Chapman, George, trans. (1559?1634). The Odysseys of Homer, vol. 1. 1857.
THE FOURTH BOOK OF HOMER'S ODYSSEYS.
- RECEIVED now in the Spartan court,
- Telemachus prefers report
- To Menelaus of the throng
- Of Wooers with him, and their wrong.
- Atrides tells the Greeks' retreat,
- And doth a prophecy repeat
- That Proteus made, by which he knew
- His brother's death; and then doth show
- How with Calypso lived the sire
- Of his young guest. The Wooers conspire
- Their prince's death. Whose treachery known,
- Penelope in tears doth drown.
- Whom Pallas by a dream doth cheer,
- And in similitude appear
- Of fair Iphthima, known to be
- The sister of Penelope.
Here of the sire
- The son doth hear.
- The Wooers conspire.
- The Mother's fear.
N Lacedæmon now, the nurse of whales,
These two arriv'd, and found at festivals,
With mighty concourse, the renowned king,
His son and daughter jointly marrying.
Alector's daughter he did give his son, 5
Strong Megapenthes, who his life begun
By Menelaus' bondmaid; whom he knew
In years when Helen could no more renew
In issue like divine Hermione,
Who held in all fair form as high degree 10
As golden Venus. Her he married now
To great Achilles' son, who was by vow
Betrothed to her at Troy. And thus the Gods
To constant loves give nuptial periods.
Whose state here past, the Myrmidons' rich town 15
(Of which she shar'd in the imperial crown)
With horse and chariots he resign'd her to.
Mean space, the high huge house with feast did flow
Of friends and neighbours, joying with the king.
Amongst whom did a heavenly poet sing, 20
And touch his harp. Amongst whom likewise danc'd
Two, who in that dumb motion advanc'd,
Would prompt the singer what to sing and play.
All this time in the utter court did stay,
With horse and chariot, Telemachus, 25
And Nestor's noble son Pisistratus.
Whom Eteoneus, coming forth, descried,
And, being a servant to the king, most tried
In care and his respect, he ran and cried:
"Guests, Jove-kept Menelaus, two such men 30
As are for form of high Saturnius' strain.
Inform your pleasure, if we shall unclose
Their horse from coach, or say they must dispose
Their way to some such house, as may embrace
Their known arrival with more welcome grace?" 35
He, angry, answer'd: "Thou didst never show
Thyself a fool, Boethides, till now;
But now, as if turn'd child, a childish speech
Vents thy vain spirits. We ourselves now reach
Our home by much spent hospitality 40
Of other men; nor know if Jove will try
With other after-wants our state again;
And therefore from our feast no more detain
Those welcome guests, but take their steeds from coach,
And with attendance guide in their approach." 45
This said, he rush'd abroad, and call'd some more
Tried in such service, that together bore
Up to the guests, and took their steeds that swet
Beneath their yokes from coach; at mangers set,
Wheat and white barley gave them mix'd; and plac'd 50
Their chariot by a wall so clear, it cast
A light quite through it. And then they led
Their guests to the divine house; which so fed
Their eyes at all parts with illustrious sights,
That admiration seized them. Like the lights 55
The sun and moon gave, all the palace threw
A lustre through it. Satiate with whose view,
Down to the king's most bright-kept baths they went;
Where handmaids did their services present,
Bath'd, balm'd them, shirts and well-napt weeds put on, 60
And by Atrides' side set each his throne.
Then did the handmaid-royal water bring,
And to a laver, rich and glittering,
Of massy gold, pour'd; which she plac'd upon
A silver caldron, into which might run 65
The water as they wash'd. Then set she near
A polish'd table, on which all the cheer
The present could afford a reverend dame,
That kept the larder, set. A cook then came,
And divers dishes, borne thence, serv'd again; 70
Furnish'd the board with bowls of gold. And then,
His right hand given the guests, Atrides said:
"Eat, and be cheerful. Appetite allay'd,
I long to ask, of what stock ye descend;
For not from parents whose race nameless end 75
We must derive your offspring. Men obscure
Could get none such as you. The portraiture
Of Jove-sustain'd and sceptre-bearing kings
Your either person in his presence brings."
An ox's fat chine then they up did lift, 80
And set before the guests; which was a gift,
Sent as an honour to the king's own taste.
