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Transcriber's note

The spelling and hyphenation in the original are inconsistent, and have not been changed. A few obvious typographical errors have been corrected. They are marked with mouse-hover popups like this and are listed at the end of the etext. This e-text includes a number of phrases and passages in Greek. Transliterations are available through mouse-hover popups.

Contents

BOOK IBOOK IIBOOK IIIBOOK IVBOOK VBOOK VIBOOK VIIBOOK VIIIBOOK IXBOOK XBOOK XIBOOK XIIBOOK XIIIBOOK XIVBOOK XVBOOK XVIBOOK XVIIBOOK XVIIIBOOK XIXBOOK XXBOOK XXIBOOK XXIIBOOK XXIIIBOOK XXIVNOTESEVERYMAN’S LIBRARY

THE ODYSSEY
OF HOMER

Translated by
WILLIAM
COWPER

LONDON: PUBLISHED
by J·M·DENT·&·SONS·LTD
AND IN NEW YORK
BY E·P·DUTTON & CO

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

COUNTESS DOWAGER SPENCER

THE FOLLOWING TRANSLATION OF THE ODYSSEY, A POEM
THAT EXHIBITS IN THE CHARACTER OF ITS HEROINE
AN EXAMPLE OF ALL DOMESTIC VIRTUE, IS WITH
EQUAL PROPRIETY AND RESPECT INSCRIBED
BY HER LADYSHIP’S MOST DEVOTED
SERVANT, THE AUTHOR.

  THE ODYSSEY OF HOMER
TRANSLATED INTO
ENGLISH BLANK VERSE

BOOK I

ARGUMENT

In a council of the Gods, Minerva calls their attention to Ulysses, still a wanderer. They resolve to grant him a safe return to Ithaca. Minerva descends to encourage Telemachus, and in the form of Mentes directs him in what manner to proceed. Throughout this book the extravagance and profligacy of the suitors are occasionally suggested.

Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed
And genius versatile, who far and wide
A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,
Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.
He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,
Anxious to save himself, and to conduct
His followers to their home; yet all his care
Preserved them not; they perish’d self-destroy’d
By their own fault; infatuate! who devoured 10
The oxen of the all-o’erseeing Sun,
And, punish’d for that crime, return’d no more.
Daughter divine of Jove, these things record,
As it may please thee, even in our ears.
The rest, all those who had perdition ’scaped
By war or on the Deep, dwelt now at home;
Him only, of his country and his wife
Alike desirous, in her hollow grots
Calypso, Goddess beautiful, detained
Wooing him to her arms. But when, at length, 20
(Many a long year elapsed) the year arrived
Of his return (by the decree of heav’n)
To Ithaca, not even then had he,
  Although surrounded by his people, reach’d
The period of his suff’rings and his toils.
Yet all the Gods, with pity moved, beheld
His woes, save Neptune; He alone with wrath
Unceasing and implacable pursued
Godlike Ulysses to his native shores.
But Neptune, now, the Æthiopians fought, 30
(The Æthiopians, utmost of mankind,
These Eastward situate, those toward the West)
Call’d to an hecatomb of bulls and lambs.
There sitting, pleas’d he banqueted; the Gods
In Jove’s abode, meantime, assembled all,
’Midst whom the Sire of heav’n and earth began.
For he recall’d to mind Ægisthus slain
By Agamemnon’s celebrated son
Orestes, and retracing in his thought
That dread event, the Immortals thus address’d. 40
Alas! how prone are human-kind to blame
The Pow’rs of Heav’n! From us, they say, proceed
The ills which they endure, yet more than Fate
Herself inflicts, by their own crimes incur.
So now Ægisthus, by no force constrained
Of Destiny, Atrides’ wedded wife
Took to himself, and him at his return
Slew, not unwarn’d of his own dreadful end
By us: for we commanded Hermes down
The watchful Argicide, who bade him fear 50
Alike, to slay the King, or woo the Queen.
For that Atrides’ son Orestes, soon
As grown mature, and eager to assume
His sway imperial, should avenge the deed.
So Hermes spake, but his advice moved not
Ægisthus, on whose head the whole arrear
Of vengeance heap’d, at last, hath therefore fall’n.
Whom answer’d then Pallas cærulean-eyed.
Oh Jove, Saturnian Sire, o’er all supreme!
And well he merited the death he found; 60
So perish all, who shall, like him, offend.
But with a bosom anguish-rent I view
Ulysses, hapless Chief! who from his friends
Remote, affliction hath long time endured
In yonder wood-land isle, the central boss
Of Ocean. That retreat a Goddess holds,
  Daughter of sapient Atlas, who the abyss
Knows to its bottom, and the pillars high
Himself upbears which sep’rate earth from heav’n.
His daughter, there, the sorrowing Chief detains, 70
And ever with smooth speech insidious seeks
To wean his heart from Ithaca; meantime
Ulysses, happy might he but behold
The smoke ascending from his native land,
Death covets. Canst thou not, Olympian Jove!
At last relent? Hath not Ulysses oft
With victims slain amid Achaia’s fleet
Thee gratified, while yet at Troy he fought?
How hath he then so deep incensed thee, Jove?
To whom, the cloud-assembler God replied. 80
What word hath pass’d thy lips, Daughter belov’d?
Can I forget Ulysses? Him forget
So noble, who in wisdom all mankind
Excels, and who hath sacrific’d so oft
To us whose dwelling is the boundless heav’n?
Earth-circling Neptune—He it is whose wrath
Pursues him ceaseless for the Cyclops’ sake
Polypheme, strongest of the giant race,
Whom of his eye Ulysses hath deprived.
For Him, Thoösa bore, Nymph of the sea 90
From Phorcys sprung, by Ocean’s mighty pow’r
Impregnated in caverns of the Deep.
E’er since that day, the Shaker of the shores,
Although he slay him not, yet devious drives
Ulysses from his native isle afar.
Yet come—in full assembly his return
Contrive we now, both means and prosp’rous end;
So Neptune shall his wrath remit, whose pow’r
In contest with the force of all the Gods
Exerted single, can but strive in vain. 100
To whom Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed.
Oh Jupiter! above all Kings enthroned!
If the Immortals ever-blest ordain
That wise Ulysses to his home return,
Dispatch we then Hermes the Argicide,
Our messenger, hence to Ogygia’s isle,
Who shall inform Calypso, nymph divine,
Of this our fixt resolve, that to his home
Ulysses, toil-enduring Chief, repair.
  Myself will hence to Ithaca, meantime, 110
His son to animate, and with new force
Inspire, that (the Achaians all convened
In council,) he may, instant, bid depart
The suitors from his home, who, day by day,
His num’rous flocks and fatted herds consume.
And I will send him thence to Sparta forth,
And into sandy Pylus, there to hear
(If hear he may) some tidings of his Sire,
And to procure himself a glorious name.
This said, her golden sandals to her feet 120
She bound, ambrosial, which o’er all the earth
And o’er the moist flood waft her fleet as air,
Then, seizing her strong spear pointed with brass,
In length and bulk, and weight a matchless beam,
With which the Jove-born Goddess levels ranks
Of Heroes, against whom her anger burns,
From the Olympian summit down she flew,
And on the threshold of Ulysses’ hall
In Ithaca, and within his vestibule
Apparent stood; there, grasping her bright spear, 130
Mentes1 she seem’d, the hospitable Chief
Of Taphos’ isle—she found the haughty throng
The suitors; they before the palace gate
With iv’ry cubes sported, on num’rous hides
Reclined of oxen which themselves had slain.
The heralds and the busy menials there
Minister’d to them; these their mantling cups
With water slaked; with bibulous sponges those
Made clean the tables, set the banquet on,
And portioned out to each his plenteous share. 140
Long ere the rest Telemachus himself
Mark’d her, for sad amid them all he sat,
Pourtraying in deep thought contemplative
His noble Sire, and questioning if yet
Perchance the Hero might return to chase
From all his palace that imperious herd,
To his own honour lord of his own home.
Amid them musing thus, sudden he saw
The Goddess, and sprang forth, for he abhorr’d
  To see a guest’s admittance long delay’d; 150
Approaching eager, her right hand he seized,
The brazen spear took from her, and in words
With welcome wing’d Minerva thus address’d.
Stranger, all hail! to share our cordial love
Thou com’st; the banquet finish’d, thou shalt next
Inform me wherefore thou hast here arrived.
So saying, toward the spacious hall he moved,
Follow’d by Pallas, and, arriving soon
Beneath the lofty roof, placed her bright spear
Within a pillar’s cavity, long time 160
The armoury where many a spear had stood,
Bright weapons of his own illustrious Sire.
Then, leading her toward a footstool’d throne
Magnificent, which first he overspread
With linen, there he seated her, apart
From that rude throng, and for himself disposed
A throne of various colours at her side,
Lest, stunn’d with clamour of the lawless band,
The new-arrived should loth perchance to eat,
And that more free he might the stranger’s ear 170
With questions of his absent Sire address,
And now a maiden charg’d with golden ew’r,
And with an argent laver, pouring first
Pure water on their hands, supplied them, next,
With a resplendent table, which the chaste
Directress of the stores furnish’d with bread
And dainties, remnants of the last regale.
Then, in his turn, the sewer2 with sav’ry meats,
Dish after dish, served them, of various kinds,
And golden cups beside the chargers placed, 180
Which the attendant herald fill’d with wine.
Ere long, in rush’d the suitors, and the thrones
And couches occupied, on all whose hands
The heralds pour’d pure water; then the maids
Attended them with bread in baskets heap’d,
And eager they assail’d the ready feast.
At length, when neither thirst nor hunger more
They felt unsatisfied, to new delights
Their thoughts they turn’d, to song and sprightly dance,
Enlivening sequel of the banquet’s joys. 190
An herald, then, to Phemius’ hand consign’d
  His beauteous lyre; he through constraint regaled
The suitors with his song, and while the chords
He struck in prelude to his pleasant strains,
Telemachus his head inclining nigh
To Pallas’ ear, lest others should his words
Witness, the blue-eyed Goddess thus bespake.
My inmate and my friend! far from my lips
Be ev’ry word that might displease thine ear!
The song—the harp,—what can they less than charm 200
These wantons? who the bread unpurchased eat
Of one whose bones on yonder continent
Lie mould’ring, drench’d by all the show’rs of heaven,
Or roll at random in the billowy deep.
Ah! could they see him once to his own isle
Restored, both gold and raiment they would wish
Far less, and nimbleness of foot instead.
But He, alas! hath by a wretched fate,
Past question perish’d, and what news soe’er
We hear of his return, kindles no hope 210
In us, convinced that he returns no more.
But answer undissembling; tell me true;
Who art thou? whence? where stands thy city? where
Thy father’s mansion? In what kind of ship
Cam’st thou? Why steer’d the mariners their course
To Ithaca, and of what land are they?
For that on foot thou found’st us not, is sure.
This also tell me, hast thou now arrived
New to our isle, or wast thou heretofore
My father’s guest? Since many to our house 220
Resorted in those happier days, for he
Drew pow’rful to himself the hearts of all.
Then Pallas thus, Goddess cærulean-eyed.
I will with all simplicity of truth
Thy questions satisfy. Behold in me
Mentes, the offspring of a Chief renown’d
In war, Anchialus; and I rule, myself,
An island race, the Taphians oar-expert.
With ship and mariners I now arrive,
Seeking a people of another tongue 230
Athwart the gloomy flood, in quest of brass
For which I barter steel, ploughing the waves
To Temesa. My ship beneath the woods
Of Neïus, at yonder field that skirts
  Your city, in the haven Rhethrus rides.
We are hereditary guests; our Sires
Were friends long since; as, when thou seest him next,
The Hero old Laertes will avouch,
Of whom, I learn, that he frequents no more
The city now, but in sequester’d scenes 240
Dwells sorrowful, and by an antient dame
With food and drink supplied oft as he feels
Refreshment needful to him, while he creeps
Between the rows of his luxuriant vines.
But I have come drawn hither by report,
Which spake thy Sire arrived, though still it seems
The adverse Gods his homeward course retard.
For not yet breathless lies the noble Chief,
But in some island of the boundless flood
Resides a prisoner, by barbarous force 250
Of some rude race detained reluctant there.
And I will now foreshow thee what the Gods
Teach me, and what, though neither augur skill’d
Nor prophet, I yet trust shall come to pass.
He shall not, henceforth, live an exile long
From his own shores, no, not although in bands
Of iron held, but will ere long contrive
His own return; for in expedients, framed
With wond’rous ingenuity, he abounds.
But tell me true; art thou, in stature such, 260
Son of himself Ulysses? for thy face
And eyes bright-sparkling, strongly indicate
Ulysses in thee. Frequent have we both
Conversed together thus, thy Sire and I,
Ere yet he went to Troy, the mark to which
So many Princes of Achaia steer’d.
Him since I saw not, nor Ulysses me.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Stranger! I tell thee true; my mother’s voice
Affirms me his, but since no mortal knows 270
His derivation, I affirm it not.
Would I had been son of some happier Sire,
Ordain’d in calm possession of his own
To reach the verge of life. But now, report
Proclaims me his, whom I of all mankind
Unhappiest deem.—Thy question is resolved.
Then answer thus Pallas blue-eyed return’d.
  From no ignoble race, in future days,
The Gods shall prove thee sprung, whom so endow’d
With ev’ry grace Penelope hath borne. 280
But tell me true. What festival is this?
This throng—whence are they? wherefore hast thou need
Of such a multitude? Behold I here
A banquet, or a nuptial? for these
Meet not by contribution3 to regale,
With such brutality and din they hold
Their riotous banquet! a wise man and good
Arriving, now, among them, at the sight
Of such enormities would much be wroth.
To whom replied Telemachus discrete. 290
Since, stranger! thou hast ask’d, learn also this.
While yet Ulysses, with his people dwelt,
His presence warranted the hope that here
Virtue should dwell and opulence; but heav’n
Hath cast for us, at length, a diff’rent lot,
And he is lost, as never man before.
For I should less lament even his death,
Had he among his friends at Ilium fall’n,
Or in the arms of his companions died,
Troy’s siege accomplish’d. Then his tomb the Greeks 300
Of ev’ry tribe had built, and for his son,
He had immortal glory atchieved; but now,
By harpies torn inglorious, beyond reach
Of eye or ear he lies; and hath to me
Grief only, and unceasing sighs bequeath’d.
Nor mourn I for his sake alone; the Gods
Have plann’d for me still many a woe beside;
For all the rulers of the neighbour isles,
Samos, Dulichium, and the forest-crown’d
Zacynthus, others also, rulers here 310
In craggy Ithaca, my mother seek
In marriage, and my household stores consume.
But neither she those nuptial rites abhorr’d,
Refuses absolute, nor yet consents
To end them; they my patrimony waste
Meantime, and will not long spare even me.
  To whom, with deep commiseration pang’d,
Pallas replied. Alas! great need hast thou
Of thy long absent father to avenge
These num’rous wrongs; for could he now appear 320
There, at yon portal, arm’d with helmet, shield,
And grasping his two spears, such as when first
I saw him drinking joyous at our board,
From Ilus son of Mermeris, who dwelt
In distant Ephyre, just then return’d,
(For thither also had Ulysses gone
In his swift bark, seeking some pois’nous drug
Wherewith to taint his brazen arrows keen,
Which drug through fear of the eternal Gods
Ilus refused him, and my father free 330
Gave to him, for he loved him past belief)
Could now, Ulysses, clad in arms as then,
Mix with these suitors, short his date of life
To each, and bitter should his nuptials prove.
But these events, whether he shall return
To take just vengeance under his own roof,
Or whether not, lie all in the Gods lap.
Meantime I counsel thee, thyself to think
By what means likeliest thou shalt expel
These from thy doors. Now mark me: close attend. 340
To-morrow, summoning the Grecian Chiefs
To council, speak to them, and call the Gods
To witness that solemnity. Bid go
The suitors hence, each to his own abode.
Thy mother—if her purpose be resolved
On marriage, let her to the house return
Of her own potent father, who, himself,
Shall furnish forth her matrimonial rites,
And ample dow’r, such as it well becomes
A darling daughter to receive, bestow. 350
But hear me now; thyself I thus advise.
The prime of all thy ships preparing, mann’d
With twenty rowers, voyage hence to seek
Intelligence of thy long-absent Sire.
Some mortal may inform thee, or a word,4
Perchance, by Jove directed (safest source
  Of notice to mankind) may reach thine ear.
First voyaging to Pylus, there enquire
Of noble Nestor; thence to Sparta tend,
To question Menelaus amber-hair’d, 360
Latest arrived of all the host of Greece.
There should’st thou learn that still thy father lives,
And hope of his return, although
Distress’d, thou wilt be patient yet a year.
But should’st thou there hear tidings that he breathes
No longer, to thy native isle return’d,
First heap his tomb; then with such pomp perform
His funeral rites as his great name demands,
And make thy mother’s spousals, next, thy care.
These duties satisfied, delib’rate last 370
Whether thou shalt these troublers of thy house
By stratagem, or by assault, destroy.
For thou art now no child, nor longer may’st
Sport like one. Hast thou not the proud report
Heard, how Orestes hath renown acquired
With all mankind, his father’s murtherer
Ægisthus slaying, the deceiver base
Who slaughter’d Agamemnon? Oh my friend!
(For with delight thy vig’rous growth I view,
And just proportion) be thou also bold, 380
And merit praise from ages yet to come.
But I will to my vessel now repair,
And to my mariners, whom, absent long,
I may perchance have troubled. Weigh thou well
My counsel; let not my advice be lost.
To whom Telemachus discrete replied.
Stranger! thy words bespeak thee much my friend,
Who, as a father teaches his own son,
Hast taught me, and I never will forget.
But, though in haste thy voyage to pursue, 390
Yet stay, that in the bath refreshing first
Thy limbs now weary, thou may’st sprightlier seek
Thy gallant bark, charged with some noble gift
Of finish’d workmanship, which thou shalt keep
As my memorial ever; such a boon
As men confer on guests whom much they love.
Then Pallas thus, Goddess cærulean-eyed.
Retard me not, for go I must; the gift
Which liberal thou desirest to bestow,
  Give me at my return, that I may bear 400
The treasure home; and, in exchange, thyself
Expect some gift equivalent from me.
She spake, and as with eagle-wings upborne,
Vanish’d incontinent, but him inspired
With daring fortitude, and on his heart
Dearer remembrance of his Sire impress’d
Than ever. Conscious of the wond’rous change,
Amazed he stood, and, in his secret thought
Revolving all, believed his guest a God.
The youthful Hero to the suitors then 410
Repair’d; they silent, listen’d to the song
Of the illustrious Bard: he the return
Deplorable of the Achaian host
From Ilium by command of Pallas, sang.
Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, mark’d
Meantime the song celestial, where she sat
In the superior palace; down she came,
By all the num’rous steps of her abode;
Not sole, for two fair handmaids follow’d her.
She then, divinest of her sex, arrived 420
In presence of that lawless throng, beneath
The portal of her stately mansion stood,
Between her maidens, with her lucid veil
Her lovely features mantling. There, profuse
She wept, and thus the sacred bard bespake.
Phemius! for many a sorrow-soothing strain
Thou know’st beside, such as exploits record
Of Gods and men, the poet’s frequent theme;
Give them of those a song, and let themselves
Their wine drink noiseless; but this mournful strain 430
Break off, unfriendly to my bosom’s peace,
And which of all hearts nearest touches mine,
With such regret my dearest Lord I mourn,
Rememb’ring still an husband praised from side
To side, and in the very heart of Greece.
Then answer thus Telemachus return’d.
My mother! wherefore should it give thee pain
If the delightful bard that theme pursue
To which he feels his mind impell’d? the bard
Blame not, but rather Jove, who, as he wills, 440
Materials for poetic art supplies.
No fault is his, if the disastrous fate
  He sing of the Achaians, for the song
Wins ever from the hearers most applause
That has been least in use. Of all who fought
At Troy, Ulysses hath not lost, alone,
His day of glad return; but many a Chief
Hath perish’d also. Seek thou then again
Thy own apartment, spindle ply and loom,
And task thy maidens; management belongs 450
To men of joys convivial, and of men
Especially to me, chief ruler here.
She heard astonish’d; and the prudent speech
Reposing of her son deep in her heart,
Again with her attendant maidens sought
Her upper chamber. There arrived, she wept
Her lost Ulysses, till Minerva bathed
Her weary lids in dewy sleep profound.
Then echoed through the palace dark-bedimm’d
With evening shades the suitors boist’rous roar, 460
For each the royal bed burn’d to partake,
Whom thus Telemachus discrete address’d.
All ye my mother’s suitors, though addict
To contumacious wrangling fierce, suspend
Your clamour, for a course to me it seems
More decent far, when such a bard as this,
Godlike, for sweetness, sings, to hear his song.
To-morrow meet we in full council all,
That I may plainly warn you to depart
From this our mansion. Seek ye where ye may 470
Your feasts; consume your own; alternate feed
Each at the other’s cost; but if it seem
Wisest in your account and best, to eat
Voracious thus the patrimonial goods
Of one man, rend’ring no account of all,5
Bite to the roots; but know that I will cry
Ceaseless to the eternal Gods, in hope
That Jove, for retribution of the wrong,
Shall doom you, where ye have intruded, there
To bleed, and of your blood ask no account.5 480
He ended, and each gnaw’d his lip, aghast
  At his undaunted hardiness of speech.
Then thus Antinoüs spake, Eupithes’ son.
Telemachus! the Gods, methinks, themselves
Teach thee sublimity, and to pronounce
Thy matter fearless. Ah forbid it, Jove!
That one so eloquent should with the weight
Of kingly cares in Ithaca be charged,
A realm, by claim hereditary, thine.
Then prudent thus Telemachus replied. 490
Although my speech Antinoüs may, perchance,
Provoke thee, know that I am not averse
From kingly cares, if Jove appoint me such.
Seems it to thee a burthen to be fear’d
By men above all others? trust me, no,
There is no ill in royalty; the man
So station’d, waits not long ere he obtain
Riches and honour. But I grant that Kings
Of the Achaians may no few be found
In sea-girt Ithaca both young and old, 500
Of whom since great Ulysses is no more,
Reign whoso may; but King, myself, I am
In my own house, and over all my own
Domestics, by Ulysses gained for me.
To whom Eurymachus replied, the son
Of Polybus. What Grecian Chief shall reign
In sea-girt Ithaca, must be referr’d
To the Gods’ will, Telemachus! meantime
Thou hast unquestionable right to keep
Thy own, and to command in thy own house. 510
May never that man on her shores arrive,
While an inhabitant shall yet be left
In Ithaca, who shall by violence wrest
Thine from thee. But permit me, noble Sir!
To ask thee of thy guest. Whence came the man?
What country claims him? Where are to be found
His kindred and his patrimonial fields?
Brings he glad tidings of thy Sire’s approach
Homeward? or came he to receive a debt
Due to himself? How swift he disappear’d! 520
Nor opportunity to know him gave
To those who wish’d it; for his face and air
Him speak not of Plebeian birth obscure.
Whom answered thus Telemachus discrete.
  Eurymachus! my father comes no more.
I can no longer now tidings believe,
If such arrive; nor he’d I more the song
Of sooth-sayers whom my mother may consult.
But this my guest hath known in other days
My father, and he came from Taphos, son 530
Of brave Anchialus, Mentes by name,
And Chief of the sea-practis’d Taphian race.
So spake Telemachus, but in his heart
Knew well his guest a Goddess from the skies.
Then they to dance and heart-enlivening song
Turn’d joyous, waiting the approach of eve,
And dusky evening found them joyous still.
Then each, to his own house retiring, sought
Needful repose. Meantime Telemachus
To his own lofty chamber, built in view 540
Of the wide hall, retired; but with a heart
In various musings occupied intense.
Sage Euryclea, bearing in each hand
A torch, preceded him; her sire was Ops,
Pisenor’s son, and, in her early prime,
At his own cost Laertes made her his,
Paying with twenty beeves her purchase-price,
Nor in less honour than his spotless wife
He held her ever, but his consort’s wrath
Fearing, at no time call’d her to his bed. 550
She bore the torches, and with truer heart
Loved him than any of the female train,
For she had nurs’d him in his infant years.
He open’d his broad chamber-valves, and sat
On his couch-side: then putting off his vest
Of softest texture, placed it in the hands
Of the attendant dame discrete, who first
Folding it with exactest care, beside
His bed suspended it, and, going forth,
Drew by its silver ring the portal close, 560
And fasten’d it with bolt and brace secure.
There lay Telemachus, on finest wool
Reposed, contemplating all night his course
Prescribed by Pallas to the Pylian shore.

1 We are told that Homer was under obligations to Mentes, who had frequently given him a passage in his ship to different countries which he wished to see, for which reason he has here immortalised him.

2 Milton uses the word—Sewers and seneschals.

3 Ἔρανος, a convivial meeting, at which every man paid his proportion, at least contributed something; but it seems to have been a meeting at which strict sobriety was observed, else Pallas would not have inferred from the noise and riot of this, that it was not such a one.

4 Οσσα—a word spoken, with respect to the speaker, casually; but with reference to the inquirer supposed to be sent for his information by the especial appointment and providential favour of the Gods.

5 There is in the Original an evident stress laid on the word Νήποινοι, which is used in both places. It was a sort of Lex Talionis which Telemachus hoped might be put in force against them; and that Jove would demand no satisfaction for the lives of those who made him none for the waste of his property.

  BOOK II

ARGUMENT

Telemachus having convened an assembly of the Greecians, publicly calls on the Suitors to relinquish the house of Ulysses. During the continuance of the Council he has much to suffer from the petulance of the Suitors, from whom, having informed them of his design to undertake a voyage in hope to obtain news of Ulysses, he asks a ship, with all things necessary for the purpose. He is refused, but is afterwards furnished with what he wants by Minerva, in the form of Mentor. He embarks in the evening without the privity of his mother, and the Goddess sails with him.

Aurora, rosy daughter of the dawn,
Now ting’d the East, when habited again,
Uprose Ulysses’ offspring from his bed.
Athwart his back his faulchion keen he flung,
His sandals bound to his unsullied feet,
And, godlike, issued from his chamber-door.
At once the clear-voic’d heralds he enjoin’d
To call the Greeks to council; they aloud
Gave forth the summons, and the throng began.
When all were gather’d, and the assembly full, 10
Himself, his hand arm’d with a brazen spear,
Went also; nor alone he went; his hounds
Fleet-footed follow’d him, a faithful pair.
O’er all his form Minerva largely shed
Majestic grace divine, and, as he went,
The whole admiring concourse gaz’d on him,
The seniors gave him place, and down he sat
On his paternal Throne. Then grave arose
The Hero, old Ægyptius; bow’d with age
Was he, and by experience deep-inform’d. 20
His son had with Ulysses, godlike Chief,
On board his fleet to steed-fam’d Ilium gone,
The warrior Antiphus, whom in his cave
The savage Cyclops slew, and on his flesh
At ev’ning made obscene his last regale.
Three sons he had beside, a suitor one,
Eurynomus; the other two, employ
  Found constant managing their Sire’s concerns.
Yet he forgat not, father as he was
Of these, his absent eldest, whom he mourn’d 30
Ceaseless, and thus his speech, weeping, began.
Hear me, ye men of Ithaca, my friends!
Nor council here nor session hath been held
Since great Ulysses left his native shore.
Who now convenes us? what especial need
Hath urged him, whether of our youth he be,
Or of our senators by age matured?
Have tidings reach’d him of our host’s return,
Which here he would divulge? or brings he aught
Of public import on a diff’rent theme? 40
I deem him, whosoe’er he be, a man
Worthy to prosper, and may Jove vouchsafe
The full performance of his chief desire!
He ended, and Telemachus rejoiced
In that good omen. Ardent to begin,
He sat not long, but, moving to the midst,
Received the sceptre from Pisenor’s hand,
His prudent herald, and addressing, next,
The hoary Chief Ægyptius, thus began.
Not far remote, as thou shalt soon thyself 50
Perceive, oh venerable Chief! he stands,
Who hath convened this council. I, am He.
I am in chief the suff’rer. Tidings none
Of the returning host I have received,
Which here I would divulge, nor bring I aught
Of public import on a different theme,
But my own trouble, on my own house fall’n,
And two-fold fall’n. One is, that I have lost
A noble father, who, as fathers rule
Benign their children, govern’d once yourselves; 60
The other, and the more alarming ill,
With ruin threatens my whole house, and all
My patrimony with immediate waste.
Suitors, (their children who in this our isle
Hold highest rank) importunate besiege
My mother, though desirous not to wed,
And rather than resort to her own Sire
Icarius, who might give his daughter dow’r,
And portion her to whom he most approves,
(A course which, only named, moves their disgust) 70
  They chuse, assembling all within my gates
Daily to make my beeves, my sheep, my goats
Their banquet, and to drink without restraint
My wine; whence ruin threatens us and ours;
For I have no Ulysses to relieve
Me and my family from this abuse.
Ourselves are not sufficient; we, alas!
Too feeble should be found, and yet to learn
How best to use the little force we own;
Else, had I pow’r, I would, myself, redress 80
The evil; for it now surpasses far
All suff’rance, now they ravage uncontroul’d,
Nor show of decency vouchsafe me more.
Oh be ashamed6 yourselves; blush at the thought
Of such reproach as ye shall sure incur
From all our neighbour states, and fear beside
The wrath of the Immortals, lest they call
Yourselves one day to a severe account.
I pray you by Olympian Jove, by her
Whose voice convenes all councils, and again 90
Dissolves them, Themis, that henceforth ye cease,
That ye permit me, oh my friends! to wear
My days in solitary grief away,
Unless Ulysses, my illustrious Sire,
Hath in his anger any Greecian wrong’d,
Whose wrongs ye purpose to avenge on me,
Inciting these to plague me. Better far
Were my condition, if yourselves consumed
My substance and my revenue; from you
I might obtain, perchance, righteous amends 100
Hereafter; you I might with vehement suit
O’ercome, from house to house pleading aloud
For recompense, till I at last prevail’d.
But now, with darts of anguish ye transfix
My inmost soul, and I have no redress.
He spake impassion’d, and to earth cast down
His sceptre, weeping. Pity at that sight
Seiz’d all the people; mute the assembly sat
Long time, none dared to greet Telemachus
With answer rough, till of them all, at last, 110
  Antinoüs, sole arising, thus replied.
Telemachus, intemp’rate in harangue,
High-sounding orator! it is thy drift
To make us all odious; but the offence
Lies not with us the suitors; she alone
Thy mother, who in subtlety excels,
And deep-wrought subterfuge, deserves the blame.
It is already the third year, and soon
Shall be the fourth, since with delusive art
Practising on their minds, she hath deceived 120
The Greecians; message after message sent
Brings hope to each, by turns, and promise fair,
But she, meantime, far otherwise intends.
Her other arts exhausted all, she framed
This stratagem; a web of amplest size
And subtlest woof beginning, thus she spake.
Princes, my suitors! since the noble Chief
Ulysses is no more, press not as yet
My nuptials, wait till I shall finish, first,
A fun’ral robe (lest all my threads decay) 130
Which for the antient Hero I prepare,
Laertes, looking for the mournful hour
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.
So spake the Queen, and unsuspicious, we
With her request complied. Thenceforth, all day
She wove the ample web, and by the aid
Of torches ravell’d it again at night.
Three years by such contrivance she deceived 140
The Greecians; but when (three whole years elaps’d)
The fourth arriv’d, then, conscious of the fraud,
A damsel of her train told all the truth,
And her we found rav’ling the beauteous work.
Thus, through necessity she hath, at length,
Perform’d the task, and in her own despight.
Now therefore, for the information clear
Of thee thyself, and of the other Greeks,
We answer. Send thy mother hence, with charge
That him she wed on whom her father’s choice 150
Shall fall, and whom she shall, herself, approve.
But if by long procrastination still
She persevere wearing our patience out,
  Attentive only to display the gifts
By Pallas so profusely dealt to her,
Works of surpassing skill, ingenious thought,
And subtle shifts, such as no beauteous Greek
(For aught that we have heard) in antient times
E’er practised, Tyro, or Alcemena fair,
Or fair Mycene, of whom none in art 160
E’er match’d Penelope, although we yield
To this her last invention little praise,
Then know, that these her suitors will consume
So long thy patrimony and thy goods,
As she her present purpose shall indulge,
With which the Gods inspire her. Great renown
She to herself insures, but equal woe
And devastation of thy wealth to thee;
For neither to our proper works at home
Go we, of that be sure, nor yet elsewhere, 170
Till him she wed, to whom she most inclines.
Him prudent, then, answer’d Telemachus.
Antinoüs! it is not possible
That I should thrust her forth against her will,
Who both produced and reared me. Be he dead,
Or still alive, my Sire is far remote,
And should I, voluntary, hence dismiss
My mother to Icarius, I must much
Refund, which hardship were and loss to me.
So doing, I should also wrath incur 180
From my offended Sire, and from the Gods
Still more; for she, departing, would invoke
Erynnis to avenge her, and reproach
Beside would follow me from all mankind.
That word I, therefore, never will pronounce.
No, if ye judge your treatment at her hands
Injurious to you, go ye forth yourselves,
Forsake my mansion; seek where else ye may
Your feasts; consume your own; alternate feed
Each at the other’s cost. But if it seem 190
Wisest in your account and best to eat
Voracious thus the patrimonial goods
Of one man, rend’ring no account of all,
Bite to the roots; but know that I will cry
Ceaseless to the eternal Gods, in hope
That Jove, in retribution of the wrong,
  Shall doom you, where ye have intruded, there
To bleed, and of your blood ask no account.
So spake Telemachus, and while he spake,
The Thund’rer from a lofty mountain-top 200
Turn’d off two eagles; on the winds, awhile,
With outspread pinions ample side by side
They floated; but, ere long, hov’ring aloft,
Right o’er the midst of the assembled Chiefs
They wheel’d around, clang’d all their num’rous plumes,
And with a downward look eyeing the throng,
Death boded, ominous; then rending each
The other’s face and neck, they sprang at once
Toward the right, and darted through the town.
Amazement universal, at that sight, 210
Seized the assembly, and with anxious thought
Each scann’d the future; amidst whom arose
The Hero Halitherses, antient Seer,
Offspring of Mastor; for in judgment he
Of portents augural, and in forecast
Unerring, his coevals all excell’d,
And prudent thus the multitude bespake.
Ye men of Ithaca, give ear! hear all!
Though chief my speech shall to the suitors look,
For, on their heads devolved, comes down the woe. 220
Ulysses shall not from his friends, henceforth,
Live absent long, but, hasting to his home,
Comes even now, and as he comes, designs
A bloody death for these, whose bitter woes
No few shall share, inhabitants with us
Of pleasant Ithaca; but let us frame
Effectual means maturely to suppress
Their violent deeds, or rather let themselves
Repentant cease; and soonest shall be best.
Not inexpert, but well-inform’d I speak 230
The future, and the accomplishment announce
Of all which when Ulysses with the Greeks
Embark’d for Troy, I to himself foretold.
I said that, after many woes, and loss
Of all his people, in the twentieth year,
Unknown to all, he should regain his home,
And my prediction shall be now fulfill’d.
Him, then, Eurymachus thus answer’d rough
The son of Polybus. Hence to thy house,
  Thou hoary dotard! there, prophetic, teach 240
Thy children to escape woes else to come.
Birds num’rous flutter in the beams of day,
Not all predictive. Death, far hence remote
Hath found Ulysses, and I would to heav’n
That, where he died, thyself had perish’d too.
Thou hadst not then run o’er with prophecy
As now, nor provocation to the wrath
Giv’n of Telemachus, in hope to win,
Perchance, for thine some favour at his hands.
But I to thee foretell, skilled as thou art 250
In legends old, (nor shall my threat be vain)
That if by artifice thou move to wrath
A younger than thyself, no matter whom,
Woe first the heavier on himself shall fall,
Nor shalt thou profit him by thy attempt,
And we will charge thee also with a mulct,
Which thou shalt pay with difficulty, and bear
The burthen of it with an aching heart.
As for Telemachus, I him advise,
Myself, and press the measure on his choice 260
Earnestly, that he send his mother hence
To her own father’s house, who shall, himself,
Set forth her nuptial rites, and shall endow
His daughter sumptuously, and as he ought.
For this expensive wooing, as I judge,
Till then shall never cease; since we regard
No man—no—not Telemachus, although
In words exub’rant; neither fear we aught
Thy vain prognostics, venerable sir!
But only hate thee for their sake the more. 270
Waste will continue and disorder foul
Unremedied, so long as she shall hold
The suitors in suspense, for, day by day,
Our emulation goads us to the strife,
Nor shall we, going hence, seek to espouse
Each his own comfort suitable elsewhere.
To whom, discrete, Telemachus replied.
Eurymachus, and ye the suitor train
Illustrious, I have spoken: ye shall hear
No more this supplication urged by me. 280
The Gods, and all the Greeks, now know the truth.
But give me instantly a gallant bark
  With twenty rowers, skill’d their course to win
To whatsoever haven; for I go
To sandy Pylus, and shall hasten thence
To Lacedemon, tidings to obtain
Of my long-absent Sire, or from the lips
Of man, or by a word from Jove vouchsafed
Himself, best source of notice to mankind.
If, there inform’d that still my father lives, 290
I hope conceive of his return, although
Distress’d, I shall be patient yet a year.
But should I learn, haply, that he survives
No longer, then, returning, I will raise
At home his tomb, will with such pomp perform
His fun’ral rites, as his great name demands,
And give my mother’s hand to whom I may.
This said, he sat, and after him arose
Mentor, illustrious Ulysses’ friend,
To whom, embarking thence, he had consign’d 300
All his concerns, that the old Chief might rule
His family, and keep the whole secure.
Arising, thus the senior, sage, began.
Hear me, ye Ithacans! be never King
Henceforth, benevolent, gracious, humane
Or righteous, but let every sceptred hand
Rule merciless, and deal in wrong alone,
Since none of all his people, whom he sway’d
With such paternal gentleness and love,
Remembers the divine Ulysses more! 310
That the imperious suitors thus should weave
The web of mischief and atrocious wrong,
I grudge not; since at hazard of their heads
They make Ulysses’ property a prey,
Persuaded that the Hero comes no more.
But much the people move me; how ye sit
All mute, and though a multitude, yourselves,
Opposed to few, risque not a single word
To check the license of these bold intruders!
Then thus Liocritus, Evenor’s son. 320
Injurious Mentor! headlong orator!
How dar’st thou move the populace against
The suitors? Trust me they should find it hard,
Numerous as they are, to cope with us,
A feast the prize. Or should the King himself
  Of Ithaca, returning, undertake
T’ expell the jovial suitors from his house,
Much as Penelope his absence mourns,
His presence should afford her little joy;
For fighting sole with many, he should meet 330
A dreadful death. Thou, therefore, speak’st amiss.
As for Telemachus, let Mentor him
And Halytherses furnish forth, the friends
Long valued of his Sire, with all dispatch;
Though him I judge far likelier to remain
Long-time contented an enquirer here,
Than to perform the voyage now proposed.
Thus saying, Liocritus dissolved in haste
The council, and the scattered concourse sought
Their sev’ral homes, while all the suitors flock’d 340
Thence to the palace of their absent King.
Meantime, Telemachus from all resort
Retiring, in the surf of the gray Deep
First laved his hands, then, thus to Pallas pray’d.
O Goddess! who wast yesterday a guest
Beneath my roof, and didst enjoin me then
A voyage o’er the sable Deep in quest
Of tidings of my long regretted Sire!
Which voyage, all in Ithaca, but most
The haughty suitors, obstinate impede, 350
Now hear my suit and gracious interpose!
Such pray’r he made; then Pallas, in the form,
And with the voice of Mentor, drawing nigh,
In accents wing’d, him kindly thus bespake.
Telemachus! thou shalt hereafter prove
Nor base, nor poor in talents. If, in truth,
Thou have received from heav’n thy father’s force
Instill’d into thee, and resemblest him
In promptness both of action and of speech,
Thy voyage shall not useless be, or vain. 360
But if Penelope produced thee not
His son, I, then, hope not for good effect
Of this design which, ardent, thou pursuest.
Few sons their fathers equal; most appear
Degenerate; but we find, though rare, sometimes
A son superior even to his Sire.
And since thyself shalt neither base be found
Nor spiritless, nor altogether void
  Of talents, such as grace thy royal Sire,
I therefore hope success of thy attempt. 370
Heed not the suitors’ projects; neither wise
Are they, nor just, nor aught suspect the doom
Which now approaches them, and in one day
Shall overwhelm them all. No long suspense
Shall hold thy purposed enterprise in doubt,
Such help from me, of old thy father’s friend,
Thou shalt receive, who with a bark well-oar’d
Will serve thee, and myself attend thee forth.
But haste, join thou the suitors, and provide,
In sep’rate vessels stow’d, all needful stores, 380
Wine in thy jars, and flour, the strength of man,
In skins close-seam’d. I will, meantime, select
Such as shall voluntary share thy toils.
In sea-girt Ithaca new ships and old
Abound, and I will chuse, myself, for thee
The prime of all, which without more delay
We will launch out into the spacious Deep.
Thus Pallas spake, daughter of Jove; nor long,
So greeted by the voice divine, remain’d
Telemachus, but to his palace went 390
Distress’d in heart. He found the suitors there
Goats slaying in the hall, and fatted swine
Roasting; when with a laugh Antinoüs flew
To meet him, fasten’d on his hand, and said,
Telemachus, in eloquence sublime,
And of a spirit not to be controul’d!
Give harbour in thy breast on no account
To after-grudge or enmity, but eat,
Far rather, cheerfully as heretofore,
And freely drink, committing all thy cares 400
To the Achaians, who shall furnish forth
A gallant ship and chosen crew for thee,
That thou may’st hence to Pylus with all speed,
Tidings to learn of thy illustrious Sire.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Antinoüs! I have no heart to feast
With guests so insolent, nor can indulge
The pleasures of a mind at ease, with you.
Is’t not enough, suitors, that ye have used
My noble patrimony as your own 410
While I was yet a child? now, grown mature,
  And competent to understand the speech
Of my instructors, feeling, too, a mind
Within me conscious of augmented pow’rs,
I will attempt your ruin, be assured,
Whether at Pylus, or continuing here.
I go, indeed, (nor shall my voyage prove
Of which I speak, bootless or vain) I go
An humble passenger, who neither bark
Nor rowers have to boast my own, denied 420
That honour (so ye judg’d it best) by you.
He said, and from Antinoüs’ hand his own
Drew sudden. Then their delicate repast
The busy suitors on all sides prepar’d,
Still taunting as they toil’d, and with sharp speech
Sarcastic wantoning, of whom a youth,
Arrogant as his fellows, thus began.
I see it plain, Telemachus intends
Our slaughter; either he will aids procure
From sandy Pylus, or will bring them arm’d 430
From Sparta; such is his tremendous drift.
Even to fruitful Ephyre, perchance,
He will proceed, seeking some baneful herb
Which cast into our cup, shall drug us all.
To whom some haughty suitor thus replied.
Who knows but that himself, wand’ring the sea
From all his friends and kindred far remote,
May perish like Ulysses? Whence to us
Should double toil ensue, on whom the charge
To parcel out his wealth would then devolve, 440
And to endow his mother with the house
For his abode whom she should chance to wed.
So sported they; but he, ascending sought
His father’s lofty chamber, where his heaps
He kept of brass and gold, garments in chests,
And oils of fragrant scent, a copious store.
There many a cask with season’d nectar fill’d
The grape’s pure juice divine, beside the wall
Stood orderly arranged, waiting the hour
(Should e’er such hour arrive) when, after woes 450
Num’rous, Ulysses should regain his home.
Secure that chamber was with folding doors
Of massy planks compact, and night and day,
Within it antient Euryclea dwelt,
  Guardian discrete of all the treasures there,
Whom, thither call’d, Telemachus address’d.
Nurse! draw me forth sweet wine into my jars,
Delicious next to that which thou reserv’st
For our poor wand’rer; if escaping death
At last, divine Ulysses e’er return. 460
Fill twelve, and stop them close; pour also meal
Well mill’d (full twenty measures) into skins
Close-seam’d, and mention what thou dost to none.
Place them together; for at even-tide
I will convey them hence, soon as the Queen,
Retiring to her couch, shall seek repose.
For hence to Sparta will I take my course,
And sandy Pylus, tidings there to hear
(If hear I may) of my lov’d Sire’s return.
He ceas’d, then wept his gentle nurse that sound 470
Hearing, and in wing’d accents thus replied.
My child! ah, wherefore hath a thought so rash
Possess’d thee? whither, only and belov’d,
Seek’st thou to ramble, travelling, alas!
To distant climes? Ulysses is no more;
Dead lies the Hero in some land unknown,
And thou no sooner shalt depart, than these
Will plot to slay thee, and divide thy wealth.
No, stay with us who love thee. Need is none
That thou should’st on the barren Deep distress 480
Encounter, roaming without hope or end.
Whom, prudent, thus answer’d Telemachus.
Take courage, nurse! for not without consent
Of the Immortals I have thus resolv’d.
But swear, that till eleven days be past,
Or twelve, or, till enquiry made, she learn
Herself my going, thou wilt not impart
Of this my purpose to my mother’s ear,
Lest all her beauties fade by grief impair’d.
He ended, and the antient matron swore 490
Solemnly by the Gods; which done, she fill’d
With wine the vessels and the skins with meal,
And he, returning, join’d the throng below.
Then Pallas, Goddess azure-eyed, her thoughts
Elsewhere directing, all the city ranged
In semblance of Telemachus, each man
Exhorting, at the dusk of eve, to seek
  The gallant ship, and from Noëmon, son
Renown’d of Phronius, ask’d, herself, a bark,
Which soon as ask’d, he promis’d to supply. 500
Now set the sun, and twilight dimm’d the ways,
When, drawing down his bark into the Deep,
He gave her all her furniture, oars, arms
And tackle, such as well-built galleys bear,
Then moor’d her in the bottom of the bay.
Meantime, his mariners in haste repair’d
Down to the shore, for Pallas urged them on.
And now on other purposes intent,
The Goddess sought the palace, where with dews
Of slumber drenching ev’ry suitor’s eye, 510
She fool’d the drunkard multitude, and dash’d
The goblets from their idle hands away.
They through the city reeled, happy to leave
The dull carousal, when the slumb’rous weight
Oppressive on their eye-lids once had fall’n.
Next, Pallas azure-eyed in Mentor’s form
And with the voice of Mentor, summoning
Telemachus abroad, him thus bespake.
Telemachus! already at their oars
Sit all thy fellow-voyagers, and wait 520
Thy coming; linger not, but haste away.
This said, Minerva led him thence, whom he
With nimble steps follow’d, and on the shore
Arrived, found all his mariners prepared,
Whom thus the princely voyager address’d.
Haste, my companions! bring we down the stores
Already sorted and set forth; but nought
My mother knows, or any of her train
Of this design, one matron sole except.
He spake, and led them; they, obedient, brought 530
All down, and, as Ulysses’ son enjoin’d,
Within the gallant bark the charge bestow’d.
Then, led by Pallas, went the prince on board,
Where down they sat, the Goddess in the stern,
And at her side Telemachus. The crew
Cast loose the hawsers, and embarking, fill’d
The benches. Blue-eyed Pallas from the West
Call’d forth propitious breezes; fresh they curled
The sable Deep, and, sounding, swept the waves.
He loud-exhorting them, his people bade 540
  Hand, brisk, the tackle; they, obedient, reared
The pine-tree mast, which in its socket deep
They lodg’d, then strain’d the cordage, and with thongs
Well-twisted, drew the shining sail aloft.
A land-breeze fill’d the canvas, and the flood
Roar’d as she went against the steady bark
That ran with even course her liquid way.
The rigging, thus, of all the galley set,
Their beakers crowning high with wine, they hail’d
The ever-living Gods, but above all 550
Minerva, daughter azure-eyed of Jove.
Thus, all night long the galley, and till dawn
Had brighten’d into day, cleaved swift the flood.

6 The reader is to be reminded that this is not an assembly of the suitors only, but a general one, which affords Telemachus an opportunity to apply himself to the feelings of the Ithacans at large.

  BOOK III

ARGUMENT

Telemachus arriving at Pylus, enquires of Nestor concerning Ulysses. Nestor relates to him all that he knows or has heard of the Greecians since their departure from the siege of Troy, but not being able to give him any satisfactory account of Ulysses, refers him to Menelaus. At evening Minerva quits Telemachus, but discovers herself in going. Nestor sacrifices to the Goddess, and the solemnity ended, Telemachus sets forth for Sparta in one of Nestor’s chariots, and accompanied by Nestor’s son, Pisistratus.

