The Odyssey of Homer (Cowper)/Book XV
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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,
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
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
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 Neleu65, 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,
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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;
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.
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?
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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,
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.
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,
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,
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ She is said to have hanged herself.
- ^ 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.
- ^ —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.
- ^ A principal city of Phœnicia.
- ^ The anchors were lodged on the shore, not plunged as ours.