They saw yet 'twas but to be eaten plac'd,
And fell to it. But food and wine's care past,
Telemachus thus prompted Nestor's son, 85
(His ear close laying, to be heard of none)
"Consider, thou whom most my mind esteems,
The brass-work here, how rich it is in beams,
And how, besides, it makes the whole house sound;
What gold, and amber, silver, ivory, round 90
Is wrought about it. Out of doubt, the hall
Of Jupiter Olympius hath of all
This state the like. How many infinites
Take up to admiration all men's sights!"
Atrides over-heard, and said: "Lov'd son, 95
No mortal must affect contention
With Jove, whose dwellings are of endless date.
Perhaps of men some one may emulate,
Or none, my house, or me; for I am one
That many a grave extreme have undergone, 100
Much error felt by sea, and till th' eighth year,
Had never stay, but wander'd far and near,
Cyprus, Phoenicia, and Sidonia,
And fetch'd the far-off Æthiopia,
Reach'd the Erembi of Arabia, 105
And Lybia, where with horns ewes yean their lambs,
Which every full year ewes are three times dams,
Where neither king, nor shepherd, want comes near
Of cheese, or flesh, or sweet milk; all the year
They ever milk their ewes. And here while I 110
Err'd, gathering means to live, one, murderously,
Unwares, unseen, bereft my brother's life,
Chiefly betray'd by his abhorred wife.
So hold I, not enjoying, what you see.
And of your fathers, if they living be, 115
You must have heard this, since my sufferings were
So great and famous; from this palace here
(So rarely-well-built, furnished so well,
And substanced with such a precious deal
Of well-got treasure) banish'd by the doom 120
Of Fate, and erring as I had no home.
And now I have, and use it, not to take
Th' entire delight it offers, but to make
Continual wishes, that a triple part
Of all it holds were wanting, so my heart 125
Were eas'd of sorrows, taken for their deaths
That fell at Troy, by their revived breaths.
And thus sit I here weeping, mourning still
Each least man lost; and sometimes make mine ill,
In paying just tears for their loss, my joy. 130
Sometimes I breathe my woes, for in annoy
The pleasure soon admits satiety.
But all these men's wants wet not so mine eye,
Though much they move me, as one sole man's miss,
For which my sleep and meat even loathsome is 135
In his renew'd thought, since no Greek hath won
Grace for such labours as Laertes' son
Hath wrought and suffer'd, to himself nought else
But future sorrows forging, to me hells
For his long absence, since I cannot know 140
If life or death detain him; since such woe
For his love, old Laertes, his wise wife,
And poor young son sustains, whom new with life
He left as sireless." This speech grief to tears
(Pour'd from the son's lids on the earth) his ears, 145
Told of the father, did excite; who kept
His cheeks dry with his red weed as he wept,
His both hands used therein. Atrides then
Began to know him, and did strife retain,
If he should let himself confess his sire, 150
Or with all fitting circumstance enquire.
While this his thoughts disputed, forth did shine,
Like to the golden distaff-deck'd Divine,
From her bed's high and odoriferous room,
Helen. To whom, of an elaborate loom, 155
Adresta set a chair; Alcippe brought
A piece of tapestry of fine wool wrought;
Phylo a silver cabinet conferr'd,
Given by Alcandra, nuptially endear'd
To lord Polybius, whose abode in Thebes 160
Th' Ægyptian city was, where wealth in heaps
His famous house held, out of which did go,
In gift t' Atrides, silver bath-tubs two,
Two tripods, and of fine gold talents ten.
His wife did likewise send to Helen then 165
Fair gifts, a distaff that of gold was wrought,
And that rich cabinet that Phylo brought,
Round, and with gold ribb'd, now of fine thread full;
On which extended (crown'd with finest wool,
Of violet gloss) the golden distaff lay. 170
She took her state-chair, and a foot-stool's stay
Had for her feet; and of her husband thus
Ask'd to know all things: "Is it known to us,
King Menelaus, whom these men commend
Themselves for, that our court now takes to friend? 175
I must affirm, be I deceived or no,
I never yet saw man nor woman so
Like one another, as this man is like
Ulysses' son. With admiration strike
His looks my thoughts, that they should carry now 180
Power to persuade me thus, who did but know,
When newly he was born, the form they bore.
But 'tis his father's grace, whom more and more
His grace resembles, that makes me retain
Thought that he now is like Telemachus, then 185
Left by his sire, when Greece did undertake
Troy's bold war for my impudency's sake."