The sun, emerging from the lucid waves,
Ascended now the brazen vault with light
For the inhabitants of earth and heav’n,
When in their bark at Pylus they arrived,
City of Neleus. On the shore they found
The people sacrificing; bulls they slew
Black without spot, to Neptune azure-hair’d.
On ranges nine of seats they sat; each range
Received five hundred, and to each they made
Allotment equal of nine sable bulls. 10
The feast was now begun; these eating sat
The entrails, those stood off’ring to the God
The thighs, his portion, when the Ithacans
Push’d right ashore, and, furling close the sails,
And making fast their moorings, disembark’d.
Forth came Telemachus, by Pallas led,
Whom thus the Goddess azure-eyed address’d.
Telemachus! there is no longer room
For bashful fear, since thou hast cross’d the flood
With purpose to enquire what land conceals 20
Thy father, and what fate hath follow’d him.
Advance at once to the equestrian Chief
Nestor, within whose bosom lies, perhaps,
Advice well worthy of thy search; entreat
Himself, that he will tell thee only truth,
Who will not lye, for he is passing wise.
To whom Telemachus discrete replied.
Ah Mentor! how can I advance, how greet
  A Chief like him, unpractis’d as I am
In manag’d phrase? Shame bids the youth beware 30
How he accosts the man of many years.
But him the Goddess answer’d azure-eyed,
Telemachus! Thou wilt, in part, thyself
Fit speech devise, and heav’n will give the rest;
For thou wast neither born, nor hast been train’d
To manhood, under unpropitious Pow’rs.
So saying, Minerva led him thence, whom he
With nimble steps attending, soon arrived
Among the multitude. There Nestor sat,
And Nestor’s sons, while, busily the feast 40
Tending, his num’rous followers roasted, some,
The viands, some, transfix’d them with the spits.
They seeing guests arrived, together all
Advanced, and, grasping courteously their hands,
Invited them to sit; but first, the son
Of Nestor, young Pisistratus, approach’d,
Who, fast’ning on the hands of both, beside
The banquet placed them, where the beach was spread
With fleeces, and where Thrasymedes sat
His brother, and the hoary Chief his Sire. 50
To each a portion of the inner parts
He gave, then fill’d a golden cup with wine,
Which, tasted first, he to the daughter bore
Of Jove the Thund’rer, and her thus bespake.
Oh guest! the King of Ocean now adore!
For ye have chanced on Neptune’s festival;
And, when thou hast, thyself, libation made
Duly, and pray’r, deliver to thy friend
The gen’rous juice, that he may also make
Libation; for he, doubtless, seeks, in prayer 60
The Immortals, of whose favour all have need.
But, since he younger is, and with myself
Coeval, first I give the cup to thee.
He ceas’d, and to her hand consign’d the cup,
Which Pallas gladly from a youth received
So just and wise, who to herself had first
The golden cup presented, and in pray’r
Fervent the Sov’reign of the Seas adored.
Hear, earth-encircler Neptune! O vouchsafe
To us thy suppliants the desired effect 70
Of this our voyage; glory, first, bestow
  On Nestor and his offspring both, then grant
To all the Pylians such a gracious boon
As shall requite their noble off’ring well.
Grant also to Telemachus and me
To voyage hence, possess’d of what we sought
When hither in our sable bark we came.
So Pallas pray’d, and her own pray’r herself
Accomplish’d. To Telemachus she gave
The splendid goblet next, and in his turn 80
Like pray’r Ulysses’ son also preferr’d.
And now (the banquet from the spits withdrawn)
They next distributed sufficient share
To each, and all were sumptuously regaled.
At length, (both hunger satisfied and thirst)
Thus Nestor, the Gerenian Chief, began.
Now with more seemliness we may enquire,
After repast, what guests we have received.
Our guests! who are ye? Whence have ye the waves
Plough’d hither? Come ye to transact concerns 90
Commercial, or at random roam the Deep
Like pirates, who with mischief charged and woe
To foreign States, oft hazard life themselves?
Him answer’d, bolder now, but still discrete,
Telemachus. For Pallas had his heart
With manly courage arm’d, that he might ask
From Nestor tidings of his absent Sire,
And win, himself, distinction and renown.
Oh Nestor, Neleus’ son, glory of Greece!
Thou askest whence we are. I tell thee whence. 100
From Ithaca, by the umbrageous woods
Of Neritus o’erhung, by private need,
Not public, urged, we come. My errand is
To seek intelligence of the renown’d
Ulysses; of my noble father, prais’d
For dauntless courage, whom report proclaims
Conqueror, with thine aid, of sacred Troy.
We have already learn’d where other Chiefs
Who fought at Ilium, died; but Jove conceals
Even the death of my illustrious Sire 110
In dull obscurity; for none hath heard
Or confident can answer, where he dy’d;
Whether he on the continent hath fall’n
By hostile hands, or by the waves o’erwhelm’d
  Of Amphitrite, welters in the Deep.
For this cause, at thy knees suppliant, I beg
That thou would’st tell me his disast’rous end,
If either thou beheld’st that dread event
Thyself, or from some wanderer of the Greeks
Hast heard it: for my father at his birth 120
Was, sure, predestin’d to no common woes.
Neither through pity, or o’erstrain’d respect
Flatter me, but explicit all relate
Which thou hast witness’d. If my noble Sire
E’er gratified thee by performance just
Of word or deed at Ilium, where ye fell
So num’rous slain in fight, oh, recollect
Now his fidelity, and tell me true.
Then Nestor thus Gerenian Hero old.
Young friend! since thou remind’st me, speaking thus, 130
Of all the woes which indefatigable
We sons of the Achaians there sustain’d,
Both those which wand’ring on the Deep we bore
Wherever by Achilles led in quest
Of booty, and the many woes beside
Which under royal Priam’s spacious walls
We suffer’d, know, that there our bravest fell.
There warlike Ajax lies, there Peleus’ son;
There, too, Patroclus, like the Gods themselves
In council, and my son beloved there, 140
Brave, virtuous, swift of foot, and bold in fight,
Antilochus. Nor are these sorrows all;
What tongue of mortal man could all relate?
Should’st thou, abiding here, five years employ
Or six, enquiring of the woes endured
By the Achaians, ere thou should’st have learn’d
The whole, thou would’st depart, tir’d of the tale.
For we, nine years, stratagems of all kinds
Devised against them, and Saturnian Jove
Scarce crown’d the difficult attempt at last. 150
There, no competitor in wiles well-plann’d
Ulysses found, so far were all surpass’d
In shrewd invention by thy noble Sire,
If thou indeed art his, as sure thou art,
Whose sight breeds wonder in me, and thy speech
His speech resembles more than might be deem’d
Within the scope of years so green as thine.
  There, never in opinion, or in voice
Illustrious Ulysses and myself
Divided were, but, one in heart, contrived 160
As best we might, the benefit of all.
But after Priam’s lofty city sack’d,
And the departure of the Greeks on board
Their barks, and when the Gods had scatter’d them,
Then Jove imagin’d for the Argive host
A sorrowful return; for neither just
Were all, nor prudent, therefore many found
A fate disast’rous through the vengeful ire
Of Jove-born Pallas, who between the sons
Of Atreus sharp contention interposed. 170
They both, irregularly, and against
Just order, summoning by night the Greeks
To council, of whom many came with wine
Oppress’d, promulgated the cause for which
They had convened the people. Then it was
That Menelaus bade the general host
Their thoughts bend homeward o’er the sacred Deep,
Which Agamemnon in no sort approved.
His counsel was to slay them yet at Troy,
That so he might assuage the dreadful wrath 180
Of Pallas, first, by sacrifice and pray’r.
Vain hope! he little thought how ill should speed
That fond attempt, for, once provok’d, the Gods
Are not with ease conciliated again.
Thus stood the brothers, altercation hot
Maintaining, till at length, uprose the Greeks
With deaf’ning clamours, and with diff’ring minds.
We slept the night, but teeming with disgust
Mutual, for Jove great woe prepar’d for all.
At dawn of day we drew our gallies down 190
Into the sea, and, hasty, put on board
The spoils and female captives. Half the host,
With Agamemnon, son of Atreus, stay’d
Supreme commander, and, embarking, half
Push’d forth. Swift course we made, for Neptune smooth’d
The waves before us of the monstrous Deep.
At Tenedos arriv’d, we there perform’d
Sacrifice to the Gods, ardent to reach
Our native land, but unpropitious Jove,
Not yet designing our arrival there, 200
  Involved us in dissension fierce again.
For all the crews, followers of the King,
Thy noble Sire, to gratify our Chief,
The son of Atreus, chose a diff’rent course,
And steer’d their oary barks again to Troy.
But I, assured that evil from the Gods
Impended, gath’ring all my gallant fleet,
Fled thence in haste, and warlike Diomede
Exhorting his attendants, also fled.
At length, the Hero Menelaus join’d 210
Our fleets at Lesbos; there he found us held
In deep deliberation on the length
Of way before us, whether we should steer
Above the craggy Chios to the isle
Psyria, that island holding on our left,
Or under Chios by the wind-swept heights
Of Mimas. Then we ask’d from Jove a sign,
And by a sign vouchsafed he bade us cut
The wide sea to Eubœa sheer athwart,
So soonest to escape the threat’ned harm. 220
Shrill sang the rising gale, and with swift prows
Cleaving the fishy flood, we reach’d by night
Geræstus, where arrived, we burn’d the thighs
Of num’rous bulls to Neptune, who had safe
Conducted us through all our perilous course.
The fleet of Diomede in safety moor’d
On the fourth day at Argos, but myself
Held on my course to Pylus, nor the wind
One moment thwarted us, or died away,
When Jove had once commanded it to blow. 230
Thus, uninform’d, I have arrived, my son!
Nor of the Greecians, who are saved have heard,
Or who have perish’d; but what news soe’er
I have obtain’d, since my return, with truth
I will relate, nor aught conceal from thee.
The spear-famed Myrmidons, as rumour speaks,
By Neoptolemus, illustrious son
Of brave Achilles led, have safe arrived;
Safe, Philoctetes, also son renown’d
Of Pæas; and Idomeneus at Crete 240
Hath landed all his followers who survive
The bloody war, the waves have swallow’d none.
Ye have yourselves doubtless, although remote,
  Of Agamemnon heard, how he return’d,
And how Ægisthus cruelly contrived
For him a bloody welcome, but himself
Hath with his own life paid the murth’rous deed.
Good is it, therefore, if a son survive
The slain, since Agamemnon’s son hath well
Avenged his father’s death, slaying, himself, 250
Ægisthus, foul assassin of his Sire.
Young friend! (for pleas’d thy vig’rous youth I view,
And just proportion) be thou also bold,
That thine like his may be a deathless name.
Then, prudent, him answer’d Telemachus.
Oh Nestor, Neleus’ son, glory of Greece!
And righteous was that vengeance; his renown
Achaia’s sons shall far and wide diffuse,
To future times transmitting it in song.
Ah! would that such ability the Gods 260
Would grant to me, that I, as well, the deeds
Might punish of our suitors, whose excess
Enormous, and whose bitter taunts I feel
Continual, object of their subtle hate.
But not for me such happiness the Gods
Have twined into my thread; no, not for me
Or for my father. Patience is our part.
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied.
Young friend! (since thou remind’st me of that theme)
Fame here reports that num’rous suitors haunt 270
Thy palace for thy mother’s sake, and there
Much evil perpetrate in thy despight.
But say, endur’st thou willing their controul
Imperious, or because the people, sway’d
By some response oracular, incline
Against thee? But who knows? the time may come
When to his home restored, either alone,
Or aided by the force of all the Greeks,
Ulysses may avenge the wrong; at least,
Should Pallas azure-eyed thee love, as erst 280
At Troy, the scene of our unnumber’d woes,
She lov’d Ulysses (for I have not known
The Gods assisting so apparently
A mortal man, as him Minerva there)
Should Pallas view thee also with like love
And kind solicitude, some few of those
  Should dream, perchance, of wedlock never more.
Then answer thus Telemachus return’d.
That word’s accomplishment I cannot hope;
It promises too much; the thought alone 290
O’erwhelms me; an event so fortunate
Would, unexpected on my part, arrive,
Although the Gods themselves should purpose it.
But Pallas him answer’d cærulean-eyed.
Telemachus! what word was that which leap’d
The iv’ry guard7 that should have fenced it in?
A God, so willing, could with utmost ease
Save any man, howe’er remote. Myself,
I had much rather, many woes endured,
Revisit home, at last, happy and safe, 300
Than, sooner coming, die in my own house,
As Agamemnon perish’d by the arts
Of base Ægisthus and the subtle Queen.
Yet not the Gods themselves can save from death
All-levelling, the man whom most they love,
When Fate ordains him once to his last sleep.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Howe’er it interest us, let us leave
This question, Mentor! He, I am assured,
Returns no more, but hath already found 310
A sad, sad fate by the decree of heav’n.
But I would now interrogate again
Nestor, and on a different theme, for him
In human rights I judge, and laws expert,
And in all knowledge beyond other men;
For he hath govern’d, as report proclaims,
Three generations; therefore in my eyes
He wears the awful impress of a God.
Oh Nestor, son of Neleus, tell me true;
What was the manner of Atrides’ death, 320
Wide-ruling Agamemnon? Tell me where
Was Menelaus? By what means contrived
Ægisthus to inflict the fatal blow,
Slaying so much a nobler than himself?
Had not the brother of the Monarch reach’d
  Achaian Argos yet, but, wand’ring still
In other climes, his long absence gave
Ægisthus courage for that bloody deed?
Whom answer’d the Gerenian Chief renown’d.
My son! I will inform thee true; meantime 330
Thy own suspicions border on the fact.
Had Menelaus, Hero, amber hair’d,
Ægisthus found living at his return
From Ilium, never on his bones the Greeks
Had heap’d a tomb, but dogs and rav’ning fowls
Had torn him lying in the open field
Far from the town, nor him had woman wept
Of all in Greece, for he had foul transgress’d.
But we, in many an arduous task engaged,
Lay before Ilium; he, the while, secure 340
Within the green retreats of Argos, found
Occasion apt by flatt’ry to delude
The spouse of Agamemnon; she, at first,
(The royal Clytemnestra) firm refused
The deed dishonourable (for she bore
A virtuous mind, and at her side a bard
Attended ever, whom the King, to Troy
Departing, had appointed to the charge.)
But when the Gods had purposed to ensnare
Ægisthus, then dismissing far remote 350
The bard into a desart isle, he there
Abandon’d him to rav’ning fowls a prey,
And to his own home, willing as himself,
Led Clytemnestra. Num’rous thighs he burn’d
On all their hallow’d altars to the Gods,
And hung with tap’stry, images, and gold
Their shrines, his great exploit past hope atchiev’d.
We (Menelaus and myself) had sailed
From Troy together, but when we approach’d
Sunium, headland of th’ Athenian shore, 360
There Phœbus, sudden, with his gentle shafts
Slew Menelaus’ pilot while he steer’d
The volant bark, Phrontis, Onetor’s son,
A mariner past all expert, whom none
In steerage match’d, what time the tempest roar’d.
Here, therefore, Menelaus was detained,
Giving his friend due burial, and his rites
Funereal celebrating, though in haste
  Still to proceed. But when, with all his fleet
The wide sea traversing, he reach’d at length 370
Malea’s lofty foreland in his course,
Rough passage, then, and perilous he found.
Shrill blasts the Thund’rer pour’d into his sails,
And wild waves sent him mountainous. His ships
There scatter’d, some to the Cydonian coast
Of Crete he push’d, near where the Jardan flows.
Beside the confines of Gortyna stands,
Amid the gloomy flood, a smooth rock, steep
Toward the sea, against whose leftward point
Phæstus by name, the South wind rolls the surge 380
Amain, which yet the rock, though small, repells.
Hither with part he came, and scarce the crews
Themselves escaped, while the huge billows broke
Their ships against the rocks; yet five he saved,
Which winds and waves drove to the Ægyptian shore.
Thus he, provision gath’ring as he went
And gold abundant, roam’d to distant lands
And nations of another tongue. Meantime,
Ægisthus these enormities at home
Devising, slew Atrides, and supreme 390
Rul’d the subjected land; sev’n years he reign’d
In opulent Mycenæ, but the eighth
From Athens brought renown’d Orestes home
For his destruction, who of life bereaved
Ægisthus base assassin of his Sire.
Orestes, therefore, the funereal rites
Performing to his shameless mother’s shade
And to her lustful paramour, a feast
Gave to the Argives; on which self-same day
The warlike Menelaus, with his ships 400
All treasure-laden to the brink, arrived.
And thou, young friend! from thy forsaken home
Rove not long time remote, thy treasures left
At mercy of those proud, lest they divide
And waste the whole, rend’ring thy voyage vain.
But hence to Menelaus is the course
To which I counsel thee; for he hath come
Of late from distant lands, whence to escape
No man could hope, whom tempests first had driv’n
Devious into so wide a sea, from which 410
Themselves the birds of heaven could not arrive
  In a whole year, so vast is the expanse.
Go, then, with ship and shipmates, or if more
The land delight thee, steeds thou shalt not want
Nor chariot, and my sons shall be thy guides
To noble Lacedemon, the abode
Of Menelaus; ask from him the truth,
Who will not lye, for he is passing wise.
While thus he spake, the sun declined, and night
Approaching, blue-eyed Pallas interposed. 420
O antient King! well hast thou spoken all.
But now delay not. Cut ye forth the tongues,8
And mingle wine, that (Neptune first invoked
With due libation, and the other Gods)
We may repair to rest; for even now
The sun is sunk, and it becomes us not
Long to protract a banquet to the Gods
Devote, but in fit season to depart.
So spake Jove’s daughter; they obedient heard.
The heralds, then, pour’d water on their hands, 430
And the attendant youths, filling the cups,
Served them from left to right. Next all the tongues
They cast into the fire, and ev’ry guest
Arising, pour’d libation to the Gods.
Libation made, and all with wine sufficed,
Godlike Telemachus and Pallas both
Would have return’d, incontinent, on board,
But Nestor urged them still to be his guests.
Forbid it, Jove, and all the Pow’rs of heav’n!
That ye should leave me to repair on board 440
Your vessel, as I were some needy wretch
Cloakless and destitute of fleecy stores
Wherewith to spread the couch soft for myself,
Or for my guests. No. I have garments warm
An ample store, and rugs of richest dye;
And never shall Ulysses’ son belov’d,
My frend’s own son, sleep on a galley’s plank
While I draw vital air; grant also, heav’n,
That, dying, I may leave behind me sons
Glad to accommodate whatever guest! 450
Him answer’d then Pallas cærulean-eyed.
  Old Chief! thou hast well said, and reason bids
Telemachus thy kind commands obey.
Let him attend thee hence, that he may sleep
Beneath thy roof, but I return on board
Myself, to instruct my people, and to give
All needful orders; for among them none
Is old as I, but they are youths alike,
Coevals of Telemachus, with whom
They have embark’d for friendship’s sake alone. 460
I therefore will repose myself on board
This night, and to the Caucons bold in arms
Will sail to-morrow, to demand arrears
Long time unpaid, and of no small amount.
But, since he is become thy guest, afford
My friend a chariot, and a son of thine
Who shall direct his way, nor let him want
Of all thy steeds the swiftest and the best.
So saying, the blue-eyed Goddess as upborne
On eagle’s wings, vanish’d; amazement seized 470
The whole assembly, and the antient King
O’erwhelmed with wonder at that sight, the hand
Grasp’d of Telemachus, whom he thus bespake.
My friend! I prophesy that thou shalt prove
Nor base nor dastard, whom, so young, the Gods
Already take in charge; for of the Pow’rs
Inhabitants of heav’n, none else was this
Than Jove’s own daughter Pallas, who among
The Greecians honour’d most thy gen’rous Sire.
But thou, O Queen! compassionate us all, 480
Myself, my sons, my comfort; give to each
A glorious name, and I to thee will give
For sacrifice an heifer of the year,
Broad-fronted, one that never yet hath borne
The yoke, and will incase her horns with gold.
So Nestor pray’d, whom Pallas gracious heard.
Then the Gerenian warrior old, before
His sons and sons in law, to his abode
Magnificent proceeded: they (arrived
Within the splendid palace of the King) 490
On thrones and couches sat in order ranged,
Whom Nestor welcom’d, charging high the cup
With wine of richest sort, which she who kept
That treasure, now in the eleventh year
  First broach’d, unsealing the delicious juice.
With this the hoary Senior fill’d a cup,
And to the daughter of Jove Ægis-arm’d
Pouring libation, offer’d fervent pray’r.
When all had made libation, and no wish
Remain’d of more, then each to rest retired, 500
And Nestor the Gerenian warrior old
Led thence Telemachus to a carved couch
Beneath the sounding portico prepared.
Beside him he bade sleep the spearman bold,
Pisistratus, a gallant youth, the sole
Unwedded in his house of all his sons.
Himself in the interior palace lay,
Where couch and cov’ring for her antient spouse
The consort Queen had diligent prepar’d.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn, 510
Had tinged the East, arising from his bed,
Gerenian Nestor issued forth, and sat
Before his palace-gate on the white stones
Resplendent as with oil, on which of old
His father Neleus had been wont to sit,
In council like a God; but he had sought,
By destiny dismiss’d long since, the shades.
On those stones therefore now, Nestor himself,
Achaia’s guardian, sat, sceptre in hand,
Where soon his num’rous sons, leaving betimes 520
The place of their repose, also appeared,
Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Thrasymedes,
Aretus and Pisistratus. They placed
Godlike Telemachus at Nestor’s side,
And the Gerenian Hero thus began.
Sons be ye quick—execute with dispatch
My purpose, that I may propitiate first
Of all the Gods Minerva, who herself
Hath honour’d manifest our hallow’d feast.
Haste, one, into the field, to order thence 530
An ox, and let the herdsman drive it home.
Another, hasting to the sable bark
Of brave Telemachus, bring hither all
His friends, save two, and let a third command
Laerceus, that he come to enwrap with gold
The victim’s horns. Abide ye here, the rest,
And bid my female train (for I intend
  A banquet) with all diligence provide
Seats, stores of wood, and water from the rock.
He said, whom instant all obey’d. The ox 540
Came from the field, and from the gallant ship
The ship-mates of the brave Telemachus;
Next, charged with all his implements of art,
His mallet, anvil, pincers, came the smith
To give the horns their gilding; also came
Pallas herself to her own sacred rites.
Then Nestor, hoary warrior, furnish’d gold,
Which, hammer’d thin, the artist wrapp’d around
The victim’s horns, that seeing him attired
So costly, Pallas might the more be pleased. 550
Stratius and brave Echephron introduced
The victim by his horns; Aretus brought
A laver in one hand, with flow’rs emboss’d,
And in his other hand a basket stored
With cakes, while warlike Thrasymedes, arm’d
With his long-hafted ax, prepared to smite
The ox, and Perseus to receive the blood.
The hoary Nestor consecrated first
Both cakes and water, and with earnest pray’r
To Pallas, gave the forelock to the flames. 560
When all had worshipp’d, and the broken cakes
Sprinkled, then godlike Thrasymedes drew
Close to the ox, and smote him. Deep the edge
Enter’d, and senseless on the floor he fell.
Then Nestor’s daughters, and the consorts all
Of Nestor’s sons, with his own consort, chaste
Eurydice, the daughter eldest-born
Of Clymenus, in one shrill orison
Vocif’rous join’d, while they, lifting the ox,
Held him supported firmly, and the prince 570
Of men, Pisistratus, his gullet pierced.
Soon as the sable blood had ceased, and life
Had left the victim, spreading him abroad,
With nice address they parted at the joint
His thighs, and wrapp’d them in the double cawl,
Which with crude slices thin they overspread.
Nestor burn’d incense, and libation pour’d
Large on the hissing brands, while him beside,
Busy with spit and prong, stood many a youth
Train’d to the task. The thighs consumed, each took
  His portion of the maw, then, slashing well 581
The remnant, they transpierced it with the spits
Neatly, and held it reeking at the fire.
Meantime the youngest of the daughters fair
Of Nestor, beauteous Polycaste, laved,
Anointed, and in vest and tunic cloathed
Telemachus, who, so refresh’d, stepp’d forth
From the bright laver graceful as a God,
And took his seat at antient Nestor’s side.
The viands dress’d, and from the spits withdrawn, 590
They sat to share the feast, and princely youths
Arising, gave them wine in cups of gold.
When neither hunger now nor thirst remain’d
Unsated, thus Gerenian Nestor spake.
My sons, arise, lead forth the sprightly steeds,
And yoke them, that Telemachus may go.
So spake the Chief, to whose commands his sons,
Obedient, yoked in haste the rapid steeds,
And the intendant matron of the stores
Disposed meantime within the chariot, bread 600
And wine, and dainties, such as princes eat.
Telemachus into the chariot first
Ascended, and beside him, next, his place
Pisistratus the son of Nestor took,
Then seiz’d the reins, and lash’d the coursers on.
They, nothing loth, into the open plain
Flew, leaving lofty Pylus soon afar.
Thus, journeying, they shook on either side
The yoke all day, and now the setting sun
To dusky evening had resign’d the roads, 610
When they to Pheræ came, and the abode
Reach’d of Diocles, whose illustrious Sire
Orsilochus from Alpheus drew his birth,
And there, with kindness entertain’d, they slept.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy from the East, yoking the steeds,
They in their sumptuous chariot sat again.
The son of Nestor plied the lash, and forth
Through vestibule and sounding portico
The royal coursers, not unwilling, flew. 620
A corn-invested land receiv’d them next,
And there they brought their journey to a close,
So rapidly they moved; and now the sun
Went down, and even-tide dimm’d all the ways.

7 Ερκος οδοντων. Prior, alluding to this expression, ludicrously renders it—

“When words like these in vocal breath
Burst from his twofold hedge of teeth.”

8 It is said to have been customary in the days of Homer, when the Greeks retired from a banquet to their beds, to cut out the tongues of the victims, and offer them to the Gods in particular who presided over conversation.

  BOOK IV

ARGUMENT

Telemachus, with Pisistratus, arrives at the palace of Menelaus, from whom he receives some fresh information concerning the return of the Greecians, and is in particular told on the authority of Proteus, that his father is detained by Calypso. The suitors, plotting against the life of Telemachus, lie in wait to intercept him in his return to Ithaca. Penelope being informed of his departure, and of their designs to slay him, becomes inconsolable, but is relieved by a dream sent to her from Minerva.

In hollow Lacedæmon’s spacious vale
Arriving, to the house they drove direct
Of royal Menelaus; him they found
In his own palace, all his num’rous friends
Regaling at a nuptial banquet giv’n
Both for his daughter and the prince his son.
His daughter to renown’d Achilles’ heir
He sent, to whom he had at Troy engaged
To give her, and the Gods now made her his.
With chariots and with steeds he sent her forth 10
To the illustrious city where the prince,
Achilles’ offspring, ruled the Myrmidons.
But to his son he gave a Spartan fair,
Alector’s daughter; from an handmaid sprang
That son to Menelaus in his age,
Brave Megapenthes; for the Gods no child
To Helen gave, made mother, once, of her
Who vied in perfect loveliness of form
With golden Venus’ self, Hermione.
Thus all the neighbour princes and the friends 20
Of noble Menelaus, feasting sat
Within his spacious palace, among whom
A sacred bard sang sweetly to his harp,
While, in the midst, two dancers smote the ground
With measur’d steps responsive to his song.
And now the Heroes, Nestor’s noble son
And young Telemachus arrived within
The vestibule, whom, issuing from the hall,
  The noble Eteoneus of the train
Of Menelaus, saw; at once he ran 30
Across the palace to report the news
To his Lord’s ear, and, standing at his side,
In accents wing’d with haste thus greeted him.
Oh Menelaus! Heav’n descended Chief!
Two guests arrive, both strangers, but the race
Of Jove supreme resembling each in form.
Say, shall we loose, ourselves, their rapid steeds,
Or hence dismiss them to some other host?
But Menelaus, Hero golden-hair’d,
Indignant answer’d him. Boethe’s son! 40
Thou wast not, Eteoneus, heretofore,
A babbler, who now pratest as a child.
We have ourselves arrived indebted much
To hospitality of other men,
If Jove shall, even here, some pause at last
Of woe afford us. Therefore loose, at once,
Their steeds, and introduce them to the feast.
He said, and, issuing, Eteoneus call’d
The brisk attendants to his aid, with whom
He loos’d their foaming coursers from the yoke. 50
Them first they bound to mangers, which with oats
And mingled barley they supplied, then thrust
The chariot sidelong to the splendid wall.9
Themselves he, next, into the royal house
Conducted, who survey’d, wond’ring, the abode
Of the heav’n-favour’d King; for on all sides
As with the splendour of the sun or moon
The lofty dome of Menelaus blazed.
Satiate, at length, with wonder at that sight,
They enter’d each a bath, and by the hands 60
Of maidens laved, and oil’d, and cloath’d again
With shaggy mantles and resplendent vests,
Sat both enthroned at Menelaus’ side.
And now a maiden charged with golden ew’r,
And with an argent laver, pouring first
Pure water on their hands, supplied them next
With a bright table, which the maiden, chief
In office, furnish’d plenteously with bread
And dainties, remnants of the last regale.
  Then came the sew’r, who with delicious meats 70
Dish after dish, served them, and placed beside
The chargers cups magnificent of gold,
When Menelaus grasp’d their hands, and said.
Eat and rejoice, and when ye shall have shared
Our nuptial banquet, we will then inquire
Who are ye both, for, certain, not from those
Whose generation perishes are ye,
But rather of some race of sceptred Chiefs
Heav’n-born; the base have never sons like you.
So saying, he from the board lifted his own 80
Distinguish’d portion, and the fatted chine
Gave to his guests; the sav’ry viands they
With outstretch’d hands assail’d, and when the force
No longer now of appetite they felt,
Telemachus, inclining close his head
To Nestor’s son, lest others should his speech
Witness, in whisper’d words him thus address’d.
Dearest Pisistratus, observe, my friend!
How all the echoing palace with the light
Of beaming brass, of gold and amber shines 90
Silver and ivory! for radiance such
Th’ interior mansion of Olympian Jove
I deem. What wealth, how various, how immense
Is here! astonish’d I survey the sight!
But Menelaus, golden-hair’d, his speech
O’erhearing, thus in accents wing’d replied
My children! let no mortal man pretend
Comparison with Jove; for Jove’s abode
And all his stores are incorruptible.
But whether mortal man with me may vie 100
In the display of wealth, or whether not,
This know, that after many toils endured,
And perilous wand’rings wide, in the eighth year
I brought my treasures home. Remote I roved
To Cyprus, to Phœnice, to the shores
Of Ægypt; Æthiopia’s land I reach’d,
Th’ Erembi, the Sidonians, and the coasts
Of Lybia, where the lambs their foreheads shew
At once with horns defended, soon as yean’d.
There, thrice within the year the flocks produce, 110
Nor master, there, nor shepherd ever feels
A dearth of cheese, of flesh, or of sweet milk
  Delicious, drawn from udders never dry.
While, thus, commodities on various coasts
Gath’ring I roam’d, another, by the arts
Of his pernicious spouse aided, of life
Bereav’d my brother privily, and when least
He fear’d to lose it. Therefore little joy
To me results from all that I possess.
Your fathers (be those fathers who they may) 120
These things have doubtless told you; for immense
Have been my suff’rings, and I have destroy’d
A palace well inhabited and stored
With precious furniture in ev’ry kind;
Such, that I would to heav’n! I own’d at home
Though but the third of it, and that the Greeks
Who perish’d then, beneath the walls of Troy
Far from steed-pastured Argos, still survived.
Yet while, sequester’d here, I frequent mourn
My slaughter’d friends, by turns I sooth my soul 130
With tears shed for them, and by turns again
I cease; for grief soon satiates free indulged.
But of them all, although I all bewail,
None mourn I so as one, whom calling back
To memory, I both sleep and food abhor.
For, of Achaia’s sons none ever toiled
Strenuous as Ulysses; but his lot
Was woe, and unremitting sorrow mine
For his long absence, who, if still he live,
We know not aught, or be already dead. 140
Him doubtless, old Laertes mourns, and him
Discrete Penelope, nor less his son
Telemachus, born newly when he sail’d.
So saying, he kindled in him strong desire
To mourn his father; at his father’s name
Fast fell his tears to ground, and with both hands
He spread his purple cloak before his eyes;
Which Menelaus marking, doubtful sat
If he should leave him leisure for his tears,
Or question him, and tell him all at large. 150
While thus he doubted, Helen (as it chanced)
Leaving her fragrant chamber, came, august
As Dian, goddess of the golden bow.
Adrasta, for her use, set forth a throne,
Alcippe with soft arras cover’d it,
  And Philo brought her silver basket, gift
Of fair Alcandra, wife of Polybus,
Whose mansion in Ægyptian Thebes is rich
In untold treasure, and who gave, himself,
Ten golden talents, and two silver baths 160
To Menelaus, with two splendid tripods
Beside the noble gifts which, at the hand
Of his illustrious spouse, Helen receiv’d;
A golden spindle, and a basket wheel’d,
Itself of silver, and its lip of gold.
That basket Philo, her own handmaid, placed
At beauteous Helen’s side, charged to the brim
With slender threads, on which the spindle lay
With wool of purple lustre wrapp’d around.
Approaching, on her foot-stool’d throne she sat, 170
And, instant, of her royal spouse enquired.
Know we, my Menelaus, dear to Jove!
These guests of ours, and whence they have arrived?
Erroneous I may speak, yet speak I must;
In man or woman never have I seen
Such likeness to another (wonder-fixt
I gaze) as in this stranger to the son
Of brave Ulysses, whom that Hero left
New-born at home, when (shameless as I was)
For my unworthy sake the Greecians sailed 180
To Ilium, with fierce rage of battle fir’d.
Then Menelaus, thus, the golden-hair’d.
I also such resemblance find in him
As thou; such feet, such hands, the cast of eye10
Similar, and the head and flowing locks.
And even now, when I Ulysses named,
And his great sufferings mention’d, in my cause,
The bitter tear dropp’d from his lids, while broad
Before his eyes his purple cloak he spread.
To whom the son of Nestor thus replied. 190
Atrides! Menelaus! Chief renown’d!
He is in truth his son, as thou hast said,
But he is modest, and would much himself
Condemn, if, at his first arrival here,
He should loquacious seem and bold to thee,
To whom we listen, captived by thy voice,
As if some God had spoken. As for me,
  Nestor, my father, the Gerenian Chief
Bade me conduct him hither, for he wish’d
To see thee, promising himself from thee 200
The benefit of some kind word or deed.
For, destitute of other aid, he much
His father’s tedious absence mourns at home.
So fares Telemachus; his father strays
Remote, and, in his stead, no friend hath he
Who might avert the mischiefs that he feels.
To whom the Hero amber-hair’d replied.
Ye Gods! the offspring of indeed a friend
Hath reach’d my house, of one who hath endured
Arduous conflicts num’rous for my sake; 210
And much I purpos’d, had Olympian Jove
Vouchsaf’d us prosp’rous passage o’er the Deep,
To have receiv’d him with such friendship here
As none beside. In Argos I had then
Founded a city for him, and had rais’d
A palace for himself; I would have brought
The Hero hither, and his son, with all
His people, and with all his wealth, some town
Evacuating for his sake, of those
Ruled by myself, and neighb’ring close my own. 220
Thus situate, we had often interchanged
Sweet converse, nor had other cause at last
Our friendship terminated or our joys,
Than death’s black cloud o’ershadowing him or me.
But such delights could only envy move
Ev’n in the Gods, who have, of all the Greeks,
Amerc’d him only of his wish’d return.
So saying, he kindled the desire to weep
In ev’ry bosom. Argive Helen wept
Abundant, Jove’s own daughter; wept as fast 230
Telemachus and Menelaus both;
Nor Nestor’s son with tearless eyes remain’d,
Calling to mind Antilochus11 by the son12
Illustrious of the bright Aurora slain,
Rememb’ring whom, in accents wing’d he said.
Atrides! antient Nestor, when of late
Conversing with him, we remember’d thee,
Pronounced thee wise beyond all human-kind.
  Now therefore, let not even my advice
Displease thee. It affords me no delight 240
To intermingle tears with my repast,
And soon, Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Will tinge the orient. Not that I account
Due lamentation of a friend deceased
Blameworthy, since, to sheer the locks and weep,
Is all we can for the unhappy dead.
I also have my grief, call’d to lament
One, not the meanest of Achaia’s sons,
My brother; him I cannot but suppose
To thee well-known, although unknown to me 250
Who saw him never;13 but report proclaims
Antilochus superior to the most,
In speed superior, and in feats of arms.
To whom, the Hero of the yellow locks.
O friend belov’d! since nought which thou hast said
Or recommended now, would have disgraced
A man of years maturer far than thine,
(For wise thy father is, and such art thou,
And easy is it to discern the son
Of such a father, whom Saturnian Jove 260
In marriage both and at his birth ordain’d
To great felicity; for he hath giv’n
To Nestor gradually to sink at home
Into old age, and, while he lives, to see
His sons past others wise, and skill’d in arms)
The sorrow into which we sudden fell
Shall pause. Come—now remember we the feast;
Pour water on our hands, for we shall find,
(Telemachus and I) no dearth of themes
For mutual converse when the day shall dawn. 270
He ended; then, Asphalion, at his word,
Servant of glorious Menelaus, poured
Pure water on their hands, and they the feast
Before them with keen appetite assail’d.
But Jove-born Helen otherwise, meantime,
Employ’d, into the wine of which they drank
A drug infused, antidote to the pains
Of grief and anger, a most potent charm
For ills of ev’ry name. Whoe’er his wine
So medicated drinks, he shall not pour 280
  All day the tears down his wan cheek, although
His father and his mother both were dead,
Nor even though his brother or his son
Had fall’n in battle, and before his eyes.
Such drugs Jove’s daughter own’d, with skill prepar’d,
And of prime virtue, by the wife of Thone,
Ægyptian Polydamna, giv’n her.
For Ægypt teems with drugs, yielding no few
Which, mingled with the drink, are good, and many
Of baneful juice, and enemies to life. 290
There ev’ry man in skill medicinal
Excels, for they are sons of Pæon all.
That drug infused, she bade her servant pour
The bev’rage forth, and thus her speech resumed.
Atrides! Menelaus! dear to Jove!
These also are the sons of Chiefs renown’d,
(For Jove, as pleases him, to each assigns
Or good or evil, whom all things obey)
Now therefore, feasting at your ease reclin’d,
Listen with pleasure, for myself, the while, 300
Will matter seasonable interpose.
I cannot all rehearse, nor even name,
(Omitting none) the conflicts and exploits
Of brave Ulysses; but with what address
Successful, one atchievement he perform’d
At Ilium, where Achaia’s sons endured
Such hardship, will I speak. Inflicting wounds
Dishonourable on himself, he took
A tatter’d garb, and like a serving-man
Enter’d the spacious city of your foes. 310
So veil’d, some mendicant he seem’d, although
No Greecian less deserved that name than he.
In such disguise he enter’d; all alike
Misdeem’d him; me alone he not deceived
Who challeng’d him, but, shrewd, he turn’d away.
At length, however, when I had myself
Bathed him, anointed, cloath’d him, and had sworn
Not to declare him openly in Troy
Till he should reach again the camp and fleet,
He told me the whole purpose of the Greeks. 320
Then, (many a Trojan slaughter’d,) he regain’d
The camp, and much intelligence he bore
To the Achaians. Oh what wailing then
  Was heard of Trojan women! but my heart
Exulted, alter’d now, and wishing home;
For now my crime committed under force
Of Venus’ influence I deplored, what time
She led me to a country far remote,
A wand’rer from the matrimonial bed,
From my own child, and from my rightful Lord 330
Alike unblemish’d both in form and mind.
Her answer’d then the Hero golden-hair’d.
Helen! thou hast well spoken. All is true.
I have the talents fathom’d and the minds
Of num’rous Heroes, and have travell’d far
Yet never saw I with these eyes in man
Such firmness as the calm Ulysses own’d;
None such as in the wooden horse he proved,
Where all our bravest sat, designing woe
And bloody havoc for the sons of Troy. 340
Thou thither cam’st, impell’d, as it should seem,
By some divinity inclin’d to give
Victory to our foes, and with thee came
Godlike Deiphobus. Thrice round about
The hollow ambush, striking with thy hand
Its sides thou went’st, and by his name didst call
Each prince of Greece feigning his consort’s voice.
Myself with Diomede, and with divine
Ulysses, seated in the midst, the call
Heard plain and loud; we (Diomede and I) 350
With ardour burn’d either to quit the horse
So summon’d, or to answer from within.
But, all impatient as we were, Ulysses
Controul’d the rash design; so there the sons
Of the Achaians silent sat and mute,
And of us all Anticlus would alone
Have answer’d; but Ulysses with both hands
Compressing close his lips, saved us, nor ceased
Till Pallas thence conducted thee again.
Then thus, discrete, Telemachus replied. 360
Atrides! Menelaus! prince renown’d!
Hard was his lot whom these rare qualities
Preserved not, neither had his dauntless heart
Been iron, had he scaped his cruel doom.
But haste, dismiss us hence, that on our beds
Reposed, we may enjoy sleep, needful now.
  He ceas’d; then Argive Helen gave command
To her attendant maidens to prepare
Beds in the portico with purple rugs
Resplendent, and with arras, overspread, 370
And cover’d warm with cloaks of shaggy pile.
Forth went the maidens, bearing each a torch,
And spread the couches; next, the herald them
Led forth, and in the vestibule the son
Of Nestor and the youthful Hero slept,
Telemachus; but in the interior house
Atrides, with the loveliest of her sex
Beside him, Helen of the sweeping stole.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Glow’d in the East, then from his couch arose 380
The warlike Menelaus, fresh attir’d;
His faulchion o’er his shoulders slung, he bound
His sandals fair to his unsullied feet,
And like a God issuing, at the side
Sat of Telemachus, to whom he spake.
Hero! Telemachus! what urgent cause
Hath hither led thee, to the land far-famed
Of Lacedæmon o’er the spacious Deep?
Public concern or private? Tell me true.
To whom Telemachus discrete replied. 390
Atrides! Menelaus! prince renown’d!
News seeking of my Sire, I have arrived.
My household is devour’d, my fruitful fields
Are desolated, and my palace fill’d
With enemies, who while they mutual wage
Proud competition for my mother’s love,
My flocks continual slaughter, and my beeves.
For this cause, at thy knees suppliant, I beg
That thou wouldst tell me his disastrous end,
If either thou beheld’st with thine own eyes 400
His death, or from some wand’rer of the Greeks
Hast heard it; for no common woes, alas!
Was he ordain’d to share ev’n from the womb.
Neither through pity or o’erstrain’d respect
Flatter me, but explicit all relate
Which thou hast witness’d. If my noble Sire
E’er gratified thee by performance just
Of word or deed at Ilium, where ye fell
So num’rous slain in fight, oh recollect
  Now his fidelity, and tell me true! 410
Then Menelaus, sighing deep, replied.
Gods! their ambition is to reach the bed
Of a brave man, however base themselves.
But as it chances, when the hart hath lay’d
Her fawns new-yean’d and sucklings yet, to rest
Within some dreadful lion’s gloomy den,
She roams the hills, and in the grassy vales
Feeds heedless, till the lion, to his lair
Return’d, destroys her and her little-ones,
So them thy Sire shall terribly destroy. 420
Jove, Pallas and Apollo! oh that such
As erst in well-built Lesbos, where he strove
With Philomelides, and threw him flat,
A sight at which Achaia’s sons rejoic’d,
Such, now, Ulysses might assail them all!
Short life and bitter nuptials should be theirs.
But thy enquiries neither indirect
Will I evade, nor give thee false reply,
But all that from the Antient of the Deep14
I have receiv’d will utter, hiding nought. 430
As yet the Gods on Ægypt’s shore detained
Me wishing home, angry at my neglect
To heap their altars with slain hecatombs.
For they exacted from us evermore
Strict rev’rence of their laws. There is an isle
Amid the billowy flood, Pharos by name,
In front of Ægypt, distant from her shore
Far as a vessel by a sprightly gale
Impell’d, may push her voyage in a day.
The haven there is good, and many a ship 440
Finds wat’ring there from riv’lets on the coast.
There me the Gods kept twenty days, no breeze
Propitious granting, that might sweep the waves,
And usher to her home the flying bark.
And now had our provision, all consumed,
Left us exhausted, but a certain nymph
Pitying saved me. Daughter fair was she
Of mighty Proteus, Antient of the Deep,
Idothea named; her most my sorrows moved;
She found me from my followers all apart 450
Wand’ring (for they around the isle, with hooks
  The fishes snaring roamed, by famine urged)
And standing at my side, me thus bespake.
Stranger! thou must be ideot born, or weak
At least in intellect, or thy delight
Is in distress and mis’ry, who delay’st
To leave this island, and no egress hence
Canst find, although thy famish’d people faint.
So spake the Goddess, and I thus replied.
I tell thee, whosoever of the Pow’rs 460
Divine thou art, that I am prison’d here
Not willingly, but must have, doubtless, sinn’d
Against the deathless tenants of the skies.
Yet say (for the Immortals all things know)
What God detains me, and my course forbids
Hence to my country o’er the fishy Deep?
So I; to whom the Goddess all-divine.
Stranger! I will inform thee true. A seer
Oracular, the Antient of the Deep,
Immortal Proteus, the Ægyptian, haunts 470
These shores, familiar with all Ocean’s gulphs,
And Neptune’s subject. He is by report
My father; him if thou art able once
To seize and bind, he will prescribe the course
With all its measured distances, by which
Thou shalt regain secure thy native shores.
He will, moreover, at thy suit declare,
Thou favour’d of the skies! what good, what ill
Hath in thine house befall’n, while absent thou
Thy voyage difficult perform’st and long. 480
She spake, and I replied—Thyself reveal
By what effectual bands I may secure
The antient Deity marine, lest, warn’d
Of my approach, he shun me and escape.
Hard task for mortal hands to bind a God!
Then thus Idothea answer’d all-divine.
I will inform thee true. Soon as the sun
Hath climb’d the middle heav’ns, the prophet old,
Emerging while the breezy zephyr blows,
And cover’d with the scum of ocean, seeks 490
His spacious cove, in which outstretch’d he lies.
The phocæ15 also, rising from the waves,
Offspring of beauteous Halosydna, sleep
  Around him, num’rous, and the fishy scent
Exhaling rank of the unfathom’d flood.
Thither conducting thee at peep of day
I will dispose thee in some safe recess,
But from among thy followers thou shalt chuse
The bravest three in all thy gallant fleet.
And now the artifices understand 500
Of the old prophet of the sea. The sum
Of all his phocæ numb’ring duly first,
He will pass through them, and when all by fives
He counted hath, will in the midst repose
Content, as sleeps the shepherd with his flock.
When ye shall see him stretch’d, then call to mind
That moment all your prowess, and prevent,
Howe’er he strive impatient, his escape.
All changes trying, he will take the form
Of ev’ry reptile on the earth, will seem 510
A river now, and now devouring fire;
But hold him ye, and grasp him still the more.
And when himself shall question you, restored
To his own form in which ye found him first
Reposing, then from farther force abstain;
Then, Hero! loose the Antient of the Deep,
And ask him, of the Gods who checks thy course
Hence to thy country o’er the fishy flood.
So saying, she plunged into the billowy waste.
I then, in various musings lost, my ships 520
Along the sea-beach station’d sought again,
And when I reach’d my galley on the shore
We supp’d, and sacred night falling from heav’n,
Slept all extended on the ocean-side.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, pensive beside the shore
I walk’d of Ocean, frequent to the Gods
Praying devout, then chose the fittest three
For bold assault, and worthiest of my trust.
Meantime the Goddess from the bosom wide 530
Of Ocean rising, brought us thence four skins
Of phocæ, and all newly stript, a snare
Contriving subtle to deceive her Sire.
Four cradles in the sand she scoop’d, then sat
Expecting us, who in due time approach’d;
She lodg’d us side by side, and over each
  A raw skin cast. Horrible to ourselves
Proved that disguise whom the pernicious scent
Of the sea-nourish’d phocæ sore annoy’d;
For who would lay him down at a whale’s side? 540
But she a potent remedy devised
Herself to save us, who the nostrils sooth’d
Of each with pure ambrosia thither brought
Odorous, which the fishy scent subdued.
All morning, patient watchers, there we lay;
And now the num’rous phocæ from the Deep
Emerging, slept along the shore, and he
At noon came also, and perceiving there
His fatted monsters, through the flock his course
Took regular, and summ’d them; with the first 550
He number’d us, suspicion none of fraud
Conceiving, then couch’d also. We, at once,
Loud-shouting flew on him, and in our arms
Constrain’d him fast; nor the sea-prophet old
Call’d not incontinent his shifts to mind.
First he became a long-maned lion grim,
Then dragon, panther then, a savage boar,
A limpid stream, and an o’ershadowing tree.
We persevering held him, till at length
The Antient of the Deep, skill’d as he is 560
In wiles, yet weary, question’d me, and said.
Oh Atreus’ son, by what confed’rate God
Instructed liest thou in wait for me,
To seize and hold me? what is thy desire?
So He; to whom thus answer I return’d.
Old Seer! thou know’st; why, fraudful, should’st thou ask?
It is because I have been prison’d long
Within this isle, whence I have sought in vain
Deliv’rance, till my wonted courage fails.
Yet say (for the Immortals all things know) 570
What God detains me, and my course forbids
Hence to my country o’er the fishy Deep?
So I; when thus the old one of the waves.
But thy plain duty16 was to have adored
Jove, first, in sacrifice, and all the Gods,
  That then embarking, by propitious gales
Impell’d, thou might’st have reach’d thy country soon.
For thou art doom’d ne’er to behold again
Thy friends, thy palace, or thy native shores,
Till thou have seen once more the hallow’d flood 580
Of Ægypt, and with hecatombs adored
Devout, the deathless tenants of the skies.
Then will they speed thee whither thou desir’st.
He ended, and my heart broke at his words,
Which bade me pass again the gloomy gulph
To Ægypt; tedious course, and hard to atchieve!
Yet, though in sorrow whelm’d, I thus replied.
Old prophet! I will all thy will perform.
But tell me, and the truth simply reveal;
Have the Achaians with their ships arrived 590
All safe, whom Nestor left and I, at Troy?
Or of the Chiefs have any in their barks,
Or in their followers’ arms found a dire death
Unlook’d for, since that city’s siege we closed?
I spake, when answer thus the God return’d.
Atrides, why these questions? Need is none
That thou should’st all my secrets learn, which once
Reveal’d, thou would’st not long dry-eyed remain.
Of those no few have died, and many live;
But leaders, two alone, in their return 600
Have died (thou also hast had war to wage)
And one, still living, roams the boundless sea.
Ajax,17 surrounded by his galleys, died.
Him Neptune, first, against the bulky rocks
The Gyræ drove, but saved him from the Deep;
Nor had he perish’d, hated as he was
By Pallas, but for his own impious boast
In frenzy utter’d that he would escape
The billows, even in the Gods’ despight.
Neptune that speech vain-glorious hearing, grasp’d 610
His trident, and the huge Gyræan rock
Smiting indignant, dash’d it half away;
Part stood, and part, on which the boaster sat
When, first, the brainsick fury seiz’d him, fell,
Bearing him with it down into the gulphs
Of Ocean, where he drank the brine, and died.
But thy own brother in his barks escaped
  That fate, by Juno saved; yet when, at length,
He should have gain’d Malea’s craggy shore,
Then, by a sudden tempest caught, he flew 620
With many a groan far o’er the fishy Deep
To the land’s utmost point, where once his home
Thyestes had, but where Thyestes’ son
Dwelt then, Ægisthus. Easy lay his course
And open thence, and, as it pleased the Gods,
The shifted wind soon bore them to their home.
He, high in exultation, trod the shore
That gave him birth, kiss’d it, and, at the sight,
The welcome sight of Greece, shed many a tear.
Yet not unseen he landed; for a spy, 630
One whom the shrewd Ægisthus had seduced
By promise of two golden talents, mark’d
His coming from a rock where he had watch’d
The year complete, lest, passing unperceived,
The King should reassert his right in arms.
Swift flew the spy with tidings to this Lord,
And He, incontinent, this project framed
Insidious. Twenty men, the boldest hearts
Of all the people, from the rest he chose,
Whom he in ambush placed, and others charged 640
Diligent to prepare the festal board.
With horses, then, and chariots forth he drove
Full-fraught with mischief, and conducting home
The unsuspicious King, amid the feast
Slew him, as at his crib men slay an ox.
Nor of thy brother’s train, nor of his train
Who slew thy brother, one survived, but all,
Welt’ring in blood together, there expired.
He ended, and his words beat on my heart
As they would break it. On the sands I sat 650
Weeping, nor life nor light desiring more.
But when I had in dust roll’d me, and wept
To full satiety, mine ear again
The oracle of Ocean thus address’d.
Sit not, O son of Atreus! weeping here
Longer, for remedy can none be found;
But quick arising, trial make, how best
Thou shalt, and soonest, reach thy home again.
For either him still living thou shalt find,
Or ere thou come, Orestes shall have slain 660
  The traytor, and thine eyes shall see his tomb.
He ceas’d, and I, afflicted as I was,
Yet felt my spirit at that word refresh’d,
And in wing’d accents answer thus return’d.
Of these I am inform’d; but name the third
Who, dead or living, on the boundless Deep
Is still detain’d; I dread, yet wish to hear.
So I; to whom thus Proteus in return.
Laertes’ son, the Lord of Ithaca—
Him in an island weeping I beheld, 670
Guest of the nymph Calypso, by constraint
Her guest, and from his native land withheld
By sad necessity; for ships well-oar’d,
Or faithful followers hath he none, whose aid
Might speed him safely o’er the spacious flood.
But, Menelaus dear to Jove! thy fate
Ordains not thee the stroke of death to meet
In steed-fam’d Argos, but far hence the Gods
Will send thee to Elysium, and the earth’s
Extremest bounds; (there Rhadamanthus dwells, 680
The golden-hair’d, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching show’r,
But zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them to refresh the happy race)
For that fair Helen is by nuptial bands
Thy own, and thou art son-in-law of Jove.
So saying, he plunged into the billowy waste,
I then, with my brave comrades to the fleet
Return’d, deep-musing as I went, and sad. 690
No sooner had I reach’d my ship beside
The ocean, and we all had supp’d, than night
From heav’n fell on us, and, at ease reposed
Along the margin of the sea, we slept.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, drawing our galleys down
Into the sacred Deep, we rear’d again
The mast, unfurl’d the sail, and to our seats
On board returning, thresh’d the foamy flood.
Once more, at length, within the hallow’d stream 700
Of Ægypt mooring, on the shore I slew
Whole hecatombs, and (the displeasure thus
Of the immortal Gods appeased) I reared
  To Agamemnon’s never-dying fame
A tomb, and finishing it, sail’d again
With such a gale from heaven vouchsafed, as sent
My ships swift-scudding to the shores of Greece.
But come—eleven days wait here, or twelve
A guest with me, when I will send thee hence
Nobly, and honour’d with illustrious gifts, 710
With polish’d chariot, with three princely steeds,
And with a gorgeous cup, that to the Gods
Libation pouring ever while thou liv’st
From that same cup, thou may’st remember me.
Him, prudent, then answer’d Telemachus.
Atrides, seek not to detain me here
Long time; for though contented I could sit
The year beside thee, nor regret my home
Or parents, (so delightful thy discourse
Sounds in my ear) yet, even now, I know, 720
That my attendants to the Pylian shore
Wish my return, whom thou thus long detain’st.
What boon soe’er thou giv’st me, be it such
As I may treasur’d keep; but horses none
Take I to Ithaca; them rather far
Keep thou, for thy own glory. Thou art Lord
Of an extended plain, where copious springs
The lotus, herbage of all savours, wheat,
Pulse, and white barley of luxuriant growth.
But Ithaca no level champaign owns, 730
A nursery of goats, and yet a land
Fairer than even pastures to the eye.
No sea-encircled isle of ours affords
Smooth course commodious and expanse of meads,
But my own Ithaca transcends them all!
He said; the Hero Menelaus smiled,
And stroaking tenderly his cheek, replied.
Dear youth! thy speech proclaims thy noble blood.
I can with ease supply thee from within
With what shall suit thee better, and the gift 740
Of all that I possess which most excels
In beauty, and the noblest shall be thine.
I give thee, wrought elaborate, a cup
Itself all silver, bound with lip of gold.
It is the work of Vulcan, which to me
The Hero Phædimus imparted, King
  Of the Sidonians, when on my return
His house received me. That shall be thy own.
Thus they conferr’d; and now the busy train
Of menials culinary,18 at the gate 750
Enter’d of Menelaus, Chief renown’d;
They brought him sheep, with heart-ennobling wine,
While all their wives, their brows with frontlets bound,
Came charg’d with bread. Thus busy they prepared
A banquet in the mansion of the King.
Meantime, before Ulysses’ palace gate
The suitors sported with the quoit and spear
On the smooth area, customary scene
Of all their strife and angry clamour loud.
There sat Antinoüs, and the godlike youth 760
Eurymachus, superior to the rest
And Chiefs among them, to whom Phronius’ son
Noëmon drawing nigh, with anxious mien
Question’d Antinoüs, and thus began.
Know we, Antinoüs! or know we not,
When to expect Telemachus at home
Again from Pylus? in my ship he went,
Which now I need, that I may cross the sea
To Elis, on whose spacious plain I feed
Twelve mares, each suckling a mule-colt as yet 770
Unbroken, but of which I purpose one
To ferry thence, and break him into use.
He spake, whom they astonish’d heard; for him
They deem’d not to Nelëian Pylus gone,
But haply into his own fields, his flocks
To visit, or the steward of his swine.
Then thus, Eupithes’ son, Antinoüs, spake.
Say true. When sail’d he forth? of all our youth,
Whom chose he for his followers? his own train
Of slaves and hirelings? hath he pow’r to effect 780
This also? Tell me too, for I would learn—
Took he perforce thy sable bark away,
Or gav’st it to him at his first demand?
To whom Noëmon, Phronius’ son, replied.
I gave it voluntary; what could’st thou,
Should such a prince petition for thy bark
  In such distress? Hard were it to refuse.
Brave youths (our bravest youths except yourselves)
Attend him forth; and with them I observed
Mentor embarking, ruler o’er them all, 790
Or, if not him, a God; for such he seem’d.
But this much moves my wonder. Yester-morn
I saw, at day-break, noble Mentor here,
Whom shipp’d for Pylus I had seen before.
He ceas’d; and to his father’s house return’d;
They, hearing, sat aghast. Their games meantime
Finish’d, the suitors on their seats reposed,
To whom Eupithes’ son, Antinoüs, next,
Much troubled spake; a black storm overcharged
His bosom, and his vivid eyes flash’d fire. 800
Ye Gods, a proud exploit is here atchieved,
This voyage of Telemachus, by us
Pronounced impracticable; yet the boy
In downright opposition to us all,
Hath headlong launched a ship, and, with a band
Selected from our bravest youth, is gone.
He soon will prove more mischievous, whose pow’r
Jove wither, ere we suffer its effects!
But give me a swift bark with twenty rowers,
That, watching his return within the streights 810
Of rocky Samos and of Ithaca,
I may surprise him; so shall he have sail’d
To seek his Sire, fatally for himself.
He ceased and loud applause heard in reply,
With warm encouragement. Then, rising all,
Into Ulysses’ house at once they throng’d.
Nor was Penelope left uninformed
Long time of their clandestine plottings deep,
For herald Medon told her all, whose ear
Their councils caught while in the outer-court 820
He stood, and they that project framed within.
Swift to Penelope the tale he bore,
Who as he pass’d the gate, him thus address’d.
For what cause, herald! have the suitors sent
Thee foremost? Wou’d they that my maidens lay
Their tasks aside, and dress the board for them?
Here end their wooing! may they hence depart
Never, and may the banquet now prepared,
  This banquet prove your last!19 who in such throngs
Here meeting, waste the patrimony fair 830
Of brave Telemachus; ye never, sure,
When children, heard how gracious and how good
Ulysses dwelt among your parents, none
Of all his people, or in word or deed
Injuring, as great princes oft are wont,
By favour influenc’d now, now by disgust.
He no man wrong’d at any time; but plain
Your wicked purpose in your deeds appears,
Who sense have none of benefits conferr’d.
Then Medon answer’d thus, prudent, return’d. 840
Oh Queen! may the Gods grant this prove the worst.
But greater far and heavier ills than this
The suitors plan, whose counsels Jove confound!
Their base desire and purpose are to slay
Telemachus on his return; for he,
To gather tidings of his Sire is gone
To Pylus, or to Sparta’s land divine.
He said; and where she stood, her trembling knees
Fail’d under her, and all her spirits went.
Speechless she long remain’d, tears filled her eyes, 850
And inarticulate in its passage died
Her utt’rance, till at last with pain she spake.
Herald! why went my son? he hath no need
On board swift ships to ride, which are to man
His steeds that bear him over seas remote.
Went he, that, with himself, his very name
Might perish from among mankind for ever?
Then answer, thus, Medon the wise return’d.
I know not whether him some God impell’d
Or his own heart to Pylus, there to hear 860
News of his Sire’s return, or by what fate
At least he died, if he return no more.
He said, and traversing Ulysses’ courts,
Departed; she with heart consuming woe
O’erwhelm’d, no longer could endure to take
Repose on any of her num’rous seats,
But on the threshold of her chamber-door
Lamenting sat, while all her female train
  Around her moan’d, the antient and the young,
Whom, sobbing, thus Penelope bespake. 870
Hear me, ye maidens! for of women born
Coeval with me, none hath e’er received
Such plenteous sorrow from the Gods as I,
Who first my noble husband lost, endued
With courage lion-like, of all the Greeks
The Chief with ev’ry virtue most adorn’d,
A prince all-excellent, whose glorious praise
Through Hellas and all Argos flew diffused.
And now, my darling son,—him storms have snatch’d
Far hence inglorious, and I knew it not. 880
Ah treach’rous servants! conscious as ye were
Of his design, not one of you the thought
Conceived to wake me when he went on board.
For had but the report once reach’d my ear,
He either had not gone (how much soe’er
He wish’d to leave me) or had left me dead.
But haste ye,—bid my antient servant come,
Dolion, whom (when I left my father’s house
He gave me, and whose office is to attend
My num’rous garden-plants) that he may seek 890
At once Laertes, and may tell him all,
Who may contrive some remedy, perchance,
Or fit expedient, and shall come abroad
To weep before the men who wish to slay
Even the prince, godlike Ulysses’ son.
Then thus the gentle Euryclea spake,
Nurse of Telemachus. Alas! my Queen!
Slay me, or spare, deal with me as thou wilt,
I will confess the truth. I knew it all.
I gave him all that he required from me. 900
Both wine and bread, and, at his bidding, swore
To tell thee nought in twelve whole days to come,
Or till, enquiry made, thou should’st thyself
Learn his departure, lest thou should’st impair
Thy lovely features with excess of grief.
But lave thyself, and, fresh attired, ascend
To thy own chamber, there, with all thy train,
To worship Pallas, who shall save, thenceforth,
Thy son from death, what ills soe’er he meet.
Add not fresh sorrows to the present woes 910
Of the old King, for I believe not yet
  Arcesias’ race entirely by the Gods
Renounced, but trust that there shall still be found
Among them, who shall dwell in royal state,
And reap the fruits of fertile fields remote.
So saying, she hush’d her sorrow, and her eyes
No longer stream’d. Then, bathed and fresh attired,
Penelope ascended with her train
The upper palace, and a basket stored
With hallow’d cakes off’ring, to Pallas pray’d. 920
Hear matchless daughter of Jove Ægis-arm’d!
If ever wise Ulysses offer’d here
The thighs of fatted kine or sheep to thee,
Now mindful of his piety, preserve
His darling son, and frustrate with a frown
The cruelty of these imperious guests!
She said, and wept aloud, whose earnest suit
Pallas received. And now the spacious hall
And gloomy passages with tumult rang
And clamour of that throng, when thus, a youth, 930
Insolent as his fellows, dared to speak.
Much woo’d and long, the Queen at length prepares
To chuse another mate,20 and nought suspects
The bloody death to which her son is doom’d.
So he; but they, meantime, themselves remain’d
Untaught, what course the dread concern elsewhere
Had taken, whom Antinoüs thus address’d.
Sirs! one and all, I counsel you, beware
Of such bold boasting unadvised; lest one
O’erhearing you, report your words within. 940
No—rather thus, in silence, let us move
To an exploit so pleasant to us all.
He said, and twenty chose, the bravest there,
With whom he sought the galley on the shore,
Which drawing down into the deep, they placed
The mast and sails on board, and, sitting, next,
Each oar in order to its proper groove,
Unfurl’d and spread their canvas to the gale.
Their bold attendants, then, brought them their arms,
And soon as in deep water they had moor’d 950
The ship, themselves embarking, supp’d on board,
And watch’d impatient for the dusk of eve.
  But when Penelope, the palace stairs
Remounting, had her upper chamber reach’d,
There, unrefresh’d with either food or wine,
She lay’d her down, her noble son the theme
Of all her thoughts, whether he should escape
His haughty foes, or perish by their hands.
Num’rous as are the lion’s thoughts, who sees,
Not without fear, a multitude with toils 960
Encircling him around, such num’rous thoughts
Her bosom occupied, till sleep at length
Invading her, she sank in soft repose.
Then Pallas, teeming with a new design,
Set forth an airy phantom in the form
Of fair Iphthima, daughter of the brave
Icarius, and Eumelus’ wedded wife
In Pheræ. Shaped like her the dream she sent
Into the mansion of the godlike Chief
Ulysses, with kind purpose to abate 970
The sighs and tears of sad Penelope.
Ent’ring the chamber-portal, where the bolt
Secured it, at her head the image stood,
And thus, in terms compassionate, began.
Sleep’st thou, distress’d Penelope? The Gods,
Happy in everlasting rest themselves,
Forbid thy sorrows. Thou shalt yet behold
Thy son again, who hath by no offence
Incurr’d at any time the wrath of heav’n.
To whom, sweet-slumb’ring in the shadowy gate 980
By which dreams pass, Penelope replied.
What cause, my sister, brings thee, who art seen
Unfrequent here, for that thou dwell’st remote?
And thou enjoin’st me a cessation too
From sorrows num’rous, and which, fretting, wear
My heart continual; first, my spouse I lost
With courage lion-like endow’d, a prince
All-excellent, whose never-dying praise
Through Hellas and all Argos flew diffused;
And now my only son, new to the toils 990
And hazards of the sea, nor less untaught
The arts of traffic, in a ship is gone
Far hence, for whose dear cause I sorrow more
Than for his Sire himself, and even shake
With terror, lest he perish by their hands
  To whom he goes, or in the stormy Deep;
For num’rous are his foes, and all intent
To slay him, ere he reach his home again.
Then answer thus the shadowy form return’d.
Take courage; suffer not excessive dread 1000
To overwhelm thee, such a guide he hath
And guardian, one whom many wish their friend,
And ever at their side, knowing her pow’r,
Minerva; she compassionates thy griefs,
And I am here her harbinger, who speak
As thou hast heard by her own kind command.
Then thus Penelope the wise replied.
Oh! if thou art a goddess, and hast heard
A Goddess’ voice, rehearse to me the lot
Of that unhappy one, if yet he live 1010
Spectator of the cheerful beams of day,
Or if, already dead, he dwell below.
Whom answer’d thus the fleeting shadow vain.
I will not now inform thee if thy Lord
Live, or live not. Vain words are best unspoken.
So saying, her egress swift beside the bolt
She made, and melted into air. Upsprang
From sleep Icarius’ daughter, and her heart
Felt heal’d within her, by that dream distinct
Visited in the noiseless night serene. 1020
Meantime the suitors urged their wat’ry way,
To instant death devoting in their hearts
Telemachus. There is a rocky isle
In the mid sea, Samos the rude between
And Ithaca, not large, named Asteris.
It hath commodious havens, into which
A passage clear opens on either side,
And there the ambush’d Greeks his coming watch’d.

