike, stepping from the bath, resumed 190 His former seat magnificent, and sat Opposite to the Queen, to whom he said. Penelope! the Gods to thee have giv'n Of all thy sex, the most obdurate heart. Another wife lives not who could endure Such distance from her husband new-return'd To his own country in the twentieth year, After such hardship. But prepare me, nurse, A bed, for solitary I must sleep, Since she is iron, and feels not for me. 200 Him answer'd then prudent Penelope. I neither magnify thee, sir! nor yet Depreciate thee, nor is my wonder such As hurries me at once into thy arms, Though my remembrance perfectly retains, Such as he was, Ulysses, when he sail'd On board his bark from Ithaca—Go, nurse, Prepare his bed, but not within the walls Of his own chamber built with his own hands. Spread it without, and spread it well with warm 210 Mantles, with fleeces, and with richest rugs. So spake she, proving him,[108] and not untouch'd With anger at that word, thus he replied. Penelope, that order grates my ear. Who hath displaced my bed? The task were hard E'en to an artist; other than a God None might with ease remove it; as for man, It might defy the stoutest in his prime Of youth, to heave it to a different spot. For in that bed elaborate, a sign, 220 A special sign consists; I was myself The artificer; I fashion'd it alone. Within the court a leafy olive grew Lofty, luxuriant, pillar-like in girth. Around this tree I built, with massy stones Cemented close, my chamber, roof'd it o'er, And hung the glutinated portals on. I lopp'd the ample foliage and the boughs, And sev'ring near the root its solid bole, Smooth'd all the rugged stump with skilful hand, 230 And wrought it to a pedestal well squared And modell'd by the line. I wimbled, next, The frame throughout, and from the olive-stump Beginning, fashion'd the whole bed above Till all was finish'd, plated o'er with gold, With silver, and with ivory, and beneath Close interlaced with purple cordage strong. Such sign I give thee. But if still it stand Unmoved, or if some other, sev'ring sheer The olive from its bottom, have displaced 240 My bed—that matter is best known to thee. He ceas'd; she, conscious of the sign so plain Giv'n by Ulysses, heard with flutt'ring heart And fault'ring knees that proof. Weeping she ran Direct toward him, threw her arms around The Hero, kiss'd his forehead, and replied. Ah my Ulysses! pardon me—frown not— Thou, who at other times hast ever shewn Superior wisdom! all our griefs have flow'd From the Gods' will; they envied us the bliss 250 Of undivided union sweet enjoy'd Through life, from early youth to latest age. No. Be not angry now; pardon the fault That I embraced thee not as soon as seen, For horror hath not ceased to overwhelm My soul, lest some false alien should, perchance, Beguile me, for our house draws num'rous such. Jove's daughter, Argive Helen, ne'er had given Free entertainment to a stranger's love, Had she foreknown that the heroic sons 260 Of Greece would bring her to her home again. But heav'n incited her to that offence, Who never, else, had even in her thought Harbour'd the foul enormity, from which Originated even our distress. But now, since evident thou hast described Our bed, which never mortal yet beheld, Ourselves except and Actoris my own Attendant, giv'n me when I left my home By good Icarius, and who kept the door, 270 Though hard to be convinced, at last I yield. So saying, she awaken'd in his soul Pity and grief; and folding in his arms His blameless consort beautiful, he wept. Welcome as land appears to those who swim, Whose gallant bark Neptune with rolling waves And stormy winds hath sunk in the wide sea, A mariner or two, perchance, escape The foamy flood, and, swimming, reach the land, Weary indeed, and with incrusted brine 280 All rough, but oh, how glad to climb the coast! So welcome in her eyes Ulysses seem'd, Around whose neck winding her snowy arms, She clung as she would loose him never more. Thus had they wept till rosy-finger'd morn Had found them weeping, but Minerva check'd Night's almost finish'd course, and held, meantime, The golden dawn close pris'ner in the Deep, Forbidding her to lead her coursers forth, Lampus and Phaeton that furnish light 290 To all the earth, and join them to the yoke. Then thus, Ulysses to Penelope. My love; we have not yet attain'd the close Of all our sufferings, but unmeasured toil Arduous remains, which I must still atchieve. For so the spirit of the Theban seer Inform'd me, on that day, when to enquire Of mine and of my people's safe return I journey'd down to Pluto's drear abode. But let us hence to bed, there to enjoy 300 Tranquil repose. My love, make no delay. Him answer'd then prudent Penelope. Thou shalt to bed at whatsoever time Thy soul desires, since the immortal Gods Give thee to me and to thy home again. But, thou hast spoken from the seer of Thebes Of arduous toils yet unperform'd; declare What toils? Thou wilt disclose them, as I judge, Hereafter, and why not disclose them now? To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. 310 Ah conversant with woe! why would'st thou learn That tale? but I will tell it thee at large. Thou wilt not hear with joy, nor shall myself With joy rehearse it; for he bade me seek City after city, bearing, as I go, A shapely oar, till I shall find, at length, A people who the sea know not, nor eat 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. 