He answer'd: "Now wife, what you think I know,
The true cast of his father's eye doth show
In his eyes order. Both his head and hair, 190
His hands and feet, his very father's are.
Of whom, so well remember'd, I should now
Acknowledge for me his continual flow
Of cares and perils, yet still patient.
But I should too much move him, that doth vent 195
Such bitter tears for that which hath been spoke,
Which, shunning soft show, see how he would cloak,
And with his purple weed his weepings hide."
Then Nestor's son, Pisistratus, replied:
"Great pastor of the people, kept of God! 200
He is Ulysses' son, but his abode
Not made before here, and he modest too,
He holds it an indignity to do
A deed so vain, to use the boast of words,
Where your words are on wing; whose voice affords 205
Delight to us as if a God did break
The air amongst us, and vouchsafe to speak.
But me my father, old duke Nestor, sent
To be his consort hither; his content
Not to be heighten'd so as with your sight, 210
In hope that therewith words and actions might
Inform his comforts from you, since he is
Extremely grieved and injured by the miss
Of his great father; suffering even at home,
And few friends found to help him overcome 215
His too weak suff'rance, now his sire is gone;
Amongst the people, not afforded one
To check the miseries that mate him thus.
And this the state is of Telemachus."
"O Gods," said he, "how certain, now, I see 220
My house enjoys that friend's son, that for me
Hath undergone so many willing fights!
Whom I resolved, past all the Grecian knights,
To hold in love, if our return by seas
The far-off Thunderer did ever please 225
To grant our wishes. And to his respect
A palace and a city to erect,
My vow had bound me; whither bringing then
His riches, and his son, and all his men,
From barren Ithaca, (some one sole town 230
Inhabited about him batter'd down)
All should in Argos live. And there would I
Ease him of rule, and take the empery
Of all on me. And often here would we,
Delighting, loving either's company, 235
Meet and converse; whom nothing should divide,
Till death's black veil did each all over hide.
But this perhaps hath been a mean to take
Even God himself with envy; who did make
Ulysses therefore only the unblest, 240
That should not reach his loved country's rest."
These woes made every one with woe in love;
Even Argive Helen wept, the seed of Jove;
Ulysses' son wept; Atreus' son did weep;
And Nestor's son his eyes in tears did steep, 245
But his tears fell not from the present cloud
That from Ulysses was exhaled, but flow'd
From brave Antilochus' remember'd due,
Whom the renown'd Son of the Morning slew,
Which yet he thus excused: "O Atreus' son! 250
Old Nestor says, there lives not such a one
Amongst all mortals as Atrides is
For deathless wisdom. 'Tis a praise of his,
Still given in your remembrance, when at home
Our speech concerns you. Since then overcome 255
You please to be with sorrow, even to tears,
That are in wisdom so exempt from peers,
Vouchsafe the like effect in me excuse,
If it be lawful, I affect no use
Of tears thus after meals; at least, at night; 260
But when the morn brings forth, with tears, her light,
It shall not then impair me to bestow
My tears on any worthy's overthrow.
It is the only rite that wretched men
Can do dead friends, to cut hair, and complain. 265
But Death my brother took, whom none could call
The Grecian coward, you best knew of all.
I was not there, nor saw, but men report
Antilochus excell'd the common sort
For footmanship, or for the chariot race, 270
Or in the fight for hardy hold of place."
"O friend," said he, "since thou hast spoken so,
At all parts as one wise should say and do,
And like one far beyond thyself in years,
Thy words shall bounds be to our former tears. 275
O he is questionless a right born son,
That of his father hath not only won
The person but the wisdom; and that sire
Complete himself that hath a son entire,
Jove did not only his full fate adorn, 280
When he was wedded, but when he was born.
As now Saturnius, through his life's whole date,
Hath Nestor's bliss raised to as steep a state,
Both in his age to keep in peace his house,
And to have children wise and valorous. 285
But let us not forget our rear feast thus.
Let some give water here. Telemachus!
The morning shall yield time to you and me
To do what fits, and reason mutually."
This said, the careful servant of the king, 290
Asphalion, pour'd on th' issue of the spring;
And all to ready feast set ready hand.