9 Hesychius tells us, that the Greecians ornamented with much attention the front wall of their courts for the admiration of passengers.

10 Οφθαλμῶν τε βολαι.

11 Antilochus was his brother.

12 The son of Aurora, who slew Antilochus, was Memnon.

13 Because Pisistratus was born after Antilochus had sailed to Troy.

14 Proteus

15 Seals, or sea-calves.

16 From the abruptness of this beginning, Virgil, probably, who has copied the story, took the hint of his admired exordium.

Nam quis te, juvenum confidentissime, nostras.
Egit adire domos.

17 Son of Oïleus.

18 Δαιτυμων—generally signifies the founder of a feast; but we are taught by Eustathius to understand by it, in this place, the persons employed in preparing it.

19 This transition from the third to the second person belongs to the original, and is considered as a fine stroke of art in the poet, who represents Penelope in the warmth of her resentment, forgetting where she is, and addressing the suitors as if present.

20 Mistaking, perhaps, the sound of her voice, and imagining that she sang.—Vide Barnes in loco.

  BOOK V

ARGUMENT

Mercury bears to Calypso a command from Jupiter that she dismiss Ulysses. She, after some remonstrances, promises obedience, and furnishes him with instruments and materials, with which he constructs a raft. He quits Calypso’s island; is persecuted by Neptune with dreadful tempests, but by the assistance of a sea nymph, after having lost his raft, is enabled to swim to Phæacia.

Aurora from beside her glorious mate
Tithonus now arose, light to dispense
Through earth and heav’n, when the assembled Gods
In council sat, o’er whom high-thund’ring Jove
Presided, mightiest of the Pow’rs above.
Amid them, Pallas on the num’rous woes
Descanted of Ulysses, whom she saw
With grief, still prison’d in Calypso’s isle.
Jove, Father, hear me, and ye other Pow’rs
Who live for ever, hear! Be never King 10
Henceforth to gracious acts inclined, humane,
Or righteous, but let ev’ry sceptred hand
Rule merciless, and deal in wrong alone,
Since none of all his people whom he sway’d
With such paternal gentleness and love
Remembers, now, divine Ulysses more.
He, in yon distant isle a suff’rer lies
Of hopeless sorrow, through constraint the guest
Still of the nymph Calypso, without means
Or pow’r to reach his native shores again, 20
Alike of gallant barks and friends depriv’d,
Who might conduct him o’er the spacious Deep.
Nor is this all, but enemies combine
To slay his son ere yet he can return
From Pylus, whither he hath gone to learn
There, or in Sparta, tidings of his Sire.
To whom the cloud-assembler God replied.
What word hath pass’d thy lips, daughter belov’d?
Hast thou not purpos’d that arriving soon
At home, Ulysses shall destroy his foes? 30
  Guide thou, Telemachus, (for well thou canst)
That he may reach secure his native coast,
And that the suitors baffled may return.
He ceas’d, and thus to Hermes spake, his son.
Hermes! (for thou art herald of our will
At all times) to yon bright-hair’d nymph convey
Our fix’d resolve, that brave Ulysses thence
Depart, uncompanied by God or man.
Borne on a corded raft, and suff’ring woe
Extreme, he on the twentieth day shall reach, 40
Not sooner, Scherie the deep-soil’d, possess’d
By the Phæacians, kinsmen of the Gods.
They, as a God shall reverence the Chief,
And in a bark of theirs shall send him thence
To his own home, much treasure, brass and gold
And raiment giving him, to an amount
Surpassing all that, had he safe return’d,
He should by lot have shared of Ilium’s spoil.
Thus Fate appoints Ulysses to regain
His country, his own palace, and his friends. 50
He ended, nor the Argicide refused,
Messenger of the skies; his sandals fair,
Ambrosial, golden, to his feet he bound,
Which o’er the moist wave, rapid as the wind,
Bear him, and o’er th’ illimitable earth,
Then took his rod with which, at will, all eyes
He closes soft, or opes them wide again.
So arm’d, forth flew the valiant Argicide.
Alighting on Pieria, down he stoop’d
To Ocean, and the billows lightly skimm’d 60
In form a sew-mew, such as in the bays
Tremendous of the barren Deep her food
Seeking, dips oft in brine her ample wing.
In such disguise o’er many a wave he rode,
But reaching, now, that isle remote, forsook
The azure Deep, and at the spacious grot,
Where dwelt the amber-tressed nymph arrived,
Found her within. A fire on all the hearth
Blazed sprightly, and, afar-diffused, the scent
Of smooth-split cedar and of cypress-wood 70
Odorous, burning, cheer’d the happy isle.
She, busied at the loom, and plying fast
Her golden shuttle, with melodious voice
  Sat chaunting there; a grove on either side,
Alder and poplar, and the redolent branch
Wide-spread of Cypress, skirted dark the cave.
There many a bird of broadest pinion built
Secure her nest, the owl, the kite, and daw
Long-tongued, frequenter of the sandy shores.
A garden-vine luxuriant on all sides 80
Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung
Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph
Their sinuous course pursuing side by side,
Stray’d all around, and ev’ry where appear’d
Meadows of softest verdure, purpled o’er
With violets; it was a scene to fill
A God from heav’n with wonder and delight.
Hermes, Heav’n’s messenger, admiring stood
That sight, and having all survey’d, at length
Enter’d the grotto; nor the lovely nymph 90
Him knew not soon as seen, for not unknown
Each to the other the Immortals are,
How far soever sep’rate their abodes.
Yet found he not within the mighty Chief
Ulysses; he sat weeping on the shore,
Forlorn, for there his custom was with groans
Of sad regret t’ afflict his breaking heart.
Looking continual o’er the barren Deep.
Then thus Calypso, nymph divine, the God
Question’d, from her resplendent throne august. 100
Hermes! possessor of the potent rod!
Who, though by me much reverenc’d and belov’d,
So seldom com’st, say, wherefore comest now?
Speak thy desire; I grant it, if thou ask
Things possible, and possible to me.
Stay not, but ent’ring farther, at my board
Due rites of hospitality receive.
So saying, the Goddess with ambrosial food
Her table cover’d, and with rosy juice
Nectareous charged the cup. Then ate and drank 110
The argicide and herald of the skies,
And in his soul with that repast divine
Refresh’d, his message to the nymph declared.
Questionest thou, O Goddess, me a God?
I tell thee truth, since such is thy demand.
Not willing, but by Jove constrain’d, I come.
  For who would, voluntary, such a breadth
Enormous measure of the salt expanse,
Where city none is seen in which the Gods
Are served with chosen hecatombs and pray’r? 120
But no divinity may the designs
Elude, or controvert, of Jove supreme.
He saith, that here thou hold’st the most distrest
Of all those warriors who nine years assail’d
The city of Priam, and, (that city sack’d)
Departed in the tenth; but, going thence,
Offended Pallas, who with adverse winds
Opposed their voyage, and with boist’rous waves.
Then perish’d all his gallant friends, but him
Billows and storms drove hither; Jove commands 130
That thou dismiss him hence without delay,
For fate ordains him not to perish here
From all his friends remote, but he is doom’d
To see them yet again, and to arrive
At his own palace in his native land.
He said; divine Calypso at the sound
Shudder’d, and in wing’d accents thus replied.
Ye are unjust, ye Gods, and envious past
All others, grudging if a Goddess take
A mortal man openly to her arms! 140
So, when the rosy-finger’d Morning chose
Orion, though ye live yourselves at ease,
Yet ye all envied her, until the chaste
Diana from her golden throne dispatch’d
A silent shaft, which slew him in Ortygia.
So, when the golden-tressed Ceres, urged
By passion, took Iäsion to her arms
In a thrice-labour’d fallow, not untaught
Was Jove that secret long, and, hearing it,
Indignant, slew him with his candent bolt. 150
So also, O ye Gods, ye envy me
The mortal man, my comfort. Him I saved
Myself, while solitary on his keel
He rode, for with his sulph’rous arrow Jove
Had cleft his bark amid the sable Deep.
Then perish’d all his gallant friends, but him
Billows and storms drove hither, whom I lov’d
Sincere, and fondly destin’d to a life
Immortal, unobnoxious to decay.
  But since no Deity may the designs 160
Elude or controvert of Jove supreme,
Hence with him o’er the barren Deep, if such
The Sov’reign’s will, and such his stern command.
But undismiss’d he goes by me, who ships
Myself well-oar’d and mariners have none
To send with him athwart the spacious flood;
Yet freely, readily, my best advice
I will afford him, that, escaping all
Danger, he may regain his native shore.
Then Hermes thus, the messenger of heav’n. 170
Act as thou say’st, fearing the frown of Jove,
Lest, if provoked, he spare not even thee.
So saying, the dauntless Argicide withdrew,
And she (Jove’s mandate heard) all-graceful went,
Seeking the brave Ulysses; on the shore
She found him seated; tears succeeding tears
Delug’d his eyes, while, hopeless of return,
Life’s precious hours to eating cares he gave
Continual, with the nymph now charm’d no more.
Yet, cold as she was am’rous, still he pass’d 180
His nights beside her in the hollow grot,
Constrain’d, and day by day the rocks among
Which lined the shore heart-broken sat, and oft
While wistfully he eyed the barren Deep,
Wept, groaned, desponded, sigh’d, and wept again.
Then, drawing near, thus spake the nymph divine.
Unhappy! weep not here, nor life consume
In anguish; go; thou hast my glad consent.
Arise to labour; hewing down the trunks
Of lofty trees, fashion them with the ax 190
To a broad raft, which closely floor’d above,
Shall hence convey thee o’er the gloomy Deep.
Bread, water, and the red grape’s cheering juice
Myself will put on board, which shall preserve
Thy life from famine; I will also give
New raiment for thy limbs, and will dispatch
Winds after thee to waft thee home unharm’d,
If such the pleasure of the Gods who dwell
In yonder boundless heav’n, superior far
To me, in knowledge and in skill to judge. 200
She ceas’d; but horror at that sound the heart
Chill’d of Ulysses, and in accents wing’d
  With wonder, thus the noble Chief replied.
Ah! other thoughts than of my safe return
Employ thee, Goddess, now, who bid’st me pass
The perilous gulph of Ocean on a raft,
That wild expanse terrible, which even ships
Pass not, though form’d to cleave their way with ease,
And joyful in propitious winds from Jove.
No—let me never, in despight of thee, 210
Embark on board a raft, nor till thou swear,
O Goddess! the inviolable oath,
That future mischief thou intend’st me none.
He said; Calypso, beauteous Goddess, smiled,
And, while she spake, stroaking his cheek, replied.
Thou dost asperse me rudely, and excuse
Of ignorance hast none, far better taught;
What words were these? How could’st thou thus reply?
Now hear me Earth, and the wide Heav’n above!
Hear, too, ye waters of the Stygian stream 220
Under the earth (by which the blessed Gods
Swear trembling, and revere the awful oath!)
That future mischief I intend thee none.
No, my designs concerning thee are such
As, in an exigence resembling thine,
Myself, most sure, should for myself conceive.
I have a mind more equal, not of steel
My heart is form’d, but much to pity inclined.
So saying, the lovely Goddess with swift pace
Led on, whose footsteps he as swift pursued. 230
Within the vaulted cavern they arrived,
The Goddess and the man; on the same throne
Ulysses sat, whence Hermes had aris’n,
And viands of all kinds, such as sustain
The life of mortal man, Calypso placed
Before him, both for bev’rage and for food.
She opposite to the illustrious Chief
Reposed, by her attendant maidens served
With nectar and ambrosia. They their hands
Stretch’d forth together to the ready feast, 240
And when nor hunger more nor thirst remain’d
Unsated, thus the beauteous nymph began.
Laertes’ noble son, for wisdom famed
And artifice! oh canst thou thus resolve
To seek, incontinent, thy native shores?
  I pardon thee. Farewell! but could’st thou guess
The woes which fate ordains thee to endure
Ere yet thou reach thy country, well-content
Here to inhabit, thou would’st keep my grot
And be immortal, howsoe’er thy wife 250
Engage thy ev’ry wish day after day.
Yet can I not in stature or in form
Myself suspect inferior aught to her,
Since competition cannot be between
Mere mortal beauties, and a form divine.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Awful Divinity! be not incensed.
I know that my Penelope in form
And stature altogether yields to thee,
For she is mortal, and immortal thou, 260
From age exempt; yet not the less I wish
My home, and languish daily to return.
But should some God amid the sable Deep
Dash me again into a wreck, my soul
Shall bear that also; for, by practice taught,
I have learned patience, having much endured
By tempest and in battle both. Come then
This evil also! I am well prepared.
He ended, and the sun sinking, resign’d
The earth to darkness. Then in a recess 270
Interior of the cavern, side by side
Reposed, they took their amorous delight.
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, Ulysses then in haste
Put on his vest and mantle, and, the nymph
Her snowy vesture of transparent woof,
Graceful, redundant; to her waist she bound
Her golden zone, and veil’d her beauteous head,
Then, musing, plann’d the noble Chief’s return.
She gave him, fitted to the grasp, an ax 280
Of iron, pond’rous, double-edg’d, with haft
Of olive-wood, inserted firm, and wrought
With curious art. Then, placing in his hand
A polish’d adze, she led, herself, the way
To her isles’ utmost verge, where tallest trees
But dry long since and sapless stood, which best
Might serve his purposes, as buoyant most,
The alder, poplar, and cloud-piercing fir.
  To that tall grove she led and left him there,
Seeking her grot again. Then slept not He, 290
But, swinging with both hands the ax, his task
Soon finish’d; trees full twenty to the ground
He cast, which, dext’rous, with his adze he smooth’d,
The knotted surface chipping by a line.
Meantime the lovely Goddess to his aid
Sharp augres brought, with which he bored the beams,
Then, side by side placing them, fitted each
To other, and with long cramps join’d them all.
Broad as an artist, skill’d in naval works,
The bottom of a ship of burthen spreads, 300
Such breadth Ulysses to his raft assign’d.
He deck’d her over with long planks, upborne
On massy beams; He made the mast, to which
He added suitable the yard;—he framed
Rudder and helm to regulate her course,
With wicker-work he border’d all her length
For safety, and much ballast stow’d within.
Meantime, Calypso brought him for a sail
Fittest materials, which he also shaped,
And to his sail due furniture annex’d 310
Of cordage strong, foot-ropes, and ropes aloft,
Then heav’d her down with levers to the Deep.
He finish’d all his work on the fourth day,
And on the fifth, Calypso, nymph divine,
Dismiss’d him from her isle, but laved him first,
And cloath’d him in sweet-scented garments new.
Two skins the Goddess also placed on board,
One charg’d with crimson wine, and ampler one
With water, nor a bag with food replete
Forgot, nutritious, grateful to the taste, 320
Nor yet, her latest gift, a gentle gale
And manageable, which Ulysses spread,
Exulting, all his canvas to receive.
Beside the helm he sat, steering expert,
Nor sleep fell ever on his eyes that watch’d
Intent the Pleiads, tardy in decline
Bootes, and the Bear, call’d else the Wain,
Which, in his polar prison circling, looks
Direct toward Orion, and alone
Of these sinks never to the briny Deep. 330
That star the lovely Goddess bade him hold
  Continual on his left through all his course.
Ten days and sev’n, he, navigating, cleav’d
The brine, and on the eighteenth day, at length,
The shadowy mountains of Phæacia’s land
Descried, where nearest to his course it lay
Like a broad buckler on the waves afloat.
But Neptune, now returning from the land
Of Ethiopia, mark’d him on his raft
Skimming the billows, from the mountain-tops 340
Of distant Solyma.21 With tenfold wrath
Inflamed that sight he view’d, his brows he shook,
And thus within himself, indignant, spake.
So then—new counsels in the skies, it seems,
Propitious to Ulysses, have prevail’d
Since Æthiopia hath been my abode.
He sees Phæacia nigh, where he must leap
The bound’ry of his woes; but ere that hour
Arrive, I will ensure him many a groan.
So saying, he grasp’d his trident, gather’d dense 350
The clouds and troubled ocean; ev’ry storm
From ev’ry point he summon’d, earth and sea
Darkening, and the night fell black from heav’n.
The East, the South, the heavy-blowing West,
And the cold North-wind clear, assail’d at once
His raft, and heaved on high the billowy flood.
All hope, all courage, in that moment, lost,
The Hero thus within himself complain’d.
Wretch that I am, what destiny at last
Attends me! much I fear the Goddess’ words 360
All true, which threaten’d me with num’rous ills
On the wide sea, ere I should reach my home.
Behold them all fulfill’d! with what a storm
Jove hangs the heav’ns, and agitates the Deep!
The winds combined beat on me. Now I sink!
Thrice blest, and more than thrice, Achaia’s sons
At Ilium slain for the Atridæ’ sake!
Ah, would to heav’n that, dying, I had felt
That day the stroke of fate, when me the dead
Achilles guarding, with a thousand spears 370
Troy’s furious host assail’d! Funereal rites
I then had shared, and praise from ev’ry Greek,
Whom now the most inglorious death awaits.
  While thus he spake, a billow on his head
Bursting impetuous, whirl’d the raft around,
And, dashing from his grasp the helm, himself
Plunged far remote. Then came a sudden gust
Of mingling winds, that in the middle snapp’d
His mast, and, hurried o’er the waves afar,
Both sail and sail-yard fell into the flood. 380
Long time submerged he lay, nor could with ease
The violence of that dread shock surmount,
Or rise to air again, so burthensome
His drench’d apparel proved; but, at the last,
He rose, and, rising, sputter’d from his lips
The brine that trickled copious from his brows.
Nor, harass’d as he was, resign’d he yet
His raft, but buffetting the waves aside
With desp’rate efforts, seized it, and again
Fast seated on the middle deck, escaped. 390
Then roll’d the raft at random in the flood,
Wallowing unwieldy, toss’d from wave to wave.
As when in autumn, Boreas o’er the plain
Conglomerated thorns before him drives,
They, tangled, to each other close adhere,
So her the winds drove wild about the Deep.
By turns the South consign’d her to be sport
For the rude North-wind, and, by turns, the East
Yielded her to the worrying West a prey.
But Cadmus’ beauteous daughter (Ino once, 400
Now named Leucothea) saw him; mortal erst
Was she, and trod the earth,22 but nymph become
Of Ocean since, in honours shares divine.
She mark’d his anguish, and, while toss’d he roam’d,
Pitied Ulysses; from the flood, in form
A cormorant, she flew, and on the raft
Close-corded perching, thus the Chief address’d.
Alas! unhappy! how hast thou incensed
So terribly the Shaker of the shores,
That he pursues thee with such num’rous ills? 410
Sink thee he cannot, wish it as he may.
Thus do (for I account thee not unwise)
Thy garments putting off, let drive thy raft
As the winds will, then, swimming, strive to reach
  Phæacia, where thy doom is to escape.
Take this. This ribbon bind beneath thy breast,
Celestial texture. Thenceforth ev’ry fear
Of death dismiss, and, laying once thy hands
On the firm continent, unbind the zone,
Which thou shalt cast far distant from the shore 420
Into the Deep, turning thy face away.
So saying, the Goddess gave into his hand
The wond’rous zone, and, cormorant in form,
Plunging herself into the waves again
Headlong, was hidden by the closing flood.
But still Ulysses sat perplex’d, and thus
The toil-enduring Hero reason’d sad.
Alas! I tremble lest some God design
T’ ensnare me yet, bidding me quit the raft.
But let me well beware how I obey 430
Too soon that precept, for I saw the land
Of my foretold deliv’rance far remote.
Thus, therefore, will I do, for such appears
My wiser course. So long as yet the planks
Mutual adhere, continuing on board
My raft, I will endure whatever woes,
But when the waves shall shatter it, I will swim,
My sole resource then left. While thus he mused,
Neptune a billow of enormous bulk
Hollow’d into an overwhelming arch 440
On high up-heaving, smote him. As the wind
Tempestuous, falling on some stubble-heap,
The arid straws dissipates ev’ry way,
So flew the timbers. He, a single beam
Bestriding, oar’d it onward with his feet,
As he had urged an horse. His raiment, then,
Gift of Calypso, putting off, he bound
His girdle on, and prone into the sea
With wide-spread palms prepar’d for swimming, fell.
Shore-shaker Neptune noted him; he shook 450
His awful brows, and in his heart he said,
Thus, suff’ring many mis’ries roam the flood,
Till thou shalt mingle with a race of men
Heav’n’s special favourites; yet even there
Fear not that thou shalt feel thy sorrows light.
He said, and scourging his bright steeds, arrived
At Ægæ, where his glorious palace stands.
  But other thoughts Minerva’s mind employ’d
Jove’s daughter; ev’ry wind binding beside,
She lull’d them, and enjoin’d them all to sleep, 460
But roused swift Boreas, and the billows broke
Before Ulysses, that, deliver’d safe
From a dire death, the noble Chief might mix
With maritime Phæacia’s sons renown’d.
Two nights he wander’d, and two days, the flood
Tempestuous, death expecting ev’ry hour;
But when Aurora, radiant-hair’d, had brought
The third day to a close, then ceas’d the wind,
And breathless came a calm; he, nigh at hand
The shore beheld, darting acute his sight 470
Toward it, from a billow’s tow’ring top.
Precious as to his children seems the life
Of some fond father through disease long time
And pain stretch’d languid on his couch, the prey
Of some vindictive Pow’r, but now, at last,
By gracious heav’n to ease and health restored,
So grateful to Ulysses’ sight appear’d
Forests and hills. Impatient with his feet
To press the shore, he swam; but when within
Such distance as a shout may fly, he came, 480
The thunder of the sea against the rocks
Then smote his ear; for hoarse the billows roar’d
On the firm land, belch’d horrible abroad,
And the salt spray dimm’d all things to his view.
For neither port for ships nor shelt’ring cove
Was there, but the rude coast a headland bluff
Presented, rocks and craggy masses huge.
Then, hope and strength exhausted both, deep-groan’d
The Chief, and in his noble heart complain’d.
Alas! though Jove hath given me to behold, 490
Unhoped, the land again, and I have pass’d,
Furrowing my way, these num’rous waves, there seems
No egress from the hoary flood for me.
Sharp stones hem in the waters; wild the surge
Raves ev’ry where; and smooth the rocks arise;
Deep also is the shore, on which my feet
No standing gain, or chance of safe escape.
What if some billow catch me from the Deep
Emerging, and against the pointed rocks
Dash me conflicting with its force in vain? 500
  But should I, swimming, trace the coast in search
Of sloping beach, haven or shelter’d creek,
I fear lest, groaning, I be snatch’d again
By stormy gusts into the fishy Deep,
Or lest some monster of the flood receive
Command to seize me, of the many such
By the illustrious Amphitrite bred;
For that the mighty Shaker of the shores
Hates me implacable, too well I know.
While such discourse within himself he held, 510
A huge wave heav’d him on the rugged coast,
Where flay’d his flesh had been, and all his bones
Broken together, but for the infused
Good counsel of Minerva azure-eyed.
With both hands suddenly he seized the rock,
And, groaning, clench’d it till the billow pass’d.
So baffled he that wave; but yet again
The refluent flood rush’d on him, and with force
Resistless dash’d him far into the sea.
As pebbles to the hollow polypus 520
Extracted from his stony bed, adhere,
So he, the rough rocks clasping, stripp’d his hands
Raw, and the billows now whelm’d him again.
Then had the hapless Hero premature
Perish’d, but for sagacity inspired
By Pallas azure-eyed. Forth from the waves
Emerging, where the surf burst on the rocks,
He coasted (looking landward as he swam)
The shore, with hope of port or level beach.
But when, still swimming, to the mouth he came 530
Of a smooth-sliding river, there he deem’d
Safest th’ ascent, for it was undeform’d
By rocks, and shelter’d close from ev’ry wind.
He felt the current, and thus, ardent, pray’d.
O hear, whate’er thy name, Sov’reign, who rul’st
This river! at whose mouth, from all the threats
Of Neptune ’scap’d, with rapture I arrive.
Even the Immortal Gods the wand’rer’s pray’r
Respect, and such am I, who reach, at length,
Thy stream, and clasp thy knees, after long toil. 540
I am thy suppliant. Oh King! pity me.
He said; the river God at once repress’d
His current, and it ceas’d; smooth he prepared
  The way before Ulysses, and the land
Vouchsafed him easy at his channel’s mouth.
There, once again he bent for ease his limbs
Both arms and knees, in conflict with the floods
Exhausted; swoln his body was all o’er,
And from his mouth and nostrils stream’d the brine.
Breathless and speechless, and of life well nigh 550
Bereft he lay, through dreadful toil immense.
But when, revived, his dissipated pow’rs
He recollected, loosing from beneath
His breast the zone divine, he cast it far
Into the brackish stream, and a huge wave
Returning bore it downward to the sea,
Where Ino caught it. Then, the river’s brink
Abandoning, among the rushes prone
He lay, kiss’d oft the soil, and sighing, said,
Ah me! what suff’rings must I now sustain, 560
What doom, at last, awaits me? If I watch
This woeful night, here, at the river’s side,
What hope but that the frost and copious dews,
Weak as I am, my remnant small of life
Shall quite extinguish, and the chilly air
Breath’d from the river at the dawn of day?
But if, ascending this declivity
I gain the woods, and in some thicket sleep,
(If sleep indeed can find me overtoil’d
And cold-benumb’d) then I have cause to fear 570
Lest I be torn by wild beasts, and devour’d.
Long time he mused, but, at the last, his course
Bent to the woods, which not remote he saw
From the sea-brink, conspicuous on a hill.
Arrived, between two neighbour shrubs he crept,
Both olives, this the fruitful, that the wild;
A covert, which nor rough winds blowing moist
Could penetrate, nor could the noon-day sun
Smite through it, or unceasing show’rs pervade,
So thick a roof the ample branches form’d 580
Close interwoven; under these the Chief
Retiring, with industrious hands a bed
Collected broad of leaves, which there he found
Abundant strew’d, such store as had sufficed
Two travellers or three for cov’ring warm,
Though winter’s roughest blasts had rag’d the while.
  That bed with joy the suff’ring Chief renown’d
Contemplated, and occupying soon
The middle space, hillock’d it high with leaves.
As when some swain hath hidden deep his torch 590
Beneath the embers, at the verge extreme
Of all his farm, where, having neighbours none,
He saves a seed or two of future flame
Alive, doom’d else to fetch it from afar,
So with dry leaves Ulysses overspread
His body, on whose eyes Minerva pour’d
The balm of sleep copious, that he might taste
Repose again, after long toil severe.

21 The Solymi were the ancient inhabitants of Pisidia in Asia-Minor.

22 The Translator finding himself free to chuse between ἀυδηέσσα and ἠδηέσσα, has preferred the latter.

  BOOK VI

ARGUMENT

Minerva designing an interview between the daughter of Alcinoüs and Ulysses, admonishes her in a dream to carry down her clothes to the river, that she may wash them, and make them ready for her approaching nuptials. That task performed, the Princess and her train amuse themselves with play; by accident they awake Ulysses; he comes forth from the wood, and applies himself with much address to Nausicaa, who compassionating his distressed condition, and being much affected by the dignity of his appearance, interests himself in his favour, and conducts him to the city.

There then the noble suff’rer lay, by sleep
Oppress’d and labour; meantime, Pallas sought
The populous city of Phæacia’s sons.
They, in old time, in Hypereia dwelt
The spacious, neighbours of a giant race
The haughty Cyclops, who, endued with pow’r
Superior, troubled them with frequent wrongs.
Godlike Nausithoüs then arose, who thence
To Scheria led them, from all nations versed
In arts of cultivated life, remote; 10
With bulwarks strong their city he enclosed,
Built houses for them, temples to the Gods,
And gave to each a portion of the soil.
But he, already by decree of fate
Had journey’d to the shades, and in his stead
Alcinoüs, by the Gods instructed, reign’d.
To his abode Minerva azure-eyed
Repair’d, neglecting nought which might advance
Magnanimous Ulysses’ safe return.
She sought the sumptuous chamber where, in form 20
And feature perfect as the Gods, the young
Nausicaa, daughter of the King, reposed.
Fast by the pillars of the portal lay
Two damsels, one on either side, adorn’d
By all the Graces, and the doors were shut.
Soft as a breathing air, she stole toward
  The royal virgin’s couch, and at her head
Standing, address’d her. Daughter she appear’d
Of Dymas, famed for maritime exploits,
Her friend and her coeval; so disguised 30
Cærulean-eyed Minerva thus began.
Nausicaa! wherefore hath thy mother borne
A child so negligent? Thy garments share,
Thy most magnificent, no thought of thine.
Yet thou must marry soon, and must provide
Robes for thyself, and for thy nuptial train.
Thy fame, on these concerns, and honour stand;
These managed well, thy parents shall rejoice.
The dawn appearing, let us to the place
Of washing, where thy work-mate I will be 40
For speedier riddance of thy task, since soon
The days of thy virginity shall end;
For thou art woo’d already by the prime
Of all Phæacia, country of thy birth.
Come then—solicit at the dawn of day
Thy royal father, that he send thee forth
With mules and carriage for conveyance hence
Of thy best robes, thy mantles and thy zones.
Thus, more commodiously thou shalt perform
The journey, for the cisterns lie remote. 50
So saying, Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed,
Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat
Eternal of the Gods, which never storms
Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm
The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day.
There the inhabitants divine rejoice
For ever, (and her admonition giv’n)
Cærulean-eyed Minerva thither flew.
Now came Aurora bright-enthroned, whose rays
Awaken’d fair Nausicaa; she her dream 60
Remember’d wond’ring, and her parents sought
Anxious to tell them. Them she found within.
Beside the hearth her royal mother sat,
Spinning soft fleeces with sea-purple dyed
Among her menial maidens, but she met
Her father, whom the Nobles of the land
Had summon’d, issuing abroad to join
The illustrious Chiefs in council. At his side
She stood, and thus her filial suit preferr’d.
  Sir!23 wilt thou lend me of the royal wains 70
A sumpter-carriage? for I wish to bear
My costly cloaths but sullied and unfit
For use, at present, to the river side.
It is but seemly that thou should’st repair
Thyself to consultation with the Chiefs
Of all Phæacia, clad in pure attire;
And my own brothers five, who dwell at home,
Two wedded, and the rest of age to wed,
Are all desirous, when they dance, to wear
Raiment new bleach’d; all which is my concern. 80
So spake Nausicaa; for she dared not name
Her own glad nuptials to her father’s ear,
Who, conscious yet of all her drift, replied.
I grudge thee neither mules, my child, nor aught
That thou canst ask beside. Go, and my train
Shall furnish thee a sumpter-carriage forth
High-built, strong-wheel’d, and of capacious size.
So saying, he issued his command, whom quick
His grooms obey’d. They in the court prepared
The sumpter-carriage, and adjoin’d the mules. 90
And now the virgin from her chamber, charged
With raiment, came, which on the car she placed,
And in the carriage-chest, meantime, the Queen,
Her mother, viands of all kinds disposed,
And fill’d a skin with wine. Nausicaa rose
Into her seat; but, ere she went, received
A golden cruse of oil from the Queen’s hand
For unction of herself, and of her maids.
Then, seizing scourge and reins, she lash’d the mules.
They trampled loud the soil, straining to draw 100
Herself with all her vesture; nor alone
She went, but follow’d by her virgin train.
At the delightful rivulet arrived
Where those perennial cisterns were prepared
With purest crystal of the fountain fed
Profuse, sufficient for the deepest stains,
Loosing the mules, they drove them forth to browze
On the sweet herb beside the dimpled flood.
The carriage, next, light’ning, they bore in hand
  The garments down to the unsullied wave, 110
And thrust them heap’d into the pools, their task
Dispatching brisk, and with an emulous haste.
When they had all purified, and no spot
Could now be seen, or blemish more, they spread
The raiment orderly along the beach
Where dashing tides had cleansed the pebbles most,
And laving, next, and smoothing o’er with oil
Their limbs, all seated on the river’s bank,
They took repast, leaving the garments, stretch’d
In noon-day fervour of the sun, to dry. 120
Their hunger satisfied, at once arose
The mistress and her train, and putting off
Their head-attire, play’d wanton with the ball,
The princess singing to her maids the while.
Such as shaft-arm’d Diana roams the hills,
Täygetus sky-capt, or Erymanth,
The wild boar chasing, or fleet-footed hind,
All joy; the rural nymphs, daughters of Jove,
Sport with her, and Latona’s heart exults;
She high her graceful head above the rest 130
And features lifts divine, though all be fair,
With ease distinguishable from them all;
So, all her train, she, virgin pure, surpass’d.
But when the hour of her departure thence
Approach’d (the mules now yoked again, and all
Her elegant apparel folded neat)
Minerva azure-eyed mused how to wake
Ulysses, that he might behold the fair
Virgin, his destin’d guide into the town.
The Princess, then, casting the ball toward 140
A maiden of her train, erroneous threw
And plunged it deep into the dimpling stream.
All shrieked; Ulysses at the sound awoke,
And, sitting, meditated thus the cause.
Ah me! what mortal race inhabit here?
Rude are they, contumacious and unjust?
Or hospitable, and who fear the Gods?
So shrill the cry and feminine of nymphs
Fills all the air around, such as frequent
The hills, clear fountains, and herbaceous meads. 150
Is this a neighbourhood of men endued
With voice articulate? But what avails
  To ask; I will myself go forth and see.
So saying, divine Ulysses from beneath
His thicket crept, and from the leafy wood
A spreading branch pluck’d forcibly, design’d
A decent skreen effectual, held before.
So forth he went, as goes the lion forth,
The mountain-lion, conscious of his strength,
Whom winds have vex’d and rains; fire fills his eyes, 160
And whether herds or flocks, or woodland deer
He find, he rends them, and, adust for blood,
Abstains not even from the guarded fold,
Such sure to seem in virgin eyes, the Chief,
All naked as he was, left his retreat,
Reluctant, by necessity constrain’d.
Him foul with sea foam horror-struck they view’d,
And o’er the jutting shores fled all dispersed.
Nausicaa alone fled not; for her
Pallas courageous made, and from her limbs, 170
By pow’r divine, all tremour took away.
Firm she expected him; he doubtful stood,
Or to implore the lovely maid, her knees
Embracing, or aloof standing, to ask
In gentle terms discrete the gift of cloaths,
And guidance to the city where she dwelt.
Him so deliberating, most, at length,
This counsel pleas’d; in suppliant terms aloof
To sue to her, lest if he clasp’d her knees,
The virgin should that bolder course resent. 180
Then gentle, thus, and well-advised he spake.
Oh Queen! thy earnest suppliant I approach.
Art thou some Goddess, or of mortal race?
For if some Goddess, and from heaven arrived,
Diana, then, daughter of mighty Jove
I deem thee most, for such as hers appear
Thy form, thy stature, and thy air divine.
But if, of mortal race, thou dwell below,
Thrice happy then, thy parents I account,
And happy thrice thy brethren. Ah! the joy 190
Which always for thy sake, their bosoms fill,
When thee they view, all lovely as thou art,
Ent’ring majestic on the graceful dance.
But him beyond all others blest I deem,
The youth, who, wealthier than his rich compeers,
  Shall win and lead thee to his honour’d home.
For never with these eyes a mortal form
Beheld I comparable aught to thine,
In man or woman. Wonder-wrapt I gaze.
Such erst, in Delos, I beheld a palm 200
Beside the altar of Apollo, tall,
And growing still; (for thither too I sail’d,
And num’rous were my followers in a voyage
Ordain’d my ruin) and as then I view’d
That palm long time amazed, for never grew
So strait a shaft, so lovely from the ground,
So, Princess! thee with wonder I behold,
Charm’d into fixt astonishment, by awe
Alone forbidden to embrace thy knees,
For I am one on whom much woe hath fall’n. 210
Yesterday I escaped (the twentieth day
Of my distress by sea) the dreary Deep;
For, all those days, the waves and rapid storms
Bore me along, impetuous from the isle
Ogygia; till at length the will of heav’n
Cast me, that I might also here sustain
Affliction on your shore; for rest, I think,
Is not for me. No. The Immortal Gods
Have much to accomplish ere that day arrive.
But, oh Queen, pity me! who after long 220
Calamities endured, of all who live
Thee first approach, nor mortal know beside
Of the inhabitants of all the land.
Shew me your city; give me, although coarse,
Some cov’ring (if coarse cov’ring thou canst give)
And may the Gods thy largest wishes grant,
House, husband, concord! for of all the gifts
Of heav’n, more precious none I deem, than peace
’Twixt wedded pair, and union undissolved;
Envy torments their enemies, but joy 230
Fills ev’ry virtuous breast, and most their own.
To whom Nausicaa the fair replied.
Since, stranger! neither base by birth thou seem’st,
Nor unintelligent, (but Jove, the King
Olympian, gives to good and bad alike
Prosperity according to his will,
And grief to thee, which thou must patient bear,)
Now, therefore, at our land and city arrived,
  Nor garment thou shalt want, nor aught beside
Due to a suppliant guest like thee forlorn. 240
I will both show thee where our city stands,
And who dwell here. Phæacia’s sons possess
This land; but I am daughter of their King
The brave Alcinoüs, on whose sway depends
For strength and wealth the whole Phæacian race.
She said, and to her beauteous maidens gave
Instant commandment—My attendants, stay!
Why flee ye thus, and whither, from the sight
Of a mere mortal? Seems he in your eyes
Some enemy of ours? The heart beats not, 250
Nor shall it beat hereafter, which shall come
An enemy to the Phæacian shores,
So dear to the immortal Gods are we.
Remote, amid the billowy Deep, we hold
Our dwelling, utmost of all human-kind,
And free from mixture with a foreign race.
This man, a miserable wand’rer comes,
Whom we are bound to cherish, for the poor
And stranger are from Jove, and trivial gifts
To such are welcome. Bring ye therefore food 260
And wine, my maidens, for the guest’s regale,
And lave him where the stream is shelter’d most.
She spake; they stood, and by each other’s words
Encouraged, placed Ulysses where the bank
O’erhung the stream, as fair Nausicaa bade,
Daughter of King Alcinoüs the renown’d.
Apparel also at his side they spread,
Mantle and vest, and, next, the limpid oil
Presenting to him in the golden cruse,
Exhorted him to bathe in the clear stream. 270
Ulysses then the maidens thus bespake.
Ye maidens, stand apart, that I may cleanse,
Myself, my shoulders from the briny surf,
And give them oil which they have wanted long.
But in your presence I bathe not, ashamed
To show myself uncloath’d to female eyes.
He said; they went, and to Nausicaa told
His answer; then the Hero in the stream
His shoulders laved, and loins incrusted rough
With the salt spray, and with his hands the scum 280
Of the wild ocean from his locks express’d.
  Thus wash’d all over, and refresh’d with oil,
He put the garments on, Nausicaa’s gift.
Then Pallas, progeny of Jove, his form
Dilated more, and from his head diffused
His curling locks like hyacinthine flowers.
As when some artist, by Minerva made
And Vulcan wise to execute all tasks
Ingenious, binding with a golden verge
Bright silver, finishes a graceful work, 290
Such grace the Goddess o’er his ample chest
Copious diffused, and o’er his manly brows.
Retiring, on the beach he sat, with grace
And dignity illumed, where, viewing him,
The virgin Princess, with amazement mark’d
His beauty, and her damsels thus bespake.
My white-arm’d maidens, listen to my voice!
Not hated, sure, by all above, this man
Among Phæacia’s godlike sons arrives.
At first I deem’d him of plebeian sort 300
Dishonourable, but he now assumes
A near resemblance to the Gods above.
Ah! would to heaven it were my lot to call
Husband, some native of our land like him
Accomplish’d, and content to inhabit here!
Give him, my maidens, food, and give him wine.
She ended; they obedient to her will,
Both wine and food, dispatchful, placed, and glad,
Before Ulysses; he rapacious ate,
Toil-suff’ring Chief, and drank, for he had lived 310
From taste of aliment long time estranged.
On other thoughts meantime intent, her charge
Of folded vestments neat the Princess placed
Within the royal wain, then yoked the mules,
And to her seat herself ascending, call’d
Ulysses to depart, and thus she spake.
Up, stranger! seek the city. I will lead
Thy steps toward my royal Father’s house,
Where all Phæacia’s Nobles thou shalt see.
But thou (for I account thee not unwise) 320
This course pursue. While through the fields we pass,
And labours of the rural hind, so long
With my attendants follow fast the mules
And sumpter-carriage. I will be thy guide.
  But, once the summit gain’d, on which is built
Our city with proud bulwarks fenced around,
And laved on both sides by its pleasant port
Of narrow entrance, where our gallant barks
Line all the road, each station’d in her place,
And where, adjoining close the splendid fane 330
Of Neptune, stands the forum with huge stones
From quarries thither drawn, constructed strong,
In which the rigging of their barks they keep,
Sail-cloth and cordage, and make smooth their oars;
(For bow and quiver the Phæacian race
Heed not, but masts and oars, and ships well-poised,
With which exulting they divide the flood)
Then, cautious, I would shun their bitter taunts
Disgustful, lest they mock me as I pass;
For of the meaner people some are coarse 340
In the extreme, and it may chance that one,
The basest there seeing us shall exclaim—
What handsome stranger of athletic form
Attends the Princess? Where had she the chance
To find him? We shall see them wedded soon.
Either she hath received some vagrant guest
From distant lands, (for no land neighbours ours)
Or by her pray’rs incessant won, some God
Hath left the heav’ns to be for ever hers.
’Tis well if she have found, by her own search, 350
An husband for herself, since she accounts
The Nobles of Phæacia, who her hand
Solicit num’rous, worthy to be scorn’d—
Thus will they speak, injurious. I should blame
A virgin guilty of such conduct much,
Myself, who reckless of her parents’ will,
Should so familiar with a man consort,
Ere celebration of her spousal rites.
But mark me, stranger! following my advice,
Thou shalt the sooner at my father’s hands 360
Obtain safe conduct and conveyance home.
Sacred to Pallas a delightful grove
Of poplars skirts the road, which we shall reach
Ere long; within that grove a fountain flows,
And meads encircle it; my father’s farm
Is there, and his luxuriant garden plot;
A shout might reach it from the city-walls.
  There wait, till in the town arrived, we gain
My father’s palace, and when reason bids
Suppose us there, then ent’ring thou the town, 370
Ask where Alcinoüs dwells, my valiant Sire.
Well known is his abode, so that with ease
A child might lead thee to it, for in nought
The other houses of our land the house
Resemble, in which dwells the Hero, King
Alcinoüs. Once within the court received
Pause not, but, with swift pace advancing, seek
My mother; she beside a column sits
In the hearth’s blaze, twirling her fleecy threads
Tinged with sea-purple, bright, magnificent! 380
With all her maidens orderly behind.
There also stands my father’s throne, on which
Seated, he drinks and banquets like a God.
Pass that; then suppliant clasp my mother’s knees,
So shalt thou quickly win a glad return
To thy own home, however far remote.
Her favour, once, and her kind aid secured,
Thenceforth thou may’st expect thy friends to see,
Thy dwelling, and thy native soil again.
So saying, she with her splendid scourge the mules 390
Lash’d onward. They (the stream soon left behind)
With even footsteps graceful smote the ground;
But so she ruled them, managing with art
The scourge, as not to leave afar, although
Following on foot, Ulysses and her train.
The sun had now declined, when in that grove
Renown’d, to Pallas sacred, they arrived,
In which Ulysses sat, and fervent thus
Sued to the daughter of Jove Ægis-arm’d.
Daughter invincible of Jove supreme! 400
Oh, hear me! Hear me now, because when erst
The mighty Shaker of the shores incensed
Toss’d me from wave to wave, thou heard’st me not.
Grant me, among Phæacia’s sons, to find
Benevolence and pity of my woes!
He spake, whose pray’r well-pleas’d the Goddess heard,
But, rev’rencing the brother of her sire,24
Appear’d not to Ulysses yet, whom he
Pursued with fury to his native shores.

23 In the Original, she calls him, pappa! a more natural stile of address and more endearing. But ancient as this appellative is, it is also so familiar in modern use, that the Translator feared to hazard it.

24 Neptune.

  BOOK VII

ARGUMENT

Nausicaa returns from the river, whom Ulysses follows. He halts, by her direction, at a small distance from the palace, which at a convenient time he enters. He is well received by Alcinoüs and his Queen; and having related to them the manner of his being cast on the shore of Scheria, and received from Alcinoüs the promise of safe conduct home, retires to rest.