320 He gave me also this authentic sign, Which I will tell thee. In what place soe'er I chance to meet a trav'ler who shall name The oar on my broad shoulder borne, a van;[109] He bade me, planting it on the same spot, Worship the King of Ocean with a bull, A ram, and a lascivious boar, then seek My home again, and sacrifice at home An hecatomb to the immortal Gods Inhabitants of the expanse above. 330 So shall I die, at length, the gentlest death Remote from Ocean; it shall find me late, In soft serenity of age, the Chief Of a blest people.—Thus he prophesied. Him answer'd then Penelope discrete. If heav'n appoint thee in old age a lot More tranquil, hope thence springs of thy escape Some future day from all thy threaten'd woes. Such was their mutual conf'rence sweet; meantime Eurynome and Euryclea dress'd 340 Their bed by light of the clear torch, and when Dispatchful they had spread it broad and deep, The ancient nurse to her own bed retired. Then came Eurynome, to whom in trust The chambers appertain'd, and with a torch Conducted them to rest; she introduced The happy pair, and went; transported they To rites connubial intermitted long, And now recover'd, gave themselves again.[110] Meantime, the Prince, the herdsman, and the good 350 Eumaeus, giving rest each to his feet, Ceased from the dance; they made the women cease Also, and to their sev'ral chambers all Within the twilight edifice repair'd. At length, with conjugal endearment both Satiate, Ulysses tasted and his spouse The sweets of mutual converse. She rehearsed, Noblest of women, all her num'rous woes Beneath that roof sustain'd, while she beheld The profligacy of the suitor-throng, 360 Who in their wooing had consumed his herds And fatted flocks, and drawn his vessels dry; While brave Ulysses, in his turn, to her Related his successes and escapes, And his afflictions also; he told her all; She listen'd charm'd, nor slumber on his eyes Fell once, or ere he had rehearsed the whole. Beginning, he discoursed, how, at the first He conquer'd in Ciconia, and thence reach'd The fruitful shores of the Lotophagi; 370 The Cyclops' deeds he told her next, and how He well avenged on him his slaughter'd friends Whom, pitiless, the monster had devour'd. How to the isle of AEolus he came, Who welcom'd him and safe dismiss'd him thence, Although not destin'd to regain so soon His native land; for o'er the fishy deep Loud tempests snatch'd him sighing back again. How, also at Telepylus he arrived, Town of the Laestrygonians, who destroyed 380 His ships with all their mariners, his own Except, who in his sable bark escaped. Of guileful Circe too he spake, deep-skill'd In various artifice, and how he reach'd With sails and oars the squalid realms of death, Desirous to consult the prophet there Theban Tiresias, and how there he view'd All his companions, and the mother bland Who bare him, nourisher of his infant years. How, next he heard the Sirens in one strain 390 All chiming sweet, and how he reach'd the rocks Erratic, Scylla and Charybdis dire, Which none secure from injury may pass. Then, how the partners of his voyage slew The Sun's own beeves, and how the Thund'rer Jove Hurl'd down his smoky bolts into his bark, Depriving him at once of all his crew, Whose dreadful fate he yet, himself, escaped. How to Ogygia's isle he came, where dwelt The nymph Calypso, who, enamour'd, wish'd 400 To espouse him, and within her spacious grot Detain'd, and fed, and promis'd him a life Exempt for ever from the sap of age, But him moved not. How, also, he arrived After much toil, on the Phaeacian coast, Where ev'ry heart revered him as a God, And whence, enriching him with brass and gold, And costly raiment first, they sent him home. At this last word, oblivious slumber sweet Fell on him, dissipating all his cares. 410 Meantime, Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed, On other thoughts intent, soon as she deem'd Ulysses with connubial joys sufficed, And with sweet sleep, at once from Ocean rous'd The golden-axled chariot of the morn To illumine earth. Then from his fleecy couch The Hero sprang, and thus his spouse enjoined. Oh consort dear! already we have striv'n Against our lot, till wearied with the toil, My painful absence, thou with ceaseless tears 420 Deploring, and myself in deep distress Withheld reluctant from my native shores By Jove and by the other pow'rs of heav'n. But since we have in this delightful bed Met once again, watch thou and keep secure All my domestic treasures, and ere long I will replace my num'rous sheep destroy'd By those imperious suitors, and the Greeks Shall add yet others till my folds be fill'd. But to the woodlands go I now—to see 430 My noble father, who for my sake mourns Continual; as for thee, my love, although I know thee wise, I give thee thus in charge. The sun no sooner shall ascend, than fame Shall wide divulge the deed that I have done, Slaying the suitors under my own roof. Thou, therefore, with thy maidens, sit retired In thy own chamber at the palace-top, Nor question ask, nor, curious, look abroad. He said, and cov'ring with his radiant arms 440 His shoulders, called Telemachus; he roused Eumaeus and the herdsman too, and bade All take their martial weapons in their hand. Not disobedient they, as he enjoin'd, Put armour on, and issued from the gates Ulysses at their head. The earth was now Enlighten'd, but Minerva them in haste Led forth into the fields, unseen by all.