But Helen now on new device did stand,
Infusing straight a medicine to their wine,
That, drowning cares and angers, did decline 295
All thought of ill. Who drunk her cup could shed
All that day not a tear, no not if dead
That day his father or his mother were,
Not if his brother, child, or chiefest dear,
He should see murder'd then before his face. 300
Such useful medicines, only borne in grace
Of what was good, would Helen ever have.
And this juice to her Polydamna gave
The wife of Thoon, all Ægyptian born,
Whose rich earth herbs of medicine do adorn 305
In great abundance. Many healthful are,
And many baneful. Every man is there
A good physician out of Nature's grace,
For all the nation sprung of Paeon's race.
When Helen then her medicine had infus'd, 310
She bad pour wine to it, and this speech us'd:
"Atrides, and these good men's sons, great Jove
Makes good and ill one after other move,
In all things earthly; for he can do all.
The woes past, therefore, he so late let fall, 315
The comforts he affords us let us take;
Feast, and, with fit discourses, merry make.
Nor will I other use. As then our blood
Griev'd for Ulysses', since he was so good,
Since he was good, let us delight to hear 320
How good he was, and what his sufferings were;
Though every fight, and every suffering deed,
Patient Ulysses underwent, exceed
My woman's power to number, or to name.
But what he did, and suffer'd, when he came 325
Amongst the Trojans, where ye Grecians all
Took part with suff'rance, I in part can call
To your kind memories. How with ghastly wounds
Himself he mangled, and the Trojan bounds,
Thrust thick with enemies, adventur'd on, 330
His royal shoulders having cast upon
Base abject weeds, and enter'd like a slave.
Then, beggar-like, he did of all men crave,
And such a wretch was, as the whole Greek fleet
Brought not besides. And thus through every street 335
He crept discovering, of no one man known.
And yet through all this difference, I alone
Smoked his true person, talk'd with him; but he
Fled me with wiles still. Nor could we agree,
Till I disclaim'd him quite; and so (as mov'd 340
With womanly remorse of one that prov'd
So wretched an estate, whate'er he were)
Won him to take my house. And yet even there,
Till freely I, to make him doubtless, swore
A powerful oath, to let him reach the shore 345
Of ships and tents before Troy understood,
I could not force on him his proper good.
But then I bath'd and sooth'd him, and he then
Confess'd, and told me all; and, having slain
A number of the Trojan guards, retired, 350
And reach'd the fleet, for sleight and force admired.
Their husbands' deaths by him the Trojan wives
Shriek'd for; but I made triumphs for their lives,
For then my heart conceiv'd, that once again
I should reach home; and yet did still retain 355
Woe for the slaughters Venus made for me,
When both my husband, my Hermione,
And bridal room, she robb'd of so much right,
And drew me from my country with her sleight,
Though nothing under heaven I here did need, 360
That could my fancy or my beauty feed."
Her husband said: "Wife! what you please to tell
Is true at all parts, and becomes you well;
And I myself, that now may say have seen
The minds and manners of a world of men, 365
And great heroes, measuring many a ground,
Have never, by these eyes that light me, found
One with a bosom so to be beloved,
As that in which th' accomplish'd spirit moved
Of patient Ulysses. What, brave man, 370
He both did act, and suffer, when he wan
The town of Ilion, in the brave-built horse,
When all we chief states of the Grecian force
Were hous'd together, bringing Death and Fate
Amongst the Trojans, you, wife, may relate; 375
For you, at last, came to us; God, that would
The Trojans' glory give, gave charge you should
Approach the engine; and Deiphobus,
The god-like, follow'd. Thrice ye circled us
With full survey of it; and often tried 380
The hollow crafts that in it were implied.
When all the voices of their wives in it
You took on you with voice so like and fit,
And every man by name so visited,
That I, Ulysses, and king Diomed, 385
(Set in the midst, and hearing how you call'd)
Tydides, and myself (as half appall'd
With your remorseful plaints) would passing fain
Have broke our silence, rather than again
Endure, respectless, their so moving cries. 390
But Ithacus our strongest phantasies
Contain'd within us from the slenderest noise,
And every man there sat without a voice.
Anticlus only would have answer'd thee,
But his speech Ithacus incessantly 395
With strong hand held in, till, Minerva's call
Charging thee off, Ulysses sav'd us all."
Telemachus replied: "Much greater is
My grief, for hearing this high praise of his.
For all this doth not his sad death divert, 400
Nor can, though in him swell'd an iron heart.