Such pray’r Ulysses, toil-worn Chief renown’d,
To Pallas made, meantime the virgin, drawn
By her stout mules, Phæacia’s city reach’d,
And, at her father’s house arrived, the car
Stay’d in the vestibule; her brothers five,
All godlike youths, assembling quick around,
Released the mules, and bore the raiment in.
Meantime, to her own chamber she return’d,
Where, soon as she arrived, an antient dame
Eurymedusa, by peculiar charge 10
Attendant on that service, kindled fire.
Sea-rovers her had from Epirus brought
Long since, and to Alcinoüs she had fall’n
By public gift, for that he ruled, supreme,
Phæacia, and as oft as he harangued
The multitude, was rev’renced as a God.
She waited on the fair Nausicaa, she
Her fuel kindled, and her food prepared.
And now Ulysses from his seat arose
To seek the city, around whom, his guard 20
Benevolent, Minerva, cast a cloud,
Lest, haply, some Phæacian should presume
T’ insult the Chief, and question whence he came.
But ere he enter’d yet the pleasant town,
Minerva azure-eyed met him, in form
A blooming maid, bearing her pitcher forth.
She stood before him, and the noble Chief
Ulysses, of the Goddess thus enquired.
Daughter! wilt thou direct me to the house
Of brave Alcinoüs, whom this land obeys? 30
  For I have here arrived, after long toil,
And from a country far remote, a guest
To all who in Phæacia dwell, unknown.
To whom the Goddess of the azure-eyes.
The mansion of thy search, stranger revered!
Myself will shew thee; for not distant dwells
Alcinoüs from my father’s own abode:
But hush! be silent—I will lead the way;
Mark no man; question no man; for the sight
Of strangers is unusual here, and cold 40
The welcome by this people shown to such.
They, trusting in swift ships, by the free grant
Of Neptune traverse his wide waters, borne
As if on wings, or with the speed of thought.
So spake the Goddess, and with nimble pace
Led on, whose footsteps he, as quick, pursued.
But still the seaman-throng through whom he pass’d
Perceiv’d him not; Minerva, Goddess dread,
That sight forbidding them, whose eyes she dimm’d
With darkness shed miraculous around 50
Her fav’rite Chief. Ulysses, wond’ring, mark’d
Their port, their ships, their forum, the resort
Of Heroes, and their battlements sublime
Fenced with sharp stakes around, a glorious show!
But when the King’s august abode he reach’d,
Minerva azure-eyed, then, thus began.
My father! thou behold’st the house to which
Thou bad’st me lead thee. Thou shalt find our Chiefs
And high-born Princes banqueting within.
But enter fearing nought, for boldest men 60
Speed ever best, come whencesoe’er they may.
First thou shalt find the Queen, known by her name
Areta; lineal in descent from those
Who gave Alcinoüs birth, her royal spouse.
Neptune begat Nausithoüs, at the first,
On Peribæa, loveliest of her sex,
Latest-born daughter of Eurymedon,
Heroic King of the proud giant race,
Who, losing all his impious people, shared
The same dread fate himself. Her Neptune lov’d, 70
To whom she bore a son, the mighty prince
Nausithoüs, in his day King of the land.
Nausithoüs himself two sons begat,
  Rhexenor and Alcinoüs. Phoebus slew
Rhexenor at his home, a bridegroom yet,
Who, father of no son, one daughter left,
Areta, wedded to Alcinoüs now,
And whom the Sov’reign in such honour holds,
As woman none enjoys of all on earth
Existing, subjects of an husband’s pow’r. 80
Like veneration she from all receives
Unfeign’d, from her own children, from himself
Alcinoüs, and from all Phæacia’s race,
Who, gazing on her as she were divine,
Shout when she moves in progress through the town.
For she no wisdom wants, but sits, herself,
Arbitress of such contests as arise
Between her fav’rites, and decides aright.
Her count’nance once and her kind aid secured,
Thou may’st thenceforth expect thy friends to see, 90
Thy dwelling, and thy native soil again.
So Pallas spake, Goddess cærulean-eyed,
And o’er the untillable and barren Deep
Departing, Scheria left, land of delight,
Whence reaching Marathon, and Athens next,
She pass’d into Erectheus’ fair abode.
Ulysses, then, toward the palace moved
Of King Alcinoüs, but immers’d in thought
Stood, first, and paused, ere with his foot he press’d
The brazen threshold; for a light he saw 100
As of the sun or moon illuming clear
The palace of Phæacia’s mighty King.
Walls plated bright with brass, on either side
Stretch’d from the portal to th’ interior house,
With azure cornice crown’d; the doors were gold
Which shut the palace fast; silver the posts
Rear’d on a brazen threshold, and above,
The lintels, silver, architraved with gold.
Mastiffs, in gold and silver, lined the approach
On either side, by art celestial framed 110
Of Vulcan, guardians of Alcinoüs’ gate
For ever, unobnoxious to decay.
Sheer from the threshold to the inner house
Fixt thrones the walls, through all their length, adorn’d,
With mantles overspread of subtlest warp
Transparent, work of many a female hand.
  On these the princes of Phæacia sat,
Holding perpetual feasts, while golden youths
On all the sumptuous altars stood, their hands
With burning torches charged, which, night by night, 120
Shed radiance over all the festive throng.
Full fifty female menials serv’d the King
In household offices; the rapid mills
These turning, pulverize the mellow’d grain,
Those, seated orderly, the purple fleece
Wind off, or ply the loom, restless as leaves
Of lofty poplars fluttering in the breeze;
Bright as with oil the new-wrought texture shone.25
Far as Phæacian mariners all else
Surpass, the swift ship urging through the floods, 130
So far in tissue-work the women pass
All others, by Minerva’s self endow’d
With richest fancy and superior skill.
Without the court, and to the gates adjoin’d
A spacious garden lay, fenced all around
Secure, four acres measuring complete.
There grew luxuriant many a lofty tree,
Pomegranate, pear, the apple blushing bright,
The honied fig, and unctuous olive smooth.
Those fruits, nor winter’s cold nor summer’s heat 140
Fear ever, fail not, wither not, but hang
Perennial, whose unceasing zephyr breathes
Gently on all, enlarging these, and those
Maturing genial; in an endless course
Pears after pears to full dimensions swell,
Figs follow figs, grapes clust’ring grow again
Where clusters grew, and (ev’ry apple stript)
The boughs soon tempt the gath’rer as before.
There too, well-rooted, and of fruit profuse,
His vineyard grows; part, wide-extended, basks, 150
In the sun’s beams; the arid level glows;
In part they gather, and in part they tread
The wine-press, while, before the eye, the grapes
Here put their blossom forth, there, gather fast
Their blackness. On the garden’s verge extreme
  Flow’rs of all hues smile all the year, arranged
With neatest art judicious, and amid
The lovely scene two fountains welling forth,
One visits, into ev’ry part diffus’d,
The garden-ground, the other soft beneath 160
The threshold steals into the palace-court,
Whence ev’ry citizen his vase supplies.
Such were the ample blessings on the house
Of King Alcinoüs by the Gods bestow’d.
Ulysses wond’ring stood, and when, at length,
Silent he had the whole fair scene admired,
With rapid step enter’d the royal gate.
The Chiefs he found and Senators within
Libation pouring to the vigilant spy
Mercurius, whom with wine they worshipp’d last 170
Of all the Gods, and at the hour of rest.
Ulysses, toil-worn Hero, through the house
Pass’d undelaying, by Minerva thick
With darkness circumfus’d, till he arrived
Where King Alcinoüs and Areta sat.
Around Areta’s knees his arms he cast,
And, in that moment, broken clear away
The cloud all went, shed on him from above.
Dumb sat the guests, seeing the unknown Chief,
And wond’ring gazed. He thus his suit preferr’d. 180
Areta, daughter of the Godlike Prince
Rhexenor! suppliant at thy knees I fall,
Thy royal spouse imploring, and thyself,
(After ten thousand toils) and these your guests,
To whom heav’n grant felicity, and to leave
Their treasures to their babes, with all the rights
And honours, by the people’s suffrage, theirs!
But oh vouchsafe me, who have wanted long
And ardent wish’d my home, without delay
Safe conduct to my native shores again! 190
Such suit he made, and in the ashes sat
At the hearth-side; they mute long time remain’d,
Till, at the last, the antient Hero spake
Echeneus, eldest of Phæacia’s sons,
With eloquence beyond the rest endow’d,
Rich in traditionary lore, and wise
In all, who thus, benevolent, began.
Not honourable to thyself, O King!
  Is such a sight, a stranger on the ground
At the hearth-side seated, and in the dust. 200
Meantime, thy guests, expecting thy command,
Move not; thou therefore raising by his hand
The stranger, lead him to a throne, and bid
The heralds mingle wine, that we may pour
To thunder-bearing Jove, the suppliant’s friend.
Then let the cat’ress for thy guest produce
Supply, a supper from the last regale.
Soon as those words Alcinoüs heard, the King,
Upraising by his hand the prudent Chief
Ulysses from the hearth, he made him sit, 210
On a bright throne, displacing for his sake
Laodamas his son, the virtuous youth
Who sat beside him, and whom most he lov’d.
And now, a maiden charg’d with golden ew’r
And with an argent laver, pouring, first,
Pure water on his hands, supply’d him, next,
With a resplendent table, which the chaste
Directress of the stores furnish’d with bread
And dainties, remnants of the last regale.
Then ate the Hero toil-inured, and drank, 220
And to his herald thus Alcinoüs spake.
Pontonoüs! mingling wine, bear it around
To ev’ry guest in turn, that we may pour
To thunder-bearer Jove, the stranger’s friend,
And guardian of the suppliant’s sacred rights.
He said; Pontonoüs, as he bade, the wine
Mingled delicious, and the cups dispensed
With distribution regular to all.
When each had made libation, and had drunk
Sufficient, then, Alcinoüs thus began. 230
Phæacian Chiefs and Senators, I speak
The dictates of my mind, therefore attend!
Ye all have feasted—To your homes and sleep.
We will assemble at the dawn of day
More senior Chiefs, that we may entertain
The stranger here, and to the Gods perform
Due sacrifice; the convoy that he asks
Shall next engage our thoughts, that free from pain
And from vexation, by our friendly aid
He may revisit, joyful and with speed, 240
His native shore, however far remote.
  No inconvenience let him feel or harm,
Ere his arrival; but, arrived, thenceforth
He must endure whatever lot the Fates
Spun for him in the moment of his birth.
But should he prove some Deity from heav’n
Descended, then the Immortals have in view
Designs not yet apparent; for the Gods
Have ever from of old reveal’d themselves
At our solemnities, have on our seats 250
Sat with us evident, and shared the feast;
And even if a single traveller
Of the Phæacians meet them, all reserve
They lay aside; for with the Gods we boast
As near affinity as do themselves
The Cyclops, or the Giant race profane.26
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Alcinoüs! think not so. Resemblance none
In figure or in lineaments I bear
To the immortal tenants of the skies, 260
But to the sons of earth; if ye have known
A man afflicted with a weight of woe
Peculiar, let me be with him compared;
Woes even passing his could I relate,
And all inflicted on me by the Gods.
But let me eat, comfortless as I am,
Uninterrupted; for no call is loud
As that of hunger in the ears of man;
Importunate, unreas’nable, it constrains
His notice, more than all his woes beside. 270
So, I much sorrow feel, yet not the less
Hear I the blatant appetite demand
Due sustenance, and with a voice that drowns
E’en all my suff’rings, till itself be fill’d.
But expedite ye at the dawn of day
My safe return into my native land,
After much mis’ry; and let life itself
Forsake me, may I but once more behold
All that is mine, in my own lofty abode.
  He spake, whom all applauded, and advised, 280
Unanimous, the guest’s conveyance home,
Who had so fitly spoken. When, at length,
All had libation made, and were sufficed,
Departing to his house, each sought repose.
But still Ulysses in the hall remain’d,
Where, godlike King, Alcinoüs at his side
Sat, and Areta; the attendants clear’d
Meantime the board, and thus the Queen white-arm’d,
(Marking the vest and mantle, which he wore
And which her maidens and herself had made) 290
In accents wing’d with eager haste began.
Stranger! the first enquiry shall be mine;
Who art, and whence? From whom receiv’dst thou these?
Saidst not—I came a wand’rer o’er the Deep?
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Oh Queen! the task were difficult to unfold
In all its length the story of my woes,
For I have num’rous from the Gods receiv’d;
But I will answer thee as best I may.
There is a certain isle, Ogygia, placed 300
Far distant in the Deep; there dwells, by man
Alike unvisited, and by the Gods,
Calypso, beauteous nymph, but deeply skill’d
In artifice, and terrible in pow’r,
Daughter of Atlas. Me alone my fate
Her miserable inmate made, when Jove
Had riv’n asunder with his candent bolt
My bark in the mid-sea. There perish’d all
The valiant partners of my toils, and I
My vessel’s keel embracing day and night 310
With folded arms, nine days was borne along.
But on the tenth dark night, as pleas’d the Gods,
They drove me to Ogygia, where resides
Calypso, beauteous nymph, dreadful in pow’r;
She rescued, cherish’d, fed me, and her wish
Was to confer on me immortal life,
Exempt for ever from the sap of age.
But me her offer’d boon sway’d not. Sev’n years
I there abode continual, with my tears
Bedewing ceaseless my ambrosial robes, 320
Calypso’s gift divine; but when, at length,
(Sev’n years elaps’d) the circling eighth arrived,
  She then, herself, my quick departure thence
Advised, by Jove’s own mandate overaw’d,
Which even her had influenced to a change.
On a well-corded raft she sent me forth
With num’rous presents; bread she put and wine
On board, and cloath’d me in immortal robes;
She sent before me also a fair wind
Fresh-blowing, but not dang’rous. Sev’nteen days 330
I sail’d the flood continual, and descried,
On the eighteenth, your shadowy mountains tall
When my exulting heart sprang at the sight,
All wretched as I was, and still ordain’d
To strive with difficulties many and hard
From adverse Neptune; he the stormy winds
Exciting opposite, my wat’ry way
Impeded, and the waves heav’d to a bulk
Immeasurable, such as robb’d me soon
Deep-groaning, of the raft, my only hope; 340
For her the tempest scatter’d, and myself
This ocean measur’d swimming, till the winds
And mighty waters cast me on your shore.
Me there emerging, the huge waves had dash’d
Full on the land, where, incommodious most,
The shore presented only roughest rocks,
But, leaving it, I swam the Deep again,
Till now, at last, a river’s gentle stream
Receiv’d me, by no rocks deform’d, and where
No violent winds the shelter’d bank annoy’d. 350
I flung myself on shore, exhausted, weak,
Needing repose; ambrosial night came on,
When from the Jove-descended stream withdrawn,
I in a thicket lay’d me down on leaves
Which I had heap’d together, and the Gods
O’erwhelm’d my eye-lids with a flood of sleep.
There under wither’d leaves, forlorn, I slept
All the long night, the morning and the noon,
But balmy sleep, at the decline of day,
Broke from me; then, your daughter’s train I heard 360
Sporting, with whom she also sported, fair
And graceful as the Gods. To her I kneel’d.
She, following the dictates of a mind
Ingenuous, pass’d in her behaviour all
Which even ye could from an age like hers
  Have hoped; for youth is ever indiscrete.
She gave me plenteous food, with richest wine
Refresh’d my spirit, taught me where to bathe,
And cloath’d me as thou seest; thus, though a prey
To many sorrows, I have told thee truth. 370
To whom Alcinoüs answer thus return’d.
My daughter’s conduct, I perceive, hath been
In this erroneous, that she led thee not
Hither, at once, with her attendant train,
For thy first suit was to herself alone.
Thus then Ulysses, wary Chief, replied.
Blame not, O Hero, for so slight a cause
Thy faultless child; she bade me follow them,
But I refused, by fear and awe restrain’d,
Lest thou should’st feel displeasure at that sight 380
Thyself; for we are all, in ev’ry clime,
Suspicious, and to worst constructions prone.
So spake Ulysses, to whom thus the King.
I bear not, stranger! in my breast an heart
Causeless irascible; for at all times
A temp’rate equanimity is best.
And oh, I would to heav’n, that, being such
As now thou art, and of one mind with me,
Thou would’st accept my daughter, would’st become
My son-in-law, and dwell contented here! 390
House would I give thee, and possessions too,
Were such thy choice; else, if thou chuse it not,
No man in all Phæacia shall by force
Detain thee. Jupiter himself forbid!
For proof, I will appoint thee convoy hence
To-morrow; and while thou by sleep subdued
Shalt on thy bed repose, they with their oars
Shall brush the placid flood, till thou arrive
At home, or at what place soe’er thou would’st,
Though far more distant than Eubœa lies, 400
Remotest isle from us, by the report
Of ours, who saw it when they thither bore
Golden-hair’d Rhadamanthus o’er the Deep,
To visit earth-born Tityus. To that isle
They went; they reach’d it, and they brought him thence
Back to Phæacia, in one day, with ease.
Thou also shalt be taught what ships I boast
Unmatch’d in swiftness, and how far my crews
  Excel, upturning with their oars the brine.
He ceas’d; Ulysses toil-inur’d his words 410
Exulting heard, and, praying, thus replied.
Eternal Father! may the King perform
His whole kind promise! grant him in all lands
A never-dying name, and grant to me
To visit safe my native shores again!
Thus they conferr’d; and now Areta bade
Her fair attendants dress a fleecy couch
Under the portico, with purple rugs
Resplendent, and with arras spread beneath,
And over all with cloaks of shaggy pile. 420
Forth went the maidens, bearing each a torch,
And, as she bade, prepared in haste a couch
Of depth commodious, then, returning, gave
Ulysses welcome summons to repose.
Stranger! thy couch is spread. Hence to thy rest.
So they—Thrice grateful to his soul the thought
Seem’d of repose. There slept Ulysses, then,
On his carv’d couch, beneath the portico,
But in the inner-house Alcinoüs found
His place of rest, and hers with royal state 430
Prepared, the Queen his consort, at his side.

25

Καιροσέων δ’ οθονεων ἀπολείβεται ὑγρον ἔλαιον.

Pope has given no translation of this line in the text of his work, but has translated it in a note. It is variously interpreted by commentators; the sense which is here given of it is that recommended by Eustathius.

26 The Scholiast explains the passage thus—We resemble the Gods in righteousness as much as the Cyclops and Giants resembled each other in impiety. But in this sense of it there is something intricate and contrary to Homer’s manner. We have seen that they derived themselves from Neptune, which sufficiently justifies the above interpretation.

  BOOK VIII

ARGUMENT

The Phæacians consult on the subject of Ulysses. Preparation is made for his departure. Antinoüs entertains them at his table. Games follow the entertainment. Demodocus the bard sings, first the loves of Mars and Venus, then the introduction of the wooden horse into Troy. Ulysses, much affected by his song, is questioned by Alcinoüs, whence, and who he is, and what is the cause of his sorrow.

But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Blush’d in the East, then from his bed arose
The sacred might of the Phæacian King.
Then uprose also, city-waster Chief,
Ulysses, whom the King Alcinoüs
Led forth to council at the ships convened.
There, side by side, on polish’d stones they sat
Frequent; meantime, Minerva in the form
Of King Alcinoüs’ herald ranged the town,
With purpose to accelerate the return 10
Of brave Ulysses to his native home,
And thus to ev’ry Chief the Goddess spake.
Phæacian Chiefs and Senators, away!
Haste all to council on the stranger held,
Who hath of late beneath Alcinoüs’ roof
Our King arrived, a wand’rer o’er the Deep,
But, in his form, majestic as a God.
So saying, she roused the people, and at once
The seats of all the senate-court were fill’d
With fast-assembling throngs, no few of whom 20
Had mark’d Ulysses with admiring eyes.
Then, Pallas o’er his head and shoulders broad
Diffusing grace celestial, his whole form
Dilated, and to the statelier height advanced,
That worthier of all rev’rence he might seem
To the Phæacians, and might many a feat
Atchieve, with which they should assay his force.
When, therefore, the assembly now was full,
Alcinoüs, them addressing, thus began.
  Phæacian Chiefs and Senators! I speak 30
The dictates of my mind, therefore attend.
This guest, unknown to me, hath, wand’ring, found
My palace, either from the East arrived,
Or from some nation on our western side.
Safe conduct home he asks, and our consent
Here wishes ratified, whose quick return
Be it our part, as usual, to promote;
For at no time the stranger, from what coast
Soe’er, who hath resorted to our doors,
Hath long complain’d of his detention here. 40
Haste—draw ye down into the sacred Deep
A vessel of prime speed, and, from among
The people, fifty and two youths select,
Approved the best; then, lashing fast the oars,
Leave her, that at my palace ye may make
Short feast, for which myself will all provide.
Thus I enjoin the crew; but as for those
Of sceptred rank, I bid them all alike
To my own board, that here we may regale
The stranger nobly, and let none refuse. 50
Call, too, Demodocus, the bard divine,
To share my banquet, whom the Gods have blest
With pow’rs of song delectable, unmatch’d
By any, when his genius once is fired.
He ceas’d, and led the way, whom follow’d all
The sceptred senators, while to the house
An herald hasted of the bard divine.
Then, fifty mariners and two, from all
The rest selected, to the coast repair’d,
And, from her station on the sea-bank, launched 60
The galley down into the sacred Deep.
They placed the canvas and the mast on board,
Arranged the oars, unfurl’d the shining sail,
And, leaving her in depth of water moor’d,
All sought the palace of Alcinoüs.
There, soon, the portico, the court, the hall
Were fill’d with multitudes of young and old,
For whose regale the mighty monarch slew
Two beeves, twelve sheep, and twice four fatted brawns.
They slay’d them first, then busily their task 70
Administ’ring, prepared the joyous feast.
And now the herald came, leading with care
  The tuneful bard; dear to the muse was he,
Who yet appointed him both good and ill;
Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine.
For him, Pontonoüs in the midst disposed
An argent-studded throne, thrusting it close
To a tall column, where he hung his lyre
Above his head, and taught him where it hung.
He set before him, next, a polish’d board 80
And basket, and a goblet fill’d with wine
For his own use, and at his own command.
Then, all assail’d at once the ready feast,
And when nor hunger more nor thirst they felt,
Then came the muse, and roused the bard to sing
Exploits of men renown’d; it was a song,
In that day, to the highest heav’n extoll’d.
He sang of a dispute kindled between
The son of Peleus, and Laertes’27 son,
Both seated at a feast held to the Gods. 90
That contest Agamemnon, King of men,
Between the noblest of Achaia’s host
Hearing, rejoiced; for when in Pytho erst
He pass’d the marble threshold to consult
The oracle of Apollo, such dispute
The voice divine had to his ear announced;
For then it was that, first, the storm of war
Came rolling on, ordain’d long time to afflict
Troy and the Greecians, by the will of Jove.
So sang the bard illustrious; then his robe 100
Of purple dye with both hands o’er his head
Ulysses drew, behind its ample folds
Veiling his face, through fear to be observed
By the Phæacians weeping at the song;
And ever as the bard harmonious ceased,
He wiped his tears, and, drawing from his brows
The mantle, pour’d libation to the Gods.
But when the Chiefs (for they delighted heard
Those sounds) solicited again the bard,
And he renew’d the strain, then cov’ring close 110
  His count’nance, as before, Ulysses wept.
Thus, unperceiv’d by all, the Hero mourn’d,
Save by Alcinoüs; he alone his tears,
(Beside him seated) mark’d, and his deep sighs
O’erhearing, the Phæacians thus bespake.
Phæacia’s Chiefs and Senators, attend!
We have regaled sufficient, and the harp
Heard to satiety, companion sweet
And seasonable of the festive hour.
Now go we forth for honourable proof 120
Of our address in games of ev’ry kind,
That this our guest may to his friends report,
At home arriv’d, that none like us have learn’d
To leap, to box, to wrestle, and to run.
So saying, he led them forth, whose steps the guests
All follow’d, and the herald hanging high
The sprightly lyre, took by his hand the bard
Demodocus, whom he the self-same way
Conducted forth, by which the Chiefs had gone
Themselves, for that great spectacle prepared. 130
They sought the forum; countless swarm’d the throng
Behind them as they went, and many a youth
Strong and courageous to the strife arose.
Upstood Acroneus and Ocyalus,
Elatreus, Nauteus, Prymneus, after whom
Anchialus with Anabeesineus
Arose, Eretmeus, Ponteus, Proreus bold,
Amphialus and Thöon. Then arose,
In aspect dread as homicidal Mars,
Euryalus, and for his graceful form 140
(After Laodamas) distinguish’d most
Of all Phæacia’s sons, Naubolides.
Three also from Alcinoüs sprung, arose,
Laodamas, his eldest; Halius, next,
His second-born; and godlike Clytoneus.
Of these, some started for the runner’s prize.
They gave the race its limits.28 All at once
Along the dusty champaign swift they flew.
But Clytoneus, illustrious youth, outstripp’d
  All competition; far as mules surpass 150
Slow oxen furrowing the fallow ground,
So far before all others he arrived
Victorious, where the throng’d spectators stood.
Some tried the wrestler’s toil severe, in which
Euryalus superior proved to all.
In the long leap Amphialus prevail’d;
Elatreus most successful hurled the quoit,
And at the cestus,29 last, the noble son
Of Scheria’s King, Laodamas excell’d.
When thus with contemplation of the games 160
All had been gratified, Alcinoüs’ son
Laodamas, arising, then address’d.
Friends! ask we now the stranger, if he boast
Proficiency in aught. His figure seems
Not ill; in thighs, and legs, and arms he shews
Much strength, and in his brawny neck; nor youth
Hath left him yet, though batter’d he appears
With num’rous troubles, and misfortune-flaw’d.
Nor know I hardships in the world so sure
To break the strongest down, as those by sea. 170
Then answer thus Euryalus return’d.
Thou hast well said, Laodamas; thyself
Approaching, speak to him, and call him forth.
Which when Alcinoüs’ noble offspring heard,
Advancing from his seat, amid them all
He stood, and to Ulysses thus began.
Stand forth, oh guest, thou also; prove thy skill
(If any such thou hast) in games like ours,
Which, likeliest, thou hast learn’d; for greater praise
Hath no man, while he lives, than that he know 180
His feet to exercise and hands aright.
Come then; make trial; scatter wide thy cares,
We will not hold thee long; the ship is launch’d
Already, and the crew stand all prepared.
To whom replied the wily Chief renown’d
Wherefore, as in derision, have ye call’d
Me forth, Laodamas, to these exploits?
No games have I, but many a grief, at heart,
And with far other struggles worn, here sit
Desirous only of conveyance home, 190
For which both King and people I implore.
  Then him Euryalus aloud reproach’d.
I well believ’d it, friend! in thee the guise
I see not of a man expert in feats
Athletic, of which various are perform’d
In ev’ry land; thou rather seem’st with ships
Familiar; one, accustom’d to controul
Some crew of trading mariners; well-learn’d
In stowage, pilotage, and wealth acquired
By rapine, but of no gymnastic pow’rs. 200
To whom Ulysses, frowning dark, replied.
Thou hast ill spoken, sir, and like a man
Regardless whom he wrongs. Therefore the Gods
Give not endowments graceful in each kind,
Of body, mind, and utt’rance, all to one.
This man in figure less excels, yet Jove
Crowns him with eloquence; his hearers charm’d
Behold him, while with modest confidence
He bears the prize of fluent speech from all,
And in the streets is gazed on as a God! 210
Another, in his form the Pow’rs above
Resembles, but no grace around his words
Twines itself elegant. So, thou in form
Hast excellence to boast; a God, employ’d
To make a master-piece in human shape,
Could but produce proportions such as thine;
Yet hast thou an untutor’d intellect.
Thou much hast moved me; thy unhandsome phrase
Hath roused my wrath; I am not, as thou say’st,
A novice in these sports, but took the lead 220
In all, while youth and strength were on my side.
But I am now in bands of sorrow held,
And of misfortune, having much endured
In war, and buffeting the boist’rous waves.
Yet, though with mis’ry worn, I will essay
My strength among you; for thy words had teeth
Whose bite hath pinch’d and pain’d me to the proof.
He said; and mantled as he was, a quoit
Upstarting, seized, in bulk and weight all those
Transcending far, by the Phæacians used. 230
Swiftly he swung, and from his vig’rous hand
Sent it. Loud sang the stone, and as it flew
The maritime Phæacians low inclined
Their heads beneath it; over all the marks,
  And far beyond them, sped the flying rock.
Minerva, in a human form, the cast
Prodigious measur’d, and aloud exclaim’d.
Stranger! the blind himself might with his hands
Feel out the ’vantage here. Thy quoit disdains
Fellowship with a crowd, borne far beyond. 240
Fear not a losing game; Phæacian none
Will reach thy measure, much less overcast.
She ceased; Ulysses, hardy Chief, rejoiced
That in the circus he had found a judge
So favorable, and with brisker tone,
As less in wrath, the multitude address’d.
Young men, reach this, and I will quickly heave
Another such, or yet a heavier quoit.
Then, come the man whose courage prompts him forth
To box, to wrestle with me, or to run; 250
For ye have chafed me much, and I decline
No strife with any here, but challenge all
Phæacia, save Laodamas alone.
He is mine host. Who combats with his friend?
To call to proof of hardiment the man
Who entertains him in a foreign land,
Would but evince the challenger a fool,
Who, so, would cripple his own interest there.
As for the rest, I none refuse, scorn none,
But wish for trial of you, and to match 260
In opposition fair my force with yours.
There is no game athletic in the use
Of all mankind, too difficult for me;
I handle well the polish’d bow, and first
Amid a thousand foes strike whom I mark,
Although a throng of warriors at my side
Imbattled, speed their shafts at the same time.
Of all Achaia’s sons who erst at Troy
Drew bow, the sole who bore the prize from me
Was Philoctetes; I resign it else 270
To none now nourish’d with the fruits of earth.
Yet mean I no comparison of myself
With men of antient times, with Hercules,
Or with Oechalian Eurytus, who, both,
The Gods themselves in archery defied.
Soon, therefore, died huge Eurytus, ere yet
Old age he reach’d; him, angry to be call’d
  To proof of archership, Apollo slew.
But if ye name the spear, mine flies a length
By no man’s arrow reach’d; I fear no foil 280
From the Phæacians, save in speed alone;
For I have suffer’d hardships, dash’d and drench’d
By many a wave, nor had I food on board
At all times, therefore I am much unstrung.
He spake; and silent the Phæacians sat,
Of whom alone Alcinoüs thus replied.
Since, stranger, not ungraceful is thy speech,
Who hast but vindicated in our ears
Thy question’d prowess, angry that this youth
Reproach’d thee in the presence of us all, 290
That no man qualified to give his voice
In public, might affront thy courage more;
Now mark me, therefore, that in time to come,
While feasting with thy children and thy spouse,
Thou may’st inform the Heroes of thy land
Even of our proficiency in arts
By Jove enjoin’d us in our father’s days.
We boast not much the boxer’s skill, nor yet
The wrestler’s; but light-footed in the race
Are we, and navigators well-inform’d. 300
Our pleasures are the feast, the harp, the dance,
Garments for change; the tepid bath; the bed.
Come, ye Phæacians, beyond others skill’d
To tread the circus with harmonious steps,
Come, play before us; that our guest, arrived
In his own country, may inform his friends
How far in seamanship we all excel,
In running, in the dance, and in the song.
Haste! bring ye to Demodocus his lyre
Clear-toned, left somewhere in our hall at home. 310
So spake the godlike King, at whose command
The herald to the palace quick return’d
To seek the charming lyre. Meantime arose
Nine arbiters, appointed to intend
The whole arrangement of the public games,
To smooth the circus floor, and give the ring
Its compass, widening the attentive throng.
Ere long the herald came, bearing the harp,
With which Demodocus supplied, advanced
Into the middle area, around whom 320
  Stood blooming youths, all skilful in the dance.
With footsteps justly timed all smote at once
The sacred floor; Ulysses wonder-fixt,
The ceaseless play of twinkling30 feet admired.
Then, tuning his sweet chords, Demodocus
A jocund strain began, his theme, the loves
Of Mars and Cytherea chaplet-crown’d;
How first, clandestine, they embraced beneath
The roof of Vulcan, her, by many a gift
Seduced, Mars won, and with adult’rous lust 330
The bed dishonour’d of the King of fire.
The sun, a witness of their amorous sport,
Bore swift the tale to Vulcan; he, apprized
Of that foul deed, at once his smithy sought,
In secret darkness of his inmost soul
Contriving vengeance; to the stock he heav’d
His anvil huge, on which he forged a snare
Of bands indissoluble, by no art
To be untied, durance for ever firm.
The net prepared, he bore it, fiery-wroth, 340
To his own chamber and his nuptial couch,
Where, stretching them from post to post, he wrapp’d
With those fine meshes all his bed around,
And hung them num’rous from the roof, diffused
Like spiders’ filaments, which not the Gods
Themselves could see, so subtle were the toils.
When thus he had encircled all his bed
On ev’ry side, he feign’d a journey thence
To Lemnos, of all cities that adorn
The earth, the city that he favours most. 350
Nor kept the God of the resplendent reins
Mars, drowsy watch, but seeing that the famed
Artificer of heav’n had left his home,
Flew to the house of Vulcan, hot to enjoy
The Goddess with the wreath-encircled brows.
She, newly from her potent Sire return’d
The son of Saturn, sat. Mars, ent’ring, seiz’d
Her hand, hung on it, and thus urg’d his suit.
  To bed, my fair, and let us love! for lo!
Thine husband is from home, to Lemnos gone, 360
And to the Sintians, men of barb’rous speech.
He spake, nor she was loth, but bedward too
Like him inclined; so then, to bed they went,
And as they lay’d them down, down stream’d the net
Around them, labour exquisite of hands
By ingenuity divine inform’d.
Small room they found, so prison’d; not a limb
Could either lift, or move, but felt at once
Entanglement from which was no escape.
And now the glorious artist, ere he yet 370
Had reach’d the Lemnian isle, limping, return’d
From his feign’d journey, for his spy the sun
Had told him all. With aching heart he sought
His home, and, standing in the vestibule,
Frantic with indignation roar’d to heav’n,
And roar’d again, summoning all the Gods.—
Oh Jove! and all ye Pow’rs for ever blest!
Here; hither look, that ye may view a sight
Ludicrous, yet too monstrous to be borne,
How Venus always with dishonour loads 380
Her cripple spouse, doating on fiery Mars!
And wherefore? for that he is fair in form
And sound of foot, I ricket-boned and weak.
Whose fault is this? Their fault, and theirs alone
Who gave me being; ill-employ’d were they
Begetting me, one, better far unborn.
See where they couch together on my bed
Lascivious! ah, sight hateful to my eyes!
Yet cooler wishes will they feel, I ween,
To press my bed hereafter; here to sleep 390
Will little please them, fondly as they love.
But these my toils and tangles will suffice
To hold them here, till Jove shall yield me back
Complete, the sum of all my nuptial gifts
Paid to him for the shameless strumpet’s sake
His daughter, as incontinent as fair.
He said, and in the brazen-floor’d abode
Of Jove the Gods assembled. Neptune came
Earth-circling Pow’r; came Hermes friend of man,
And, regent of the far-commanding bow, 400
Apollo also came; but chaste reserve
  Bashful kept all the Goddesses at home.
The Gods, by whose beneficence all live,
Stood in the portal; infinite arose
The laugh of heav’n, all looking down intent
On that shrewd project of the smith divine,
And, turning to each other, thus they said.
Bad works speed ill. The slow o’ertakes the swift.
So Vulcan, tardy as he is, by craft
Hath outstript Mars, although the fleetest far 410
Of all who dwell in heav’n, and the light-heel’d
Must pay the adult’rer’s forfeit to the lame.
So spake the Pow’rs immortal; then the King
Of radiant shafts thus question’d Mercury.
Jove’s son, heaven’s herald, Hermes, bounteous God!
Would’st thou such stricture close of bands endure
For golden Venus lying at thy side?
Whom answer’d thus the messenger of heav’n
Archer divine! yea, and with all my heart;
And be the bands which wind us round about 420
Thrice these innumerable, and let all
The Gods and Goddesses in heav’n look on,
So I may clasp Vulcan’s fair spouse the while.
He spake; then laugh’d the Immortal Pow’rs again.
But not so Neptune; he with earnest suit
The glorious artist urged to the release
Of Mars, and thus in accents wing’d he said.
Loose him; accept my promise; he shall pay
Full recompense in presence of us all.
Then thus the limping smith far-famed replied. 430
Earth-circler Neptune, spare me that request.
Lame suitor, lame security.31 What bands
Could I devise for thee among the Gods,
Should Mars, emancipated once, escape,
Leaving both debt and durance, far behind?
Him answer’d then the Shaker of the shores.
I tell thee, Vulcan, that if Mars by flight
Shun payment, I will pay, myself, the fine.
To whom the glorious artist of the skies.
  Thou must not, canst not, shalt not be refused. 440
So saying, the might of Vulcan loos’d the snare,
And they, detain’d by those coercive bands
No longer, from the couch upstarting, flew,
Mars into Thrace, and to her Paphian home
The Queen of smiles, where deep in myrtle groves
Her incense-breathing altar stands embow’r’d.
Her there, the Graces laved, and oils diffused
O’er all her form, ambrosial, such as add
Fresh beauty to the Gods for ever young,
And cloath’d her in the loveliest robes of heav’n. 450
Such was the theme of the illustrious bard.
Ulysses with delight that song, and all
The maritime Phæacian concourse heard.
Alcinoüs, then, (for in the dance they pass’d
All others) call’d his sons to dance alone,
Halius and Laodamas; they gave
The purple ball into their hands, the work
Exact of Polybus; one, re-supine,
Upcast it high toward the dusky clouds,
The other, springing into air, with ease 460
Received it, ere he sank to earth again.
When thus they oft had sported with the ball
Thrown upward, next, with nimble interchange
They pass’d it to each other many a time,
Footing the plain, while ev’ry youth of all
The circus clapp’d his hands, and from beneath
The din of stamping feet fill’d all the air.
Then, turning to Alcinoüs, thus the wise
Ulysses spake: Alcinoüs! mighty King!
Illustrious above all Phæacia’s sons! 470
Incomparable are ye in the dance,
Ev’n as thou said’st. Amazement-fixt I stand!
So he, whom hearing, the imperial might
Exulted of Alcinoüs, and aloud
To his oar-skill’d Phæacians thus he spake.
Phæacian Chiefs and Senators, attend!
Wisdom beyond the common stint I mark
In this our guest; good cause in my account,
For which we should present him with a pledge
Of hospitality and love. The Chiefs 480
Are twelve, who, highest in command, controul
The people, and the thirteenth Chief am I.
  Bring each a golden talent, with a vest
Well-bleach’d, and tunic; gratified with these,
The stranger to our banquet shall repair
Exulting; bring them all without delay;
And let Euryalus by word and gift
Appease him, for his speech was unadvised.
He ceas’d, whom all applauded, and at once
Each sent his herald forth to bring the gifts, 490
When thus Euryalus his Sire address’d.
Alcinoüs! o’er Phæacia’s sons supreme!
I will appease our guest, as thou command’st.
This sword shall be his own, the blade all steel.
The hilt of silver, and the unsullied sheath
Of iv’ry recent from the carver’s hand,
A gift like this he shall not need despise.
So saying, his silver-studded sword he gave
Into his grasp, and, courteous, thus began.
Hail, honour’d stranger! and if word of mine 500
Have harm’d thee, rashly spoken, let the winds
Bear all remembrance of it swift away!
May the Gods give thee to behold again
Thy wife, and to attain thy native shore,
Whence absent long, thou hast so much endured!
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Hail also thou, and may the Gods, my friend,
Grant thee felicity, and may never want
Of this thy sword touch thee in time to come,
By whose kind phrase appeas’d my wrath subsides! 510
He ended, and athwart his shoulders threw
The weapon bright emboss’d. Now sank the sun,
And those rich gifts arrived, which to the house
Of King Alcinoüs the heralds bore.
Alcinoüs’ sons receiv’d them, and beside
Their royal mother placed the precious charge.
The King then led the way, at whose abode
Arrived, again they press’d their lofty thrones,
And to Areta thus the monarch spake.
Haste, bring a coffer; bring thy best, and store 520
A mantle and a sumptuous vest within;
Warm for him, next, a brazen bath, by which
Refresh’d, and viewing in fair order placed
The noble gifts by the Phæacian Lords
Conferr’d on him, he may the more enjoy
  Our banquet, and the bard’s harmonious song.
I give him also this my golden cup
Splendid, elaborate; that, while he lives
What time he pours libation forth to Jove
And all the Gods, he may remember me. 530
He ended, at whose words Areta bade
Her maidens with dispatch place o’er the fire
A tripod ample-womb’d; obedient they
Advanced a laver to the glowing hearth,
Water infused, and kindled wood beneath
The flames encircling bright the bellied vase,
Warm’d soon the flood within. Meantime, the Queen
Producing from her chamber-stores a chest
All-elegant, within it placed the gold,
And raiment, gifts of the Phæacian Chiefs, 540
With her own gifts, the mantle and the vest,
And in wing’d accents to Ulysses said.
Now take, thyself, the coffer’s lid in charge;
Girdle it quickly with a cord, lest loss
Befall thee on thy way, while thou perchance
Shalt sleep secure on board the sable bark.
Which when Ulysses heard, Hero renown’d,
Adjusting close the lid, he cast a cord
Around it which with many a mazy knot
He tied, by Circe taught him long before. 550
And now, the mistress of the household charge
Summon’d him to his bath; glad he beheld
The steaming vase, uncustom’d to its use
E’er since his voyage from the isle of fair
Calypso, although, while a guest with her,
Ever familiar with it, as a God.
Laved by attendant damsels, and with oil
Refresh’d, he put his sumptuous tunic on
And mantle, and proceeding from the bath
To the symposium, join’d the num’rous guests; 560
But, as he pass’d, the Princess all divine
Beside the pillars of the portal, lost
In admiration of his graceful form,
Stood, and in accents wing’d him thus address’d.
Hail, stranger! at thy native home arrived
Remember me, thy first deliv’rer here.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Nausicaa! daughter of the noble King
  Alcinoüs! So may Jove, high-thund’ring mate
Of Juno, grant me to behold again 570
My native land, and my delightful home,
As, even there, I will present my vows
To thee, adoring thee as I adore
The Gods themselves, virgin, by whom I live!
He said, and on his throne beside the King
Alcinoüs sat. And now they portion’d out
The feast to all, and charg’d the cups with wine,
And introducing by his hand the bard
Phæacia’s glory, at the column’s side
The herald placed Demodocus again. 580
Then, carving forth a portion from the loins
Of a huge brawn, of which uneaten still
Large part and delicate remain’d, thus spake
Ulysses—Herald! bear it to the bard
For his regale, whom I will soon embrace
In spite of sorrow; for respect is due
And veneration to the sacred bard
From all mankind, for that the muse inspires
Herself his song, and loves the tuneful tribe.
He ended, and the herald bore his charge 590
To the old hero who with joy received
That meed of honour at the bearer’s hand.
Then, all, at once, assail’d the ready feast,
And hunger now, and thirst both satisfied,
Thus to Demodocus Ulysses spake.
Demodocus! I give thee praise above
All mortals, for that either thee the muse
Jove’s daughter teaches, or the King, himself,
Apollo; since thou so record’st the fate,
With such clear method, of Achaia’s host, 600
Their deeds heroic, and their num’rous toils,
As thou hadst present been thyself, or learnt
From others present there, the glorious tale.
Come, then, proceed; that rare invention sing,
The horse of wood, which by Minerva’s aid
Epeus framed, and which Ulysses erst
Convey’d into the citadel of Troy
With warriors fill’d, who lay’d all Ilium waste.
These things rehearse regular, and myself
Will, instant, publish in the ears of all 610
Thy fame, reporting thee a bard to whom
  Apollo free imparts celestial song.
He ended; then Apollo with full force
Rush’d on Demodocus, and he began
What time the Greeks, first firing their own camp
Steer’d all their galleys from the shore of Troy.
Already, in the horse conceal’d, his band
Around Ulysses sat; for Ilium’s sons
Themselves had drawn it to the citadel.
And there the mischief stood. Then, strife arose 620
Among the Trojans compassing the horse,
And threefold was the doubt; whether to cleave
The hollow trunk asunder, or updrawn
Aloft, to cast it headlong from the rocks,
Or to permit the enormous image, kept
Entire, to stand an off’ring to the Gods,
Which was their destined course; for Fate had fix’d
Their ruin sure, when once they had received
Within their walls that engine huge, in which
Sat all the bravest Greecians with the fate 630
Of Ilium charged, and slaughter of her sons.
He sang, how, from the horse effused, the Greeks
Left their capacious ambush, and the town
Made desolate. To others, in his song,
He gave the praise of wasting all beside,
But told how, fierce as Mars, Ulysses join’d
With godlike Menelaus, to the house
Flew of Deiphobus; him there engaged
In direst fight he sang, and through the aid
Of glorious Pallas, conqu’ror over all. 640
So sang the bard illustrious, at whose song
Ulysses melted, and tear after tear
Fell on his cheeks. As when a woman weeps,
Her husband, who hath fallen in defence
Of his own city and his babes before
The gates; she, sinking, folds him in her arms
And, gazing on him as he pants and dies,
Shrieks at the sight; meantime, the enemy
Smiting her shoulders with the spear to toil
Command her and to bondage far away, 650
And her cheek fades with horror at the sound;
Ulysses, so, from his moist lids let fall,
The frequent tear. Unnoticed by the rest
Those drops, but not by King Alcinoüs, fell
  Who, seated at his side, his heavy sighs
Remark’d, and the Phæacians thus bespake.
Phæacian Chiefs and Senators attend!
Now let Demodocus enjoin his harp
Silence, for not alike grateful to all
His music sounds; during our feast, and since 660
The bard divine began, continual flow
The stranger’s sorrows, by remembrance caused
Of some great woe which wraps his soul around.
Then, let the bard suspend his song, that all
(As most befits th’ occasion) may rejoice,
Both guest and hosts together; since we make
This voyage, and these gifts confer, in proof
Of hospitality and unfeign’d love,
Judging, with all wise men, the stranger-guest
And suppliant worthy of a brother’s place. 670
And thou conceal not, artfully reserv’d,
What I shall ask, far better plain declared
Than smother’d close; who art thou? speak thy name,
The name by which thy father, mother, friends
And fellow-citizens, with all who dwell
Around thy native city, in times past
Have known thee; for of all things human none
Lives altogether nameless, whether good
Or whether bad, but ev’ry man receives
Ev’n in the moment of his birth, a name. 680
Thy country, people, city, tell; the mark
At which my ships, intelligent, shall aim,
That they may bear thee thither; for our ships
No pilot need or helm, as ships are wont,
But know, themselves, our purpose; know beside
All cities, and all fruitful regions well
Of all the earth, and with dark clouds involv’d
Plough rapid the rough Deep, fearless of harm,
(Whate’er betide) and of disast’rous wreck.
Yet thus, long since, my father I have heard 690
Nausithoüs speaking; Neptune, he would say,
Is angry with us, for that safe we bear
Strangers of ev’ry nation to their home;
And he foretold a time when he would smite
In vengeance some Phæacian gallant bark
Returning after convoy of her charge,
And fix her in the sable flood, transform’d
  Into a mountain, right before the town.
So spake my hoary Sire, which let the God
At his own pleasure do, or leave undone. 700
But tell me truth, and plainly. Where have been
Thy wand’rings? in what regions of the earth
Hast thou arrived? what nations hast thou seen,
What cities? say, how many hast thou found
Harsh, savage and unjust? how many, kind
To strangers, and disposed to fear the Gods?
Say also, from what secret grief of heart
Thy sorrows flow, oft as thou hear’st the fate
Of the Achaians, or of Ilium sung?
That fate the Gods prepared; they spin the thread 710
Of man’s destruction, that in after days
The bard may make the sad event his theme.
Perish’d thy father or thy brother there?
Or hast thou at the siege of Ilium lost
Father-in-law, or son-in-law? for such
Are next and dearest to us after those
Who share our own descent; or was the dead
Thy bosom-friend, whose heart was as thy own?
For worthy as a brother of our love
The constant friend and the discrete I deem. 720

27 Agamemnon having inquired at Delphos, at what time the Trojan war would end, was answered that the conclusion of it should happen at a time when a dispute should arise between two of his principal commanders. That dispute occurred at the time here alluded to, Achilles recommending force as most likely to reduce the city, and Ulysses stratagem.

28 Τοισι δ’ απο νυσοης τετατο δρομος—This expression is by the commentators generally understood to be significant of the effort which they made at starting, but it is not improbable that it relates merely to the measurement of the course, otherwise, καρπαλιμως επετοντο will be tautologous.

29 In boxing.

30 The Translator is indebted to Mr Grey for an epithet more expressive of the original (Μαρμαρυγας) than any other, perhaps, in all our language. See the Ode on the Progress of Poetry.

“To brisk notes in cadence beating,
Glance their many-twinkling feet”

31 The original line has received such a variety of interpretations, that a Translator seems free to choose. It has, however, a proverbial turn, which I have endeavoured to preserve, and have adopted the sense of the words which appears best to accord with what immediately follows. Vulcan pleads his own inability to enforce the demand, as a circumstance that made Neptune’s promise unacceptable.

  BOOK IX

ARGUMENT

Ulysses discovers himself to the Phæacians, and begins the history of his adventures. He destroys Ismarus, city of the Ciconians; arrives among the Lotophagi; and afterwards at the land of the Cyclops. He is imprisoned by Polypheme in his cave, who devours six of his companions; intoxicates the monster with wine, blinds him while he sleeps, and escapes from him.

