The Odyssey of Homer (Cowper)/Book III
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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,
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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!
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.
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
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,
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)
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,
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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
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,
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.
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.
- ^ . Prior, alluding to this expression, ludicrously renders it—
“When words like these in vocal breath
Burst from his twofold hedge of teeth.”
- ^ 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.