Prepare, and lead then, if you please, to rest:
Sleep, that we hear not, will content us best."
Then Argive Helen made her handmaid go,
And put fair bedding in the portico, 405
Lay purple blankets on, rugs warm and soft,
And cast an arras coverlet aloft.
They torches took, made haste, and made the bed;
When both the guests were to their lodgings led
Within a portico without the house. 410
Atrides, and his large-train-wearing spouse,
The excellent of women, for the way,
In a retired receit, together lay.
The Morn arose; the king rose, and put on
His royal weeds, his sharp sword hung upon 415
His ample shoulders, forth his chamber went,
And did the person of a God present.
Telemachus accosts him, who begun
Speech of his journey's proposition:
"And what, my young Ulyssean heroe, 420
Provoked thee on the broad back of the sea,
To visit Lacedaemon the divine?
Speak truth, some public [good] or only thine?"
"I come," said he, "to hear, if any fame
Breath'd of my father to thy notice came. 425
My house is sack'd, my fat works of the field
Are all destroy'd; my house doth nothing yield
But enemies, that kill my harmless sheep,
And sinewy oxen, nor will ever keep
Their steels without them. And these men are they 430
That woo my mother, most inhumanly
Committing injury on injury.
To thy knees therefore I am come, t' attend
Relation of the sad and wretched end
My erring father felt, if witness'd by 435
Your own eyes, or the certain news that fly
From others' knowledges. For, more than is
The usual heap of human miseries,
His mother bore him to. Vouchsafe me then,
Without all ruth of what I can sustain, 440
The plain and simple truth of all you know.
Let me beseech so much, if ever vow
Was made, and put in good effect to you,
At Troy, where suff'rance bred you so much smart,
Upon my father good Ulysses' part, 445
And quit it now to me (himself in youth)
Unfolding only the unclosed truth."
He, deeply sighing, answer'd him: "O shame,
That such poor vassals should affect the fame
To share the joys of such a worthy's bed! 450
As when a hind, her calves late farrowed,
To give suck, enters the bold lion's den,
He roots of hills and herby vallies then
For food (there feeding) hunting; but at length
Returning to his cavern, gives his strength 455
The lives of both the mother and her brood
In deaths indecent; so the Wooers' blood
Must pay Ulysses' powers as sharp an end.
O would to Jove, Apollo, and thy friend
The wise Minerva, that thy father were 460
As once he was, when he his spirits did rear
Against Philomelides, in a fight
Perform'd in well-built Lesbos, where, down-right
He strook the earth with him, and gat a shout
Of all the Grecians! O, if now full out 465
He were as then, and with the Wooers coped,
Short-liv'd they all were, and their nuptials hoped
Would prove as desperate. But, for thy demand
Enforc'd with prayers, I'll let thee understand
The truth directly, nor decline a thought, 470
Much less deceive, or sooth thy search in ought;
But what the old and still-true-spoken God,
That from the sea breathes oracles abroad,
Disclosed to me, to thee I'll all impart,
Nor hide one word from thy sollicitous heart. 475
I was in Ægypt, where a mighty time
The Gods detained me, though my natural clime
I never so desired, because their homes
I did not greet with perfect hecatombs.
For they will put men evermore in mind, 480
How much their masterly commandments bind.