FOOTNOTES:

[108] The proof consisted in this—that the bed being attached to the stump of an olive tree still rooted, was immovable, and Ulysses having made it himself, no person present, he must needs be apprized of the impossibility of her orders, if he were indeed Ulysses; accordingly, this demonstration of his identity satisfies all her scruples.

[109] See the note on the same passage, Book XI.

[110] Aristophanes the grammarian and Aristarchus chose that the Odyssey should end here; but the story is not properly concluded till the tumult occasioned by the slaughter of so many Princes being composed, Ulysses finds himself once more in peaceful possession of his country.



BOOK XXIV

ARGUMENT

Mercury conducts the souls of the suitors down to Ades. Ulysses discovers himself to Laertes, and quells, by the aid of Minerva, an insurrection of the people resenting the death of the suitors.

And now Cyllenian Hermes summon'd forth The spirits of the suitors; waving wide The golden wand of pow'r to seal all eyes In slumber, and to ope them wide again, He drove them gibb'ring down into the shades,[111] As when the bats within some hallow'd cave Flit squeaking all around, for if but one Fall from the rock, the rest all follow him, In such connexion mutual they adhere, So, after bounteous Mercury, the ghosts, 10 Troop'd downward gibb'ring all the dreary way.[111] The Ocean's flood and the Leucadian rock, The Sun's gate also and the land of Dreams They pass'd, whence, next, into the meads they came Of Asphodel, by shadowy forms possess'd, Simulars of the dead. They found the souls Of brave Pelides there, and of his friend Patroclus, of Antilochus renown'd, And of the mightier Ajax, for his form And bulk (Achilles sole except) of all 20 The sons of the Achaians most admired. These waited on Achilles. Then, appear'd The mournful ghost of Agamemnon, son Of Atreus, compass'd by the ghosts of all Who shared his fate beneath AEgisthus' roof, And him the ghost of Peleus' son bespake. Atrides! of all Heroes we esteem'd Thee dearest to the Gods, for that thy sway Extended over such a glorious host At Ilium, scene of sorrow to the Greeks. 30 But Fate, whose ruthless force none may escape Of all who breathe, pursued thee from the first. Thou should'st have perish'd full of honour, full Of royalty, at Troy; so all the Greeks Had rais'd thy tomb, and thou hadst then bequeath'd Great glory to thy son; but Fate ordain'd A death, oh how deplorable! for thee. To whom Atrides' spirit thus replied. Blest son of Peleus, semblance of the Gods, At Ilium, far from Argos, fall'n! for whom 40 Contending, many a Trojan, many a Chief Of Greece died also, while in eddies whelm'd Of dust thy vastness spread the plain,[112] nor thee The chariot aught or steed could int'rest more! All day we waged the battle, nor at last Desisted, but for tempests sent from Jove. At length we bore into the Greecian fleet Thy body from the field; there, first, we cleansed With tepid baths and oil'd thy shapely corse, Then placed thee on thy bier, while many a Greek 50 Around thee wept, and shore his locks for thee. Thy mother, also, hearing of thy death With her immortal nymphs from the abyss Arose and came; terrible was the sound On the salt flood; a panic seized the Greeks, And ev'ry warrior had return'd on board That moment, had not Nestor, ancient Chief, Illumed by long experience, interposed, His counsels, ever wisest, wisest proved Then also, and he thus address'd the host. 60 Sons of Achaia; fly not; stay, ye Greeks! Thetis arrives with her immortal nymphs From the abyss, to visit her dead son. So he; and, by his admonition stay'd, The Greeks fled not. Then, all around thee stood The daughters of the Ancient of the Deep, Mourning disconsolate; with heav'nly robes They clothed thy corse, and all the Muses nine Deplored thee in full choir with sweetest tones Responsive, nor one Greecian hadst thou seen 70 Dry-eyed, such grief the Muses moved in all. Full sev'nteen days we, day and night, deplored Thy death, both Gods in heav'n and men below, But, on the eighteenth day, we gave thy corse Its burning, and fat sheep around thee slew Num'rous, with many a pastur'd ox moon-horn'd. We burn'd thee clothed in vesture of the Gods, With honey and with oil feeding the flames Abundant, while Achaia's Heroes arm'd, Both horse and foot, encompassing thy pile, 80 Clash'd on their shields, and deaf'ning was the din. But when the fires of Vulcan had at length Consumed thee, at the dawn we stored thy bones In unguent and in undiluted wine; For Thetis gave to us a golden vase Twin-ear'd, which she profess'd to have received From

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