The Odyssey of Homer (Cowper)/Book XIV
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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
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,
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,
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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,
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,
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
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,
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?
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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,
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
- ^ .—The swineherd’s was therefore in those days, and in that country, an occupation honourable as well as useful. Barnes deems the epithet significant of his noble birth. Vide Clarke in loco.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Mercury.
- ^ —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 —is an ascription of power such as the poet never makes to his Jupiter.