There is, besides, a certain island, called
Pharos, that with the high-wav'd sea is wall'd,
Just against Ægypt, and so much remote,
As in a whole day, with a fore-gale smote, 485
A hollow ship can sail. And this isle bears
A port most portly, where sea-passengers
Put in still for fresh water, and away
To sea again. Yet here the Gods did stay
My fleet full twenty days; the winds, that are 490
Masters at sea, no prosp'rous puff would spare
To put us off; and all my victuals here
Had quite corrupted, as my men's minds were,
Had not a certain Goddess given regard,
And pitied me in an estate so hard; 495
And 'twas Idothea, honour'd Proteus' seed,
That old sea-farer. Her mind I made bleed
With my compassion, when (walk'd all alone,
From all my soldiers, that were ever gone
About the isle on fishing with hooks bent; 500
Hunger their bellies on her errand sent)
She came close to me, spake, and thus began:
'Of all men thou art the most foolish man,
Or slack in business, or stay'st here of choice,
And dost in all thy suff'rances rejoice, 505
That thus long liv'st detain'd here, and no end
Canst give thy tarriance? Thou dost much offend
The minds of all thy fellows.' I replied:
'Whoever thou art of the Deified,
I must affirm, that no way with my will 510
I make abode here; but, it seems, some ill
The Gods, inhabiting broad heaven, sustain
Against my getting off. Inform me then,
For Godheads all things know, what God is he
That stays my passage from the fishy sea?' 515
'Stranger,' said she, 'I'll tell thee true: There lives
An old sea-farer in these seas, that gives
A true solution of all secrets here,
Who deathless Proteus is, th' Ægyptian peer,
Who can the deeps of all the seas exquire, 520
Who Neptune's priest is, and, they say, the sire
That did beget me. Him, if any way
Thou couldst inveigle, he would clear display
Thy course from hence, and how far off doth lie
Thy voyage's whole scope through Neptune's sky. 525
Informing thee, O God-preserved, beside,
If thy desires would so be satisfied,
Whatever good or ill hath got event,
In all the time thy long and hard course spent,
Since thy departure from thy house.' This said; 530
Again I answer'd: 'Make the sleights display'd
Thy father useth, lest his foresight see,
Or his foreknowledge taking note of me,
He flies the fixt place of his used abode.
'Tis hard for man to countermine with God.' 535
She straight replied: 'I'll utter truth in all:
When heaven's supremest height the sun doth skall,
The old Sea-tell-truth leaves the deeps, and hides
Amidst a black storm, when the West Wind chides,
In caves still sleeping. Round about him sleep 540
(With short feet swimming forth the foamy deep)
The sea-calves, lovely Halosydnes call'd,
From whom a noisome odour is exhaled,
Got from the whirl-pools, on whose earth they lie.
Here, when the morn illustrates all the sky, 545
I'll guide, and seat thee in the fittest place
For the performance thou hast now in chace.
In mean time, reach thy fleet, and choose out three
Of best exploit, to go as aids to thee.
But now I'll show thee all the old God's sleights: 550
He first will number, and take all the sights
Of those his guard, that on the shore arrives.
When having view'd, and told them forth by fives,
He takes place in their midst, and there doth sleep,
Like to a shepherd midst his flock of sheep. 555
In his first sleep, call up your hardiest cheer,
Vigour and violence, and hold him there,
In spite of all his strivings to be gone.
He then will turn himself to every one
Of all things that in earth creep and respire, 560
In water swim, or shine in heavenly fire.
Yet still hold you him firm, and much the more
Press him from passing. But when, as before,
When sleep first bound his powers, his form ye see,
Then cease your force, and th' old heroe free, 565
And then demand, which heaven-born it may be
That so afflicts you, hindering your retreat,
And free sea-passage to your native seat.'
This said, she div'd into the wavy seas,
And I my course did to my ships address, 570
That on the sands stuck; where arriv'd, we made
Our supper ready. Then th' ambrosian shade
Of night fell on us, and to sleep we fell.
Rosy Aurora rose; we rose as well,
And three of them on whom I most relied, 575
For firm at every force, I choosed, and hied
Straight to the many-river-served seas;
And all assistance ask'd the Deities.
Mean time Idothea the sea's broad breast
Embrac'd, and brought for me, and all my rest, 580
Four of the sea-calves' skins but newly flay'd,
To work a wile which she had fashioned
Upon her father. Then, within the sand
A covert digging, when these calves should land,
She sat expecting. We came close to her; 585
She plac'd us orderly, and made us wear
Each one his calf's skin. But we then must pass
A huge exploit. The sea-calf's savour was
So passing sour, they still being bred at seas,
It much afflicted us; for who can please 590
To lie by one of these same sea-bred whales?
But she preserves us, and to memory calls
A rare commodity; she fetch'd to us
Ambrosia, that an air most odorous
Bears still about it, which she nointed round 595
Our either nosthrils, and in it quite drown'd
The nasty whale-smell. Then the great event
The whole morn's date, with spirits patient,
We lay expecting. When bright noon did flame,
Forth from the sea in shoals the sea-calves came, 600
And orderly, at last lay down and slept
Along the sands. And then th' old Sea-God crept
From forth the deeps, and found his fat calves there,
Survey'd, and number'd, and came never near
The craft we used, but told us five for calves. 605
His temples then dis-eased with sleep he salves;
And in rush'd we, with an abhorred cry,
Cast all our hands about him manfully;
And then th' old Forger all his forms began:
First was a lion with a mighty mane, 610
Then next a dragon, a pied panther then,
A vast boar next, and suddenly did strain
All into water. Last he was a tree,
Curl'd all at top, and shot up to the sky.