Then answer, thus, Ulysses wise return’d.
Alcinoüs! King! illustrious above all
Phæacia’s sons, pleasant it is to hear
A bard like this, sweet as the Gods in song.
The world, in my account, no sight affords
More gratifying than a people blest
With cheerfulness and peace, a palace throng’d
With guests in order ranged, list’ning to sounds
Melodious, and the steaming tables spread
With plenteous viands, while the cups, with wine 10
From brimming beakers fill’d, pass brisk around.
No lovelier sight know I. But thou, it seems,
Thy thoughts hast turn’d to ask me whence my groans
And tears, that I may sorrow still the more.
What first, what next, what last shall I rehearse,
On whom the Gods have show’r’d such various woes?
Learn first my name, that even in this land
Remote I may be known, and that escaped
From all adversity, I may requite
Hereafter, this your hospitable care 20
At my own home, however distant hence.
I am Ulysses, fear’d in all the earth
For subtlest wisdom, and renown’d to heaven,
The offspring of Laertes; my abode
Is sun-burnt Ithaca; there waving stands
The mountain Neritus his num’rous boughs,
And it is neighbour’d close by clust’ring isles
All populous; thence Samos is beheld,
Dulichium, and Zacynthus forest-clad.
Flat on the Deep she lies, farthest removed 30
  Toward the West, while, situate apart,
Her sister islands face the rising day;
Rugged she is, but fruitful nurse of sons
Magnanimous; nor shall these eyes behold,
Elsewhere, an object dear and sweet as she.
Calypso, beauteous Goddess, in her grot
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused;
Ææan Circe also, skill’d profound
In potent arts, within her palace long
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused; 40
But never could they warp my constant mind.
So much our parents and our native soil
Attract us most, even although our lot
Be fair and plenteous in a foreign land.
But come—my painful voyage, such as Jove
Gave me from Ilium, I will now relate.
From Troy the winds bore me to Ismarus,
City of the Ciconians; them I slew,
And laid their city waste; whence bringing forth
Much spoil with all their wives, I portion’d it 50
With equal hand, and each received a share.
Next, I exhorted to immediate flight
My people; but in vain; they madly scorn’d
My sober counsel, and much wine they drank,
And sheep and beeves slew num’rous on the shore.
Meantime, Ciconians to Ciconians call’d,
Their neighbours summoning, a mightier host
And braver, natives of the continent,
Expert, on horses mounted, to maintain
Fierce fight, or if occasion bade, on foot. 60
Num’rous they came as leaves, or vernal flow’rs
At day-spring. Then, by the decree of Jove,
Misfortune found us. At the ships we stood
Piercing each other with the brazen spear,
And till the morning brighten’d into noon,
Few as we were, we yet withstood them all;
But, when the sun verged westward, then the Greeks
Fell back, and the Ciconian host prevail’d.
Six warlike Greecians from each galley’s crew
Perish’d in that dread field; the rest escaped. 70
Thus, after loss of many, we pursued
Our course, yet, difficult as was our flight,
Went not till first we had invoked by name
  Our friends, whom the Ciconians had destroy’d.
But cloud-assembler Jove assail’d us soon
With a tempestuous North-wind; earth alike
And sea with storms he overhung, and night
Fell fast from heav’n. Their heads deep-plunging oft
Our gallies flew, and rent, and rent again
Our tatter’d sail-cloth crackled in the wind. 80
We, fearing instant death, within the barks
Our canvas lodg’d, and, toiling strenuous, reach’d
At length the continent. Two nights we lay
Continual there, and two long days, consumed
With toil and grief; but when the beauteous morn
Bright-hair’d, had brought the third day to a close,
(Our masts erected, and white sails unfurl’d)
Again we sat on board; meantime, the winds
Well managed by the steersman, urged us on.
And now, all danger pass’d, I had attain’d 90
My native shore, but, doubling in my course
Malea, waves and currents and North-winds
Constrain’d me devious to Cythera’s isle.
Nine days by cruel storms thence was I borne
Athwart the fishy Deep, but on the tenth
Reach’d the Lotophagi, a race sustain’d
On sweetest fruit alone. There quitting ship,
We landed and drew water, and the crews
Beside the vessels took their ev’ning cheer.
When, hasty, we had thus our strength renew’d, 100
I order’d forth my people to inquire
(Two I selected from the rest, with whom
I join’d an herald, third) what race of men
Might there inhabit. They, departing, mix’d
With the Lotophagi; nor hostile aught
Or savage the Lotophagi devised
Against our friends, but offer’d to their taste
The lotus; of which fruit what man soe’er
Once tasted, no desire felt he to come
With tidings back, or seek his country more, 110
But rather wish’d to feed on lotus still
With the Lotophagi, and to renounce
All thoughts of home. Them, therefore, I constrain’d
Weeping on board, and dragging each beneath
The benches, bound him there. Then, all in haste,
I urged my people to ascend again
  Their hollow barks, lest others also, fed
With fruit of lotus, should forget their home.
They quick embark’d, and on the benches ranged
In order, thresh’d with oars the foamy flood. 120
Thence, o’er the Deep proceeding sad, we reach’d
The land at length, where, giant-sized32 and free
From all constraint of law, the Cyclops dwell.
They, trusting to the Gods, plant not, or plough,
But earth unsow’d, untill’d, brings forth for them
All fruits, wheat, barley, and the vinous grape
Large cluster’d, nourish’d by the show’rs of Jove.
No councils they convene, no laws contrive,
But in deep caverns dwell, found on the heads
Of lofty mountains, judging each supreme 130
His wife and children, heedless of the rest.
In front of the Cyclopean haven lies
A level island, not adjoining close
Their land, nor yet remote, woody and rude.
There, wild goats breed numberless, by no foot
Of man molested; never huntsman there,
Inured to winter’s cold and hunger, roams
The dreary woods, or mountain-tops sublime;
No fleecy flocks dwell there, nor plough is known,
But the unseeded and unfurrow’d soil, 140
Year after year a wilderness by man
Untrodden, food for blatant goats supplies.
For no ships crimson-prow’d the Cyclops own,
Nor naval artizan is there, whose toil
Might furnish them with oary barks, by which
Subsists all distant commerce, and which bear
Man o’er the Deep to cities far remote
Who might improve the peopled isle, that seems
Not steril in itself, but apt to yield,
In their due season, fruits of ev’ry kind. 150
For stretch’d beside the hoary ocean lie
Green meadows moist, where vines would never fail;
Light is the land, and they might yearly reap
The tallest crops, so unctuous is the glebe.
Safe is its haven also, where no need
Of cable is or anchor, or to lash
The hawser fast ashore, but pushing in
His bark, the mariner might there abide
  Till rising gales should tempt him forth again.
At bottom of the bay runs a clear stream 160
Issuing from a cove hemm’d all around
With poplars; down into that bay we steer’d
Amid the darkness of the night, some God
Conducting us; for all unseen it lay,
Such gloom involved the fleet, nor shone the moon
From heav’n to light us, veil’d by pitchy clouds.
Hence, none the isle descried, nor any saw
The lofty surge roll’d on the strand, or ere
Our vessels struck the ground; but when they struck,
Then, low’ring all our sails, we disembark’d, 170
And on the sea-beach slept till dawn appear’d.
Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, we with admiring eyes
The isle survey’d, roaming it wide around.
Meantime, the nymphs, Jove’s daughters, roused the goats
Bred on the mountains, to supply with food
The partners of my toils; then, bringing forth
Bows and long-pointed javelins from the ships,
Divided all into three sep’rate bands
We struck them, and the Gods gave us much prey. 180
Twelve ships attended me, and ev’ry ship
Nine goats received by lot; myself alone
Selected ten. All day, till set of sun,
We eating sat goat’s flesh, and drinking wine
Delicious, without stint; for dearth was none
Of ruddy wine on board, but much remain’d,
With which my people had their jars supplied
What time we sack’d Ciconian Ismarus.
Thence looking forth toward the neighbour-land
Where dwell the Cyclops, rising smoke we saw, 190
And voices heard, their own, and of their flocks.
Now sank the sun, and (night o’ershadowing all)
We slept along the shore; but when again
The rosy-finger’d daughter of the dawn
Look’d forth, my crews convened, I thus began.
Companions of my course! here rest ye all,
Save my own crew, with whom I will explore
This people, whether wild, they be, unjust,
And to contention giv’n, or well-disposed
To strangers, and a race who fear the Gods. 200
So speaking, I embark’d, and bade embark
  My followers, throwing, quick, the hawsers loose.
They, ent’ring at my word, the benches fill’d
Well-ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood.
Attaining soon that neighbour-land, we found
At its extremity, fast by the sea,
A cavern, lofty, and dark-brow’d above
With laurels; in that cavern slumb’ring lay
Much cattle, sheep and goats, and a broad court
Enclosed it, fenced with stones from quarries hewn, 210
With spiry firs, and oaks of ample bough.
Here dwelt a giant vast, who far remote
His flocks fed solitary, converse none
Desiring, sullen, savage, and unjust.
Monster, in truth, he was, hideous in form,
Resembling less a man by Ceres’ gift
Sustain’d, than some aspiring mountain-crag
Tufted with wood, and standing all alone.
Enjoining, then, my people to abide
Fast by the ship which they should closely guard, 220
I went, but not without a goat-skin fill’d
With sable wine which I had erst received
From Maron, offspring of Evanthes, priest
Of Phœbus guardian god of Ismarus,
Because, through rev’rence of him, we had saved
Himself, his wife and children; for he dwelt
Amid the grove umbrageous of his God.
He gave me, therefore, noble gifts; from him
Sev’n talents I received of beaten gold,
A beaker, argent all, and after these 230
No fewer than twelve jars with wine replete,
Rich, unadult’rate, drink for Gods; nor knew
One servant, male or female, of that wine
In all his house; none knew it, save himself,
His wife, and the intendant of his stores.
Oft as they drank that luscious juice, he slaked
A single cup with twenty from the stream,
And, even then, the beaker breath’d abroad
A scent celestial, which whoever smelt,
Thenceforth no pleasure found it to abstain. 240
Charged with an ample goat-skin of this wine
I went, and with a wallet well supplied,
But felt a sudden presage in my soul
That, haply, with terrific force endued,
  Some savage would appear, strange to the laws
And privileges of the human race.
Few steps convey’d us to his den, but him
We found not; he his flocks pastur’d abroad.
His cavern ent’ring, we with wonder gazed
Around on all; his strainers hung with cheese 250
Distended wide; with lambs and kids his penns
Close-throng’d we saw, and folded separate
The various charge; the eldest all apart,
Apart the middle-aged, and the new-yean’d
Also apart. His pails and bowls with whey
Swam all, neat vessels into which he milk’d.
Me then my friends first importuned to take
A portion of his cheeses, then to drive
Forth from the sheep-cotes to the rapid bark
His kids and lambs, and plow the brine again. 260
But me they moved not, happier had they moved!
I wish’d to see him, and to gain, perchance,
Some pledge of hospitality at his hands,
Whose form was such, as should not much bespeak
When he appear’d, our confidence or love.
Then, kindling fire, we offer’d to the Gods,
And of his cheeses eating, patient sat
Till home he trudged from pasture. Charged he came
With dry wood bundled, an enormous load
Fuel by which to sup. Loud crash’d the thorns 270
Which down he cast before the cavern’s mouth,
To whose interior nooks we trembling flew.
At once he drove into his spacious cave
His batten’d flock, all those which gave him milk,
But all the males, both rams and goats, he left
Abroad, excluded from the cavern-yard.
Upheaving, next, a rocky barrier huge
To his cave’s mouth, he thrust it home. That weight
Not all the oxen from its place had moved
Of twenty and two wains; with such a rock 280
Immense his den he closed. Then down he sat,
And as he milk’d his ewes and bleating goats
All in their turns, her yeanling gave to each;
Coagulating, then, with brisk dispatch,
The half of his new milk, he thrust the curd
Into his wicker sieves, but stored the rest
In pans and bowls—his customary drink.
  His labours thus perform’d, he kindled, last,
His fuel, and discerning us, enquired,
Who are ye, strangers? from what distant shore 290
Roam ye the waters? traffic ye? or bound
To no one port, wander, as pirates use,
At large the Deep, exposing life themselves,
And enemies of all mankind beside?
He ceased; we, dash’d with terrour, heard the growl
Of his big voice, and view’d his form uncouth,
To whom, though sore appall’d, I thus replied.
Of Greece are we, and, bound from Ilium home,
Have wander’d wide the expanse of ocean, sport
For ev’ry wind, and driven from our course, 300
Have here arrived; so stood the will of Jove.
We boast ourselves of Agamemnon’s train,
The son of Atreus, at this hour the Chief
Beyond all others under heav’n renown’d,
So great a city he hath sack’d and slain
Such num’rous foes; but since we reach, at last,
Thy knees, we beg such hospitable fare,
Or other gift, as guests are wont to obtain.
Illustrious lord! respect the Gods, and us
Thy suitors; suppliants are the care of Jove 310
The hospitable; he their wrongs resents
And where the stranger sojourns, there is he.
I ceas’d, when answer thus he, fierce, return’d.
Friend! either thou art fool, or hast arrived
Indeed from far, who bidd’st me fear the Gods
Lest they be wroth. The Cyclops little heeds
Jove Ægis-arm’d, or all the Pow’rs of heav’n.
Our race is mightier far; nor shall myself,
Through fear of Jove’s hostility, abstain
From thee or thine, unless my choice be such. 320
But tell me now. Where touch’d thy gallant bark
Our country, on thy first arrival here?
Remote or nigh? for I would learn the truth.
So spake he, tempting me; but, artful, thus
I answer’d, penetrating his intent.
My vessel, Neptune, Shaker of the shores,
At yonder utmost promontory dash’d
In pieces, hurling her against the rocks
With winds that blew right thither from the sea,
And I, with these alone, escaped alive. 330
  So I, to whom, relentless, answer none
He deign’d, but, with his arms extended, sprang
Toward my people, of whom seizing two
At once, like whelps against his cavern-floor
He dash’d them, and their brains spread on the ground.
These, piece-meal hewn, for supper he prepared,
And, like a mountain-lion, neither flesh
Nor entrails left, nor yet their marrowy bones.
We, viewing that tremendous sight, upraised
Our hands to Jove, all hope and courage lost. 340
When thus the Cyclops had with human flesh
Fill’d his capacious belly, and had quaff’d
Much undiluted milk, among his flocks
Out-stretch’d immense, he press’d his cavern-floor.
Me, then, my courage prompted to approach
The monster with my sword drawn from the sheath,
And to transfix him where the vitals wrap
The liver; but maturer thoughts forbad.
For so, we also had incurred a death
Tremendous, wanting pow’r to thrust aside 350
The rocky mass that closed his cavern-mouth
By force of hand alone. Thus many a sigh
Heaving, we watch’d the dawn. But when, at length,
Aurora, day-spring’s daughter rosy-palm’d
Look’d forth, then, kindling fire, his flocks he milk’d
In order, and her yeanling kid or lamb
Thrust under each. When thus he had perform’d
His wonted task, two seizing, as before,
He slew them for his next obscene regale.
His dinner ended, from the cave he drove 360
His fatted flocks abroad, moving with ease
That pond’rous barrier, and replacing it
As he had only closed a quiver’s lid.
Then, hissing them along, he drove his flocks
Toward the mountain, and me left, the while,
Deep ruminating how I best might take
Vengeance, and by the aid of Pallas win
Deathless renown. This counsel pleas’d me most.
Beside the sheep-cote lay a massy club
Hewn by the Cyclops from an olive stock, 370
Green, but which dried, should serve him for a staff.
To us consid’ring it, that staff appear’d
Tall as the mast of a huge trading bark,
  Impell’d by twenty rowers o’er the Deep.
Such seem’d its length to us, and such its bulk.
Part amputating, (an whole fathom’s length)
I gave my men that portion, with command
To shave it smooth. They smooth’d it, and myself,
Shaping its blunt extremity to a point,
Season’d it in the fire; then cov’ring close 380
The weapon, hid it under litter’d straw,
For much lay scatter’d on the cavern-floor.
And now I bade my people cast the lot
Who of us all should take the pointed brand,
And grind it in his eye when next he slept.
The lots were cast, and four were chosen, those
Whom most I wish’d, and I was chosen fifth.
At even-tide he came, his fleecy flocks
Pasturing homeward, and compell’d them all
Into his cavern, leaving none abroad, 390
Either through some surmise, or so inclined
By influence, haply, of the Gods themselves.
The huge rock pull’d into its place again
At the cave’s mouth, he, sitting, milk’d his sheep
And goats in order, and her kid or lamb
Thrust under each; thus, all his work dispatch’d,
Two more he seiz’d, and to his supper fell.
I then, approaching to him, thus address’d
The Cyclops, holding in my hands a cup
Of ivy-wood, well-charg’d with ruddy wine. 400
Lo, Cyclops! this is wine. Take this and drink
After thy meal of man’s flesh. Taste and learn
What precious liquor our lost vessel bore.
I brought it hither, purposing to make
Libation to thee, if to pity inclined
Thou would’st dismiss us home. But, ah, thy rage
Is insupportable! thou cruel one!
Who, thinkest thou, of all mankind, henceforth
Will visit thee, guilty of such excess?
I ceas’d. He took and drank, and hugely pleas’d33 410
With that delicious bev’rage, thus enquir’d.
Give me again, and spare not. Tell me, too,
Thy name, incontinent, that I may make
Requital, gratifying also thee
With somewhat to thy taste. We Cyclops own
  A bounteous soil, which yields us also wine
From clusters large, nourish’d by show’rs from Jove;
But this—this is from above—a stream
Of nectar and ambrosia, all divine!
He ended, and received a second draught, 420
Like measure. Thrice I bore it to his hand,
And, foolish, thrice he drank. But when the fumes
Began to play around the Cyclops’ brain,
With show of amity I thus replied.
Cyclops! thou hast my noble name enquired,
Which I will tell thee. Give me, in return,
The promised boon, some hospitable pledge.
My name is Outis,34 Outis I am call’d
At home, abroad; wherever I am known.
So I; to whom he, savage, thus replied. 430
Outis, when I have eaten all his friends,
Shall be my last regale. Be that thy boon.
He spake, and, downward sway’d, fell resupine,
With his huge neck aslant. All-conqu’ring sleep
Soon seized him. From his gullet gush’d the wine
With human morsels mingled, many a blast
Sonorous issuing from his glutted maw.
Then, thrusting far the spike of olive-wood
Into the embers glowing on the hearth,
I heated it, and cheer’d my friends, the while, 440
Lest any should, through fear, shrink from his part.
But when that stake of olive-wood, though green,
Should soon have flamed, for it was glowing hot,
I bore it to his side. Then all my aids
Around me gather’d, and the Gods infused
Heroic fortitude into our hearts.
They, seizing the hot stake rasp’d to a point,
Bored his eye with it, and myself, advanced
To a superior stand, twirled it about.
  As when a shipwright with his wimble bores 450
Tough oaken timber, placed on either side
Below, his fellow-artists strain the thong
Alternate, and the restless iron spins,
So, grasping hard the stake pointed with fire,
We twirl’d it in his eye; the bubbling blood
Boil’d round about the brand; his pupil sent
A scalding vapour forth that sing’d his brow,
And all his eye-roots crackled in the flame.
As when the smith an hatchet or large axe
Temp’ring with skill, plunges the hissing blade 460
Deep in cold water, (whence the strength of steel)
So hiss’d his eye around the olive-wood.
The howling monster with his outcry fill’d
The hollow rock, and I, with all my aids,
Fled terrified. He, plucking forth the spike
From his burnt socket, mad with anguish, cast
The implement all bloody far away.
Then, bellowing, he sounded forth the name
Of ev’ry Cyclops dwelling in the caves
Around him, on the wind-swept mountain-tops; 470
They, at his cry flocking from ev’ry part,
Circled his den, and of his ail enquired.
What grievous hurt hath caused thee, Polypheme!
Thus yelling to alarm the peaceful ear
Of night, and break our slumbers? Fear’st thou lest
Some mortal man drive off thy flocks? or fear’st
Thyself to die by cunning or by force?
Them answer’d, then, Polypheme from his cave.
Oh, friends! I die! and Outis gives the blow.
To whom with accents wing’d his friends without. 480
If no man35 harm thee, but thou art alone,
And sickness feel’st, it is the stroke of Jove,
And thou must bear it; yet invoke for aid
Thy father Neptune, Sovereign of the floods.
So saying, they went, and in my heart I laugh’d
That by the fiction only of a name,
Slight stratagem! I had deceived them all.
Then groan’d the Cyclops wrung with pain and grief,
And, fumbling, with stretch’d hands, removed the rock
  From his cave’s mouth, which done, he sat him down 490
Spreading his arms athwart the pass, to stop
Our egress with his flocks abroad; so dull,
It seems, he held me, and so ill-advised.
I, pondering what means might fittest prove
To save from instant death, (if save I might)
My people and myself, to ev’ry shift
Inclined, and various counsels framed, as one
Who strove for life, conscious of woe at hand.
To me, thus meditating, this appear’d
The likeliest course. The rams well-thriven were, 500
Thick-fleeced, full-sized, with wool of sable hue.
These, silently, with osier twigs on which
The Cyclops, hideous monster, slept, I bound,
Three in one leash; the intermediate rams
Bore each a man, whom the exterior two
Preserved, concealing him on either side.
Thus each was borne by three, and I, at last,
The curl’d back seizing of a ram, (for one
I had reserv’d far stateliest of them all)
Slipp’d underneath his belly, and both hands 510
Enfolding fast in his exub’rant fleece,
Clung ceaseless to him as I lay supine.
We, thus disposed, waited with many a sigh
The sacred dawn; but when, at length, aris’n,
Aurora, day-spring’s daughter rosy-palm’d
Again appear’d, the males of all his flocks
Rush’d forth to pasture, and, meantime, unmilk’d,
The wethers bleated, by the load distress’d
Of udders overcharged. Their master, rack’d
With pain intolerable, handled yet 520
The backs of all, inquisitive, as they stood,
But, gross of intellect, suspicion none
Conceiv’d of men beneath their bodies bound.
And now (none left beside) the ram approach’d
With his own wool burthen’d, and with myself,
Whom many a fear molested. Polypheme
The giant stroak’d him as he sat, and said,
My darling ram! why latest of the flock
Com’st thou, whom never, heretofore, my sheep
Could leave behind, but stalking at their head, 530
Thou first was wont to crop the tender grass,
First to arrive at the clear stream, and first
  With ready will to seek my sheep-cote here
At evening; but, thy practice chang’d, thou com’st,
Now last of all. Feel’st thou regret, my ram!
Of thy poor master’s eye, by a vile wretch
Bored out, who overcame me first with wine,
And by a crew of vagabonds accurs’d,
Followers of Outis, whose escape from death
Shall not be made to-day? Ah! that thy heart 540
Were as my own, and that distinct as I
Thou could’st articulate, so should’st thou tell,
Where hidden, he eludes my furious wrath.
Then, dash’d against the floor his spatter’d brain
Should fly, and I should lighter feel my harm
From Outis, wretch base-named and nothing-worth.
So saying, he left him to pursue the flock.
When, thus drawn forth, we had, at length, escaped
Few paces from the cavern and the court,
First, quitting my own ram, I loos’d my friends, 550
Then, turning seaward many a thriven ewe
Sharp-hoof’d, we drove them swiftly to the ship.
Thrice welcome to our faithful friends we came
From death escaped, but much they mourn’d the dead.
I suffer’d not their tears, but silent shook
My brows, by signs commanding them to lift
The sheep on board, and instant plow the main.
They, quick embarking, on the benches sat
Well ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood;
But distant now such length as a loud voice 560
May reach, I hail’d with taunts the Cyclops’ ear.
Cyclops! when thou devouredst in thy cave
With brutal force my followers, thou devour’dst
The followers of no timid Chief, or base,
Vengeance was sure to recompense that deed
Atrocious. Monster! who wast not afraid
To eat the guest shelter’d beneath thy roof!
Therefore the Gods have well requited thee.
I ended; he, exasp’rate, raged the more,
And rending from its hold a mountain-top, 570
Hurl’d it toward us; at our vessel’s stern
Down came the mass, nigh sweeping in its fall
The rudder’s head. The ocean at the plunge
Of that huge rock, high on its refluent flood
Heav’d, irresistible, the ship to land.
  I seizing, quick, our longest pole on board,
Back thrust her from the coast and by a nod
In silence given, bade my companions ply
Strenuous their oars, that so we might escape.
Procumbent,36 each obey’d, and when, the flood 580
Cleaving, we twice that distance had obtain’d,37
Again I hail’d the Cyclops; but my friends
Earnest dissuaded me on ev’ry side.
Ah, rash Ulysses! why with taunts provoke
The savage more, who hath this moment hurl’d
A weapon, such as heav’d the ship again
To land, where death seem’d certain to us all?
For had he heard a cry, or but the voice
Of one man speaking, he had all our heads
With some sharp rock, and all our timbers crush’d 590
Together, such vast force is in his arm.
So they, but my courageous heart remain’d
Unmoved, and thus again, incensed, I spake.
Cyclops! should any mortal man inquire
To whom thy shameful loss of sight thou ow’st,
Say, to Ulysses, city-waster Chief,
Laertes’ son, native of Ithaca.
I ceas’d, and with a groan thus he replied.
Ah me! an antient oracle I feel
Accomplish’d. Here abode a prophet erst, 600
A man of noblest form, and in his art
Unrivall’d, Telemus Eurymedes.
He, prophesying to the Cyclops-race,
Grew old among us, and presaged my loss
Of sight, in future, by Ulysses’ hand.
I therefore watch’d for the arrival here,
Always, of some great Chief, for stature, bulk
And beauty prais’d, and cloath’d with wond’rous might.
But now—a dwarf, a thing impalpable,
A shadow, overcame me first by wine, 610
Then quench’d my sight. Come hither, O my guest!
Return, Ulysses! hospitable cheer
Awaits thee, and my pray’rs I will prefer
  To glorious Neptune for thy prosp’rous course;
For I am Neptune’s offspring, and the God
Is proud to be my Sire; he, if he please,
And he alone can heal me; none beside
Of Pow’rs immortal, or of men below.
He spake, to whom I answer thus return’d.
I would that of thy life and soul amerced, 620
I could as sure dismiss thee down to Hell,
As none shall heal thine eye—not even He.
So I; then pray’d the Cyclops to his Sire
With hands uprais’d towards the starry heav’n.
Hear, Earth-encircler Neptune, azure-hair’d!
If I indeed am thine, and if thou boast
Thyself my father, grant that never more
Ulysses, leveller of hostile tow’rs,
Laertes’ son, of Ithaca the fair,
Behold his native home! but if his fate 630
Decree him yet to see his friends, his house,
His native country, let him deep distress’d
Return and late, all his companions lost,
Indebted for a ship to foreign aid,
And let affliction meet him at his door.
He spake, and Ocean’s sov’reign heard his pray’r.
Then lifting from the shore a stone of size
Far more enormous, o’er his head he whirl’d
The rock, and his immeasurable force
Exerting all, dismiss’d it. Close behind 640
The ship, nor distant from the rudder’s head,
Down came the mass. The ocean at the plunge
Of such a weight, high on its refluent flood
Tumultuous, heaved the bark well nigh to land.
But when we reach’d the isle where we had left
Our num’rous barks, and where my people sat
Watching with ceaseless sorrow our return,
We thrust our vessel to the sandy shore,
Then disembark’d, and of the Cyclops’ sheep
Gave equal share to all. To me alone 650
My fellow-voyagers the ram consign’d
In distribution, my peculiar meed.
Him, therefore, to cloud-girt Saturnian Jove
I offer’d on the shore, burning his thighs
In sacrifice; but Jove my hallow’d rites
Reck’d not, destruction purposing to all
  My barks, and all my followers o’er the Deep.
Thus, feasting largely, on the shore we sat
Till even-tide, and quaffing gen’rous wine;
But when day fail’d, and night o’ershadow’d all, 660
Then, on the shore we slept; and when again
Aurora rosy daughter of the Dawn,
Look’d forth, my people, anxious, I enjoin’d
To climb their barks, and cast the hawsers loose.
They all obedient, took their seats on board
Well-ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood.
Thus, ’scaping narrowly, we roam’d the Deep
With aching hearts and with diminish’d crews.

32 So the Scholium interprets in this place, the word ὑπερθιαλος.

33 Λινως

34 Clarke, who has preserved this name in his marginal version, contends strenuously, and with great reason, that Outis ought not to be translated, and in a passage which he quotes from the Acta eruditorum, we see much fault found with Giphanius and other interpreters of Homer for having translated it. It is certain that in Homer the word is declined not as ουτις-τινος which signifies no man, but as ουτις-τιδος making ουτιν in the accusative, consequently as a proper name. It is sufficient that the ambiguity was such as to deceive the friends of the Cyclops. Outis is said by some (perhaps absurdly) to have been a name given to Ulysses on account of his having larger ears than common.

35 Outis, as a name could only denote him who bore it; but as a noun, it signifies no man, which accounts sufficiently for the ludicrous mistake of his brethren.

36

προπεσοντες
———Olli certamine summo
Procumbunt.
Virgil

37 The seeming incongruity of this line with line 560, is reconciled by supposing that Ulysses exerted his voice, naturally loud, in an extraordinary manner on this second occasion. See Clarke.

  BOOK X

ARGUMENT

Ulysses, in pursuit of his narrative, relates his arrival at the island of Æolus, his departure thence, and the unhappy occasion of his return thither. The monarch of the winds dismisses him at last with much asperity. He next tells of his arrival among the Læstrygonians, by whom his whole fleet, together with their crews, are destroyed, his own ship and crew excepted. Thence he is driven to the island of Circe. By her the half of his people are transformed into swine. Assisted by Mercury, he resists her enchantments himself, and prevails with the Goddess to recover them to their former shape. In consequence of Circe’s instructions, after having spent a complete year in her palace, he prepares for a voyage to the infernal regions.

We came to the Æolian isle; there dwells
Æolus, son of Hippotas, belov’d
By the Immortals, in an isle afloat.
A brazen wall impregnable on all sides
Girds it, and smooth its rocky coast ascends.
His children, in his own fair palace born,
Are twelve; six daughters, and six blooming sons.
He gave his daughters to his sons to wife;
They with their father hold perpetual feast
And with their royal mother, still supplied 10
With dainties numberless; the sounding dome
Is fill’d with sav’ry odours all the day,
And with their consorts chaste at night they sleep
On stateliest couches with rich arras spread.
Their city and their splendid courts we reach’d.
A month complete he, friendly, at his board
Regaled me, and enquiry made minute
Of Ilium’s fall, of the Achaian fleet,
And of our voyage thence. I told him all.
But now, desirous to embark again, 20
I ask’d dismission home, which he approved,
And well provided for my prosp’rous course.
He gave me, furnish’d by a bullock slay’d
In his ninth year, a bag; ev’ry rude blast
Which from its bottom turns the Deep, that bag
  Imprison’d held; for him Saturnian Jove
Hath officed arbiter of all the winds,
To rouse their force or calm them, at his will.
He gave me them on board my bark, so bound
With silver twine that not a breath escaped, 30
Then order’d gentle Zephyrus to fill
Our sails propitious. Order vain, alas!
So fatal proved the folly of my friends.
Nine days continual, night and day we sail’d,
And on the tenth my native land appear’d.
Not far remote my Ithacans I saw
Fires kindling on the coast; but me with toil
Worn, and with watching, gentle sleep subdued;
For constant I had ruled the helm, nor giv’n
That charge to any, fearful of delay. 40
Then, in close conference combined, my crew
Each other thus bespake—He carries home
Silver and gold from Æolus received,
Offspring of Hippotas, illustrious Chief—
And thus a mariner the rest harangued.
Ye Gods! what city or what land soe’er
Ulysses visits, how is he belov’d
By all, and honour’d! many precious spoils
He homeward bears from Troy; but we return,
(We who the self-same voyage have perform’d) 50
With empty hands. Now also he hath gain’d
This pledge of friendship from the King of winds.
But come—be quick—search we the bag, and learn
What stores of gold and silver it contains.
So he, whose mischievous advice prevailed.
They loos’d the bag; forth issued all the winds,
And, caught by tempests o’er the billowy waste,
Weeping they flew, far, far from Ithaca.
I then, awaking, in my noble mind
Stood doubtful, whether from my vessel’s side 60
Immersed to perish in the flood, or calm
To endure my sorrows, and content to live.
I calm endured them; but around my head
Winding my mantle, lay’d me down below,
While adverse blasts bore all my fleet again
To the Æolian isle; then groan’d my people.
We disembark’d and drew fresh water there,
And my companions, at their galley’s sides
  All seated, took repast; short meal we made,
When, with an herald and a chosen friend, 70
I sought once more the hall of Æolus.
Him banqueting with all his sons we found,
And with his spouse; we ent’ring, on the floor
Of his wide portal sat, whom they amazed
Beheld, and of our coming thus enquired.
Return’d? Ulysses! by what adverse Pow’r
Repuls’d hast thou arrived? we sent thee hence
Well-fitted forth to reach thy native isle,
Thy palace, or what place soe’er thou would’st.
So they—to whom, heart-broken, I replied. 80
My worthless crew have wrong’d me, nor alone
My worthless crew, but sleep ill-timed, as much.
Yet heal, O friends, my hurt; the pow’r is yours!
So I their favour woo’d. Mute sat the sons,
But thus their father answer’d. Hence—be gone—
Leave this our isle, thou most obnoxious wretch
Of all mankind. I should, myself, transgress,
Receiving here, and giving conduct hence
To one detested by the Gods as thou.
Away—for hated by the Gods thou com’st. 90
So saying, he sent me from his palace forth,
Groaning profound; thence, therefore, o’er the Deep
We still proceeded sorrowful, our force
Exhausting ceaseless at the toilsome oar,
And, through our own imprudence, hopeless now
Of other furth’rance to our native isle.
Six days we navigated, day and night,
The briny flood, and on the seventh reach’d
The city erst by Lamus built sublime,
Proud Læstrygonia, with the distant gates. 100
The herdsman, there, driving his cattle home,38
Summons the shepherd with his flocks abroad.
The sleepless there might double wages earn,
Attending, now, the herds, now, tending sheep,
For the night-pastures, and the pastures grazed
By day, close border, both, the city-walls.
  To that illustrious port we came, by rocks
Uninterrupted flank’d on either side
Of tow’ring height, while prominent the shores
And bold, converging at the haven’s mouth 110
Leave narrow pass. We push’d our galleys in,
Then moor’d them side by side; for never surge
There lifts its head, or great or small, but clear
We found, and motionless, the shelter’d flood.
Myself alone, staying my bark without,
Secured her well with hawsers to a rock
At the land’s point, then climb’d the rugged steep,
And spying stood the country. Labours none
Of men or oxen in the land appear’d,
Nor aught beside saw we, but from the earth 120
Smoke rising; therefore of my friends I sent
Before me two, adding an herald third,
To learn what race of men that country fed.
Departing, they an even track pursued
Made by the waggons bringing timber down
From the high mountains to the town below.
Before the town a virgin bearing forth
Her ew’r they met, daughter of him who ruled
The Læstrygonian race, Antiphatas.
Descending from the gate, she sought the fount 130
Artacia; for their custom was to draw
From that pure fountain for the city’s use.
Approaching they accosted her, and ask’d
What King reign’d there, and over whom he reign’d.
She gave them soon to know where stood sublime
The palace of her Sire; no sooner they
The palace enter’d, than within they found,
In size resembling an huge mountain-top,
A woman, whom they shudder’d to behold.
She forth from council summon’d quick her spouse 140
Antiphatas, who teeming came with thoughts
Of carnage, and, arriving, seized at once
A Greecian, whom, next moment, he devoured.
With headlong terrour the surviving two
Fled to the ships. Then sent Antiphatas
His voice through all the town, and on all sides,
Hearing that cry, the Læstrygonians flock’d
Numberless, and in size resembling more
The giants than mankind. They from the rocks
  Cast down into our fleet enormous stones, 150
A strong man’s burthen each; dire din arose
Of shatter’d galleys and of dying men,
Whom spear’d like fishes to their home they bore,
A loathsome prey. While them within the port
They slaughter’d, I, (the faulchion at my side
Drawn forth) cut loose the hawser of my ship,
And all my crew enjoin’d with bosoms laid
Prone on their oars, to fly the threaten’d woe.
They, dreading instant death tugg’d resupine
Together, and the galley from beneath 160
Those beetling39 rocks into the open sea
Shot gladly; but the rest all perish’d there.
Proceeding thence, we sigh’d, and roamed the waves,
Glad that we lived, but sorrowing for the slain.
We came to the Ææan isle; there dwelt
The awful Circe, Goddess amber-hair’d,
Deep-skill’d in magic song, sister by birth
Of the all-wise Æætes; them the Sun,
Bright luminary of the world, begat
On Perse, daughter of Oceanus. 170
Our vessel there, noiseless, we push’d to land
Within a spacious haven, thither led
By some celestial Pow’r. We disembark’d,
And on the coast two days and nights entire
Extended lay, worn with long toil, and each
The victim of his heart-devouring woes.
Then, with my spear and with my faulchion arm’d,
I left the ship to climb with hasty steps
An airy height, thence, hoping to espie
Some works of man, or hear, perchance, a voice. 180
Exalted on a rough rock’s craggy point
I stood, and on the distant plain, beheld
Smoke which from Circe’s palace through the gloom
Of trees and thickets rose. That smoke discern’d,
I ponder’d next if thither I should haste,
Seeking intelligence. Long time I mused,
But chose at last, as my discreter course,
To seek the sea-beach and my bark again,
And, when my crew had eaten, to dispatch
Before me, others, who should first enquire. 190
  But, ere I yet had reach’d my gallant bark,
Some God with pity viewing me alone
In that untrodden solitude, sent forth
An antler’d stag, full-sized, into my path.
His woodland pastures left, he sought the stream,
For he was thirsty, and already parch’d
By the sun’s heat. Him issuing from his haunt,
Sheer through the back beneath his middle spine,
I wounded, and the lance sprang forth beyond.
Moaning he fell, and in the dust expired. 200
Then, treading on his breathless trunk, I pluck’d
My weapon forth, which leaving there reclined,
I tore away the osiers with my hands
And fallows green, and to a fathom’s length
Twisting the gather’d twigs into a band,
Bound fast the feet of my enormous prey,
And, flinging him athwart my neck, repair’d
Toward my sable bark, propp’d on my lance,
Which now to carry shoulder’d as before
Surpass’d my pow’r, so bulky was the load. 210
Arriving at the ship, there I let fall
My burthen, and with pleasant speech and kind,
Man after man addressing, cheer’d my crew.
My friends! we suffer much, but shall not seek
The shades, ere yet our destined hour arrive.
Behold a feast! and we have wine on board—
Pine not with needless famine! rise and eat.
I spake; they readily obey’d, and each
Issuing at my word abroad, beside
The galley stood, admiring, as he lay, 220
The stag, for of no common bulk was he.
At length, their eyes gratified to the full
With that glad spectacle, they laved their hands,
And preparation made of noble cheer.
That day complete, till set of sun, we spent
Feasting deliciously without restraint,
And quaffing generous wine; but when the sun
Went down, and darkness overshadow’d all,
Extended, then, on Ocean’s bank we lay;
And when Aurora, daughter of the dawn, 230
Look’d rosy forth, convening all my crew
To council, I arose, and thus began.
My fellow-voyagers, however worn
  With num’rous hardships, hear! for neither West
Know ye, nor East, where rises, or where sets
The all-enlight’ning sun. But let us think,
If thought perchance may profit us, of which
Small hope I see; for when I lately climb’d
Yon craggy rock, plainly I could discern
The land encompass’d by the boundless Deep. 240
The isle is flat, and in the midst I saw
Dun smoke ascending from an oaken bow’r.
So I, whom hearing, they all courage lost,
And at remembrance of Antiphatas
The Læstrygonian, and the Cyclops’ deeds,
Ferocious feeder on the flesh of man,
Mourn’d loud and wept, but tears could nought avail.
Then numb’ring man by man, I parted them
In equal portions, and assign’d a Chief
To either band, myself to these, to those 250
Godlike Eurylochus. This done, we cast
The lots into the helmet, and at once
Forth sprang the lot of bold Eurylochus.
He went, and with him of my people march’d
Twenty and two, all weeping; nor ourselves
Wept less, at separation from our friends.
Low in a vale, but on an open spot,
They found the splendid house of Circe, built
With hewn and polish’d stones; compass’d she dwelt
By lions on all sides and mountain-wolves 260
Tamed by herself with drugs of noxious pow’rs.
Nor were they mischievous, but as my friends
Approach’d, arising on their hinder feet,
Paw’d them in blandishment, and wagg’d the tail.
As, when from feast he rises, dogs around
Their master fawn, accustom’d to receive
The sop conciliatory from his hand,
Around my people, so, those talon’d wolves
And lions fawn’d. They, terrified, that troop
Of savage monsters horrible beheld. 270
And now, before the Goddess’ gates arrived,
They heard the voice of Circe singing sweet
Within, while, busied at the loom, she wove
An ample web immortal, such a work
Transparent, graceful, and of bright design
As hands of Goddesses alone produce.
  Thus then Polites, Prince of men, the friend
Highest in my esteem, the rest bespake.
Ye hear the voice, comrades, of one who weaves
An ample web within, and at her task 280
So sweetly chaunts that all the marble floor
Re-echoes; human be she or divine
I doubt, but let us call, that we may learn.
He ceas’d; they call’d; soon issuing at the sound,
The Goddess open’d wide her splendid gates,
And bade them in; they, heedless, all complied,
All save Eurylochus, who fear’d a snare.
She, introducing them, conducted each
To a bright throne, then gave them Pramnian wine,
With grated cheese, pure meal, and honey new, 290
But medicated with her pois’nous drugs
Their food, that in oblivion they might lose
The wish of home. She gave them, and they drank,—
When, smiting each with her enchanting wand,
She shut them in her sties. In head, in voice,
In body, and in bristles they became
All swine, yet intellected as before,
And at her hand were dieted alone
With acorns, chestnuts, and the cornel-fruit,
Food grateful ever to the grovelling swine. 300
Back flew Eurylochus toward the ship,
To tell the woeful tale; struggling to speak,
Yet speechless, there he stood, his heart transfixt
With anguish, and his eyes deluged with tears.
Me boding terrours occupied. At length,
When, gazing on him, all had oft enquired,
He thus rehearsed to us the dreadful change.
Renown’d Ulysses! as thou bad’st, we went
Through yonder oaks; there, bosom’d in a vale,
But built conspicuous on a swelling knoll 310
With polish’d rock, we found a stately dome.
Within, some Goddess or some woman wove
An ample web, carolling sweet the while.
They call’d aloud; she, issuing at the voice,
Unfolded, soon, her splendid portals wide,
And bade them in. Heedless they enter’d, all,
But I remain’d, suspicious of a snare.
Ere long the whole band vanish’d, none I saw
Thenceforth, though, seated there, long time I watch’d.
  He ended; I my studded faulchion huge 320
Athwart my shoulder cast, and seized my bow,
Then bade him lead me thither by the way
Himself had gone; but with both hands my knees
He clasp’d, and in wing’d accents sad exclaim’d.
My King! ah lead me not unwilling back,
But leave me here; for confident I judge
That neither thou wilt bring another thence,
Nor come thyself again. Haste—fly we swift
With these, for we, at least, may yet escape.
So he, to whom this answer I return’d. 330
Eurylochus! abiding here, eat thou
And drink thy fill beside the sable bark;
I go; necessity forbids my stay.
So saying, I left the galley and the shore.
But ere that awful vale ent’ring, I reach’d
The palace of the sorceress, a God
Met me, the bearer of the golden wand,
Hermes. He seem’d a stripling in his prime,
His cheeks cloath’d only with their earliest down,
For youth is then most graceful; fast he lock’d 340
His hand in mine, and thus, familiar, spake.
Unhappy! whither, wand’ring o’er the hills,
Stranger to all this region, and alone,
Go’st thou? Thy people—they within the walls
Are shut of Circe, where as swine close-pent
She keeps them. Comest thou to set them free?
I tell thee, never wilt thou thence return
Thyself, but wilt be prison’d with the rest.
Yet hearken—I will disappoint her wiles,
And will preserve thee. Take this precious drug; 350
Possessing this, enter the Goddess’ house
Boldly, for it shall save thy life from harm.
Lo! I reveal to thee the cruel arts
Of Circe; learn them. She will mix for thee
A potion, and will also drug thy food
With noxious herbs; but she shall not prevail
By all her pow’r to change thee; for the force
Superior of this noble plant, my gift,
Shall baffle her. Hear still what I advise.
When she shall smite thee with her slender rod, 360
With faulchion drawn and with death-threat’ning looks
Rush on her; she will bid thee to her bed
  Affrighted; then beware. Decline not thou
Her love, that she may both release thy friends,
And may with kindness entertain thyself.
But force her swear the dreaded oath of heav’n
That she will other mischief none devise
Against thee, lest she strip thee of thy might,
And, quenching all thy virtue, make thee vile.
So spake the Argicide, and from the earth 370
That plant extracting, placed it in my hand,
Then taught me all its pow’rs. Black was the root,
Milk-white the blossom; Moly is its name
In heav’n; not easily by mortal man
Dug forth, but all is easy to the Gods.
Then, Hermes through the island-woods repair’d
To heav’n, and I to Circe’s dread abode,
In gloomy musings busied as I went.
Within the vestibule arrived, where dwelt
The beauteous Goddess, staying there my steps, 380
I call’d aloud; she heard me, and at once
Issuing, threw her splendid portals wide,
And bade me in. I follow’d, heart-distress’d.
Leading me by the hand to a bright throne
With argent studs embellish’d, and beneath
Footstool’d magnificent, she made me sit.
Then mingling for me in a golden cup
My bev’rage, she infused a drug, intent
On mischief; but when I had drunk the draught
Unchanged, she smote me with her wand, and said. 390
Hence—seek the sty. There wallow with thy friends.
She spake; I drawing from beside my thigh
My faulchion keen, with death-denouncing looks
Rush’d on her; she with a shrill scream of fear
Ran under my rais’d arm, seized fast my knees,
And in wing’d accents plaintive thus began.
Who? whence? thy city and thy birth declare.
Amazed I see thee with that potion drench’d,
Yet uninchanted; never man before
Once pass’d it through his lips, and liv’d the same; 400
But in thy breast a mind inhabits, proof
Against all charms. Come then—I know thee well.
Thou art Ulysses artifice-renown’d,
Of whose arrival here in his return
From Ilium, Hermes of the golden wand
  Was ever wont to tell me. Sheath again
Thy sword, and let us, on my bed reclined,
Mutual embrace, that we may trust thenceforth
Each other, without jealousy or fear.
The Goddess spake, to whom I thus replied. 410
O Circe! canst thou bid me meek become
And gentle, who beneath thy roof detain’st
My fellow-voyagers transform’d to swine?
And, fearing my escape, invit’st thou me
Into thy bed, with fraudulent pretext
Of love, that there, enfeebling by thy arts
My noble spirit, thou may’st make me vile?
No—trust me—never will I share thy bed
Till first, O Goddess, thou consent to swear
The dread all-binding oath, that other harm 420
Against myself thou wilt imagine none.
I spake. She swearing as I bade, renounced
All evil purpose, and (her solemn oath
Concluded) I ascended, next, her bed
Magnificent. Meantime, four graceful nymphs
Attended on the service of the house,
Her menials, from the fountains sprung and groves,
And from the sacred streams that seek the sea.
Of these, one cast fine linen on the thrones,
Which, next, with purple arras rich she spread; 430
Another placed before the gorgeous seats
Bright tables, and set on baskets of gold.
The third, an argent beaker fill’d with wine
Delicious, which in golden cups she served;
The fourth brought water, which she warm’d within
An ample vase, and when the simm’ring flood
Sang in the tripod, led me to a bath,
And laved me with the pleasant stream profuse
Pour’d o’er my neck and body, till my limbs
Refresh’d, all sense of lassitude resign’d. 440
When she had bathed me, and with limpid oil
Anointed me, and cloathed me in a vest
And mantle, next, she led me to a throne
Of royal state, with silver studs emboss’d,
And footstool’d soft beneath; then came a nymph
With golden ewer charged and silver bowl,
Who pour’d pure water on my hands, and placed
The polish’d board before me, which with food
  Various, selected from her present stores,
The cat’ress spread, then, courteous, bade me eat. 450
But me it pleas’d not; with far other thoughts
My spirit teem’d, on vengeance more intent.
Soon, then, as Circe mark’d me on my seat
Fast-rooted, sullen, nor with outstretch’d hands
Deigning to touch the banquet, she approach’d,
And in wing’d accents suasive thus began.
Why sits Ulysses like the Dumb, dark thoughts
His only food? loaths he the touch of meat,
And taste of wine? Thou fear’st, as I perceive,
Some other snare, but idle is that fear, 460
For I have sworn the inviolable oath.
She ceas’d, to whom this answer I return’d.
How can I eat? what virtuous man and just,
O Circe! could endure the taste of wine
Or food, till he should see his prison’d friends
Once more at liberty? If then thy wish
That I should eat and drink be true, produce
My captive people; let us meet again.
So I; then Circe, bearing in her hand
Her potent rod, went forth, and op’ning wide 470
The door, drove out my people from the sty,
In bulk resembling brawns of the ninth year.
They stood before me; she through all the herd
Proceeding, with an unctuous antidote
Anointed each, and at the wholesome touch
All shed the swinish bristles by the drug
Dread Circe’s former magic gift, produced.
Restored at once to manhood, they appear’d
More vig’rous far, and sightlier than before.
They knew me, and with grasp affectionate 480
Hung on my hand. Tears follow’d, but of joy,
And with loud cries the vaulted palace rang.
Even the awful Goddess felt, herself,
Compassion, and, approaching me, began.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
Hence to the shore, and to thy gallant bark;
First, hale her safe aground, then, hiding all
Your arms and treasures in the caverns, come
Thyself again, and hither lead thy friends.
So spake the Goddess, and my gen’rous mind 490
Persuaded; thence repairing to the beach,
  I sought my ship; arrived, I found my crew
Lamenting miserably, and their cheeks
With tears bedewing ceaseless at her side.
As when the calves within some village rear’d
Behold, at eve, the herd returning home
From fruitful meads where they have grazed their fill,
No longer in the stalls contain’d, they rush
With many a frisk abroad, and, blaring oft,
With one consent, all dance their dams around, 500
So they, at sight of me, dissolved in tears
Of rapt’rous joy, and each his spirit felt
With like affections warm’d as he had reach’d
Just then his country, and his city seen,
Fair Ithaca, where he was born and rear’d.
Then in wing’d accents tender thus they spake.
Noble Ulysses! thy appearance fills
Our soul with transports, such as we should feel
Arrived in safety on our native shore.
Speak—say how perish’d our unhappy friends? 510
So they; to whom this answer mild I gave.
Hale we our vessel first ashore, and hide
In caverns all our treasures and our arms,
Then, hasting hence, follow me, and ere long
Ye shall behold your friends, beneath the roof
Of Circe banqueting and drinking wine
Abundant, for no dearth attends them there.
So I; whom all with readiness obey’d,
All save Eurylochus; he sought alone
To stay the rest, and, eager, interposed. 520
Ah whither tend we, miserable men?
Why covet ye this evil, to go down
To Circe’s palace? she will change us all
To lions, wolves or swine, that we may guard
Her palace, by necessity constrain’d.
So some were pris’ners of the Cyclops erst,
When, led by rash Ulysses, our lost friends
Intruded needlessly into his cave,
And perish’d by the folly of their Chief.
He spake, whom hearing, occupied I stood 530
In self-debate, whether, my faulchion keen
Forth-drawing from beside my sturdy thigh,
To tumble his lopp’d head into the dust,
Although he were my kinsman in the bonds
  Of close affinity; but all my friends
As with one voice, thus gently interposed.
Noble Ulysses! we will leave him here
Our vessel’s guard, if such be thy command,
But us lead thou to Circe’s dread abode.
So saying, they left the galley, and set forth 540
Climbing the coast; nor would Eurylochus
Beside the hollow bark remain, but join’d
His comrades by my dreadful menace awed.
Meantime the Goddess, busily employ’d,
Bathed and refresh’d my friends with limpid oil,
And clothed them. We, arriving, found them all
Banqueting in the palace; there they met;
These ask’d, and those rehearsed the wond’rous tale,
And, the recital made, all wept aloud
Till the wide dome resounded. Then approach’d 550
The graceful Goddess, and address’d me thus.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
Provoke ye not each other, now, to tears.
I am not ignorant, myself, how dread
Have been your woes both on the fishy Deep,
And on the land by force of hostile pow’rs.
But come—Eat now, and drink ye wine, that so
Your freshen’d spirit may revive, and ye
Courageous grow again, as when ye left
The rugged shores of Ithaca, your home. 560
For now, through recollection, day by day,
Of all your pains and toils, ye are become
Spiritless, strengthless, and the taste forget
Of pleasure, such have been your num’rous woes.
She spake, whose invitation kind prevail’d,
And won us to her will. There, then, we dwelt
The year complete, fed with delicious fare
Day after day, and quaffing gen’rous wine.
But when (the year fulfill’d) the circling hours
Their course resumed, and the successive months 570
With all their tedious days were spent, my friends,
Summoning me abroad, thus greeted me.
Sir! recollect thy country, if indeed
The fates ordain thee to revisit safe
That country, and thy own glorious abode.
So they; whose admonition I receiv’d
Well-pleas’d. Then, all the day, regaled we sat
  At Circe’s board with sav’ry viands rare,
And quaffing richest wine; but when, the sun
Declining, darkness overshadow’d all, 580
Then, each within the dusky palace took
Custom’d repose, and to the Goddess’ bed
Magnificent ascending, there I urged
My earnest suit, which gracious she receiv’d,
And in wing’d accents earnest thus I spake.
O Circe! let us prove thy promise true;
Dismiss us hence. My own desires, at length,
Tend homeward vehement, and the desires
No less of all my friends, who with complaints
Unheard by thee, wear my sad heart away. 590
So I; to whom the Goddess in return.
Laertes’ noble son, Ulysses famed
For deepest wisdom! dwell not longer here,
Thou and thy followers, in my abode
Reluctant; but your next must be a course
Far diff’rent; hence departing, ye must seek
The dreary house of Ades and of dread
Persephone there to consult the Seer
Theban Tiresias, prophet blind, but blest
With faculties which death itself hath spared. 600
To him alone, of all the dead, Hell’s Queen
Gives still to prophesy, while others flit
Mere forms, the shadows of what once they were.
She spake, and by her words dash’d from my soul
All courage; weeping on the bed I sat,
Reckless of life and of the light of day.
But when, with tears and rolling to and fro
Satiate, I felt relief, thus I replied.
O Circe! with what guide shall I perform
This voyage, unperform’d by living man? 610
I spake, to whom the Goddess quick replied.
Brave Laertiades! let not the fear
To want a guide distress thee. Once on board,
Your mast erected, and your canvas white
Unfurl’d, sit thou; the breathing North shall waft
Thy vessel on. But when ye shall have cross’d
The broad expanse of Ocean, and shall reach
The oozy shore, where grow the poplar groves
And fruitless willows wan of Proserpine,
Push thither through the gulphy Deep thy bark, 620
  And, landing, haste to Pluto’s murky abode.
There, into Acheron runs not alone
Dread Pyriphlegethon, but Cocytus loud,
From Styx derived; there also stands a rock,
At whose broad base the roaring rivers meet.
There, thrusting, as I bid, thy bark ashore,
O Hero! scoop the soil, op’ning a trench
Ell-broad on ev’ry side; then pour around
Libation consecrate to all the dead,
First, milk with honey mixt, then luscious wine, 630
Then water, sprinkling, last, meal over all.
Next, supplicate the unsubstantial forms
Fervently of the dead, vowing to slay,
(Return’d to Ithaca) in thy own house,
An heifer barren yet, fairest and best
Of all thy herds, and to enrich the pile
With delicacies such as please the shades;
But, in peculiar, to Tiresias vow
A sable ram, noblest of all thy flocks.
When thus thou hast propitiated with pray’r 640
All the illustrious nations of the dead,
Next, thou shalt sacrifice to them a ram
And sable ewe, turning the face of each
Right toward Erebus, and look thyself,
Meantime, askance toward the river’s course.
Souls num’rous, soon, of the departed dead
Will thither flock; then, strenuous urge thy friends,
Flaying the victims which thy ruthless steel
Hath slain, to burn them, and to sooth by pray’r
Illustrious Pluto and dread Proserpine. 650
While thus is done, thou seated at the foss,
Faulchion in hand, chace thence the airy forms
Afar, nor suffer them to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias thou have first conferr’d.
Then, glorious Chief! the Prophet shall himself
Appear, who will instruct thee, and thy course
Delineate, measuring from place to place
Thy whole return athwart the fishy flood.
While thus she spake, the golden dawn arose,
When, putting on me my attire, the nymph 660
Next, cloath’d herself, and girding to her waist
With an embroider’d zone her snowy robe
Graceful, redundant, veil’d her beauteous head.
  Then, ranging the wide palace, I aroused
My followers, standing at the side of each—
Up! sleep no longer! let us quick depart,
For thus the Goddess hath, herself, advised.
So I, whose early summons my brave friends
With readiness obey’d. Yet even thence
I brought not all my crew. There was a youth, 670
Youngest of all my train, Elpenor; one
Not much in estimation for desert
In arms, nor prompt in understanding more,
Who overcharged with wine, and covetous
Of cooler air, high on the palace-roof
Of Circe slept, apart from all the rest.
Awaken’d by the clamour of his friends
Newly arisen, he also sprang to rise,
And in his haste, forgetful where to find
The deep-descending stairs, plunged through the roof. 680
With neck-bone broken from the vertebræ
Outstretch’d he lay; his spirit sought the shades.
Then, thus to my assembling friends I spake.
Ye think, I doubt not, of an homeward course,
But Circe points me to the drear abode
Of Proserpine and Pluto, to consult
The spirit of Tiresias, Theban seer.
I ended, and the hearts of all alike
Felt consternation; on the earth they sat
Disconsolate, and plucking each his hair, 690
Yet profit none of all their sorrow found.
But while we sought my galley on the beach
With tepid tears bedewing, as we went,
Our cheeks, meantime the Goddess to the shore
Descending, bound within the bark a ram
And sable ewe, passing us unperceived.
For who hath eyes that can discern a God
Going or coming, if he shun the view?