We, with resolv'd hearts, held him firmly still, 615
When th' old one (held too straight for all his skill
To extricate) gave words, and question'd me:
'Which of the Gods, O Atreus' son,' said he,
'Advised and taught thy fortitude this sleight,
To take and hold me thus in my despite?' 620
'What asks thy wish now?' I replied. 'Thou know'st.
Why dost thou ask? What wiles are these thou show'st?
I have within this isle been held for wind
A wondrous time, and can by no means find
An end to my retention. It hath spent 625
The very heart in me. Give thou then vent
To doubts thus bound in me, ye Gods know all,
Which of the Godheads doth so foully fall
On my addression home, to stay me here,
Avert me from my way, the fishy clear 630
Barr'd to my passage?' He replied: 'Of force,
If to thy home thou wishest free recourse,
To Jove, and all the other Deities,
Thou must exhibit solemn sacrifice;
And then the black sea for thee shall be clear, 635
Till thy lov'd country's settled reach. But where
Ask these rites thy performance? 'Tis a fate
To thee and thy affairs appropriate,
That thou shalt never see thy friends, nor tread
Thy country's earth, nor see inhabited 640
Thy so magnificent house, till thou make good
Thy voyage back to the Ægyptian flood,
Whose waters fell from Jove, and there hast given
To Jove, and all Gods housed in ample heaven,
Devoted hecatombs, and then free ways 645
Shall open to thee, clear'd of all delays.'
This told he; and, methought, he brake my heart,
In such a long and hard course to divert
My hope for home, and charge my back retreat
As far as Ægypt. I made answer yet: 650
"Father, thy charge I'll perfect; but before
Resolve me truly, if their natural shore
All those Greeks, and their ships, do safe enjoy,
That Nestor and myself left, when from Troy
We first raised sail? Or whether any died 655
At sea a death unwish'd? Or, satisfied,
When war was past, by friends embrac'd, in peace
Resign'd their spirits?" He made answer: "Cease
To ask so far. It fits thee not to be
So cunning in thine own calamity. 660
Nor seek to learn what learn'd thou shouldst forget.
Men's knowledges have proper limits set,
And should not prease into the mind of God.
But 'twill not long be, as my thoughts abode,
Before thou buy this curious skill with tears. 665
Many of those, whose states so tempt thine ears,
Are stoop'd by death, and many left alive,
One chief of which in strong hold doth survive,
Amidst the broad sea. Two, in their retreat,
Are done to death. I list not to repeat 670
Who fell at Troy, thyself was there in fight.
But in return swift Ajax lost the light,
In his long-oar'd ship. Neptune, yet, awhile
Saft him unwrack'd, to the Gyraean isle,
A mighty rock removing from his way. 675
And surely he had 'scap'd the fatal day,
In spite of Pallas, if to that foul deed
He in her fane did, (when he ravished
The Trojan prophetess) he had not here
Adjoin'd an impious boast, that he would bear, 680
Despite the Gods, his ship safe through the waves
Then raised against him. These his impious braves
When Neptune heard, in his strong hand he took
His massy trident, and so soundly strook
The rock Gyraean, that in two it cleft; 685
Of which one fragment on the land he left,
The other fell into the troubled seas,
At which first rush'd Ajax Oiliades,
And split his ship, and then himself afloat
Swum on the rough waves of the world's vast mote, 690
Till having drunk a salt cup for his sin,
There perish'd he. Thy brother yet did win
The wreath from death, while in the waves they strove,
Afflicted by the reverend wife of Jove.
But when the steep mount of the Malian shore 695
He seem'd to reach, a most tempestuous blore,
Far to the fishy world that sighs so sore,
Straight ravish'd him again as far away,
As to th' extreme bounds where the Agrians stay,
Where first Thyestes dwelt, but then his son 700
Ægisthus Thyestiades lived. This done,
When his return untouch'd appear'd again,
Back turn'd the Gods the wind, and set him then
Hard by his house. Then, full of joy, he left
His ship, and close t' his country earth he cleft, 705
Kiss'd it, and wept for joy, pour'd tear on tear,
To set so wishedly his footing there.