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

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

  BOOK XI

ARGUMENT

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

Arriving on the shore, and launching, first,
Our bark into the sacred Deep, we set
Our mast and sails, and stow’d secure on board
The ram and ewe, then, weeping, and with hearts
Sad and disconsolate, embark’d ourselves.
And now, melodious Circe, nymph divine,
Sent after us a canvas-stretching breeze,
Pleasant companion of our course, and we
(The decks and benches clear’d) untoiling sat,
While managed gales sped swift the bark along. 10
All day, with sails distended, e’er the Deep
She flew, and when the sun, at length, declined,
And twilight dim had shadow’d all the ways,
Approach’d the bourn of Ocean’s vast profound.
The city, there, of the Cimmerians stands
With clouds and darkness veil’d, on whom the sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye,
Or when he climbs the starry arch, or when
Earthward he slopes again his west’ring wheels,40
But sad night canopies the woeful race. 20
We haled the bark aground, and, landing there
The ram and sable ewe, journey’d beside
The Deep, till we arrived where Circe bade.
Here, Perimedes’ son Eurylochus
Held fast the destined sacrifice, while I
Scoop’d with my sword the soil, op’ning a trench
Ell-broad on ev’ry side, then pour’d around
Libation consecrate to all the dead,
First, milk with honey mixt, then luscious wine,
Then water, sprinkling, last, meal over all. 30
  This done, adoring the unreal forms
And shadows of the dead, I vow’d to slay,
(Return’d to Ithaca) in my own abode,
An heifer barren yet, fairest and best
Of all my herds, and to enrich the pile
With delicacies, such as please the shades.
But, in peculiar, to the Theban seer
I vow’d a sable ram, largest and best
Of all my flocks. When thus I had implored
With vows and pray’r, the nations of the dead, 40
Piercing the victims next, I turn’d them both
To bleed into the trench; then swarming came
From Erebus the shades of the deceased,
Brides, youths unwedded, seniors long with woe
Oppress’d, and tender girls yet new to grief.
Came also many a warrior by the spear
In battle pierced, with armour gore-distain’d,
And all the multitude around the foss
Stalk’d shrieking dreadful; me pale horror seized.
I next, importunate, my people urged, 50
Flaying the victims which myself had slain,
To burn them, and to supplicate in pray’r
Illustrious Pluto and dread Proserpine.
Then down I sat, and with drawn faulchion chased
The ghosts, nor suffer’d them to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias I should first confer.
The spirit, first, of my companion came,
Elpenor; for no burial honours yet
Had he received, but we had left his corse
In Circe’s palace, tombless, undeplored, 60
Ourselves by pressure urged of other cares.
Touch’d with compassion seeing him, I wept,
And in wing’d accents brief him thus bespake.
Elpenor! how cam’st thou into the realms
Of darkness? Hast thou, though on foot, so far
Outstripp’d my speed, who in my bark arrived?
So I, to whom with tears he thus replied.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
Fool’d by some dæmon and the intemp’rate bowl,
I perish’d in the house of Circe; there 70
The deep-descending steps heedless I miss’d,
And fell precipitated from the roof.
With neck-bone broken from the vertebræ
  Outstretch’d I lay; my spirit sought the shades.
But now, by those whom thou hast left at home,
By thy Penelope, and by thy fire,
The gentle nourisher of thy infant growth,
And by thy only son Telemachus
I make my suit to thee. For, sure, I know
That from the house of Pluto safe return’d, 80
Thou shalt ere long thy gallant vessel moor
At the Ææan isle. Ah! there arrived
Remember me. Leave me not undeplored
Nor uninhumed, lest, for my sake, the Gods
In vengeance visit thee; but with my arms
(What arms soe’er I left) burn me, and raise
A kind memorial of me on the coast,
Heap’d high with earth; that an unhappy man
May yet enjoy an unforgotten name.
Thus do at my request, and on my hill 90
Funereal, plant the oar with which I row’d,
While yet I lived a mariner of thine.
He spake, to whom thus answer I return’d.
Poor youth! I will perform thy whole desire.
Thus we, there sitting, doleful converse held,
With outstretch’d faulchion, I, guarding the blood,
And my companion’s shadowy semblance sad
Meantime discoursing me on various themes.
The soul of my departed mother, next,
Of Anticleia came, daughter of brave 100
Autolycus; whom, when I sought the shores
Of Ilium, I had living left at home.
Seeing her, with compassion touch’d, I wept,
Yet even her, (although it pain’d my soul)
Forbad, relentless, to approach the blood,
Till with Tiresias I should first confer.
Then came the spirit of the Theban seer
Himself, his golden sceptre in his hand,
Who knew me, and, enquiring, thus began.
Why, hapless Chief! leaving the cheerful day, 110
Arriv’st thou to behold the dead, and this
Unpleasant land? but, from the trench awhile
Receding, turn thy faulchion keen away,
That I may drink the blood, and tell thee truth.
He spake; I thence receding, deep infix’d
My sword bright-studded in the sheath again.
  The noble prophet then, approaching, drank
The blood, and, satisfied, address’d me thus.
Thou seek’st a pleasant voyage home again,
Renown’d Ulysses! but a God will make 120
That voyage difficult; for, as I judge,
Thou wilt not pass by Neptune unperceiv’d,
Whose anger follows thee, for that thou hast
Deprived his son Cyclops of his eye.
At length, however, after num’rous woes
Endur’d, thou may’st attain thy native isle,
If thy own appetite thou wilt controul
And theirs who follow thee, what time thy bark
Well-built, shall at Thrinacia’s shore arrive,41
Escaped from perils of the gloomy Deep. 130
There shall ye find grazing the flocks and herds
Of the all-seeing and all-hearing Sun,
Which, if attentive to thy safe return,
Thou leave unharm’d, though after num’rous woes,
Ye may at length arrive in Ithaca.
But if thou violate them, I denounce
Destruction on thy ship and all thy band,
And though thyself escape, late shalt thou reach
Thy home and hard-bested,42 in a strange bark,
All thy companions lost; trouble beside 140
Awaits thee there, for thou shalt find within
Proud suitors of thy noble wife, who waste
Thy substance, and with promis’d spousal gifts
Ceaseless solicit her to wed; yet well
Shalt thou avenge all their injurious deeds.
That once perform’d, and ev’ry suitor slain
Either by stratagem, or face to face,
In thy own palace, bearing, as thou go’st,
A shapely oar, journey, till thou hast found
A people who the sea know not, nor eat 150
Food salted; they trim galley crimson prow’d
Have ne’er beheld, nor yet smooth-shaven oar,
With which the vessel wing’d scuds o’er the waves.
Well thou shalt know them; this shall be the sign—
When thou shalt meet a trav’ler, who shall name
  The oar on thy broad shoulder borne, a van,43
There, deep infixing it within the soil,
Worship the King of Ocean with a bull,
A ram, and a lascivious boar, then seek
Thy home again, and sacrifice at home 160
An hecatomb to the Immortal Gods,
Adoring each duly, and in his course.
So shalt thou die in peace a gentle death,
Remote from Ocean; it shall find thee late,
In soft serenity of age, the Chief
Of a blest people.—I have told thee truth.
He spake, to whom I answer thus return’d.
Tiresias! thou, I doubt not, hast reveal’d
The ordinance of heav’n. But tell me, Seer!
And truly. I behold my mother’s shade; 170
Silent she sits beside the blood, nor word
Nor even look vouchsafes to her own son.
How shall she learn, prophet, that I am her’s?
So I, to whom Tiresias quick replied.
The course is easy. Learn it, taught by me.
What shade soe’er, by leave of thee obtain’d,
Shall taste the blood, that shade will tell thee truth;
The rest, prohibited, will all retire.
When thus the spirit of the royal Seer
Had his prophetic mind reveal’d, again 180
He enter’d Pluto’s gates; but I unmoved
Still waited till my mother’s shade approach’d;
She drank the blood, then knew me, and in words
Wing’d with affection, plaintive, thus began.
My son! how hast thou enter’d, still alive,
This darksome region? Difficult it is
For living man to view the realms of death.
Broad rivers roll, and awful floods between,
But chief, the Ocean, which to pass on foot,
Or without ship, impossible is found. 190
Hast thou, long wand’ring in thy voyage home
From Ilium, with thy ship and crew arrived,
Ithaca and thy consort yet unseen?
She spake, to whom this answer I return’d.
My mother! me necessity constrain’d
To Pluto’s dwelling, anxious to consult
  Theban Tiresias; for I have not yet
Approach’d Achaia, nor have touch’d the shore
Of Ithaca, but suff’ring ceaseless woe
Have roam’d, since first in Agamemnon’s train 200
I went to combat with the sons of Troy.
But speak, my mother, and the truth alone;
What stroke of fate slew thee? Fell’st thou a prey
To some slow malady? or by the shafts
Of gentle Dian suddenly subdued?
Speak to me also of my ancient Sire,
And of Telemachus, whom I left at home;
Possess I still unalienate and safe
My property, or hath some happier Chief
Admittance free into my fortunes gain’d, 210
No hope subsisting more of my return?
The mind and purpose of my wedded wife
Declare thou also. Dwells she with our son
Faithful to my domestic interests,
Or is she wedded to some Chief of Greece?
I ceas’d, when thus the venerable shade.
Not so; she faithful still and patient dwells
Thy roof beneath; but all her days and nights
Devoting sad to anguish and to tears.
Thy fortunes still are thine; Telemachus 220
Cultivates, undisturb’d, thy land, and sits
At many a noble banquet, such as well
Beseems the splendour of his princely state,
For all invite him; at his farm retired
Thy father dwells, nor to the city comes,
For aught; nor bed, nor furniture of bed,
Furr’d cloaks or splendid arras he enjoys,
But, with his servile hinds all winter sleeps
In ashes and in dust at the hearth-side,
Coarsely attired; again, when summer comes, 230
Or genial autumn, on the fallen leaves
In any nook, not curious where, he finds
There, stretch’d forlorn, nourishing grief, he weeps
Thy lot, enfeebled now by num’rous years.
So perish’d I; such fate I also found;
Me, neither the right-aiming arch’ress struck,
Diana, with her gentle shafts, nor me
Distemper slew, my limbs by slow degrees
But sure, bereaving of their little life, 240
  But long regret, tender solicitude,
And recollection of thy kindness past,
These, my Ulysses! fatal proved to me.
She said; I, ardent wish’d to clasp the shade
Of my departed mother; thrice I sprang
Toward her, by desire impetuous urged,
And thrice she flitted from between my arms,
Light as a passing shadow or a dream.
Then, pierced by keener grief, in accents wing’d
With filial earnestness I thus replied. 250
My mother, why elud’st thou my attempt
To clasp thee, that ev’n here, in Pluto’s realm,
We might to full satiety indulge
Our grief, enfolded in each other’s arms?
Hath Proserpine, alas! only dispatch’d
A shadow to me, to augment my woe?
Then, instant, thus the venerable form.
Ah, son! thou most afflicted of mankind!
On thee, Jove’s daughter, Proserpine, obtrudes
No airy semblance vain; but such the state 260
And nature is of mortals once deceased.
For they nor muscle have, nor flesh, nor bone;
All those (the spirit from the body once
Divorced) the violence of fire consumes,
And, like a dream, the soul flies swift away.
But haste thou back to light, and, taught thyself
These sacred truths, hereafter teach thy spouse.
Thus mutual we conferr’d. Then, thither came,
Encouraged forth by royal Proserpine,
Shades female num’rous, all who consorts, erst, 270
Or daughters were of mighty Chiefs renown’d.
About the sable blood frequent they swarm’d.
But I, consid’ring sat, how I might each
Interrogate, and thus resolv’d. My sword
Forth drawing from beside my sturdy thigh,
Firm I prohibited the ghosts to drink
The blood together; they successive came;
Each told her own distress; I question’d all.
There, first, the high-born Tyro I beheld;
She claim’d Salmoneus as her sire, and wife 280
Was once of Cretheus, son of Æolus.
Enamour’d of Enipeus, stream divine,
Loveliest of all that water earth, beside
  His limpid current she was wont to stray,
When Ocean’s God, (Enipeus’ form assumed)
Within the eddy-whirling river’s mouth
Embraced her; there, while the o’er-arching flood,
Uplifted mountainous, conceal’d the God
And his fair human bride, her virgin zone
He loos’d, and o’er her eyes sweet sleep diffused. 290
His am’rous purpose satisfied, he grasp’d
Her hand, affectionate, and thus he said.
Rejoice in this my love, and when the year
Shall tend to consummation of its course,
Thou shalt produce illustrious twins, for love
Immortal never is unfruitful love.
Rear them with all a mother’s care; meantime,
Hence to thy home. Be silent. Name it not.
For I am Neptune, Shaker of the shores.
So saying, he plunged into the billowy Deep. 300
She pregnant grown, Pelias and Neleus bore,
Both, valiant ministers of mighty Jove.
In wide-spread Iäolchus Pelias dwelt,
Of num’rous flocks possess’d; but his abode
Amid the sands of Pylus Neleus chose.
To Cretheus wedded next, the lovely nymph
Yet other sons, Æson and Pheres bore,
And Amythaon of equestrian fame.
I, next, the daughter of Asopus saw,
Antiope; she gloried to have known 310
Th’ embrace of Jove himself, to whom she brought
A double progeny, Amphion named
And Zethus; they the seven-gated Thebes
Founded and girded with strong tow’rs, because,
Though puissant Heroes both, in spacious Thebes
Unfenced by tow’rs, they could not dwell secure.
Alcmena, next, wife of Amphitryon
I saw; she in the arms of sov’reign Jove
The lion-hearted Hercules conceiv’d,
And, after, bore to Creon brave in fight 320
His daughter Megara, by the noble son
Unconquer’d of Amphitryon espoused.
The beauteous Epicaste44 saw I then,
Mother of Oedipus, who guilt incurr’d
Prodigious, wedded, unintentional,
  To her own son; his father first he slew,
Then wedded her, which soon the Gods divulged.
He, under vengeance of offended heav’n,
In pleasant Thebes dwelt miserable, King
Of the Cadmean race; she to the gates 330
Of Ades brazen-barr’d despairing went,
Self-strangled by a cord fasten’d aloft
To her own palace-roof, and woes bequeath’d
(Such as the Fury sisters execute
Innumerable) to her guilty son.
There also saw I Chloris, loveliest fair,
Whom Neleus woo’d and won with spousal gifts
Inestimable, by her beauty charm’d
She youngest daughter was of Iasus’ son,
Amphion, in old time a sov’reign prince 340
In Minuëian Orchomenus,
And King of Pylus. Three illustrious sons
She bore to Neleus, Nestor, Chromius,
And Periclymenus the wide-renown’d,
And, last, produced a wonder of the earth,
Pero, by ev’ry neighbour prince around
In marriage sought; but Neleus her on none
Deign’d to bestow, save only on the Chief
Who should from Phylace drive off the beeves
(Broad-fronted, and with jealous care secured) 350
Of valiant Iphicles. One undertook
That task alone, a prophet high in fame,
Melampus; but the Fates fast bound him there
In rig’rous bonds by rustic hands imposed.
At length (the year, with all its months and days
Concluded, and the new-born year begun)
Illustrious Iphicles releas’d the seer,
Grateful for all the oracles resolved,45
Till then obscure. So stood the will of Jove.
Next, Leda, wife of Tyndarus I saw, 360
Who bore to Tyndarus a noble pair,
Castor the bold, and Pollux cestus-famed.
They pris’ners in the fertile womb of earth,
Though living, dwell, and even there from Jove
High priv’lege gain; alternate they revive
  And die, and dignity partake divine.
The comfort of Aloëus, next, I view’d,
Iphimedeia; she th’ embrace profess’d
Of Neptune to have shared, to whom she bore
Two sons; short-lived they were, but godlike both, 370
Otus and Ephialtes far-renown’d.
Orion sole except, all-bounteous Earth
Ne’er nourish’d forms for beauty or for size
To be admired as theirs; in his ninth year
Each measur’d, broad, nine cubits, and the height
Was found nine ells of each. Against the Gods
Themselves they threaten’d war, and to excite
The din of battle in the realms above.
To the Olympian summit they essay’d
To heave up Ossa, and to Ossa’s crown 380
Branch-waving Pelion; so to climb the heav’ns.
Nor had they failed, maturer grown in might,
To accomplish that emprize, but them the son46
Of radiant-hair’d Latona and of Jove
Slew both, ere yet the down of blooming youth
Thick-sprung, their cheeks or chins had tufted o’er.
Phædra I also there, and Procris saw,
And Ariadne for her beauty praised,
Whose sire was all-wise Minos. Theseus her
From Crete toward the fruitful region bore 390
Of sacred Athens, but enjoy’d not there,
For, first, she perish’d by Diana’s shafts
In Dia, Bacchus witnessing her crime.47
Mæra and Clymene I saw beside,
And odious Eriphyle, who received
The price in gold of her own husband’s life.
But all the wives of Heroes whom I saw,
And all their daughters can I not relate;
Night, first, would fail; and even now the hour
Calls me to rest either on board my bark, 400
Or here; meantime, I in yourselves confide,
And in the Gods to shape my conduct home.
He ceased; the whole assembly silent sat,
Charm’d into ecstacy by his discourse
Throughout the twilight hall, till, at the last,
  Areta iv’ry arm’d them thus bespake.
Phæacians! how appears he in your eyes
This stranger, graceful as he is in port,
In stature noble, and in mind discrete?
My guest he is, but ye all share with me 410
That honour; him dismiss not, therefore, hence
With haste, nor from such indigence withhold
Supplies gratuitous; for ye are rich,
And by kind heav’n with rare possessions blest.
The Hero, next, Echeneus spake, a Chief
Now ancient, eldest of Phæacia’s sons.
Your prudent Queen, my friends, speaks not beside
Her proper scope, but as beseems her well.
Her voice obey; yet the effect of all
Must on Alcinoüs himself depend. 420
To whom Alcinoüs, thus, the King, replied.
I ratify the word. So shall be done,
As surely as myself shall live supreme
O’er all Phæacia’s maritime domain.
Then let the guest, though anxious to depart,
Wait till the morrow, that I may complete
The whole donation. His safe conduct home
Shall be the gen’ral care, but mine in Chief,
To whom dominion o’er the rest belongs.
Him answer’d, then, Ulysses ever-wise. 430
Alcinoüs! Prince! exalted high o’er all
Phæacia’s sons! should ye solicit, kind,
My stay throughout the year, preparing still
My conduct home, and with illustrious gifts
Enriching me the while, ev’n that request
Should please me well; the wealthier I return’d,
The happier my condition; welcome more
And more respectable I should appear
In ev’ry eye to Ithaca restored.
To whom Alcinoüs answer thus return’d. 440
Ulysses! viewing thee, no fears we feel
Lest thou, at length, some false pretender prove,
Or subtle hypocrite, of whom no few
Disseminated o’er its face the earth
Sustains, adepts in fiction, and who frame
Fables, where fables could be least surmised.
Thy phrase well turn’d, and thy ingenuous mind
Proclaim thee diff’rent far, who hast in strains
  Musical as a poet’s voice, the woes
Rehears’d of all thy Greecians, and thy own. 450
But say, and tell me true. Beheld’st thou there
None of thy followers to the walls of Troy
Slain in that warfare? Lo! the night is long—
A night of utmost length; nor yet the hour
Invites to sleep. Tell me thy wond’rous deeds,
For I could watch till sacred dawn, could’st thou
So long endure to tell me of thy toils.
Then thus Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Alcinoüs! high exalted over all
Phæacia’s sons! the time suffices yet 460
For converse both and sleep, and if thou wish
To hear still more, I shall not spare to unfold
More pitiable woes than these, sustain’d
By my companions, in the end destroy’d;
Who, saved from perils of disast’rous war
At Ilium, perish’d yet in their return,
Victims of a pernicious woman’s crime.48
Now, when chaste Proserpine had wide dispers’d
Those female shades, the spirit sore distress’d
Of Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, appear’d; 470
Encircled by a throng, he came; by all
Who with himself beneath Ægisthus’ roof
Their fate fulfill’d, perishing by the sword.
He drank the blood, and knew me; shrill he wail’d
And querulous; tears trickling bathed his cheeks,
And with spread palms, through ardour of desire
He sought to enfold me fast, but vigour none,
Or force, as erst, his agile limbs inform’d.
I, pity-moved, wept at the sight, and him,
In accents wing’d by friendship, thus address’d. 480
Ah glorious son of Atreus, King of men!
What hand inflicted the all-numbing stroke
Of death on thee? Say, didst thou perish sunk
By howling tempests irresistible
Which Neptune raised, or on dry land by force
Of hostile multitudes, while cutting off
Beeves from the herd, or driving flocks away,
Or fighting for Achaia’s daughters, shut
Within some city’s bulwarks close besieged?
I ceased, when Agamemnon thus replied. 490
  Ulysses, noble Chief, Laertes’ son
For wisdom famed! I neither perish’d sunk
By howling tempests irresistible
Which Neptune raised, nor on dry land received
From hostile multitudes the fatal blow,
But me Ægisthus slew; my woeful death
Confed’rate with my own pernicious wife
He plotted, with a show of love sincere
Bidding me to his board, where as the ox
Is slaughter’d at his crib, he slaughter’d me. 500
Such was my dreadful death; carnage ensued
Continual of my friends slain all around,
Num’rous as boars bright-tusk’d at nuptial feast,
Or feast convivial of some wealthy Chief.
Thou hast already witness’d many a field
With warriors overspread, slain one by one,
But that dire scene had most thy pity moved,
For we, with brimming beakers at our side,
And underneath full tables bleeding lay.
Blood floated all the pavement. Then the cries 510
Of Priam’s daughter sounded in my ears
Most pitiable of all. Cassandra’s cries,
Whom Clytemnestra close beside me slew.
Expiring as I lay, I yet essay’d
To grasp my faulchion, but the trayt’ress quick
Withdrew herself, nor would vouchsafe to close
My languid eyes, or prop my drooping chin
Ev’n in the moment when I sought the shades.
So that the thing breathes not, ruthless and fell
As woman once resolv’d on such a deed 520
Detestable, as my base wife contrived,
The murther of the husband of her youth.
I thought to have return’d welcome to all,
To my own children and domestic train;
But she, past measure profligate, hath poured
Shame on herself, on women yet unborn,
And even on the virtuous of her sex.
He ceas’d, to whom, thus, answer I return’d.
Gods! how severely hath the thund’rer plagued
The house of Atreus even from the first, 530
By female counsels! we for Helen’s sake
Have num’rous died, and Clytemnestra framed,
While thou wast far remote, this snare for thee!
  So I, to whom Atrides thus replied.
Thou, therefore, be not pliant overmuch
To woman; trust her not with all thy mind,
But half disclose to her, and half conceal.
Yet, from thy consort’s hand no bloody death,
My friend, hast thou to fear; for passing wise
Icarius’ daughter is, far other thoughts, 540
Intelligent, and other plans, to frame.
Her, going to the wars we left a bride
New-wedded, and thy boy hung at her breast,
Who, man himself, consorts ere now with men
A prosp’rous youth; his father, safe restored
To his own Ithaca, shall see him soon,
And he shall clasp his father in his arms
As nature bids; but me, my cruel one
Indulged not with the dear delight to gaze
On my Orestes, for she slew me first. 550
But listen; treasure what I now impart.49
Steer secret to thy native isle; avoid
Notice; for woman merits trust no more.
Now tell me truth. Hear ye in whose abode
My son resides? dwells he in Pylus, say,
Or in Orchomenos, or else beneath
My brother’s roof in Sparta’s wide domain?
For my Orestes is not yet a shade.
So he, to whom I answer thus return’d.
Atrides, ask not me. Whether he live, 560
Or have already died, I nothing know;
Mere words are vanity, and better spared.
Thus we discoursing mutual stood, and tears
Shedding disconsolate. The shade, meantime,
Came of Achilles, Peleus’ mighty son;
Patroclus also, and Antilochus
Appear’d, with Ajax, for proportion just
And stature tall, (Pelides sole except)
Distinguish’d above all Achaia’s sons.
The soul of swift Æacides at once 570
Knew me, and in wing’d accents thus began.
Brave Laertiades, for wiles renown’d!
  What mightier enterprise than all the past
Hath made thee here a guest? rash as thou art!
How hast thou dared to penetrate the gloom
Of Ades, dwelling of the shadowy dead,
Semblances only of what once they were?
He spake, to whom I, answ’ring, thus replied.
O Peleus’ son! Achilles! bravest far
Of all Achaia’s race! I here arrived 580
Seeking Tiresias, from his lips to learn,
Perchance, how I might safe regain the coast
Of craggy Ithaca; for tempest-toss’d
Perpetual, I have neither yet approach’d
Achaia’s shore, or landed on my own.
But as for thee, Achilles! never man
Hath known felicity like thine, or shall,
Whom living we all honour’d as a God,
And who maintain’st, here resident, supreme
Controul among the dead; indulge not then, 590
Achilles, causeless grief that thou hast died.
I ceased, and answer thus instant received.
Renown’d Ulysses! think not death a theme
Of consolation; I had rather live
The servile hind for hire, and eat the bread
Of some man scantily himself sustain’d,
Than sov’reign empire hold o’er all the shades.
But come—speak to me of my noble boy;
Proceeds he, as he promis’d, brave in arms,
Or shuns he war? Say also, hast thou heard 600
Of royal Peleus? shares he still respect
Among his num’rous Myrmidons, or scorn
In Hellas and in Phthia, for that age
Predominates in his enfeebled limbs?
For help is none in me; the glorious sun
No longer sees me such, as when in aid
Of the Achaians I o’erspread the field
Of spacious Troy with all their bravest slain.
Oh might I, vigorous as then, repair50
For one short moment to my father’s house, 610
They all should tremble; I would shew an arm,
  Such as should daunt the fiercest who presumes
To injure him, or to despise his age.
Achilles spake, to whom I thus replied.
Of noble Peleus have I nothing heard;
But I will tell thee, as thou bidd’st, the truth
Unfeign’d of Neoptolemus thy son;
For him, myself, on board my hollow bark
From Scyros to Achaia’s host convey’d.
Oft as in council under Ilium’s walls 620
We met, he ever foremost was in speech,
Nor spake erroneous; Nestor and myself
Except, no Greecian could with him compare.
Oft, too, as we with battle hemm’d around
Troy’s bulwarks, from among the mingled crowd
Thy son sprang foremost into martial act,
Inferior in heroic worth to none.
Beneath him num’rous fell the sons of Troy
In dreadful fight, nor have I pow’r to name
Distinctly all, who by his glorious arm 630
Exerted in the cause of Greece, expired.
Yet will I name Eurypylus, the son
Of Telephus, an Hero whom his sword
Of life bereaved, and all around him strew’d
The plain with his Cetean warriors, won
To Ilium’s side by bribes to women giv’n.51
Save noble Memnon only, I beheld
No Chief at Ilium beautiful as he.
Again, when we within the horse of wood
Framed by Epeüs sat, an ambush chos’n 640
Of all the bravest Greeks, and I in trust
Was placed to open or to keep fast-closed
The hollow fraud; then, ev’ry Chieftain there
And Senator of Greece wiped from his cheeks
The tears, and tremors felt in ev’ry limb;
But never saw I changed to terror’s hue
His ruddy cheek, no tears wiped he away,
But oft he press’d me to go forth, his suit
With pray’rs enforcing, griping hard his hilt
  And his brass-burthen’d spear, and dire revenge 650
Denouncing, ardent, on the race of Troy.
At length, when we had sack’d the lofty town
Of Priam, laden with abundant spoils
He safe embark’d, neither by spear or shaft
Aught hurt, or in close fight by faulchion’s edge,
As oft in war befalls, where wounds are dealt
Promiscuous at the will of fiery Mars.
So I; then striding large, the spirit thence
Withdrew of swift Æacides, along
The hoary mead pacing,52 with joy elate 660
That I had blazon’d bright his son’s renown.
The other souls of men by death dismiss’d
Stood mournful by, sad uttering each his woes;
The soul alone I saw standing remote
Of Telamonian Ajax, still incensed
That in our public contest for the arms
Worn by Achilles, and by Thetis thrown
Into dispute, my claim had strongest proved,
Troy and Minerva judges of the cause.
Disastrous victory! which I could wish 670
Not to have won, since for that armour’s sake
The earth hath cover’d Ajax, in his form
And martial deeds superior far to all
The Greecians, Peleus’ matchless son except.
I, seeking to appease him, thus began.
O Ajax, son of glorious Telamon!
Canst thou remember, even after death,
Thy wrath against me, kindled for the sake
Of those pernicious arms? arms which the Gods
Ordain’d of such dire consequence to Greece, 680
Which caused thy death, our bulwark! Thee we mourn
With grief perpetual, nor the death lament
Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, more than thine.
Yet none is blameable; Jove evermore
With bitt’rest hate pursued Achaia’s host,
And he ordain’d thy death. Hero! approach,
That thou may’st hear the words with which I seek
To sooth thee; let thy long displeasure cease!
Quell all resentment in thy gen’rous breast!
  I spake; nought answer’d he, but sullen join’d 690
His fellow-ghosts; yet, angry as he was,
I had prevail’d even on him to speak,
Or had, at least, accosted him again,
But that my bosom teem’d with strong desire
Urgent, to see yet others of the dead.
There saw I Minos, offspring famed of Jove;
His golden sceptre in his hand, he sat
Judge of the dead; they, pleading each in turn,
His cause, some stood, some sat, filling the house
Whose spacious folding-gates are never closed. 700
Orion next, huge ghost, engaged my view,
Droves urging o’er the grassy mead, of beasts
Which he had slain, himself, on the wild hills,
With strong club arm’d of ever-during brass.
There also Tityus on the ground I saw
Extended, offspring of the glorious earth;
Nine acres he o’erspread, and, at his side
Station’d, two vultures on his liver prey’d,
Scooping his entrails; nor sufficed his hands
To fray them thence; for he had sought to force 710
Latona, illustrious concubine of Jove,
What time the Goddess journey’d o’er the rocks
Of Pytho into pleasant Panopeus.
Next, suff’ring grievous torments, I beheld
Tantalus; in a pool he stood, his chin
Wash’d by the wave; thirst-parch’d he seem’d, but found
Nought to assuage his thirst; for when he bow’d
His hoary head, ardent to quaff, the flood
Vanish’d absorb’d, and, at his feet, adust
The soil appear’d, dried, instant, by the Gods. 720
Tall trees, fruit-laden, with inflected heads
Stoop’d to him, pomegranates, apples bright,
The luscious fig, and unctuous olive smooth;
Which when with sudden grasp he would have seized,
Winds hurl’d them high into the dusky clouds.
There, too, the hard-task’d Sisyphus I saw,
Thrusting before him, strenuous, a vast rock.53
With hands and feet struggling, he shoved the stone
Up to a hill-top; but the steep well-nigh
  Vanquish’d, by some great force repulsed,54 the mass 730
Rush’d again, obstinate, down to the plain.
Again, stretch’d prone, severe he toiled, the sweat
Bathed all his weary limbs, and his head reek’d.
The might of Hercules I, next, survey’d;
His semblance; for himself their banquet shares
With the Immortal Gods, and in his arms
Enfolds neat-footed Hebe, daughter fair
Of Jove, and of his golden-sandal’d spouse.
Around him, clamorous as birds, the dead
Swarm’d turbulent; he, gloomy-brow’d as night, 740
With uncased bow and arrow on the string
Peer’d terrible from side to side, as one
Ever in act to shoot; a dreadful belt
He bore athwart his bosom, thong’d with gold.
There, broider’d shone many a stupendous form,
Bears, wild boars, lions with fire-flashing eyes,
Fierce combats, battles, bloodshed, homicide.
The artist, author of that belt, none such
Before, produced, or after. Me his eye
No sooner mark’d, than knowing me, in words 750
By sorrow quick suggested, he began.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
Ah, hapless Hero! thou art, doubtless, charged,
Thou also, with some arduous labour, such
As in the realms of day I once endured.
Son was I of Saturnian Jove, yet woes
Immense sustain’d, subjected to a King
Inferior far to me, whose harsh commands
Enjoin’d me many a terrible exploit.
He even bade me on a time lead hence 760
The dog, that task believing above all
Impracticable; yet from Ades him
I dragg’d reluctant into light, by aid
Of Hermes, and of Pallas azure-eyed.
So saying, he penetrated deep again
The abode of Pluto; but I still unmoved
There stood expecting, curious, other shades
To see of Heroes in old time deceased.
  And now, more ancient worthies still, and whom
I wish’d, I had beheld, Pirithoüs 770
And Theseus, glorious progeny of Gods,
But nations, first, numberless of the dead
Came shrieking hideous; me pale horror seized,
Lest awful Proserpine should thither send
The Gorgon-head from Ades, sight abhorr’d!
I, therefore, hasting to the vessel, bade
My crew embark, and cast the hawsers loose.
They, quick embarking, on the benches sat.
Down the Oceanus55 the current bore
My galley, winning, at the first, her way 780
With oars, then, wafted by propitious gales.

40 Milton.

41 The shore of Scilly commonly called Trinacria, but Euphonicè by Homer, Thrinacia.

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

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

44 By the Tragedians called—Jocasta.

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

46 Apollo.

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

48 Probably meaning Helen.

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

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

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

52 Κατ’ ασφοδελον λειμωνα—Asphodel was planted on the graves and around the tombs of the deceased, and hence the supposition that the Stygian plain was clothed with asphodel. F.

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

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

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

  BOOK XII

ARGUMENT

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

And now, borne seaward from the river-stream
Of the Oceanus, we plow’d again
The spacious Deep, and reach’d th’ Ææan isle,
Where, daughter of the dawn, Aurora takes
Her choral sports, and whence the sun ascends.
We, there arriving, thrust our bark aground
On the smooth beach, then landed, and on shore
Reposed, expectant of the sacred dawn.
But soon as day-spring’s daughter rosy-palm’d
Look’d forth again, sending my friends before, 10
I bade them bring Elpenor’s body down
From the abode of Circe to the beach.
Then, on the utmost headland of the coast
We timber fell’d, and, sorrowing o’er the dead,
His fun’ral rites water’d with tears profuse.
The dead consumed, and with the dead his arms,
We heap’d his tomb, and the sepulchral post
Erecting, fix’d his shapely oar aloft.
Thus, punctual, we perform’d; nor our return
From Ades knew not Circe, but attired 20
In haste, ere long arrived, with whom appear’d
Her female train with plenteous viands charged,
And bright wine rosy-red. Amidst us all
Standing, the beauteous Goddess thus began.
Ah miserable! who have sought the shades
Alive! while others of the human race
Die only once, appointed twice to die!
Come—take ye food; drink wine; and on the shore
  All day regale, for ye shall hence again
At day-spring o’er the Deep; but I will mark 30
Myself your future course, nor uninform’d
Leave you in aught, lest, through some dire mistake,
By sea or land new mis’ries ye incur.
The Goddess spake, whose invitation kind
We glad accepted; thus we feasting sat
Till set of sun, and quaffing richest wine;
But when the sun went down and darkness fell,
My crew beside the hawsers slept, while me
The Goddess by the hand leading apart,
First bade me sit, then, seated opposite, 40
Enquired, minute, of all that I had seen,
And I, from first to last, recounted all.
Then, thus the awful Goddess in return.
Thus far thy toils are finish’d. Now attend!
Mark well my words, of which the Gods will sure
Themselves remind thee in the needful hour.
First shalt thou reach the Sirens; they the hearts
Enchant of all who on their coast arrive.
The wretch, who unforewarn’d approaching, hears
The Sirens’ voice, his wife and little-ones 50
Ne’er fly to gratulate his glad return,
But him the Sirens sitting in the meads
Charm with mellifluous song, while all around
The bones accumulated lie of men
Now putrid, and the skins mould’ring away.
But, pass them thou, and, lest thy people hear
Those warblings, ere thou yet approach, fill all
Their ears with wax moulded between thy palms;
But as for thee—thou hear them if thou wilt.
Yet let thy people bind thee to the mast 60
Erect, encompassing thy feet and arms
With cordage well-secured to the mast-foot,
So shalt thou, raptur’d, hear the Sirens’ song.
But if thou supplicate to be released,
Or give such order, then, with added cords
Let thy companions bind thee still the more.
When thus thy people shall have safely pass’d
The Sirens by, think not from me to learn
What course thou next shalt steer; two will occur;
Delib’rate chuse; I shall describe them both. 70
Here vaulted rocks impend, dash’d by the waves
  Immense of Amphitrite azure-eyed;
The blessed Gods those rocks, Erratic, call.
Birds cannot pass them safe; no, not the doves
Which his ambrosia bear to Father Jove,
But even of those doves the slipp’ry rock
Proves fatal still to one, for which the God
Supplies another, lest the number fail.
No ship, what ship soever there arrives,
Escapes them, but both mariners and planks 80
Whelm’d under billows of the Deep, or, caught
By fiery tempests, sudden disappear.
Those rocks the billow-cleaving bark alone
The Argo, further’d by the vows of all,
Pass’d safely, sailing from Ææta’s isle;
Nor she had pass’d, but surely dash’d had been
On those huge rocks, but that, propitious still
To Jason, Juno sped her safe along.
These rocks are two; one lifts his summit sharp
High as the spacious heav’ns, wrapt in dun clouds 90
Perpetual, which nor autumn sees dispers’d
Nor summer, for the sun shines never there;
No mortal man might climb it or descend,
Though twice ten hands and twice ten feet he own’d,
For it is levigated as by art.
Down scoop’d to Erebus, a cavern drear
Yawns in the centre of its western side;
Pass it, renown’d Ulysses! but aloof
So far, that a keen arrow smartly sent
Forth from thy bark should fail to reach the cave. 100
There Scylla dwells, and thence her howl is heard
Tremendous; shrill her voice is as the note
Of hound new-whelp’d, but hideous her aspect,
Such as no mortal man, nor ev’n a God
Encount’ring her, should with delight survey.
Her feet are twelve, all fore-feet; six her necks
Of hideous length, each clubb’d into a head
Terrific, and each head with fangs is arm’d
In triple row, thick planted, stored with death.
Plunged to her middle in the hollow den 110
She lurks, protruding from the black abyss
Her heads, with which the rav’ning monster dives
In quest of dolphins, dog-fish, or of prey
More bulky, such as in the roaring gulphs
  Of Amphitrite without end abounds.
It is no seaman’s boast that e’er he slipp’d
Her cavern by, unharm’d. In ev’ry mouth
She bears upcaught a mariner away.
The other rock, Ulysses, thou shalt find
Humbler, a bow-shot only from the first; 120
On this a wild fig grows broad-leav’d, and here
Charybdis dire ingulphs the sable flood.
Each day she thrice disgorges, and each day
Thrice swallows it. Ah! well forewarn’d, beware
What time she swallows, that thou come not nigh,
For not himself, Neptune, could snatch thee thence.
Close passing Scylla’s rock, shoot swift thy bark
Beyond it, since the loss of six alone
Is better far than shipwreck made of all.
So Circe spake, to whom I thus replied. 130
Tell me, O Goddess, next, and tell me true!
If, chance, from fell Charybdis I escape,
May I not also save from Scylla’s force
My people; should the monster threaten them?
I said, and quick the Goddess in return.
Unhappy! can exploits and toils of war
Still please thee? yield’st not to the Gods themselves?
She is no mortal, but a deathless pest,
Impracticable, savage, battle-proof.
Defence is vain; flight is thy sole resource. 140
For should’st thou linger putting on thy arms
Beside the rock, beware, lest darting forth
Her num’rous heads, she seize with ev’ry mouth
A Greecian, and with others, even thee.
Pass therefore swift, and passing, loud invoke
Cratais, mother of this plague of man,
Who will forbid her to assail thee more.
Thou, next, shalt reach Thrinacia; there, the beeves
And fatted flocks graze num’rous of the Sun;
Sev’n herds; as many flocks of snowy fleece; 150
Fifty in each; they breed not, neither die,
Nor are they kept by less than Goddesses,
Lampetia fair, and Phäethusa, both
By nymph Neæra to Hyperion borne.
Them, soon as she had train’d them to an age
Proportion’d to that charge, their mother sent
Into Thrinacia, there to dwell and keep
  Inviolate their father’s flocks and herds.
If, anxious for a safe return, thou spare
Those herds and flocks, though after much endured, 160
Ye may at last your Ithaca regain;
But should’st thou violate them, I foretell
Destruction of thy ship and of thy crew,
And though thyself escape, thou shalt return
Late, in ill plight, and all thy friends destroy’d.
She ended, and the golden morning dawn’d.
Then, all-divine, her graceful steps she turn’d
Back through the isle, and, at the beach arrived,
I summon’d all my followers to ascend
The bark again, and cast the hawsers loose. 170
They, at my voice, embarking, fill’d in ranks
The seats, and rowing, thresh’d the hoary flood.
And now, melodious Circe, nymph divine,
Sent after us a canvas-stretching breeze,
Pleasant companion of our course, and we
(The decks and benches clear’d) untoiling sat,
While managed gales sped swift the bark along.
Then, with dejected heart, thus I began.
Oh friends! (for it is needful that not one
Or two alone the admonition hear 180
Of Circe, beauteous prophetess divine)
To all I speak, that whether we escape
Or perish, all may be, at least, forewarn’d.
She bids us, first, avoid the dang’rous song
Of the sweet Sirens and their flow’ry meads.
Me only she permits those strains to hear;
But ye shall bind me with coercion strong
Of cordage well-secured to the mast-foot,
And by no struggles to be loos’d of mine.
But should I supplicate to be released 190
Or give such order, then, with added cords
Be it your part to bind me still the more.
Thus with distinct precaution I prepared
My people; rapid in her course, meantime,
My gallant bark approach’d the Sirens’ isle,
For brisk and favourable blew the wind.
Then fell the wind suddenly, and serene
A breathless calm ensued, while all around
The billows slumber’d, lull’d by pow’r divine.
Up-sprang my people, and the folded sails 200
  Bestowing in the hold, sat to their oars,
Which with their polish’d blades whiten’d the Deep.
I, then, with edge of steel sev’ring minute
A waxen cake, chafed it and moulded it
Between my palms; ere long the ductile mass
Grew warm, obedient to that ceaseless force,
And to Hyperion’s all-pervading beams.
With that soft liniment I fill’d the ears
Of my companions, man by man, and they
My feet and arms with strong coercion bound 210
Of cordage to the mast-foot well secured.
Then down they sat, and, rowing, thresh’d the brine.
But when with rapid course we had arrived
Within such distance as a voice may reach,
Not unperceived by them the gliding bark
Approach’d, and, thus, harmonious they began.
Ulysses, Chief by ev’ry tongue extoll’d,
Achaia’s boast, oh hither steer thy bark!
Here stay thy course, and listen to our lay!
These shores none passes in his sable ship 220
Till, first, the warblings of our voice he hear,
Then, happier hence and wiser he departs.
All that the Greeks endured, and all the ills
Inflicted by the Gods on Troy, we know,
Know all that passes on the boundless earth.
So they with voices sweet their music poured
Melodious on my ear, winning with ease
My heart’s desire to listen, and by signs
I bade my people, instant, set me free.
But they incumbent row’d, and from their seats 230
Eurylochus and Perimedes sprang
With added cords to bind me still the more.
This danger past, and when the Sirens’ voice,
Now left remote, had lost its pow’r to charm,
Then, my companions freeing from the wax
Their ears, deliver’d me from my restraint.
The island left afar, soon I discern’d
Huge waves, and smoke, and horrid thund’rings heard.
All sat aghast; forth flew at once the oars
From ev’ry hand, and with a clash the waves 240
Smote all together; check’d, the galley stood,
By billow-sweeping oars no longer urged,
And I, throughout the bark, man after man
  Encouraged all, addressing thus my crew.
We meet not, now, my friends, our first distress.
This evil is not greater than we found
When the huge Cyclops in his hollow den
Imprison’d us, yet even thence we ’scaped,
My intrepidity and fertile thought
Opening the way; and we shall recollect 250
These dangers also, in due time, with joy.
Come, then—pursue my counsel. Ye your seats
Still occupying, smite the furrow’d flood
With well-timed strokes, that by the will of Jove
We may escape, perchance, this death, secure.
To thee the pilot thus I speak, (my words
Mark thou, for at thy touch the rudder moves)
This smoke, and these tumultuous waves avoid;
Steer wide of both; yet with an eye intent
On yonder rock, lest unaware thou hold 260
Too near a course, and plunge us into harm.
So I; with whose advice all, quick, complied.
But Scylla I as yet named not, (that woe
Without a cure) lest, terrified, my crew
Should all renounce their oars, and crowd below.
Just then, forgetful of the strict command
Of Circe not to arm, I cloath’d me all
In radiant armour, grasp’d two quiv’ring spears,
And to the deck ascended at the prow,
Expecting earliest notice there, what time 270
The rock-bred Scylla should annoy my friends.
But I discern’d her not, nor could, although
To weariness of sight the dusky rock
I vigilant explored. Thus, many a groan
Heaving, we navigated sad the streight,
For here stood Scylla, while Charybdis there
With hoarse throat deep absorb’d the briny flood.
Oft as she vomited the deluge forth,
Like water cauldron’d o’er a furious fire
The whirling Deep all murmur’d, and the spray 280
On both those rocky summits fell in show’rs.
But when she suck’d the salt wave down again,
Then, all the pool appear’d wheeling about
Within, the rock rebellow’d, and the sea
Drawn off into that gulph disclosed to view
The oozy bottom. Us pale horror seized.
  Thus, dreading death, with fast-set eyes we watch’d
Charybdis; meantime, Scylla from the bark
Caught six away, the bravest of my friends.
With eyes, that moment, on my ship and crew 290
Retorted, I beheld the legs and arms
Of those whom she uplifted in the air;
On me they call’d, my name, the last, last time
Pronouncing then, in agony of heart.
As when from some bold point among the rocks
The angler, with his taper rod in hand,
Casts forth his bait to snare the smaller fry,
He swings away remote his guarded line,56
Then jerks his gasping prey forth from the Deep,
So Scylla them raised gasping to the rock, 300
And at her cavern’s mouth devour’d them loud-
Shrieking, and stretching forth to me their arms
In sign of hopeless mis’ry. Ne’er beheld
These eyes in all the seas that I have roam’d,
A sight so piteous, nor in all my toils.
From Scylla and Charybdis dire escaped,
We reach’d the noble island of the Sun
Ere long, where bright Hyperion’s beauteous herds
Broad-fronted grazed, and his well-batten’d flocks.
I, in the bark and on the sea, the voice 310
Of oxen bellowing in hovels heard,
And of loud-bleating sheep; then dropp’d the word
Into my memory of the sightless Seer,
Theban Tiresias, and the caution strict
Of Circe, my Ææan monitress,
Who with such force had caution’d me to avoid
The island of the Sun, joy of mankind.
Thus then to my companions, sad, I spake.
Hear ye, my friends! although long time distress’d,
The words prophetic of the Theban seer 320
And of Ææan Circe, whose advice
Was oft repeated to me to avoid
This island of the Sun, joy of mankind.
There, said the Goddess, dread your heaviest woes,
Pass the isle, therefore, scudding swift away.
I ceased; they me with consternation heard,
And harshly thus Eurylochus replied.
  Ulysses, ruthless Chief! no toils impair
Thy strength, of senseless iron thou art form’d,
Who thy companions weary and o’erwatch’d 330
Forbidd’st to disembark on this fair isle,
Where now, at last, we might with ease regale.
Thou, rash, command’st us, leaving it afar,
To roam all night the Ocean’s dreary waste;
But winds to ships injurious spring by night,
And how shall we escape a dreadful death
If, chance, a sudden gust from South arise
Or stormy West, that dash in pieces oft
The vessel, even in the Gods’ despight?
Prepare we rather now, as night enjoins, 340
Our evening fare beside the sable bark,
In which at peep of day we may again
Launch forth secure into the boundless flood.
He ceas’d, whom all applauded. Then I knew
That sorrow by the will of adverse heav’n
Approach’d, and in wing’d accents thus replied.
I suffer force, Eurylochus! and yield
O’er-ruled by numbers. Come, then, swear ye all
A solemn oath, that should we find an herd
Or num’rous flock, none here shall either sheep 350
Or bullock slay, by appetite profane
Seduced, but shall the viands eat content
Which from immortal Circe we received.
I spake; they readily a solemn oath
Sware all, and when their oath was fully sworn,
Within a creek where a fresh fountain rose
They moor’d the bark, and, issuing, began
Brisk preparation of their evening cheer.
But when nor hunger now nor thirst remain’d
Unsated, recollecting, then, their friends 360
By Scylla seized and at her cave devour’d,
They mourn’d, nor ceased to mourn them, till they slept.
The night’s third portion come, when now the stars
Had travers’d the mid-sky, cloud-gath’rer Jove
Call’d forth a vehement wind with tempest charged,
Menacing earth and sea with pitchy clouds
Tremendous, and the night fell dark from heav’n.
But when Aurora, daughter of the day,
Look’d rosy forth, we haled, drawn inland more,
Our bark into a grot, where nymphs were wont 370
  Graceful to tread the dance, or to repose.
Convening there my friends, I thus began.
My friends! food fails us not, but bread is yet
And wine on board. Abstain we from the herds,
Lest harm ensue; for ye behold the flocks
And herds of a most potent God, the Sun!
Whose eye and watchful ear none may elude.
So saying, I sway’d the gen’rous minds of all.
A month complete the South wind ceaseless blew,
Nor other wind blew next, save East and South, 380
Yet they, while neither food nor rosy wine
Fail’d them, the herds harm’d not, through fear to die.
But, our provisions failing, they employed
Whole days in search of food, snaring with hooks
Birds, fishes, of what kind soe’er they might.
By famine urged. I solitary roam’d
Meantime the isle, seeking by pray’r to move
Some God to shew us a deliv’rance thence.
When, roving thus the isle, I had at length
Left all my crew remote, laving my hands 390
Where shelter warm I found from the rude blast,
I supplicated ev’ry Pow’r above;
But they my pray’rs answer’d with slumbers soft
Shed o’er my eyes, and with pernicious art
Eurylochus, the while, my friends harangued.
My friends! afflicted as ye are, yet hear
A fellow-suff’rer. Death, however caused,
Abhorrence moves in miserable man,
But death by famine is a fate of all
Most to be fear’d. Come—let us hither drive 400
And sacrifice to the Immortal Pow’rs
The best of all the oxen of the Sun,
Resolving thus—that soon as we shall reach
Our native Ithaca, we will erect
To bright Hyperion an illustrious fane,
Which with magnificent and num’rous gifts
We will enrich. But should he chuse to sink
Our vessel, for his stately beeves incensed,
And should, with him, all heav’n conspire our death,
I rather had with open mouth, at once, 410
Meeting the billows, perish, than by slow
And pining waste here in this desert isle.
So spake Eurylochus, whom all approved.
  Then, driving all the fattest of the herd
Few paces only, (for the sacred beeves
Grazed rarely distant from the bark) they stood
Compassing them around, and, grasping each
Green foliage newly pluck’d from saplings tall,
(For barley none in all our bark remain’d)
Worshipp’d the Gods in pray’r. Pray’r made, they slew
And flay’d them, and the thighs with double fat 421
Investing, spread them o’er with slices crude.
No wine had they with which to consecrate
The blazing rites, but with libation poor
Of water hallow’d the interior parts.
Now, when the thighs were burnt, and each had shared
His portion of the maw, and when the rest
All-slash’d and scored hung roasting at the fire,
Sleep, in that moment, suddenly my eyes
Forsaking, to the shore I bent my way. 430
But ere the station of our bark I reach’d,
The sav’ry steam greeted me. At the scent
I wept aloud, and to the Gods exclaim’d.
Oh Jupiter, and all ye Pow’rs above!
With cruel sleep and fatal ye have lull’d
My cares to rest, such horrible offence
Meantime my rash companions have devised.
Then, flew long-stoled Lampetia to the Sun
At once with tidings of his slaughter’d beeves,
And he, incensed, the Immortals thus address’d. 440
Jove, and ye everlasting Pow’rs divine!
Avenge me instant on the crew profane
Of Laertiades; Ulysses’ friends
Have dared to slay my beeves, which I with joy
Beheld, both when I climb’d the starry heav’ns,
And when to earth I sloped my “westring wheels,”
But if they yield me not amercement due
And honourable for my loss, to Hell
I will descend and give the ghosts my beams.
Then, thus the cloud-assembler God replied. 450
Sun! shine thou still on the Immortal Pow’rs,
And on the teeming earth, frail man’s abode.
My candent bolts can in a moment reach
And split their flying bark in the mid-sea.
These things Calypso told me, taught, herself,
By herald Hermes, as she oft affirm’d.
  But when, descending to the shore, I reach’d
At length my bark, with aspect stern and tone
I reprimanded them, yet no redress
Could frame, or remedy—the beeves were dead. 460
Soon follow’d signs portentous sent from heav’n.
The skins all crept, and on the spits the flesh
Both roast and raw bellow’d, as with the voice
Of living beeves. Thus my devoted friends
Driving the fattest oxen of the Sun,
Feasted six days entire; but when the sev’nth
By mandate of Saturnian Jove appeared,
The storm then ceased to rage, and we, again
Embarking, launch’d our galley, rear’d the mast,
And gave our unfurl’d canvas to the wind. 470
The island left afar, and other land
Appearing none, but sky alone and sea,
Right o’er the hollow bark Saturnian Jove
Hung a cærulean cloud, dark’ning the Deep.
Not long my vessel ran, for, blowing wild,
Now came shrill Zephyrus; a stormy gust
Snapp’d sheer the shrouds on both sides; backward fell
The mast, and with loose tackle strew’d the hold;
Striking the pilot in the stern, it crush’d
His scull together; he a diver’s plunge 480
Made downward, and his noble spirit fled.
Meantime, Jove thund’ring, hurl’d into the ship
His bolts; she, smitten by the fires of Jove,
Quaked all her length; with sulphur fill’d she reek’d,
And o’er her sides headlong my people plunged
Like sea-mews, interdicted by that stroke
Of wrath divine to hope their country more.
But I, the vessel still paced to and fro,
Till, fever’d by the boist’rous waves, her sides
Forsook the keel now left to float alone. 490
Snapp’d where it join’d the keel the mast had fall’n,
But fell encircled with a leathern brace,
Which it retain’d; binding with this the mast
And keel together, on them both I sat,
Borne helpless onward by the dreadful gale.
And now the West subsided, and the South
Arose instead, with mis’ry charged for me,
That I might measure back my course again
To dire Charybdis. All night long I drove,
  And when the sun arose, at Scylla’s rock 500
Once more, and at Charybdis’ gulph arrived.
It was the time when she absorb’d profound
The briny flood, but by a wave upborne
I seized the branches fast of the wild-fig.57
To which, bat-like, I clung; yet where to fix
My foot secure found not, or where to ascend,
For distant lay the roots, and distant shot
The largest arms erect into the air,
O’ershadowing all Charybdis; therefore hard
I clench’d the boughs, till she disgorg’d again 510
Both keel and mast. Not undesired by me
They came, though late; for at what hour the judge,
After decision made of num’rous strifes58
Between young candidates for honour, leaves
The forum for refreshment’ sake at home,
Then was it that the mast and keel emerged.
Deliver’d to a voluntary fall,
Fast by those beams I dash’d into the flood,
And seated on them both, with oary palms
Impell’d them; nor the Sire of Gods and men 520
Permitted Scylla to discern me more,
Else had I perish’d by her fangs at last.
Nine days I floated thence, and, on the tenth
Dark night, the Gods convey’d me to the isle
Ogygia, habitation of divine
Calypso, by whose hospitable aid
And assiduity, my strength revived.
But wherefore this? ye have already learn’d
That hist’ry, thou and thy illustrious spouse;
I told it yesterday, and hate a tale 530
Once amply told, then, needless, traced again.

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

57 See line 120.

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

  BOOK XIII

ARGUMENT

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

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

He ceas’d; the whole assembly silent sat,
Charm’d into ecstacy with his discourse
Throughout the twilight hall. Then, thus the King.
Ulysses, since beneath my brazen dome
Sublime thou hast arrived, like woes, I trust,
Thou shalt not in thy voyage hence sustain
By tempests tost, though much to woe inured.
To you, who daily in my presence quaff
Your princely meed of gen’rous wine and hear
The sacred bard, my pleasure, thus I speak. 10
The robes, wrought gold, and all the other gifts
To this our guest, by the Phæacian Chiefs
Brought hither in the sumptuous coffer lie.
But come—present ye to the stranger, each,
An ample tripod also, with a vase
Of smaller size, for which we will be paid
By public impost; for the charge of all
Excessive were by one alone defray’d.
So spake Alcinoüs, and his counsel pleased;
Then, all retiring, sought repose at home. 20
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, each hasted to the bark
With his illustrious present, which the might
Of King Alcinoüs, who himself her sides
Ascended, safe beneath the seats bestowed,
Lest it should harm or hinder, while he toil’d
  In rowing, some Phæacian of the crew.
The palace of Alcinoüs seeking next,
Together, they prepared a new regale.
For them, in sacrifice, the sacred might59 30
Of King Alcinoüs slew an ox to Jove
Saturnian, cloud-girt governor of all.
The thighs with fire prepared, all glad partook
The noble feast; meantime, the bard divine
Sang, sweet Demodocus, the people’s joy.
But oft Ulysses to the radiant sun
Turn’d wistful eyes, anxious for his decline,
Nor longer, now, patient of dull delay.
As when some hungry swain whose sable beeves
Have through the fallow dragg’d his pond’rous plow 40
All day, the setting sun views with delight
For supper’ sake, which with tir’d feet he seeks,
So welcome to Ulysses’ eyes appear’d
The sun-set of that eve; directing, then,
His speech to maritime Phæacia’s sons,
But to Alcinoüs chiefly, thus he said.
Alcinoüs, o’er Phæacia’s realm supreme!
Libation made, dismiss ye me in peace,
And farewell all! for what I wish’d, I have,
Conductors hence, and honourable gifts 50
With which heav’n prosper me! and may the Gods
Vouchsafe to me, at my return, to find
All safe, my spotless consort and my friends!
May ye, whom here I leave, gladden your wives
And see your children blest, and may the pow’rs
Immortal with all good enrich you all,
And from calamity preserve the land!
He ended, they unanimous, his speech
Applauded loud, and bade dismiss the guest
Who had so wisely spoken and so well. 60
Then thus Alcinoüs to his herald spake.
Pontonoüs! charging high the beaker, bear
To ev’ry guest beneath our roof the wine,
That, pray’r preferr’d to the eternal Sire,
We may dismiss our inmate to his home.
Then, bore Pontonoüs to ev’ry guest
The brimming cup; they, where they sat, perform’d
Libation due; but the illustrious Chief
  Ulysses, from his seat arising, placed
A massy goblet in Areta’s hand, 70
To whom in accents wing’d, grateful, he said.
Farewell, O Queen, a long farewell, till age
Arrive, and death, the appointed lot of all!
I go; but be this people, and the King
Alcinoüs, and thy progeny, thy joy
Yet many a year beneath this glorious roof!
So saying, the Hero through the palace-gate
Issued, whom, by Alcinoüs’ command,
The royal herald to his vessel led.
Three maidens also of Areta’s train 80
His steps attended; one, the robe well-bleach’d
And tunic bore; the corded coffer, one;
And food the third, with wine of crimson hue.
Arriving where the galley rode, each gave
Her charge to some brave mariner on board,
And all was safely stow’d. Meantime were spread
Linen and arras on the deck astern,
For his secure repose. And now the Chief
Himself embarking, silent lay’d him down.
Then, ev’ry rower to his bench repair’d; 90
They drew the loosen’d cable from its hold
In the drill’d rock, and, resupine, at once
With lusty strokes upturn’d the flashing waves.
His eye-lids, soon, sleep, falling as a dew,
Closed fast, death’s simular, in sight the same.
She, as four harness’d stallions o’er the plain
Shooting together at the scourge’s stroke,
Toss high their manes, and rapid scour along,
So mounted she the waves, while dark the flood
Roll’d after her of the resounding Deep. 100
Steady she ran and safe, passing in speed
The falcon, swiftest of the fowls of heav’n;
With such rapidity she cut the waves,
An hero bearing like the Gods above
In wisdom, one familiar long with woe
In fight sustain’d, and on the perilous flood,
Though sleeping now serenely, and resign’d
To sweet oblivion of all sorrow past.
The brightest star of heav’n, precursor chief
Of day-spring, now arose, when at the isle 110
(Her voyage soon perform’d) the bark arrived.
  There is a port sacred in Ithaca
To Phorcys, hoary ancient of the Deep,
Form’d by converging shores, prominent both
And both abrupt, which from the spacious bay
Exclude all boist’rous winds; within it, ships
(The port once gain’d) uncabled ride secure.
An olive, at the haven’s head, expands
Her branches wide, near to a pleasant cave
Umbrageous, to the nymphs devoted named 120
The Naiads. In that cave beakers of stone
And jars are seen; bees lodge their honey there;
And there, on slender spindles of the rock
The nymphs of rivers weave their wond’rous robes.
Perennial springs water it, and it shows
A twofold entrance; ingress one affords
To mortal man, which Northward looks direct,
But holier is the Southern far; by that
No mortal enters, but the Gods alone.
Familiar with that port before, they push’d 130
The vessel in; she, rapid, plow’d the sands
With half her keel, such rowers urged her on.
Descending from the well-bench’d bark ashore,
They lifted forth Ulysses first, with all
His splendid couch complete, then, lay’d him down
Still wrapt in balmy slumber on the sands.
His treasures, next, by the Phæacian Chiefs
At his departure given him as the meed
Due to his wisdom, at the olive’s foot
They heap’d, without the road, lest, while he slept 140
Some passing traveller should rifle them.
Then homeward thence they sped. Nor Ocean’s God
His threats forgot denounced against divine
Ulysses, but with Jove thus first advised.
Eternal Sire! I shall no longer share
Respect and reverence among the Gods,
Since, now, Phæacia’s mortal race have ceas’d
To honour me, though from myself derived.
It was my purpose, that by many an ill
Harass’d, Ulysses should have reach’d his home, 150
Although to intercept him, whose return
Thyself had promis’d, ne’er was my intent.
But him fast-sleeping swiftly o’er the waves
They have conducted, and have set him down
  In Ithaca, with countless gifts enrich’d,
With brass, and tissued raiment, and with gold;
Much treasure! more than he had home convey’d
Even had he arrived with all his share
Allotted to him of the spoils of Troy.
To whom the cloud-assembler God replied. 160
What hast thou spoken, Shaker of the shores,
Wide-ruling Neptune? Fear not; thee the Gods
Will ne’er despise; dangerous were the deed
To cast dishonour on a God by birth
More ancient, and more potent far than they.
But if, profanely rash, a mortal man
Should dare to slight thee, to avenge the wrong
Some future day is ever in thy pow’r.
Accomplish all thy pleasure, thou art free.
Him answer’d, then, the Shaker of the shores. 170
Jove cloud-enthroned! that pleasure I would soon
Perform, as thou hast said, but that I watch
Thy mind continual, fearful to offend.
My purpose is, now to destroy amid
The dreary Deep yon fair Phæacian bark,
Return’d from safe conveyance of her freight;
So shall they waft such wand’rers home no more,
And she shall hide their city, to a rock
Transform’d of mountainous o’ershadowing size.
Him, then, Jove answer’d, gath’rer of the clouds. 180
Perform it, O my brother, and the deed
Thus done, shall best be done—What time the people
Shall from the city her approach descry,
Fix her to stone transform’d, but still in shape
A gallant bark, near to the coast, that all
May wonder, seeing her transform’d to stone
Of size to hide their city from the view.
These words once heard, the Shaker of the shores
Instant to Scheria, maritime abode
Of the Phæacians, went. Arrived, he watch’d. 190
And now the flying bark full near approach’d,
When Neptune, meeting her, with out-spread palm
Depress’d her at a stroke, and she became
Deep-rooted stone. Then Neptune went his way.
Phæacia’s ship-ennobled sons meantime
Conferring stood, and thus, in accents wing’d,
Th’ amazed spectator to his fellow spake.
  Ah! who hath sudden check’d the vessel’s course
Homeward? this moment she was all in view.
Thus they, unconscious of the cause, to whom 200
Alcinoüs, instructing them, replied.
Ye Gods! a prophecy now strikes my mind
With force, my father’s. He was wont to say—
Neptune resents it, that we safe conduct
Natives of ev’ry region to their home.
He also spake, prophetic, of a day
When a Phæacian gallant bark, return’d
After conveyance of a stranger hence,
Should perish in the dreary Deep, and changed
To a huge mountain, cover all the town. 210
So spake my father, all whose words we see
This day fulfill’d. Thus, therefore, act we all
Unanimous; henceforth no longer bear
The stranger home, when such shall here arrive;
And we will sacrifice, without delay,
Twelve chosen bulls to Neptune, if, perchance,
He will commiserate us, and forbear
To hide our town behind a mountain’s height.
He spake, they, terrified, the bulls prepared.
Thus all Phæacia’s Senators and Chiefs 220
His altar compassing, in pray’r adored
The Ocean’s God. Meantime, Ulysses woke,
Unconscious where; stretch’d on his native soil
He lay, and knew it not, long-time exiled.
For Pallas, progeny of Jove, a cloud
Drew dense around him, that, ere yet agnized
By others, he might wisdom learn from her,
Neither to citizens, nor yet to friends
Reveal’d, nor even to his own espoused,
Till, first, he should avenge complete his wrongs 230
Domestic from those suitors proud sustained.
All objects, therefore, in the Hero’s eyes
Seem’d alien, foot-paths long, commodious ports,
Heav’n-climbing rocks, and trees of amplest growth.
Arising, fixt he stood, his native soil
Contemplating, till with expanded palms
Both thighs he smote, and, plaintive, thus began.
Ah me! what mortal race inhabits here?
Rude are they, contumacious and unjust,
Or hospitable, and who fear the Gods? 240
Where now shall I secrete these num’rous stores?
  Where wander I, myself? I would that still
Phæacians own’d them, and I had arrived
In the dominions of some other King
Magnanimous, who would have entertain’d
And sent me to my native home secure!
Now, neither know I where to place my wealth,
Nor can I leave it here, lest it become
Another’s prey. Alas! Phæacia’s Chiefs
Not altogether wise I deem or just, 250
Who have misplaced me in another land,
Promis’d to bear me to the pleasant shores
Of Ithaca, but have not so perform’d.
Jove, guardian of the suppliant’s rights, who all
Transgressors marks, and punishes all wrong,
Avenge me on the treach’rous race!—but hold—
I will revise my stores, so shall I know
If they have left me here of aught despoiled.
So saying, he number’d carefully the gold,
The vases, tripods bright, and tissued robes, 260
But nothing miss’d of all. Then he bewail’d
His native isle, with pensive steps and slow
Pacing the border of the billowy flood,
Forlorn; but while he wept, Pallas approach’d,
In form a shepherd stripling, girlish fair
In feature, such as are the sons of Kings;
A sumptuous mantle o’er his shoulders hung
Twice-folded, sandals his nice feet upbore,
And a smooth javelin glitter’d in his hand.
Ulysses, joyful at the sight, his steps 270
Turn’d brisk toward her, whom he thus address’d.
Sweet youth! since thee, of all mankind, I first
Encounter in this land unknown, all hail!
Come not with purposes of harm to me!
These save, and save me also. I prefer
To thee, as to some God, my pray’r, and clasp
Thy knees a suppliant. Say, and tell me true,
What land? what people? who inhabit here?
Is this some isle delightful, or a shore
Of fruitful main-land sloping to the sea? 280
Then Pallas, thus, Goddess cærulean-eyed.
Stranger! thou sure art simple, or hast dwelt
Far distant hence, if of this land thou ask.
  It is not, trust me, of so little note,
But known to many, both to those who dwell
Toward the sun-rise, and to others placed
Behind it, distant in the dusky West.
Rugged it is, not yielding level course
To the swift steed, and yet no barren spot,
However small, but rich in wheat and wine; 290
Nor wants it rain or fertilising dew,
But pasture green to goats and beeves affords,
Trees of all kinds, and fountains never dry.
Ithaca therefore, stranger, is a name
Known ev’n at Troy, a city, by report,
At no small distance from Achaia’s shore.
The Goddess ceased; then, toil-enduring Chief
Ulysses, happy in his native land,
(So taught by Pallas, progeny of Jove)
In accents wing’d her answ’ring, utter’d prompt 300
Not truth, but figments to truth opposite,
For guile, in him, stood never at a pause.
O’er yonder flood, even in spacious Crete60
I heard of Ithaca, where now, it seems,
I have, myself, with these my stores arrived;
Not richer stores than, flying thence, I left
To my own children; for from Crete I fled
For slaughter of Orsilochus the swift,
Son of Idomeneus, whom none in speed
Could equal throughout all that spacious isle. 310
His purpose was to plunder me of all
My Trojan spoils, which to obtain, much woe
I had in battle and by storms endured,
For that I would not gratify his Sire,
Fighting beside him in the fields of Troy,
But led a diff’rent band. Him from the field
Returning homeward, with my brazen spear
I smote, in ambush waiting his return
At the road-side, with a confed’rate friend.
Unwonted darkness over all the heav’ns 320
That night prevailed, nor any eye of man
Observed us, but, unseen, I slew the youth.
No sooner, then, with my sharp spear of life
  I had bereft him, than I sought a ship
Mann’d by renown’d Phæacians, whom with gifts
Part of my spoils, and by requests, I won.
I bade them land me on the Pylian shore,
Or in fair Elis by th’ Epeans ruled,
But they, reluctant, were by violent winds
Driv’n devious thence, for fraud they purposed none. 330
Thus through constraint we here arrived by night,
And with much difficulty push’d the ship
Into safe harbour, nor was mention made
Of food by any, though all needed food,
But, disembark’d in haste, on shore we lay.
I, weary, slept profound, and they my goods
Forth heaving from the bark, beside me placed
The treasures on the sea-beach where I slept,
Then, reimbarking, to the populous coast
Steer’d of Sidonia, and me left forlorn. 340
He ceased; then smiled Minerva azure-eyed
And stroaked his cheek, in form a woman now,
Beauteous, majestic, in all elegant arts
Accomplish’d, and with accents wing’d replied.
Who passes thee in artifice well-framed
And in imposture various, need shall find
Of all his policy, although a God.
Canst thou not cease, inventive as thou art
And subtle, from the wiles which thou hast lov’d
Since thou wast infant, and from tricks of speech 350
Delusive, even in thy native land?
But come, dismiss we these ingenious shifts
From our discourse, in which we both excel;
For thou of all men in expedients most
Abound’st and eloquence, and I, throughout
All heav’n have praise for wisdom and for art.
And know’st thou not thine Athenæan aid,
Pallas, Jove’s daughter, who in all thy toils
Assist thee and defend? I gave thee pow’r
T’ engage the hearts of all Phæacia’s sons, 360
And here arrive ev’n now, counsels to frame
Discrete with thee, and to conceal the stores
Giv’n to thee by the rich Phæacian Chiefs
On my suggestion, at thy going thence.
I will inform thee also what distress
And hardship under thy own palace-roof
  Thou must endure; which, since constraint enjoins,
Bear patiently, and neither man apprize
Nor woman that thou hast arrived forlorn
And vagabond, but silent undergo 370
What wrongs soever from the hands of men.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
O Goddess! thou art able to elude,
Wherever met, the keenest eye of man,
For thou all shapes assum’st; yet this I know
Certainly, that I ever found thee kind,
Long as Achaia’s Heroes fought at Troy;
But when (the lofty tow’rs of Priam laid
In dust) we re-embark’d, and by the will
Of heav’n Achaia’s fleet was scatter’d wide, 380
Thenceforth, O daughter wise of Jove, I thee
Saw not, nor thy appearance in my ship
Once mark’d, to rid me of my num’rous woes,
But always bearing in my breast a heart
With anguish riv’n, I roam’d, till by the Gods
Relieved at length, and till with gracious words
Thyself didst in Phæacia’s opulent land
Confirm my courage, and becam’st my guide.
But I adjure thee in thy father’s name—
O tell me truly, (for I cannot hope 390
That I have reach’d fair Ithaca; I tread
Some other soil, and thou affirm’st it mine
To mock me merely, and deceive) oh say—
Am I in Ithaca? in truth, at home?
Thus then Minerva the cærulean-eyed.
Such caution in thy breast always prevails
Distrustful; but I know thee eloquent,
With wisdom and with ready thought endued,
And cannot leave thee, therefore, thus distress’d
For what man, save Ulysses, new-return’d 400
After long wand’rings, would not pant to see
At once his home, his children, and his wife?
But thou preferr’st neither to know nor ask
Concerning them, till some experience first
Thou make of her whose wasted youth is spent
In barren solitude, and who in tears
Ceaseless her nights and woeful days consumes.
I ne’er was ignorant, but well foreknew
That not till after loss of all thy friends
  Thou should’st return; but loth I was to oppose 410
Neptune, my father’s brother, sore incensed
For his son’s sake deprived of sight by thee.
But, I will give thee proof—come now—survey
These marks of Ithaca, and be convinced.
This is the port of Phorcys, sea-born sage;
That, the huge olive at the haven’s head;
Fast by it, thou behold’st the pleasant cove
Umbrageous, to the nymphs devoted named
The Naiads; this the broad-arch’d cavern is
Where thou wast wont to offer to the nymphs 420
Many a whole hecatomb; and yonder stands
The mountain Neritus with forests cloath’d.
So saying, the Goddess scatter’d from before
His eyes all darkness, and he knew the land.
Then felt Ulysses, Hero toil-inured,
Transport unutterable, seeing plain
Once more his native isle. He kiss’d the glebe,
And with uplifted hands the nymphs ador’d.
Nymphs, Naiads, Jove’s own daughters! I despair’d
To see you more, whom yet with happy vows 430
I now can hail again. Gifts, as of old,
We will hereafter at your shrines present,
If Jove-born Pallas, huntress of the spoils,
Grant life to me, and manhood to my son.
Then Pallas, blue-eyed progeny of Jove.
Take courage; trouble not thy mind with thoughts
Now needless. Haste—delay not—far within
This hallow’d cave’s recess place we at once
Thy precious stores, that they may thine remain,
Then muse together on thy wisest course. 440
So saying, the Goddess enter’d deep the cave
Caliginous, and its secret nooks explored
From side to side; meantime, Ulysses brought
All his stores into it, the gold, the brass,
And robes magnificent, his gifts received
From the Phæacians; safe he lodg’d them all,
And Pallas, daughter of Jove Ægis-arm’d,
Closed fast, herself, the cavern with a stone.
Then, on the consecrated olive’s root
Both seated, they in consultation plann’d 450
The deaths of those injurious suitors proud,
And Pallas, blue-eyed Goddess, thus began.
  Laertes’ noble son, Ulysses! think
By what means likeliest thou shalt assail
Those shameless suitors, who have now controuled
Three years thy family, thy matchless wife
With language amorous and with spousal gifts
Urging importunate; but she, with tears
Watching thy wish’d return, hope gives to all
By messages of promise sent to each, 460
Framing far other purposes the while.
Then answer thus Ulysses wise return’d.
Ah, Agamemnon’s miserable fate
Had surely met me in my own abode,
But for thy gracious warning, pow’r divine!
Come then—Devise the means; teach me, thyself,
The way to vengeance, and my soul inspire
With daring fortitude, as when we loos’d
Her radiant frontlet from the brows of Troy.
Would’st thou with equal zeal, O Pallas! aid 470
Thy servant here, I would encounter thrice
An hundred enemies, let me but perceive
Thy dread divinity my prompt ally.
Him answer’d then Pallas cærulean-eyed.
And such I will be; not unmark’d by me,
(Let once our time of enterprize arrive)
Shalt thou assail them. Many, as I judge,
Of those proud suitors who devour thy wealth
Shall leave their brains, then, on thy palace floor.
But come. Behold! I will disguise thee so 480
That none shall know thee! I will parch the skin
On thy fair body; I will cause thee shed
Thy wavy locks; I will enfold thee round
In such a kirtle as the eyes of all
Shall loath to look on; and I will deform
With blurring rheums thy eyes, so vivid erst;
So shall the suitors deem thee, and thy wife,
And thy own son whom thou didst leave at home,
Some sordid wretch obscure. But seek thou first
Thy swine-herd’s mansion; he, alike, intends 490
Thy good, and loves, affectionate, thy son
And thy Penelope; thou shalt find the swain
Tending his herd; they feed beneath the rock
Corax, at side of Arethusa’s fount,
On acorns dieted, nutritious food
  To them, and drinking of the limpid stream.
There waiting, question him of thy concerns,
While I from Sparta praised for women fair
Call home thy son Telemachus, a guest
With Menelaus now, whom to consult 500
In spacious Lacedæmon he is gone,
Anxious to learn if yet his father lives.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
And why, alas! all-knowing as thou art,
Him left’st thou ignorant? was it that he,
He also, wand’ring wide the barren Deep,
Might suffer woe, while these devour his wealth?
Him answer’d then Pallas cærulean-eyed.
Grieve thou not much for him. I sent him forth
Myself, that there arrived, he might acquire 510
Honour and fame. No suff’rings finds he there,
But in Atrides’ palace safe resides,
Enjoying all abundance. Him, in truth,
The suitors watch close ambush’d on the Deep,
Intent to slay him ere he reach his home,
But shall not as I judge, till of themselves
The earth hide some who make thee, now, a prey.
So saying, the Goddess touch’d him with a wand.
At once o’er all his agile limbs she parch’d
The polish’d skin; she wither’d to the root 520
His wavy locks; and cloath’d him with the hide
Deform’d of wrinkled age; she charged with rheums
His eyes before so vivid, and a cloak
And kirtle gave him, tatter’d, both, and foul,
And smutch’d with smoak; then, casting over all
An huge old deer-skin bald, with a long staff
She furnish’d him, and with a wallet patch’d
On all sides, dangling by a twisted thong.
Thus all their plan adjusted, diff’rent ways
They took, and she, seeking Ulysses’ son, 530
To Lacedæmon’s spacious realm repair’d.

59 Ἱερον μενος Αλκινοοιο.

60 Homer dates all the fictions of Ulysses from Crete, as if he meant to pass a similar censure on the Cretans to that quoted by St. Paul—κρητες αει ψευσαι.

  BOOK XIV

ARGUMENT

Ulysses arriving at the house of Eumæus, is hospitably entertained, and spends the night there.

Leaving the haven-side, he turn’d his steps
Into a rugged path, which over hills
Mantled with trees led him to the abode
By Pallas mention’d of his noble friend61
The swine-herd, who of all Ulysses’ train
Watch’d with most diligence his rural stores.
Him sitting in the vestibule he found
Of his own airy lodge commodious, built
Amidst a level lawn. That structure neat
Eumæus, in the absence of his Lord, 10
Had raised, himself, with stones from quarries hewn,
Unaided by Laertes or the Queen.
With tangled thorns he fenced it safe around,
And with contiguous stakes riv’n from the trunks
Of solid oak black-grain’d hemm’d it without.
Twelve penns he made within, all side by side,
Lairs for his swine, and fast-immured in each
Lay fifty pregnant females on the floor.
The males all slept without, less num’rous far,
Thinn’d by the princely wooers at their feasts 20
Continual, for to them he ever sent
The fattest of his saginated charge.
Three hundred, still, and sixty brawns remained.
Four mastiffs in adjoining kennels lay,
Resembling wild-beasts nourish’d at the board
Of the illustrious steward of the styes.
Himself sat fitting sandals to his feet,
Carved from a stain’d ox-hide. Four hinds he kept,
Now busied here and there; three in the penns
  Were occupied; meantime, the fourth had sought 30
The city, whither, for the suitors’ use,
With no good will, but by constraint, he drove
A boar, that, sacrificing to the Gods,
Th’ imperious guests might on his flesh regale.
Soon as those clamorous watch-dogs the approach
Saw of Ulysses, baying loud, they ran
Toward him; he, as ever, well-advised,
Squatted, and let his staff fall from his hand.
Yet foul indignity he had endured
Ev’n there, at his own farm, but that the swain, 40
Following his dogs in haste, sprang through the porch
To his assistance, letting fall the hide.
With chiding voice and vollied stones he soon
Drove them apart, and thus his Lord bespake.
Old man! one moment more, and these my dogs
Had, past doubt, worried thee, who should’st have proved,
So slain, a source of obloquy to me.
But other pangs the Gods, and other woes
To me have giv’n, who here lamenting sit
My godlike master, and his fatted swine 50
Nourish for others’ use, while he, perchance,
A wand’rer in some foreign city, seeks
Fit sustenance, and none obtains, if still
Indeed he live, and view the light of day.
But, old friend! follow me into the house,
That thou, at least, with plenteous food refresh’d,
And cheer’d with wine sufficient, may’st disclose
Both who thou art, and all that thou hast borne.
So saying, the gen’rous swine-herd introduced
Ulysses, and thick bundles spread of twigs 60
Beneath him, cover’d with the shaggy skin
Of a wild goat, of which he made his couch
Easy and large; the Hero, so received,
Rejoiced, and thus his gratitude express’d.
Jove grant thee and the Gods above, my host,
For such beneficence thy chief desire!
To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
My guest! I should offend, treating with scorn
The stranger, though a poorer should arrive
Than ev’n thyself; for all the poor that are, 70
And all the strangers are the care of Jove.
Little, and with good will, is all that lies
  Within my scope; no man can much expect
From servants living in continual fear
Under young masters; for the Gods, no doubt,
Have intercepted my own Lord’s return,
From whom great kindness I had, else, received,
With such a recompense as servants gain
From gen’rous masters, house and competence,
And lovely wife from many a wooer won, 80
Whose industry should have requited well
His goodness, with such blessing from the Gods
As now attends me in my present charge.
Much had I, therefore, prosper’d, had my Lord
Grown old at home; but he hath died—I would
That the whole house of Helen, one and all,
Might perish too, for she hath many slain
Who, like my master, went glory to win
For Agamemnon in the fields of Troy.
So saying, he girdled, quick, his tunic close, 90
And, issuing, sought the styes; thence bringing two
Of the imprison’d herd, he slaughter’d both,
Singed them, and slash’d and spitted them, and placed
The whole well-roasted banquet, spits and all,
Reeking before Ulysses; last, with flour
He sprinkled them, and filling with rich wine
His ivy goblet, to his master sat
Opposite, whom inviting thus he said.
Now, eat, my guest! such as a servant may
I set before thee, neither large of growth 100
Nor fat; the fatted—those the suitors eat,
Fearless of heav’n, and pitiless of man.
Yet deeds unjust as theirs the blessed Gods
Love not; they honour equity and right.
Even an hostile band when they invade
A foreign shore, which by consent of Jove
They plunder, and with laden ships depart,
Even they with terrours quake of wrath divine.
But these are wiser; these must sure have learn’d
From some true oracle my master’s death, 110
Who neither deign with decency to woo,
Nor yet to seek their homes, but boldly waste
His substance, shameless, now, and sparing nought.
Jove ne’er hath giv’n us yet the night or day
When with a single victim, or with two
  They would content them, and his empty jars
Witness how fast the squand’rers use his wine.
Time was, when he was rich indeed; such wealth
No Hero own’d on yonder continent,
Nor yet in Ithaca; no twenty Chiefs 120
Could match with all their treasures his alone;
I tell thee their amount. Twelve herds of his
The mainland graze;62 as many flocks of sheep;
As many droves of swine; and hirelings there
And servants of his own seed for his use,
As many num’rous flocks of goats; his goats,
(Not fewer than eleven num’rous flocks)
Here also graze the margin of his fields
Under the eye of servants well-approved,
And ev’ry servant, ev’ry day, brings home 130
The goat, of all his flock largest and best.
But as for me, I have these swine in charge,
Of which, selected with exactest care
From all the herd, I send the prime to them.
He ceas’d, meantime Ulysses ate and drank
Voracious, meditating, mute, the death
Of those proud suitors. His repast, at length,
Concluded, and his appetite sufficed,
Eumæus gave him, charged with wine, the cup
From which he drank himself; he, glad, received 140
The boon, and in wing’d accents thus began.
My friend, and who was he, wealthy and brave
As thou describ’st the Chief, who purchased thee?
Thou say’st he perish’d for the glory-sake
Of Agamemnon. Name him; I, perchance,
May have beheld the Hero. None can say
But Jove and the inhabitants of heav’n
That I ne’er saw him, and may not impart
News of him; I have roam’d through many a clime.
To whom the noble swine-herd thus replied. 150
Alas, old man! no trav’ler’s tale of him
Will gain his consort’s credence, or his son’s;
For wand’rers, wanting entertainment, forge
Falsehoods for bread, and wilfully deceive.
No wand’rer lands in Ithaca, but he seeks
  With feign’d intelligence my mistress’ ear;
She welcomes all, and while she questions each
Minutely, from her lids lets fall the tear
Affectionate, as well beseems a wife
Whose mate hath perish’d in a distant land. 160
Thou could’st thyself, no doubt, my hoary friend!
(Would any furnish thee with decent vest
And mantle) fabricate a tale with ease;
Yet sure it is that dogs and fowls, long since,
His skin have stript, or fishes of the Deep
Have eaten him, and on some distant shore
Whelm’d in deep sands his mould’ring bones are laid.
So hath he perish’d; whence, to all his friends,
But chiefly to myself, sorrow of heart;
For such another Lord, gentle as he, 170
Wherever sought, I have no hope to find,
Though I should wander even to the house
Of my own father. Neither yearns my heart
So feelingly (though that desiring too)
To see once more my parents and my home,
As to behold Ulysses yet again.
Ah stranger; absent as he is, his name
Fills me with rev’rence, for he lov’d me much,
Cared for me much, and, though we meet no more,
Holds still an elder brother’s part in me. 180
Him answer’d, then, the Hero toil-inured.
My friend! since his return, in thy account,
Is an event impossible, and thy mind
Always incredulous that hope rejects,
I shall not slightly speak, but with an oath—
Ulysses comes again; and I demand
No more, than that the boon such news deserves,
Be giv’n me soon as he shall reach his home.
Then give me vest and mantle fit to wear,
Which, ere that hour, much as I need them both, 190
I neither ask, nor will accept from thee.
For him whom poverty can force aside
From truth—I hate him as the gates of hell.
Be Jove, of all in heav’n, my witness first,
Then, this thy hospitable board, and, last,
The household Gods of the illustrious Chief
Himself, Ulysses, to whose gates I go,
That all my words shall surely be fulfill’d.
  In this same year Ulysses shall arrive,
Ere, this month closed, another month succeed, 200
He shall return, and punish all who dare
Insult his consort and his noble son.
To whom Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
Old friend! that boon thou wilt ne’er earn from me;
Ulysses comes no more. But thou thy wine
Drink quietly, and let us find, at length,
Some other theme; recall not this again
To my remembrance, for my soul is grieved
Oft as reminded of my honour’d Lord.
Let the oath rest, and let Ulysses come 210
Ev’n as myself, and as Penelope,
And as his ancient father, and his son
Godlike Telemachus, all wish he may.
Ay—there I feel again—nor cease to mourn
His son Telemachus; who, when the Gods
Had giv’n him growth like a young plant, and I
Well hoped that nought inferior he should prove
In person or in mind to his own sire,
Hath lost, through influence human or divine,
I know not how, his sober intellect, 220
And after tidings of his sire is gone
To far-famed Pylus; his return, meantime,
In ambush hidden the proud suitors wait,
That the whole house may perish of renown’d
Arcesias, named in Ithaca no more.
But whether he have fallen or ’scaped, let him
Rest also, whom Saturnian Jove protect!
But come, my ancient guest! now let me learn
Thy own afflictions; answer me in truth.
Who, and whence art thou? in what city born? 230
Where dwell thy parents; in what kind of ship
Cam’st thou? the mariners, why brought they thee
To Ithaca? and of what land are they?
For, that on foot thou found’st us not, is sure.
Him answer’d, then, Ulysses, ever-wise.
I will with truth resolve thee; and if here
Within thy cottage sitting, we had wine
And food for many a day, and business none
But to regale at ease while others toiled,
I could exhaust the year complete, my woes 240
Rehearsing, nor, at last, rehearse entire
  My sorrows by the will of heav’n sustained.
I boast me sprung from ancestry renown’d
In spacious Crete; son of a wealthy sire,
Who other sons train’d num’rous in his house,
Born of his wedded wife; but he begat
Me on his purchased concubine, whom yet
Dear as his other sons in wedlock born
Castor Hylacides esteem’d and lov’d,
For him I boast my father. Him in Crete, 250
While yet he liv’d, all reverenc’d as a God,
So rich, so prosp’rous, and so blest was he
With sons of highest praise. But death, the doom
Of all, him bore to Pluto’s drear abode,
And his illustrious sons among themselves
Portion’d his goods by lot; to me, indeed,
They gave a dwelling, and but little more,
Yet, for my virtuous qualities, I won
A wealthy bride, for I was neither vain
Nor base, forlorn as thou perceiv’st me now. 260
But thou canst guess, I judge, viewing the straw
What once was in the ear. Ah! I have borne
Much tribulation; heap’d and heavy woes.
Courage and phalanx-breaking might had I
From Mars and Pallas; at what time I drew,
(Planning some dread exploit) an ambush forth
Of our most valiant Chiefs, no boding fears
Of death seized me, but foremost far of all
I sprang to fight, and pierced the flying foe.
Such was I once in arms. But household toils 270
Sustain’d for children’s sake, and carking cares
T’ enrich a family, were not for me.
My pleasures were the gallant bark, the din
Of battle, the smooth spear and glitt’ring shaft,
Objects of dread to others, but which me
The Gods disposed to love and to enjoy.
Thus diff’rent minds are diff’rently amused;
For ere Achaia’s fleet had sailed to Troy,
Nine times was I commander of an host
Embark’d against a foreign foe, and found 280
In all those enterprizes great success.
From the whole booty, first, what pleased me most
Chusing, and sharing also much by lot
I rapidly grew rich, and had thenceforth
  Among the Cretans rev’rence and respect.
But when loud-thund’ring Jove that voyage dire
Ordain’d, which loos’d the knees of many a Greek,
Then, to Idomeneus and me they gave
The charge of all their fleet, which how to avoid
We found not, so importunate the cry 290
Of the whole host impell’d us to the task.
There fought we nine long years, and in the tenth
(Priam’s proud city pillag’d) steer’d again
Our galleys homeward, which the Gods dispersed.
Then was it that deep-planning Jove devised
For me much evil. One short month, no more,
I gave to joys domestic, in my wife
Happy, and in my babes, and in my wealth,
When the desire seiz’d me with sev’ral ships
Well-rigg’d, and furnish’d all with gallant crews, 300
To sail for Ægypt; nine I fitted forth,
To which stout mariners assembled fast.
Six days the chosen partners of my voyage
Feasted, to whom I num’rous victims gave
For sacrifice, and for their own regale.
Embarking on the sev’nth from spacious Crete,
Before a clear breeze prosp’rous from the North
We glided easily along, as down
A river’s stream; nor one of all my ships
Damage incurr’d, but healthy and at ease 310
We sat, while gales well-managed urged us on.
The fifth day thence, smooth-flowing Nile we reach’d,
And safe I moor’d in the Ægyptian stream.
Then, charging all my mariners to keep
Strict watch for preservation of the ships,
I order’d spies into the hill-tops; but they
Under the impulse of a spirit rash
And hot for quarrel, the well-cultur’d fields
Pillaged of the Ægyptians, captive led
Their wives and little ones, and slew the men. 320
Soon was the city alarm’d, and at the cry
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 glittering spear we fell
  Slaughter’d, while others they conducted thence
Alive to servitude. But Jove himself
My bosom with this thought inspired, (I would 330
That, dying, I had first fulfill’d my fate
In Ægypt, for new woes were yet to come!)
Loosing my brazen casque, and slipping off
My buckler, there I left them on the field,
Then cast my spear away, and seeking, next,
The chariot of the sov’reign, clasp’d his knees,
And kiss’d them. He, by my submission moved,
Deliver’d me, and to his chariot-seat
Raising, convey’d me weeping to his home.
With many an ashen spear his warriors sought 340
To slay me, (for they now grew fiery wroth)
But he, through fear of hospitable Jove,
Chief punisher of wrong, saved me alive.
Sev’n years I there abode, and much amass’d
Among the Ægyptians, gifted by them all;
But, in the eighth revolving year, arrived
A shrewd Phœnician, in all fraud adept,
Hungry, and who had num’rous harm’d before,
By whom I also was cajoled, and lured
T’ attend him to Phœnicia, where his house 350
And his possessions lay; there I abode
A year complete his inmate; but (the days
And months accomplish’d of the rolling year,
And the new seasons ent’ring on their course)
To Lybia then, on board his bark, by wiles
He won me with him, partner of the freight
Profess’d, but destin’d secretly to sale,
That he might profit largely by my price.
Not unsuspicious, yet constrain’d to go,
With this man I embark’d. A cloudless gale 360
Propitious blowing from the North, our ship
Ran right before it through the middle sea,
In the offing over Crete; but adverse Jove
Destruction plann’d for them and death the while.
For, Crete now left afar, and other land
Appearing none, but sky alone and sea,
Right o’er the hollow bark Saturnian Jove
A cloud cærulean hung, dark’ning the Deep.
Then, thund’ring oft, he hurl’d into the bark
His bolts; she smitten by the fires of Jove, 370
  Quaked all her length; with sulphur fill’d she reek’d,
And, o’er her sides precipitated, plunged
Like gulls the crew, forbidden by that stroke
Of wrath divine to hope their country more.
But Jove himself, when I had cast away
All hope of life, conducted to my arms
The strong tall mast, that I might yet escape.
Around that beam I clung, driving before
The stormy blast. Nine days complete I drove,
And, on the tenth dark night, the rolling flood 380
Immense convey’d me to Thesprotia’s shore.
There me the Hero Phidon, gen’rous King
Of the Thesprotians, freely entertained;
For his own son discov’ring me with toil
Exhausted and with cold, raised me, and thence
Led me humanely to his father’s house,
Who cherish’d me, and gave me fresh attire.
There heard I of Ulysses, whom himself
Had entertain’d, he said, on his return
To his own land; he shew’d me also gold, 390
Brass, and bright steel elab’rate, whatsoe’er
Ulysses had amass’d, a store to feed
A less illustrious family than his
To the tenth generation, so immense
His treasures in the royal palace lay.
Himself, he said, was to Dodona gone,
There, from the tow’ring oaks of Jove to ask
Counsel divine, if openly to land
(After long absence) in his opulent realm
Of Ithaca, be best, or in disguise. 400
To me the monarch swore, in his own hall
Pouring libation, that the ship was launch’d,
And the crew ready for his conduct home.
But me he first dismiss’d, for, as it chanced,
A ship lay there of the Thesprotians, bound
To green Dulichium’s isle. He bade the crew
Bear me to King Acastus with all speed;
But them far other thoughts pleased more, and thoughts
Of harm to me, that I might yet be plunged
In deeper gulphs of woe than I had known. 410
For, when the billow-cleaving bark had left
The land remote, framing, combined, a plot
Against my liberty, they stripp’d my vest
  And mantle, and this tatter’d raiment foul
Gave me instead, which thy own eyes behold.
At even-tide reaching the cultur’d coast
Of Ithaca, they left me bound on board
With tackle of the bark, and quitting ship
Themselves, made hasty supper on the shore.
But me, meantime, the Gods easily loos’d 420
By their own pow’r, when, with wrapper vile
Around my brows, sliding into the sea
At the ship’s stern, I lay’d me on the flood.
With both hands oaring thence my course, I swam
Till past all ken of theirs; then landing where
Thick covert of luxuriant trees I mark’d,
Close couchant down I lay; they mutt’ring loud,
Paced to and fro, but deeming farther search
Unprofitable, soon embark’d again.
Thus baffling all their search with ease, the Gods 430
Conceal’d and led me thence to the abode
Of a wise man, dooming me still to live.
To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply,
Alas! my most compassionable guest!
Thou hast much moved me by this tale minute
Of thy sad wand’rings and thy num’rous woes.
But, speaking of Ulysses, thou hast pass’d
All credence; I at least can give thee none.
Why, noble as thou art, should’st thou invent
Palpable falsehoods? as for the return 440
Of my regretted Lord, myself I know
That had he not been hated by the Gods
Unanimous, he had in battle died
At Troy, or (that long doubtful war, at last,
Concluded,) in his people’s arms at home.
Then universal Greece had raised his tomb,
And he had even for his son atchiev’d
Immortal glory; but alas! by beaks
Of harpies torn, unseemly sight, he lies.
Here is my home the while; I never seek 450
The city, unless summon’d by discrete
Penelope to listen to the news
Brought by some stranger, whencesoe’er arrived.
Then, all, alike inquisitive, attend,
Both who regret the absence of our King,
And who rejoice gratuitous to gorge
  His property; but as for me, no joy
Find I in list’ning after such reports,
Since an Ætolian cozen’d me, who found
(After long wand’ring over various lands 460
A fugitive for blood) my lone retreat.
Him warm I welcom’d, and with open arms
Receiv’d, who bold affirm’d that he had seen
My master with Idomeneus at Crete
His ships refitting shatter’d by a storm,
And that in summer with his godlike band
He would return, bringing great riches home,
Or else in autumn. And thou ancient guest
Forlorn! since thee the Gods have hither led,
Seek not to gratify me with untruths 470
And to deceive me, since for no such cause
I shall respect or love thee, but alone
By pity influenced, and the fear of Jove.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Thou hast, in truth, a most incredulous mind,
Whom even with an oath I have not moved,
Or aught persuaded. Come then—let us make
In terms express a cov’nant, and the Gods
Who hold Olympus, witness to us both!
If thy own Lord at this thy house arrive, 480
Thou shalt dismiss me decently attired
In vest and mantle, that I may repair
Hence to Dulichium, whither I would go.
But, if thy Lord come not, then, gath’ring all
Thy servants, headlong hurl me from a rock,
That other mendicants may fear to lie.
To whom the generous swine-herd in return.
Yes, stranger! doubtless I should high renown
Obtain for virtue among men, both now
And in all future times, if, having first 490
Invited thee, and at my board regaled,
I, next, should slay thee; then my pray’rs would mount,
Past question, swiftly to Saturnian Jove.
But the hour calls to supper, and, ere long,
The partners of my toils will come prepared
To spread the board with no unsav’ry cheer.
Thus they conferr’d. And now the swains arrived,
Driving their charge, which fast they soon enclosed
Within their customary penns, and loud
  The hubbub was of swine prison’d within. 500
Then call’d the master to his rustic train.
Bring ye the best, that we may set him forth
Before my friend from foreign climes arrived,
With whom ourselves will also feast, who find
The bright-tusk’d multitude a painful charge,
While others, at no cost of theirs, consume
Day after day, the profit of our toils.
So saying, his wood for fuel he prepared,
And dragging thither a well-fatted brawn
Of the fifth year his servants held him fast 510
At the hearth-side. Nor failed the master swain
T’ adore the Gods, (for wise and good was he)
But consecration of the victim, first,
Himself performing, cast into the fire
The forehead bristles of the tusky boar,
Then pray’d to all above, that, safe, at length,
Ulysses might regain his native home.
Then lifting an huge shive that lay beside
The fire, he smote the boar, and dead he fell,
Next, piercing him, and scorching close his hair, 520
They carv’d him quickly, and Eumæus spread
Thin slices crude taken from ev’ry limb
O’er all his fat, then other slices cast,
Sprinkling them first with meal, into the fire.
The rest they slash’d and scored, and roasted well,
And placed it, heap’d together, on the board.
Then rose the good Eumæus to his task
Of distribution, for he understood
The hospitable entertainer’s part.
Sev’n-fold partition of the banquet made, 530
He gave, with previous pray’r, to Maia’s son63
And to the nymphs one portion of the whole,
Then served his present guests, honouring first
Ulysses with the boar’s perpetual chine;
By that distinction just his master’s heart
He gratified, and thus the Hero spake.
Eumæus! be thou as belov’d of Jove
As thou art dear to me, whom, though attired
So coarsely, thou hast served with such respect!
To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply. 540
Eat, noble stranger! and refreshment take
  Such as thou may’st; God64 gives, and God denies
At his own will, for He is Lord of all.
He said, and to the everlasting Gods
The firstlings sacrificed of all, then made
Libation, and the cup placed in the hands
Of city-spoiler Laertiades
Sitting beside his own allotted share.
Meantime, Mesaulius bread dispensed to all,
Whom, in the absence of his Lord, himself 550
Eumæus had from Taphian traders bought
With his own proper goods, at no expence
Either to old Laertes or the Queen.
And now, all stretch’d their hands toward the feast
Reeking before them, and when hunger none
Felt more or thirst, Mesaulius clear’d the board.
Then, fed to full satiety, in haste
Each sought his couch. Black came a moonless night,
And Jove all night descended fast in show’rs,
With howlings of the ever wat’ry West. 560
Ulysses, at that sound, for trial sake
Of his good host, if putting off his cloak
He would accommodate him, or require
That service for him at some other hand,
Addressing thus the family, began.
Hear now, Eumæus, and ye other swains
His fellow-lab’rers! I shall somewhat boast,
By wine befool’d, which forces ev’n the wise
To carol loud, to titter and to dance,
And words to utter, oft, better suppress’d. 570
But since I have begun, I shall proceed,
Prating my fill. Ah might those days return
With all the youth and strength that I enjoy’d,
When in close ambush, once, at Troy we lay!
Ulysses, Menelaus, and myself
Their chosen coadjutor, led the band.
Approaching to the city’s lofty wall
Through the thick bushes and the reeds that gird
  The bulwarks, down we lay flat in the marsh,
Under our arms, then Boreas blowing loud, 580
A rueful night came on, frosty and charged
With snow that blanch’d us thick as morning rime,
And ev’ry shield with ice was crystall’d o’er.
The rest with cloaks and vests well cover’d, slept
Beneath their bucklers; I alone my cloak,
Improvident, had left behind, no thought
Conceiving of a season so severe;
Shield and belt, therefore, and nought else had I.
The night, at last, nigh spent, and all the stars
Declining in their course, with elbow thrust 590
Against Ulysses’ side I roused the Chief,
And thus address’d him ever prompt to hear.
Laertes’ noble son, for wiles renown’d!
I freeze to death. Help me, or I am lost.
No cloak have I; some evil dæmon, sure,
Beguil’d me of all prudence, that I came
Thus sparely clad; I shall, I must expire.
So I; he, ready as he was in arms
And counsel both, the remedy at once
Devised, and thus, low-whisp’ring, answer’d me. 600
Hush! lest perchance some other hear—He said,
And leaning on his elbow, spake aloud.
My friends! all hear—a monitory dream
Hath reach’d me, for we lie far from the ships.
Haste, therefore, one of you, with my request
To Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, our Chief,
That he would reinforce us from the camp.
He spake, and at the word, Andræmon’s son
Thoas arose, who, casting off his cloak,
Ran thence toward the ships, and folded warm 610
Within it, there lay I till dawn appear’d.
Oh for the vigour of such youth again!
Then, some good peasant here, either for love
Or for respect, would cloak a man like me,
Whom, now, thus sordid in attire ye scorn.
To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
My ancient guest! I cannot but approve
Thy narrative, nor hast thou utter’d aught
Unseemly, or that needs excuse. No want
Of raiment, therefore, or of aught beside 620
Needful to solace penury like thine,
  Shall harm thee here; yet, at the peep of dawn
Gird thy own tatters to thy loins again;
For we have no great store of cloaks to boast,
Or change of vests, but singly one for each.
But when Ulysses’ son shall once arrive,
He will himself with vest and mantle both
Cloath thee, and send thee whither most thou would’st.
So saying, he rose, and nearer made his couch
To the hearth-side, spreading it thick with skins 630
Of sheep and goats; then lay the Hero down,
O’er whom a shaggy mantle large he threw,
Which oft-times served him with a change, when rough
The winter’s blast and terrible arose.
So was Ulysses bedded, and the youths
Slept all beside him; but the master-swain
Chose not his place of rest so far remote
From his rude charge, but to the outer court
With his nocturnal furniture, repair’d,
Gladd’ning Ulysses’ heart that one so true 640
In his own absence kept his rural stores.
Athwart his sturdy shoulders, first, he flung
His faulchion keen, then wrapp’d him in a cloak
Thick-woven, winter-proof; he lifted, next,
The skin of a well-thriven goat, in bulk
Surpassing others, and his javelin took
Sharp-pointed, with which dogs he drove and men.
Thus arm’d, he sought his wonted couch beneath
A hollow rock where the herd slept, secure
From the sharp current of the Northern blast. 650

61 Δῖος ὑφορβος.—The swineherd’s was therefore in those days, and in that country, an occupation honourable as well as useful. Barnes deems the epithet δῖος significant of his noble birth. Vide Clarke in loco.

62 It may be proper to suggest that Ulysses was lord of part of the continent opposite to Ithaca—viz.—of the peninsula Nericus or Leuca, which afterward became an island, and is now called Santa Maura. F.

63 Mercury.

64 Θεος—without a relative, and consequently signifying God in the abstract, is not unfrequently found in Homer, though fearing to give offence to serious minds unacquainted with the original, I have not always given it that force in the translation. But here, the sentiment is such as fixes the sense intended by the author with a precision that leaves no option. It is observable too, that δυναται γαρ απαντα—is an ascription of power such as the poet never makes to his Jupiter.

  BOOK XV

ARGUMENT

Telemachus, admonished by Minerva, takes leave of Menelaus, but ere he sails, is accosted by Theoclymenos, a prophet of Argos, whom at his earnest request he takes on board. In the meantime Eumæus relates to Ulysses the means by which he came to Ithaca. Telemachus arriving there, gives orders for the return of his bark to the city, and repairs himself to Eumæus.

Meantime to Lacedæmon’s spacious vale
Minerva went, that she might summon thence
Ulysses’ glorious son to his own home.
Arrived, she found Telemachus reposed
And Nestor’s son beneath the vestibule
Of Menelaus, mighty Chief; she saw
Pisistratus in bands of gentle sleep
Fast-bound, but not Telemachus; his mind
No rest enjoy’d, by filial cares disturb’d
Amid the silent night, when, drawing near 10
To his couch side, the Goddess thus began.
Thou canst no longer prudently remain
A wand’rer here, Telemachus! thy home
Abandon’d, and those haughty suitors left
Within thy walls; fear lest, partition made
Of thy possessions, they devour the whole,
And in the end thy voyage bootless prove.
Delay not; from brave Menelaus ask
Dismission hence, that thou may’st find at home
Thy spotless mother, whom her brethren urge 20
And her own father even now to wed
Eurymachus, in gifts and in amount
Of proffer’d dow’r superior to them all.
Some treasure, else, shall haply from thy house
Be taken, such as thou wilt grudge to spare.
For well thou know’st how woman is disposed;
Her whole anxiety is to encrease
His substance whom she weds; no care hath she
Of her first children, or remembers more
The buried husband of her virgin choice. 30
  Returning then, to her of all thy train
Whom thou shalt most approve, the charge commit
Of thy concerns domestic, till the Gods
Themselves shall guide thee to a noble wife.
Hear also this, and mark it. In the frith
Samos the rude, and Ithaca between,
The chief of all her suitors thy return
In vigilant ambush wait, with strong desire
To slay thee, ere thou reach thy native shore,
But shall not, as I judge, till the earth hide 40
Many a lewd reveller at thy expence.
Yet, steer thy galley from those isles afar,
And voyage make by night; some guardian God
Shall save thee, and shall send thee prosp’rous gales.
Then, soon as thou attain’st the nearest shore
Of Ithaca, dispatching to the town
Thy bark with all thy people, seek at once
The swine-herd; for Eumæus is thy friend.
There sleep, and send him forth into the town
With tidings to Penelope, that safe 50
Thou art restored from Pylus home again.
She said, and sought th’ Olympian heights sublime.
Then, with his heel shaking him, he awoke
The son of Nestor, whom he thus address’d.
Rise, Nestor’s son, Pisistratus! lead forth
The steeds, and yoke them. We must now depart.
To whom the son of Nestor thus replied.
Telemachus! what haste soe’er we feel,
We can by no means prudently attempt
To drive by night, and soon it will be dawn. 60
Stay, therefore, till the Hero, Atreus’ son,
Spear-practis’d Menelaus shall his gifts
Place in the chariot, and with kind farewell
Dismiss thee; for the guest in mem’ry holds
Through life, the host who treats him as a friend.
Scarce had he spoken, when the golden dawn
Appearing, Menelaus, from the side
Of beauteous Helen ris’n, their bed approach’d,
Whose coming when Telemachus perceived,
Cloathing himself hastily in his vest 70
Magnificent, and o’er his shoulders broad
Casting his graceful mantle, at the door
He met the Hero, whom he thus address’d.
  Atrides, Menelaus, Chief renown’d!
Dismiss me hence to Ithaca again,
My native isle, for I desire to go.
Him answer’d Menelaus famed in arms.
Telemachus! I will not long delay
Thy wish’d return. I disapprove alike
The host whose assiduity extreme 80
Distresses, and whose negligence offends;
The middle course is best; alike we err,
Him thrusting forth whose wish is to remain,
And hind’ring the impatient to depart.
This only is true kindness—To regale
The present guest, and speed him when he would.
Yet stay, till thou shalt see my splendid gifts
Placed in thy chariot, and till I command
My women from our present stores to spread
The table with a plentiful repast. 90
For both the honour of the guest demands,
And his convenience also, that he eat
Sufficient, ent’ring on a length of road.
But if through Hellas thou wilt take thy way
And traverse Argos, I will, then, myself
Attend thee; thou shalt journey with my steeds
Beneath thy yoke, and I will be thy guide
To many a city, whence we shall not go
Ungratified, but shall in each receive
Some gift at least, tripod, or charger bright, 100
Or golden chalice, or a pair of mules.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Atrides, Menelaus, Chief renown’d!
I would at once depart, (for guardian none
Of my possessions have I left behind)
Lest, while I seek my father, I be lost
Myself, or lose what I should grudge to spare.
Which when the valiant Menelaus heard,
He bade his spouse and maidens spread the board
At once with remnants of the last regale. 110
Then Eteoneus came, Boetheus’ son
Newly aris’n, for nigh at hand he dwelt,
Whom Menelaus bade kindle the fire
By which to dress their food, and he obey’d.
He next, himself his fragrant chamber sought,
Not sole, but by his spouse and by his son
  Attended, Megapenthes. There arrived
Where all his treasures lay, Atrides, first,
Took forth, himself, a goblet, then consign’d
To his son’s hand an argent beaker bright. 120
Meantime, beside her coffers Helen stood
Where lay her variegated robes, fair works
Of her own hand. Producing one, in size
And in magnificence the chief, a star
For splendour, and the lowest placed of all,
Loveliest of her sex, she bore it thence.
Then, all proceeding through the house, they sought
Telemachus again, whom reaching, thus
The Hero of the golden locks began.
May Jove the Thunderer, dread Juno’s mate, 130
Grant thee, Telemachus! such voyage home
As thy own heart desires! accept from all
My stores selected as the richest far
And noblest gift for finish’d beauty—This.
I give thee wrought elaborate a cup,
Itself all silver, bound with lip of gold.
It is the work of Vulcan, which to me
The Hero Phædimus imparted, King
Of the Sidonians, when, on my return,
Beneath his roof I lodg’d. I make it thine. 140
So saying, the Hero, Atreus’ son, the cup
Placed in his hands, and Megapenthes set
Before him, next, the argent beaker bright;
But lovely Helen drawing nigh, the robe
Presented to him, whom she thus address’d.
I also give thee, oh my son, a gift,
Which seeing, thou shalt think on her whose hands
Wrought it; a present on thy nuptial day
For thy fair spouse; meantime, repose it safe
In thy own mother’s keeping. Now, farewell! 150
Prosp’rous and happy be thy voyage home!
She ceas’d, and gave it to him, who the gift
Accepted glad, and in the chariot-chest
Pisistratus the Hero all disposed,
Admiring them the while. They, following, next,
The Hero Menelaus to his hall
Each on his couch or on his throne reposed.
A maiden, then, with golden ewer charged
And silver bowl, pour’d water on their hands,
  And spread the polish’d table, which with food 160
Various, selected from her present stores,
The mistress of the household charge supplied.
Boetheus’ son stood carver, and to each
His portion gave, while Megapenthes, son
Of glorious Menelaus, serv’d the cup.
Then, all with outstretch’d hands the feast assail’d,
And when nor hunger more nor thirst of wine
They felt, Telemachus and Nestor’s son
Yoked the swift steeds, and, taking each his seat
In the resplendent chariot, drove at once 170
Right through the sounding portico abroad.
But Menelaus, Hero amber-hair’d,
A golden cup bearing with richest wine
Replete in his right hand, follow’d them forth,
That not without libation first perform’d
They might depart; he stood before the steeds,
And drinking first, thus, courteous, them bespake.
Health to you both, young friends! and from my lips
Like greeting bear to Nestor, royal Chief,
For he was ever as a father kind 180
To me, while the Achaians warr’d at Troy.
To whom Telemachus discrete replied.
And doubtless, so we will; at our return
We will report to him, illustrious Prince!
Thy ev’ry word. And oh, I would to heav’n
That reaching Ithaca, I might at home
Ulysses hail as sure, as I shall hence
Depart, with all benevolence by thee
Treated, and rich in many a noble gift.
While thus he spake, on his right hand appear’d 190
An eagle; in his talons pounced he bore
A white-plumed goose domestic, newly ta’en
From the house-court. Ran females all and males
Clamorous after him; but he the steeds
Approaching on the right, sprang into air.
That sight rejoicing and with hearts reviv’d
They view’d, and thus Pisistratus his speech
Amid them all to Menelaus turn’d.
Now, Menelaus, think, illustrious Chief!
If us, this omen, or thyself regard. 200
While warlike Menelaus musing stood
What answer fit to frame, Helen meantime,
  His spouse long-stoled preventing him, began.
Hear me; for I will answer as the Gods
Teach me, and as I think shall come to pass.
As he, descending from his place of birth
The mountains, caught our pamper’d goose away,
So shall Ulysses, after many woes
And wand’rings to his home restored, avenge
His wrongs, or even now is at his home 210
For all those suitors sowing seeds of woe.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Oh grant it Jove, Juno’s high-thund’ring mate!
So will I, there arrived, with vow and pray’r
Thee worship, as thou wert, thyself, divine.
He said, and lash’d the coursers; fiery they
And fleet, sprang through the city to the plain.
All day the yoke on either side they shook,
Journeying swift; and now the setting sun
To gloomy evening had resign’d the roads, 220
When they to Pheræ came, and in the house
Of good Diocles slept, their lib’ral host,
Whose sire Orsilochus from Alpheus sprang.
But when Aurora, daughter of the Dawn,
Look’d rosy from the East, yoking their steeds,
They in the sumptuous chariot sat again.
Forth through the vestibule they drove, and through
The sounding portico, when Nestor’s son
Plied brisk the scourge, and willing flew the steeds.
Thus whirl’d along, soon they approach’d the gates 230
Of Pylus, when Telemachus, his speech
Turning to his companion, thus began.
How, son of Nestor! shall I win from thee
Not promise only, but performance kind
Of my request? we are not bound alone
To friendship by the friendship of our sires,
But by equality of years, and this
Our journey shall unite us still the more.
Bear me not, I intreat thee, noble friend!
Beyond the ship, but drop me at her side, 240
Lest ancient Nestor, though against my will,
Detain me in his palace through desire
To feast me, for I dread the least delay.
He spake; then mused Pisistratus how best
He might effect the wishes of his friend,
  And thus at length resolved; turning his steeds
With sudden deviation to the shore
He sought the bark, and placing in the stern
Both gold and raiment, the illustrious gifts
Of Menelaus, thus, in accents wing’d 250
With ardour, urged Telemachus away.
Dispatch, embark, summon thy crew on board,
Ere my arrival notice give of thine
To the old King; for vehement I know
His temper, neither will he let thee hence,
But, hasting hither, will himself enforce
Thy longer stay, that thou may’st not depart
Ungifted; nought will fire his anger more.
So saying, he to the Pylian city urged
His steeds bright-maned, and at the palace-gate 260
Arrived of Nestor speedily; meantime
Telemachus exhorted thus his crew.
My gallant friends! set all your tackle, climb
The sable bark, for I would now return.
He spake; they heard him gladly, and at once
All fill’d the benches. While his voyage he
Thus expedited, and beside the stern
To Pallas sacrifice perform’d and pray’d,
A stranger, born remote, who had escaped
From Argos, fugitive for blood, a seer 270
And of Melampus’ progeny, approach’d.
Melampus, in old time, in Pylus dwelt,
Mother of flocks, alike for wealth renown’d
And the magnificence of his abode.
He, flying from the far-famed Pylian King,
The mighty Neleus65, migrated at length
Into another land, whose wealth, the while,
Neleus by force possess’d a year complete.
Meantime, Melampus in the house endured
Of Phylacus imprisonment and woe, 280
And burn’d with wrath for Neleus’ daughter sake
By fell Erynnis kindled in his heart.
  But, ’scaping death, he drove the lowing beeves
From Phylace to Pylus, well avenged
His num’rous injuries at Neleus’ hands
Sustain’d, and gave into his brother’s arms
King Neleus’ daughter fair, the promis’d bride.
To Argos steed-renown’d he journey’d next,
There destin’d to inhabit and to rule
Multitudes of Achaians. In that land 290
He married, built a palace, and became
Father of two brave sons, Antiphates
And Mantius; to Antiphates was born
The brave Oïcleus; from Oïcleus sprang
Amphiaraüs, demagogue renown’d,
Whom with all tenderness, and as a friend
Alike the Thund’rer and Apollo prized;
Yet reach’d he not the bounds of hoary age.
But by his mercenary consort’s arts66
Persuaded, met his destiny at Thebes. 300
He ’gat Alcmæon and Amphilocus.
Mantius was also father of two sons,
Clytus and Polyphides. Clytus pass’d
From earth to heav’n, and dwells among the Gods,
Stol’n by Aurora for his beauty’s sake.
But (brave Amphiaraüs once deceased)
Phœbus exalted Polyphides far
Above all others in the prophet’s part.
He, anger’d by his father, roam’d away
To Hyperesia, where he dwelt renown’d 310
Throughout all lands the oracle of all.
His son, named Theoclymenus, was he
Who now approach’d; he found Telemachus
Libation off’ring in his bark, and pray’r,
And in wing’d accents ardent him address’d.
Ah, friend! since sacrificing in this place
I find thee, by these sacred rites and those
Whom thou ador’st, and by thy own dear life,
And by the lives of these thy mariners
I beg true answer; hide not what I ask. 320
Who art thou? whence? where born? and sprung from whom?
  To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
I will inform thee, stranger! and will solve
Thy questions with much truth. I am by birth
Ithacan, and Ulysses was my sire.
But he hath perish’d by a woeful death,
And I, believing it, with these have plow’d
The ocean hither, int’rested to learn
A father’s fate long absent from his home.
Then answer’d godlike Theoclymenus. 330
I also am a wand’rer, having slain
A man of my own tribe; brethren and friends
Num’rous had he in Argos steed-renown’d,
And pow’rful are the Achaians dwelling there.
From them, through terrour of impending death,
I fly, a banish’d man henceforth for ever.
Ah save a suppliant fugitive! lest death
O’ertake me, for I doubt not their pursuit.
Whom thus Telemachus answer’d discrete.
I shall not, be assured, since thou desir’st 340
To join me, chace thee from my bark away.
Follow me, therefore, and with us partake,
In Ithaca, what best the land affords.
So saying, he at the stranger’s hand received
His spear, which on the deck he lay’d, then climb’d
Himself the bark, and, seated in the stern,
At his own side placed Theoclymenus.
They cast the hawsers loose; then with loud voice
Telemachus exhorted all to hand
The tackle, whom the sailors prompt obey’d. 350
The tall mast heaving, in its socket deep
They lodg’d it, and its cordage braced secure,
Then, straining at the halyards, hoised the sail.
Fair wind, and blowing fresh through æther pure
Minerva sent them, that the bark might run
Her nimblest course through all the briny way.
Now sank the sun, and dusky ev’ning dimm’d
The waves, when, driven by propitious Jove,
His bark stood right for Pheræ; thence she stretch’d
To sacred Elis where the Epeans rule, 360
And through the sharp Echinades he next
Steer’d her, uncertain whether fate ordain’d
His life or death, surprizal or escape.
Meantime Ulysses and the swine-herd ate
  Their cottage-mess, and the assistant swains
Theirs also; and when hunger now and thirst
Had ceased in all, Ulysses thus began,
Proving the swine-herd, whether friendly still,
And anxious for his good, he would intreat
His stay, or thence hasten him to the town. 370
Eumæus, and all ye his servants, hear!
It is my purpose, lest I wear thee out,
Thee and thy friends, to seek at early dawn
The city, there to beg—But give me first
Needful instructions, and a trusty guide
Who may conduct me thither; there my task
Must be to roam the streets; some hand humane
Perchance shall give me a small pittance there,
A little bread, and a few drops to drink.
Ulysses’ palace I shall also seek, 380
And to discrete Penelope report
My tidings; neither shall I fail to mix
With those imperious suitors, who, themselves
Full-fed, may spare perhaps some boon to me.
Me shall they find, in whatsoe’er they wish
Their ready servitor, for (understand
And mark me well) the herald of the skies,
Hermes, from whom all actions of mankind
Their grace receive and polish, is my friend,
So that in menial offices I fear 390
No rival, whether I be called to heap
The hearth with fuel, or dry wood to cleave,
To roast, to carve, or to distribute wine,
As oft the poor are wont who serve the great.
To whom, Eumæus! at those words displeased,
Thou didst reply. Gods! how could such a thought
Possess thee, stranger? surely thy resolve
Is altogether fixt to perish there,
If thou indeed hast purposed with that throng
To mix, whose riot and outrageous acts 400
Of violence echo through the vault of heav’n.
None, such as thou, serve them; their servitors
Are youths well-cloak’d, well-vested; sleek their heads,
And smug their countenances; such alone
Are their attendants, and the polish’d boards
Groan overcharg’d with bread, with flesh, with wine.
Rest here content; for neither me nor these
  Thou weariest aught, and when Ulysses’ son
Shall come, he will with vest and mantle fair
Cloath thee, and send thee whither most thou would’st. 410
To whom Ulysses, toil-inured.
I wish thee, O Eumæus! dear to Jove
As thou art dear to me, for this reprieve
Vouchsafed me kind, from wand’ring and from woe!
No worse condition is of mortal man
Than his who wanders; for the poor man, driv’n
By woe and by misfortune homeless forth,
A thousand mis’ries, day by day, endures.
Since thou detain’st me, then, and bidd’st me wait
His coming, tell me if the father still 420
Of famed Ulysses live, whom, going hence,
He left so nearly on the verge of life?
And lives his mother? or have both deceased
Already, and descended to the shades?
To whom the master swine-herd thus replied.
I will inform thee, and with strictest truth,
Of all that thou hast ask’d. Laertes lives,
But supplication off’ring to the Gods
Ceaseless, to free him from a weary life,
So deeply his long-absent son he mourns, 430
And the dear consort of his early youth,
Whose death is his chief sorrow, and hath brought
Old age on him, or ere its date arrived.
She died of sorrow for her glorious son,
And died deplorably;67 may never friend
Of mine, or benefactor die as she!
While yet she liv’d, dejected as she was,
I found it yet some solace to converse
With her, who rear’d me in my childish days,
Together with her lovely youngest-born 440
The Princess Ctimena; for side by side
We grew, and I, scarce honour’d less than she.
But soon as our delightful prime we both
Attain’d, to Samos her they sent, a bride,
And were requited with rich dow’r; but me
Cloath’d handsomely with tunic and with vest,
And with fair sandals furnish’d, to the field
She order’d forth, yet loved me still the more.
I miss her kindness now; but gracious heav’n
  Prospers the work on which I here attend; 450
Hence have I food, and hence I drink, and hence
Refresh, sometimes, a worthy guest like thee.
But kindness none experience I, or can,
From fair Penelope (my mistress now)
In word or action, so is the house curs’d
With that lewd throng. Glad would the servants be
Might they approach their mistress, and receive
Advice from her; glad too to eat and drink,
And somewhat bear each to his rural home,
For perquisites are ev’ry servant’s joy. 460
Then answer thus, Ulysses wise return’d.
Alas! good swain, Eumæus, how remote
From friends and country wast thou forced to roam
Ev’n in thy infancy! But tell me true.
The city where thy parents dwelt, did foes
Pillage it? or did else some hostile band
Surprizing thee alone, on herd or flock
Attendant, bear thee with them o’er the Deep,
And sell thee at this Hero’s house, who pay’d
Doubtless for thee no sordid price or small? 470
To whom the master swine-herd in reply.
Stranger! since thou art curious to be told
My story, silent listen, and thy wine
At leisure quaff. The nights are longest now,
And such as time for sleep afford, and time
For pleasant conf’rence; neither were it good
That thou should’st to thy couch before thy hour,
Since even sleep is hurtful, in excess.
Whoever here is weary, and desires
Early repose, let him depart to rest, 480
And, at the peep of day, when he hath fed
Sufficiently, drive forth my master’s herd;
But we with wine and a well-furnish’d board
Supplied, will solace mutually derive
From recollection of our sufferings past;
For who hath much endured, and wander’d far,
Finds the recital ev’n of sorrow sweet.
Now hear thy question satisfied; attend!
There is an island (thou hast heard, perchance,
Of such an isle) named Syria;68 it is placed 490
  Above Ortigia, and a dial owns69
True to the tropic changes of the year.
No great extent she boasts, yet is she rich
In cattle and in flocks, in wheat and wine.
No famine knows that people, or disease
Noisome, of all that elsewhere seize the race
Of miserable man; but when old age
Steals on the citizens, Apollo, arm’d
With silver bow and bright Diana come,
Whose gentle shafts dismiss them soon to rest. 500
Two cities share between them all the isle,
And both were subject to my father’s sway
Ctesius Ormenides, a godlike Chief.
It chanced that from Phœnicia, famed for skill
In arts marine, a vessel thither came
By sharpers mann’d, and laden deep with toys.
Now, in my father’s family abode
A fair Phœnician, tall, full-sized, and skill’d
In works of elegance, whom they beguiled.
While she wash’d linen on the beach, beside 510
The ship, a certain mariner of those
Seduced her; for all women, ev’n the wise
And sober, feeble prove by love assail’d.
Who was she, he enquired, and whence? nor she
Scrupled to tell at once her father’s home.
I am of Sidon,70 famous for her works
In brass and steel; daughter of Arybas,
Who rolls in affluence; Taphian pirates thence
Stole me returning from the field, from whom
This Chief procured me at no little cost. 520
Then answer thus her paramour return’d.
Wilt thou not hence to Sidon in our ship,
That thou may’st once more visit the abode
Of thy own wealthy parents, and themselves?
For still they live, and still are wealthy deem’d.
To whom the woman. Even that might be,
Would ye, ye seamen, by a solemn oath
Assure me of a safe conveyance home.
  Then sware the mariners as she required,
And, when their oath was ended, thus again 530
The woman of Phœnicia them bespake.
Now, silence! no man, henceforth, of you all
Accost me, though he meet me on the road,
Or at yon fountain; lest some tattler run
With tidings home to my old master’s ear,
Who, with suspicion touch’d, may me confine
In cruel bonds, and death contrive for you.
But be ye close; purchase your stores in haste;
And when your vessel shall be freighted full,
Quick send me notice, for I mean to bring 540
What gold soever opportune I find,
And will my passage cheerfully defray
With still another moveable. I nurse
The good man’s son, an urchin shrewd, of age
To scamper at my side; him will I bring,
Whom at some foreign market ye shall prove
Saleable at what price soe’er ye will.
So saying, she to my father’s house return’d.
They, there abiding the whole year, their ship
With purchased goods freighted of ev’ry kind, 550
And when, her lading now complete, she lay
For sea prepared, their messenger arrived
To summon down the woman to the shore.
A mariner of theirs, subtle and shrewd,
Then, ent’ring at my father’s gate, produced
A splendid collar, gold with amber strung.
My mother (then at home) with all her maids
Handling and gazing on it with delight,
Proposed to purchase it, and he the nod
Significant, gave unobserv’d, the while, 560
To the Phœnician woman, and return’d.
She, thus informed, leading me by the hand
Went forth, and finding in the vestibule
The cups and tables which my father’s guests
Had used, (but they were to the forum gone
For converse with their friends assembled there)
Convey’d three cups into her bosom-folds,
And bore them off, whom I a thoughtless child
Accompanied, at the decline of day,
When dusky evening had embrown’d the shore. 570
We, stepping nimbly on, soon reach’d the port
  Renown’d, where that Phœnician vessel lay.
They shipp’d us both, and all embarking cleav’d
Their liquid road, by favourable gales,
Jove’s gift, impell’d. Six days we day and night
Continual sailed, but when Saturnian Jove
Now bade the sev’nth bright morn illume the skies,
Then, shaft-arm’d Dian struck the woman dead.
At once she pitch’d headlong into the bilge
Like a sea-coot, whence heaving her again, 580
The seamen gave her to be fishes’ food,
And I survived to mourn her. But the winds
And rolling billows them bore to the coast
Of Ithaca, where with his proper goods
Laertes bought me. By such means it chanced
That e’er I saw the isle in which I dwell.
To whom Ulysses, glorious Chief, replied.
Eumæus! thou hast moved me much, thy woes
Enumerating thus at large. But Jove
Hath neighbour’d all thy evil with this good, 590
That after num’rous sorrows thou hast reach’d
The house of a kind master, at whose hands
Thy sustenance is sure, and here thou lead’st
A tranquil life; but I have late arrived,
City after city of the world explored.
Thus mutual they conferr’d, nor leisure found
Save for short sleep, by morning soon surprized.
Meantime the comrades of Telemachus
Approaching land, cast loose the sail, and lower’d
Alert the mast, then oar’d the vessel in. 600
The anchors heav’d aground,71 and hawsers tied
Secure, themselves, forth-issuing on the shore,
Breakfast prepared, and charged their cups with wine.
When neither hunger now, nor thirst remained
Unsatisfied, Telemachus began.
Push ye the sable bark without delay
Home to the city. I will to the field
Among my shepherds, and, (my rural works
Survey’d,) at eve will to the town return.
To-morrow will I set before you wine 610
And plenteous viands, wages of your toil.
To whom the godlike Theoclymenus.
Whither must I, my son? who, of the Chiefs
  Of rugged Ithaca, shall harbour me?
Shall I to thine and to thy mother’s house?
Then thus Telemachus, discrete, replied.
I would invite thee to proceed at once
To our abode, since nought should fail thee there
Of kind reception, but it were a course
Now not adviseable; for I must myself, 620
Be absent, neither would my mother’s eyes
Behold thee, so unfrequent she appears
Before the suitors, shunning whom, she sits
Weaving continual at the palace-top.
But I will name to thee another Chief
Whom thou may’st seek, Eurymachus, the son
Renown’d of prudent Polybus, whom all
The people here reverence as a God.
Far noblest of them all is he, and seeks
More ardent than his rivals far, to wed 630
My mother, and to fill my father’s throne.
But, He who dwells above, Jove only knows
If some disastrous day be not ordain’d
For them, or ere those nuptials shall arrive.
While thus he spake, at his right hand appear’d,
Messenger of Apollo, on full wing,
A falcon; in his pounces clench’d he bore
A dove, which rending, down he pour’d her plumes
Between the galley and Telemachus.
Then, calling him apart, the prophet lock’d 640
His hand in his, and thus explain’d the sign.
Not undirected by the Gods his flight
On our right hand, Telemachus! this hawk
Hath wing’d propitious; soon as I perceived
I knew him ominous—In all the isle
No family of a more royal note
Than yours is found, and yours shall still prevail.
Whom thus Telemachus answer’d discrete.
Grant heav’n, my guest! that this good word of thine
Fail not, and soon thou shalt such bounty share 650
And friendship at my hands, that, at first sight,
Whoe’er shall meet thee shall pronounce thee blest.
Then, to Piræus thus, his friend approved.
Piræus, son of Clytius! (for of all
My followers to the shore of Pylus, none
More prompt than thou hath my desires perform’d)
  Now also to thy own abode conduct
This stranger, whom with hospitable care
Cherish and honour till myself arrive.
To whom Piræus answer’d, spear-renown’d. 660
Telemachus! however long thy stay,
Punctual I will attend him, and no want
Of hospitality shall he find with me.
So saying, he climb’d the ship, then bade the crew
Embarking also, cast the hawsers loose,
And each, obedient, to his bench repair’d.
Meantime Telemachus his sandals bound,
And lifted from the deck his glitt’ring spear.
Then, as Telemachus had bidden them,
Son of divine Ulysses, casting loose 670
The hawsers, forth they push’d into the Deep
And sought the city, while with nimble pace
Proceeding thence, Telemachus attain’d
The cottage soon where good Eumæus slept,
The swine-herd, faithful to his num’rous charge.

65 Iphyclus the son of Phylacus had seized and detained cattle belonging to Neleus; Neleus ordered his nephew Melampus to recover them, and as security for his obedience seized on a considerable part of his possessions. Melampus attempted the service, failed, and was cast into prison; but at length escaping, accomplished his errand, vanquished Neleus in battle, and carried off his daughter Pero, whom Neleus had promised to the brother of Melampus, but had afterward refused her.

66 His wife Eryphyle, bribed by Polynices, persuaded him, though aware that death awaited him at that city, to go to Thebes, where he fell accordingly.

67 She is said to have hanged herself.

68 Not improbably the isthmus of Syracuse, an island, perhaps, or peninsula at that period, or at least imagined to be such by Homer. The birth of Diana gave fame to Ortygia. F.

69 Ὅθι τροπαὶ ἠελίοιο—The Translator has rendered the passage according to that interpretation of it to which several of the best expositors incline. Nothing can be so absurd as to suppose that Homer, so correct in his geography, could mean to place a Mediterranean island under the Tropic.

70 A principal city of Phœnicia.

71 The anchors were lodged on the shore, not plunged as ours.

  BOOK XVI

ARGUMENT

Telemachus dispatches Eumæus to the city to inform Penelope of his safe return from Pylus; during his absence, Ulysses makes himself known to his son. The suitors, having watched for Telemachus in vain, arrive again at Ithaca.

It was the hour of dawn, when in the cot
Kindling fresh fire, Ulysses and his friend
Noble Eumæus dress’d their morning fare,
And sent the herdsmen with the swine abroad.
Seeing Telemachus, the watchful dogs
Bark’d not, but fawn’d around him. At that sight,
And at the sound of feet which now approach’d,
Ulysses in wing’d accents thus remark’d.
Eumæus! certain, either friend of thine
Is nigh at hand, or one whom well thou know’st; 10
Thy dogs bark not, but fawn on his approach
Obsequious, and the sound of feet I hear.
Scarce had he ceased, when his own son himself
Stood in the vestibule. Upsprang at once
Eumæus wonder-struck, and from his hand
Let fall the cups with which he was employ’d
Mingling rich wine; to his young Lord he ran,
His forehead kiss’d, kiss’d his bright-beaming eyes
And both his hands, weeping profuse the while,
As when a father folds in his embrace 20
Arrived from foreign lands in the tenth year
His darling son, the offspring of his age,
His only one, for whom he long hath mourn’d,
So kiss’d the noble peasant o’er and o’er
Godlike Telemachus, as from death escaped,
And in wing’d accents plaintive thus began.
Light of my eyes, thou com’st; it is thyself,
Sweetest Telemachus! I had no hope
To see thee more, once told that o’er the Deep
Thou hadst departed for the Pylian coast. 30
Enter, my precious son; that I may sooth
  My soul with sight of thee from far arrived,
For seldom thou thy feeders and thy farm
Visitest, in the city custom’d much
To make abode, that thou may’st witness there
The manners of those hungry suitors proud.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
It will be so. There is great need, my friend!
But here, for thy sake, have I now arrived,
That I may look on thee, and from thy lips 40
Learn if my mother still reside at home,
Or have become spouse of some other Chief,
Leaving untenanted Ulysses’ bed
To be by noisome spiders webb’d around.
To whom the master swine-herd in return.
Not so, she, patient still as ever, dwells
Beneath thy roof, but all her cheerless days
Despairing wastes, and all her nights in tears.
So saying, Eumæus at his hand received
His brazen lance, and o’er the step of stone 50
Enter’d Telemachus, to whom his sire
Relinquish’d, soon as he appear’d, his seat,
But him Telemachus forbidding, said—
Guest, keep thy seat; our cottage will afford
Some other, which Eumæus will provide.
He ceased, and he, returning at the word,
Reposed again; then good Eumæus spread
Green twigs beneath, which, cover’d with a fleece,
Supplied Ulysses’ offspring with a seat.
He, next, disposed his dishes on the board 60
With relicts charged of yesterday; with bread,
Alert, he heap’d the baskets; with rich wine
His ivy cup replenish’d; and a seat
Took opposite to his illustrious Lord
Ulysses. They toward the plenteous feast
Stretch’d forth their hands, (and hunger now and thirst
Both satisfied) Telemachus, his speech
Addressing to their gen’rous host, began.
Whence is this guest, my father? How convey’d
Came he to Ithaca? What country boast 70
The mariners with whom he here arrived?
For, that on foot he found us not, is sure.
To whom Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
I will with truth answer thee, O my son!
  He boasts him sprung from ancestry renown’d
In spacious Crete, and hath the cities seen
Of various lands, by fate ordain’d to roam.
Ev’n now, from a Thesprotian ship escaped,
He reach’d my cottage—but he is thy own;
I yield him to thee; treat him as thou wilt; 80
He is thy suppliant, and depends on thee.
Then thus, Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Thy words, Eumæus, pain my very soul.
For what security can I afford
To any in my house? myself am young,
Nor yet of strength sufficient to repel
An offer’d insult, and my mother’s mind
In doubtful balance hangs, if, still with me
An inmate, she shall manage my concerns,
Attentive only to her absent Lord 90
And her own good report, or shall espouse
The noblest of her wooers, and the best
Entitled by the splendour of his gifts.
But I will give him, since I find him lodg’d
A guest beneath thy roof, tunic and cloak,
Sword double-edged, and sandals for his feet,
With convoy to the country of his choice.
Still, if it please thee, keep him here thy guest,
And I will send him raiment, with supplies
Of all sorts, lest he burthen thee and thine. 100
But where the suitors come, there shall not he
With my consent, nor stand exposed to pride
And petulance like theirs, lest by some sneer
They wound him, and through him, wound also me;
For little is it that the boldest can
Against so many; numbers will prevail.
Him answer’d then Ulysses toil-inured.
Oh amiable and good! since even I
Am free to answer thee, I will avow
My heart within me torn by what I hear 110
Of those injurious suitors, who the house
Infest of one noble as thou appear’st.
But say—submittest thou to their controul
Willingly, or because the people, sway’d
By some response oracular, incline
Against thee? Thou hast brothers, it may chance,
Slow to assist thee—for a brother’s aid
  Is of importance in whatever cause.
For oh that I had youth as I have will,
Or that renown’d Ulysses were my sire, 120
Or that himself might wander home again.
Whereof hope yet remains! then might I lose
My head, that moment, by an alien’s hand,
If I would fail, ent’ring Ulysses’ gate,
To be the bane and mischief of them all.
But if alone to multitudes opposed
I should perchance be foiled; nobler it were
With my own people, under my own roof
To perish, than to witness evermore
Their unexampled deeds, guests shoved aside, 130
Maidens dragg’d forcibly from room to room,
Casks emptied of their rich contents, and them
Indulging glutt’nous appetite day by day
Enormous, without measure, without end.
To whom, Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Stranger! thy questions shall from me receive
True answer. Enmity or hatred none
Subsists the people and myself between,
Nor have I brothers to accuse, whose aid
Is of importance in whatever cause, 140
For Jove hath from of old with single heirs
Our house supplied; Arcesias none begat
Except Laertes, and Laertes none
Except Ulysses, and Ulysses me
Left here his only one, and unenjoy’d.
Thence comes it that our palace swarms with foes;
For all the rulers of the neighbour isles,
Samos, Dulichium, and the forest-crown’d
Zacynthus, others also rulers here
In craggy Ithaca, my mother seek 150
In marriage, and my household stores consume.
But neither she those nuptial rites abhorr’d
Refuses absolute, nor yet consents
To end them; they my patrimony waste
Meantime, and will destroy me also soon,
As I expect, but heav’n disposes all.
Eumæus! haste, my father! bear with speed
News to Penelope that I am safe,
And have arrived from Pylus; I will wait
Till thou return; and well beware that none 160
  Hear thee beside, for I have many foes.
To whom Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
It is enough. I understand. Thou speak’st
To one intelligent. But say beside,
Shall I not also, as I go, inform
Distress’d Laertes? who while yet he mourn’d
Ulysses only, could o’ersee the works,
And dieted among his menials oft
As hunger prompted him, but now, they say,
Since thy departure to the Pylian shore, 170
He neither eats as he was wont, nor drinks,
Nor oversees his hinds, but sighing sits
And weeping, wasted even to the bone.
Him then Telemachus answer’d discrete.
Hard though it be, yet to his tears and sighs
Him leave we now. We cannot what we would.
For, were the ordering of all events
Referr’d to our own choice, our first desire
Should be to see my father’s glad return.
But once thy tidings told, wander not thou 180
In quest of Him, but hither speed again.
Rather request my mother that she send
Her household’s governess without delay
Privately to him; she shall best inform
The ancient King that I have safe arrived.
He said, and urged him forth, who binding on
His sandals, to the city bent his way.
Nor went Eumæus from his home unmark’d
By Pallas, who in semblance of a fair
Damsel, accomplish’d in domestic arts, 190
Approaching to the cottage’ entrance, stood
Opposite, by Ulysses plain discern’d,
But to his son invisible; for the Gods
Appear not manifest alike to all.
The mastiffs saw her also, and with tone
Querulous hid themselves, yet bark’d they not.
She beckon’d him abroad. Ulysses saw
The sign, and, issuing through the outer court,
Approach’d her, whom the Goddess thus bespake.
Laertes’ progeny, for wiles renown’d! 200
Disclose thyself to thy own son, that, death
Concerting and destruction to your foes,
Ye may the royal city seek, nor long
  Shall ye my presence there desire in vain,
For I am ardent to begin the fight.
Minerva spake, and with her rod of gold
Touch’d him; his mantle, first, and vest she made
Pure as new-blanch’d; dilating, next, his form,
She gave dimensions ampler to his limbs;
Swarthy again his manly hue became, 210
Round his full face, and black his bushy chin.
The change perform’d, Minerva disappear’d,
And the illustrious Hero turn’d again
Into the cottage; wonder at that sight
Seiz’d on Telemachus; askance he look’d,
Awe-struck, not unsuspicious of a God,
And in wing’d accents eager thus began.
Thou art no longer, whom I lately saw,
Nor are thy cloaths, nor is thy port the same.
Thou art a God, I know, and dwell’st in heav’n. 220
Oh, smile on us, that we may yield thee rites
Acceptable, and present thee golden gifts
Elaborate; ah spare us, Pow’r divine!
To whom Ulysses, Hero toil-inured.
I am no God. Why deem’st thou me divine?
I am thy father, for whose sake thou lead’st
A life of woe, by violence oppress’d.
So saying, he kiss’d his son, while from his cheeks
Tears trickled, tears till then, perforce restrained.
Telemachus, (for he believed him not 230
His father yet) thus, wond’ring, spake again.
My father, said’st thou? no. Thou art not He,
But some Divinity beguiles my soul
With mock’ries to afflict me still the more;
For never mortal man could so have wrought
By his own pow’r; some interposing God
Alone could render thee both young and old,
For old thou wast of late, and foully clad,
But wear’st the semblance, now, of those in heav’n!
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied. 240
Telemachus! it is not well, my son!
That thou should’st greet thy father with a face
Of wild astonishment, and stand aghast.
Ulysses, save myself, none comes, be sure.
Such as thou seest, after ten thousand woes
Which I have borne, I visit once again
  My native country in the twentieth year.
This wonder Athenæan Pallas wrought,
She cloath’d me even with what form she would,
For so she can. Now poor I seem and old, 250
Now young again, and clad in fresh attire.
The Gods who dwell in yonder heav’n, with ease
Dignify or debase a mortal man.
So saying, he sat. Then threw Telemachus
His arms around his father’s neck, and wept.
Desire intense of lamentation seized
On both; soft murmurs utt’ring, each indulged
His grief, more frequent wailing than the bird,
(Eagle, or hook-nail’d vulture) from whose nest
Some swain hath stol’n her yet unfeather’d young. 260
So from their eyelids they big drops distill’d
Of tend’rest grief, nor had the setting sun
Cessation of their weeping seen, had not
Telemachus his father thus address’d.
What ship convey’d thee to thy native shore,
My father! and what country boast the crew?
For, that on foot thou not arriv’dst, is sure.
Then thus divine Ulysses toil-inured.
My son! I will explicit all relate.
Conducted by Phæacia’s maritime sons 270
I came, a race accustom’d to convey
Strangers who visit them across the Deep.
Me, o’er the billows in a rapid bark
Borne sleeping, on the shores of Ithaca
They lay’d; rich gifts they gave me also, brass,
Gold in full bags, and beautiful attire,
Which, warn’d from heav’n, I have in caves conceal’d.
By Pallas prompted, hither I repair’d
That we might plan the slaughter of our foes,
Whose numbers tell me now, that I may know 280
How pow’rful, certainly, and who they are,
And consultation with my dauntless heart
May hold, if we be able to contend
Ourselves with all, or must have aid beside.
Then, answer thus his son, discrete, return’d.
My father! thy renown hath ever rung
In thy son’s ears, and by report thy force
In arms, and wisdom I have oft been told.
But terribly thou speak’st; amazement-fixt
  I hear; can two a multitude oppose, 290
And valiant warriors all? for neither ten
Are they, nor twenty, but more num’rous far.
Learn, now, their numbers. Fifty youths and two
Came from Dulichium; they are chosen men,
And six attendants follow in their train;
From Samos twenty youths and four arrive,
Zacynthus also of Achaia’s sons
Sends twenty more, and our own island adds,
Herself, her twelve chief rulers; Medon, too,
Is there the herald, and the bard divine, 300
With other two, intendants of the board.
Should we within the palace, we alone,
Assail them all, I fear lest thy revenge
Unpleasant to thyself and deadly prove,
Frustrating thy return. But recollect—
Think, if thou canst, on whose confed’rate arm
Strenuous on our behalf we may rely.
To him replied his patient father bold.
I will inform thee. Mark. Weigh well my words.
Will Pallas and the everlasting Sire 310
Alone suffice? or need we other aids?
Then answer thus Telemachus return’d.
Good friends indeed are they whom thou hast named,
Though throned above the clouds; for their controul
Is universal both in earth and heav’n.
To whom Ulysses, toil-worn Chief renown’d.
Not long will they from battle stand aloof,
When once, within my palace, in the strength
Of Mars, to sharp decision we shall urge
The suitors. But thyself at early dawn 320
Our mansion seek, that thou may’st mingle there
With that imperious throng; me in due time
Eumæus to the city shall conduct,
In form a miserable beggar old.
But should they with dishonourable scorn
Insult me, thou unmov’d my wrongs endure,
And should they even drag me by the feet
Abroad, or smite me with the spear, thy wrath
Refraining, gently counsel them to cease
From such extravagance; but well I know 330
That cease they will not, for their hour is come.
And mark me well; treasure what now I say
  Deep in thy soul. When Pallas shall, herself,
Suggest the measure, then, shaking my brows,
I will admonish thee; thou, at the sign,
Remove what arms soever in the hall
Remain, and in the upper palace safe
Dispose them; should the suitors, missing them,
Perchance interrogate thee, then reply
Gently—I have removed them from the smoke; 340
For they appear no more the arms which erst
Ulysses, going hence to Ilium, left,
But smirch’d and sullied by the breath of fire.
This weightier reason (thou shalt also say)
Jove taught me; lest, intoxicate with wine,
Ye should assault each other in your brawls,
Shaming both feast and courtship; for the view
Itself of arms incites to their abuse.
Yet leave two faulchions for ourselves alone,
Two spears, two bucklers, which with sudden force 350
Impetuous we will seize, and Jove all-wise
Their valour shall, and Pallas, steal away.
This word store also in remembrance deep—
If mine in truth thou art, and of my blood,
Then, of Ulysses to his home returned
Let none hear news from thee, no, not my sire
Laertes, nor Eumæus, nor of all
The menials any, or ev’n Penelope,
That thou and I, alone, may search the drift
Of our domestic women, and may prove 360
Our serving-men, who honours and reveres
And who contemns us both, but chiefly thee
So gracious and so worthy to be loved.
Him then thus answer’d his illustrious son.
Trust me, my father! thou shalt soon be taught
That I am not of drowsy mind obtuse.
But this I think not likely to avail
Or thee or me; ponder it yet again;
For tedious were the task, farm after farm
To visit of those servants, proving each, 370
And the proud suitors merciless devour
Meantime thy substance, nor abstain from aught.
Learn, if thou wilt, (and I that course myself
Advise) who slights thee of the female train,
And who is guiltless; but I would not try
  From house to house the men, far better proved
Hereafter, if in truth by signs from heav’n
Inform’d, thou hast been taught the will of Jove.
Thus they conferr’d. The gallant bark, meantime,
Reach’d Ithaca, which from the Pylian shore 380
Had brought Telemachus with all his band.
Within the many-fathom’d port arrived
His lusty followers haled her far aground,
Then carried thence their arms, but to the house
Of Clytius the illustrious gifts convey’d.
Next to the royal mansion they dispatch’d
An herald charg’d with tidings to the Queen,
That her Telemachus had reach’d the cot
Of good Eumæus, and the bark had sent
Home to the city; lest the matchless dame 390
Should still deplore the absence of her son.
They, then, the herald and the swine-herd, each
Bearing like message to his mistress, met,
And at the palace of the godlike Chief
Arriving, compass’d by the female throng
Inquisitive, the herald thus began.
Thy son, O Queen! is safe; ev’n now return’d.
Then, drawing nigh to her, Eumæus told
His message also from her son received,
And, his commission punctually discharged, 400
Leaving the palace, sought his home again.
Grief seized and anguish, at those tidings, all
The suitors; issuing forth, on the outside
Of the high wall they sat, before the gate,
When Polybus’ son, Eurymachus, began.
My friends! his arduous task, this voyage, deem’d
By us impossible, in our despight
Telemachus hath atchieved. Haste! launch we forth
A sable bark, our best, which let us man
With mariners expert, who, rowing forth 410
Swiftly, shall summon our companions home.
Scarce had he said, when turning where he sat,
Amphinomus beheld a bark arrived
Just then in port; he saw them furling sail,
And seated with their oars in hand; he laugh’d
Through pleasure at that sight, and thus he spake.
Our message may be spared. Lo! they arrive.
Either some God inform’d them, or they saw,
  Themselves, the vessel of Telemachus
Too swiftly passing to be reach’d by theirs. 420
He spake; they, rising, hasted to the shore.
Alert they drew the sable bark aground,
And by his servant each his arms dispatch’d
To his own home. Then, all, to council those
Assembling, neither elder of the land
Nor youth allow’d to join them, and the rest
Eupithes’ son, Antinoüs, thus bespake.
Ah! how the Gods have rescued him! all day
Perch’d on the airy mountain-top, our spies
Successive watch’d; and, when the sun declined, 430
We never slept on shore, but all night long
Till sacred dawn arose, plow’d the abyss,
Hoping Telemachus, that we might seize
And slay him, whom some Deity hath led,
In our despight, safe to his home again.
But frame we yet again means to destroy
Telemachus; ah—let not Him escape!
For end of this our task, while he survives,
None shall be found, such prudence he displays
And wisdom, neither are the people now 440
Unanimous our friends as heretofore.
Come, then—prevent him, ere he call the Greeks
To council; for he will not long delay,
But will be angry, doubtless, and will tell
Amid them all, how we in vain devised
His death, a deed which they will scarce applaud,
But will, perhaps, punish and drive us forth
From our own country to a distant land.—
Prevent him, therefore, quickly; in the field
Slay him, or on the road; so shall his wealth 450
And his possessions on ourselves devolve
Which we will share equally, but his house
Shall be the Queen’s, and his whom she shall wed.
Yet, if not so inclined, ye rather chuse
That he should live and occupy entire
His patrimony, then, no longer, here
Assembled, let us revel at his cost,
But let us all with spousal gifts produced
From our respective treasures, woo the Queen,
Leaving her in full freedom to espouse 460
Who proffers most, and whom the fates ordain.
  He ceased; the assembly silent sat and mute.
Then rose Amphinomus amid them all,
Offspring renown’d of Nisus, son, himself,
Of King Aretias. He had thither led
The suitor train who from the pleasant isle
Corn-clad of green Dulichium had arrived,
And by his speech pleased far beyond them all
Penelope, for he was just and wise,
And thus, well-counselling the rest, began. 470
Not I, my friends! far be the thought from me
To slay Telemachus! it were a deed
Momentous, terrible, to slay a prince.
First, therefore, let us counsel ask of heav’n,
And if Jove’s oracle that course approve,
I will encourage you, and will myself
Be active in his death; but if the Gods
Forbid it, then, by my advice, forbear.
So spake Amphinomus, whom all approved.
Arising then, into Ulysses’ house 480
They went, where each his splendid seat resumed.
A novel purpose occupied, meantime,
Penelope; she purposed to appear
Before her suitors, whose design to slay
Telemachus she had from Medon learn’d,
The herald, for his ear had caught the sound.
Toward the hall with her attendant train
She moved, and when, most graceful of her sex,
Where sat the suitors she arrived, between
The columns standing of the stately dome, 490
And covering with her white veil’s lucid folds
Her features, to Antinoüs thus she spake.
Antinoüs, proud, contentious, evermore
To mischief prone! the people deem thee wise
Past thy compeers, and in all grace of speech
Pre-eminent, but such wast never thou.
Inhuman! why is it thy dark design
To slay Telemachus? and why with scorn
Rejectest thou the suppliant’s pray’r,72 which Jove
Himself hath witness’d? Plots please not the Gods. 500
Know’st not that thy own father refuge found
Here, when he fled before the people’s wrath
  Whom he had irritated by a wrong
Which, with a band of Taphian robbers joined,
He offer’d to the Thesprots, our allies?
They would have torn his heart, and would have laid
All his delights and his possessions waste,
But my Ulysses slaked the furious heat
Of their revenge, whom thou requitest now
Wasting his goods, soliciting his wife, 510
Slaying his son, and filling me with woe.
But cease, I charge thee, and bid cease the rest.
To whom the son of Polybus replied,
Eurymachus.—Icarius’ daughter wise!
Take courage, fair Penelope, and chace
These fears unreasonable from thy mind!
The man lives not, nor shall, who while I live,
And faculty of sight retain, shall harm
Telemachus, thy son. For thus I say,
And thus will I perform; his blood shall stream 520
A sable current from my lance’s point
That moment; for the city-waster Chief
Ulysses, oft, me placing on his knees,
Hath fill’d my infant grasp with sav’ry food,
And giv’n me ruddy wine. I, therefore, hold
Telemachus of all men most my friend,
Nor hath he death to fear from hand of ours.
Yet, if the Gods shall doom him, die he must.
So he encouraged her, who yet, himself,
Plotted his death. She, re-ascending, sought 530
Her stately chamber, and, arriving there,
Deplored with tears her long-regretted Lord
Till Athenæan Pallas azure-eyed
Dews of soft slumber o’er her lids diffused.
And now, at even-tide, Eumæus reach’d
Ulysses and his son. A yearling swine
Just slain they skilfully for food prepared,
When Pallas, drawing nigh, smote with her wand
Ulysses, at the stroke rend’ring him old,
And his apparel sordid as before, 540
Lest, knowing him, the swain at once should seek
Penelope, and let the secret forth.
Then foremost him Telemachus address’d.
Noble Eumæus! thou art come; what news
Bring’st from the city? Have the warrior band
  Of suitors, hopeless of their ambush, reach’d
The port again, or wait they still for me?
To whom Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
No time for such enquiry, nor to range,
Curious, the streets had I, but anxious wish’d 550
To make my message known, and to return.
But, as it chanced, a nimble herald sent
From thy companions, met me on the way,
Who reach’d thy mother first. Yet this I know,
For this I saw. Passing above the town
Where they have piled a way-side hill of stones
To Mercury, I beheld a gallant bark
Ent’ring the port; a bark she was of ours,
The crew were num’rous, and I mark’d her deep-
Laden with shields and spears of double edge. 560
Theirs I conjectured her, and could no more.
He spake, and by Eumæus unperceived,
Telemachus his father eyed and smiled.
Their task accomplish’d, and the table spread,
They ate, nor any his due portion miss’d,
And hunger, now, and thirst both sated, all
To rest repair’d, and took the gift of sleep.

72 Alluding probably to entreaties made to him at some former time by herself and Telemachus, that he would not harm them. Clarke.

  BOOK XVII

ARGUMENT

Telemachus returns to the city, and relates to his mother the principal passages of his voyage; Ulysses, conducted by Eumæus, arrives there also, and enters among the suitors, having been known only by his old dog Argus, who dies at his feet. The curiosity of Penelope being excited by the account which Eumæus gives her of Ulysses, she orders him immediately into her presence, but Ulysses postpones the interview till evening, when the suitors having left the palace, there shall be no danger of interruption. Eumæus returns to his cottage.

Now look’d Aurora from the East abroad,
When the illustrious offspring of divine
Ulysses bound his sandals to his feet;
He seiz’d his sturdy spear match’d to his gripe,
And to the city meditating quick
Departure now, the swine-herd thus bespake.
Father! I seek the city, to convince
My mother of my safe return, whose tears,
I judge, and lamentation shall not cease
Till her own eyes behold me. But I lay 10
On thee this charge. Into the city lead,
Thyself, this hapless guest, that he may beg
Provision there, a morsel and a drop
From such as may, perchance, vouchsafe the boon.
I cannot, vext and harass’d as I am,
Feed all, and should the stranger take offence,
The worse for him. Plain truth is my delight.
To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Nor is it my desire to be detained.
Better the mendicant in cities seeks 20
His dole, vouchsafe it whosoever may,
Than in the villages. I am not young,
Nor longer of an age that well accords
With rural tasks, nor could I all perform
That it might please a master to command.
Go then, and when I shall have warm’d my limbs
Before the hearth, and when the risen sun
  Shall somewhat chase the cold, thy servant’s task
Shall be to guide me thither, as thou bidd’st,
For this is a vile garb; the frosty air 30
Of morning would benumb me thus attired,
And, as ye say, the city is remote.
He ended, and Telemachus in haste
Set forth, his thoughts all teeming as he went
With dire revenge. Soon in the palace-courts
Arriving, he reclined his spear against
A column, and proceeded to the hall.
Him Euryclea, first, his nurse, perceived,
While on the variegated seats she spread
Their fleecy cov’ring; swift with tearful eyes 40
She flew to him, and the whole female train
Of brave Ulysses swarm’d around his son,
Clasping him, and his forehead and his neck
Kissing affectionate; then came, herself,
As golden Venus or Diana fair,
Forth from her chamber to her son’s embrace,
The chaste Penelope; with tears she threw
Her arms around him, his bright-beaming eyes
And forehead kiss’d, and with a murmur’d plaint
Maternal, in wing’d accents thus began. 50
Thou hast return’d, light of my eyes! my son!
My lov’d Telemachus! I had no hope
To see thee more when once thou hadst embark’d
For Pylus, privily, and with no consent
From me obtain’d, news seeking of thy sire.
But haste; unfold. Declare what thou hast seen.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Ah mother! let my sorrows rest, nor me
From death so lately ’scaped afflict anew,
But, bathed and habited in fresh attire, 60
With all the maidens of thy train ascend
To thy superior chamber, there to vow
A perfect hecatomb to all the Gods,
When Jove shall have avenged our num’rous wrongs.
I seek the forum, there to introduce
A guest, my follower from the Pylian shore,
Whom sending forward with my noble band,
I bade Piræus to his own abode
Lead him, and with all kindness entertain
The stranger, till I should myself arrive. 70
  He spake, nor flew his words useless away.
She, bathed and habited in fresh attire,
Vow’d a full hecatomb to all the Gods,
Would Jove but recompense her num’rous wrongs.
Then, spear in hand, went forth her son, two dogs
Fleet-footed following him. O’er all his form
Pallas diffused a dignity divine,
And ev’ry eye gazed on him as he pass’d.
The suitors throng’d him round, joy on their lips
And welcome, but deep mischief in their hearts. 80
He, shunning all that crowd, chose to himself
A seat, where Mentor sat, and Antiphus,
And Halytherses, long his father’s friends
Sincere, who of his voyage much enquired.
Then drew Piræus nigh, leading his guest
Toward the forum; nor Telemachus
Stood long aloof, but greeted his approach,
And was accosted by Piræus thus.
Sir! send thy menial women to bring home
The precious charge committed to my care, 90
Thy gifts at Menelaus’ hands received.
To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Piræus! wait; for I not yet foresee
The upshot. Should these haughty ones effect
My death, clandestine, under my own roof,
And parcel my inheritance by lot,
I rather wish those treasures thine, than theirs.
But should I with success plan for them all
A bloody death, then, wing’d with joy, thyself
Bring home those presents to thy joyful friend. 100
So saying, he led the anxious stranger thence
Into the royal mansion, where arrived,
Each cast his mantle on a couch or throne,
And plung’d his feet into a polish’d bath.
There wash’d and lubricated with smooth oils,
From the attendant maidens each received
Tunic and shaggy mantle. Thus attired,
Forth from the baths they stepp’d, and sat again.
A maiden, next, with golden ewer charged,
And silver bowl, pour’d water on their hands, 110
And spread the polish’d table, which with food
Of all kinds, remnants of the last regale,
The mistress of the household charge supplied.
  Meantime, beside a column of the dome
His mother, on a couch reclining, twirl’d
Her slender threads. They to the furnish’d board
Stretch’d forth their hands, and, hunger now and thirst
Both satisfied, Penelope began.
Telemachus! I will ascend again,
And will repose me on my woeful bed; 120
For such it hath been, and with tears of mine
Ceaseless bedew’d, e’er since Ulysses went
With Atreus’ sons to Troy. For not a word
Thou would’st vouchsafe me till our haughty guests
Had occupied the house again, of all
That thou hast heard (if aught indeed thou hast)
Of thy long-absent father’s wish’d return.
Her answer’d then Telemachus discrete.
Mother, at thy request I will with truth
Relate the whole. At Pylus shore arrived 130
We Nestor found, Chief of the Pylian race.
Receiving me in his august abode,
He entertain’d me with such welcome kind
As a glad father shews to his own son
Long-lost and newly found; so Nestor me,
And his illustrious offspring, entertain’d,
But yet assured me that he nought had heard
From mortal lips of my magnanimous sire,
Whether alive or dead; with his own steeds
He sent me, and with splendid chariot thence 140
To spear-famed Menelaus, Atreus’ son.
There saw I Helen, by the Gods’ decree
Auth’ress of trouble both to Greece and Troy.
The Hero Menelaus then enquired
What cause had urged me to the pleasant vale
Of Lacedæmon; plainly I rehearsed
The occasion, and the Hero thus replied.
Ye Gods! they are ambitious of the bed
Of a brave man, however base themselves.
But, as it chances when the hart hath laid 150
Her fawns new-yean’d and sucklings yet, to rest
In some resistless lion’s den, she roams,
Meantime, the hills, and in the grassy vales
Feeds heedless, but the lion to his lair
Returning soon, both her and hers destroys,
So shall thy father, brave Ulysses, them.
  Jove! Pallas! and Apollo! oh that such
As erst in well-built Lesbos, where he strove
With Philomelides, whom wrestling, flat
He threw, when all Achaia’s sons rejoiced, 160
Ulysses, now, might mingle with his foes!
Short life and bitter nuptials should be theirs,
But thy enquiries neither indirect
Will I evade, nor give thee false reply,
But all that from the Ancient of the Deep73
I have received will utter, hiding nought.
The God declared that he had seen thy sire
In a lone island, sorrowing, and detain’d
An inmate in the grotto of the nymph
Calypso, wanting also means by which 170
To reach the country of his birth again,
For neither gallant barks nor friends had 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 Eumæus 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,
Eumæus 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 Eumæus 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, Eumæus! 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, Eumæus, 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 Eumæus quick enquired.
I can but wonder seeing such a dog
  Thus lodg’d, Eumæus! 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, Eumæus, 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. Eumæus 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; Eumæus 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 right75 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 Antinoüs 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, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
Antinoüs! 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.
Antinoüs hath a tongue accustom’d much
To tauntings, and promotes them in the rest.
Then, turning to Antinoüs, quick he said—
Antinoüs! 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 Antinoüs 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 Antinoüs, 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 Ægypt, for my sure destruction there.
Within th’ Ægyptian 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 Ægyptians, 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 Antinoüs harsh return’d.
What dæmon introduced this nuisance here,
  This troubler of our feast? stand yonder, keep
Due distance from my table, or expect
To see an Ægypt 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 Antinoüs 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 Antinoüs 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
Antinoüs, ere his nuptial hour arrive!
To whom Antinoüs 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.
Antinoüs! 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 Antinoüs’ 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 Antinoüs 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
Eumæus, thus she signified her will.
Eumæus, 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, Eumæus, 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.
Eumæus! 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 Eumæus sought
Again the Queen, but ere he yet had pass’d 690
The threshold, thus she greeted his return.
Com’st thou alone, Eumæus? 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, Eumæus, 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 Eumæus 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.

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 Θεὸς occurs in the abstract.

77

Ει δη που τις επουρανιος θεος εσι

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 Eumæus 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.
Arnæus 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 Antinoüs 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 Antinoüs 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 Antinoüs, 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 Antinoüs 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 away79
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 Antinoüs 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, cærulean-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 Autonöe
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 Iäsian Argos81 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 Antinoüs, 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.
Antinoüs spake, whose answer all approved. 350
Then each dispatch’d his herald who should bring
His master’s gift. Antinoüs’ 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 dæmon 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.

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 Antinoüs threatens to Irus. F.

80 This seems the sort of laughter intended by the word Αχρειον.

81 From Iäsus, 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 Atridæ. I, the youngest-born,
By my illustrious name, Æthon, 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, Mœonian 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 Phæacian’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 gaberdines82
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 œconomic 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
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