But see, a sentinel that all the year
Crafty Ægisthus in a watchtower set
To spy his landing, for reward as great 710
As two gold talents, all his powers did call
To strict remembrance of his charge, and all
Discharged at first sight, which at first he cast
On Agamemnon, and with all his haste
Inform'd Ægisthus. He an instant train 715
Laid for his slaughter: Twenty chosen men
Of his plebeians he in ambush laid;
His other men he charged to see purvey'd
A feast; and forth, with horse and chariots graced,
He rode t' invite him, but in heart embraced 720
Horrible welcomes, and to death did bring,
With treacherous slaughter, the unwary king,
Received him at a feast, and, like an ox
Slain at his manger, gave him bits and knocks.
No one left of Atrides' train, nor one 725
Saved to Ægisthus, but himself alone,
All strew'd together there the bloody court.'
This said, my soul he sunk with his report,
Flat on the sands I fell, tears spent their store,
I light abhorr'd, my heart would live no more. 730
When dry of tears, and tired of tumbling there,
Th' old Tell-truth thus my daunted spirits did cheer:
'No more spend tears nor time, O Atreus' son,
With ceaseless weeping never wish was won.
Use uttermost assay to reach thy home, 735
And all unwares upon the murderer come,
For torture, taking him thyself alive;
Or let Orestes, that should far out-strive
Thee in fit vengeance, quickly quit the light
Of such a dark soul, and do thou the rite 740
Of burial to him with a funeral feast.'
With these last words I fortified my breast,
In which again a generous spring began
Of fitting comfort, as I was a man;
But, as a brother, I must ever mourn. 745
Yet forth I went, and told him the return
Of these I knew; but he had named a third,
Held on the broad sea, still with life inspired,
Whom I besought to know, though likewise dead,
And I must mourn alike. He answered: 750
'He is Laertes' son; whom I beheld
In nymph Calypso's palace, who compell'd
His stay with her, and, since he could not see
His country earth, he mourn'd incessantly.
For he had neither ship instruct with oars, 755
Nor men to fetch him from those stranger shores.
Where leave we him, and to thy self descend,
Whom not in Argos Fate nor Death shall end,
But the immortal ends of all the earth,
So ruled by them that order death by birth, 760
The fields Elysian, Fate to thee will give;
Where Rhadamanthus rules, and where men live
A never-troubled life, where snow, nor showers,
Nor irksome Winter spends his fruitless powers,
But from the ocean Zephyr still resumes 765
A constant breath, that all the fields perfumes.
Which, since thou marriedst Helen, are thy hire,
And Jove himself is by her side thy sire.'
This said; he dived the deepsome watery heaps;
I and my tried men took us to our ships, 770
And worlds of thoughts I varied with my steps.
Arrived and shipp'd, the silent solemn night
And sleep bereft us of our visual light.
At morn, masts, sails, rear'd, we sat, left the shores,
And beat the foamy ocean with our oars. 775
Again then we the Jove-fall'n flood did fetch,
As far as Ægypt; where we did beseech
The Gods with hecatombs; whose angers ceast,
I tomb'd my brother that I might be blest.
All rites perform'd, all haste I made for home, 780
And all the prosp'rous winds about were come,
I had the passport now of every God,
And here closed all these labours period.
Here stay then till th' eleventh or twelfth day's light,
And I'll dismiss thee well, gifts exquisite 785
Preparing for thee, chariot, horses three,
A cup of curious frame to serve for thee
To serve th' immortal Gods with sacrifice,
Mindful of me while all suns light thy skies."
He answer'd: "Stay me not too long time here, 790
Though I could sit attending all the year.
Nor should my house, nor parents, with desire,
Take my affections from you, so on fire
With love to hear you are my thoughts; but so
My Pylian friends I shall afflict with woe, 795
Who mourn even this stay. Whatsoever be
The gifts your grace is to bestow on me,
Vouchsafe them such as I may bear and save
For your sake ever. Horse, I list not have,
To keep in Ithaca, but leave them here, 800
To your soil's dainties, where the broad fields bear
Sweet cypers grass, where men-fed lote doth flow,
Where wheat-like spelt, and wheat itself, doth grow,
Where barley, white, and spreading like a tree;
But Ithaca hath neither ground to be, 805
For any length it comprehends, a race
To try a horse's speed, nor any place
To make him fat in; fitter far to feed
A cliff-bred goat, than raise or please a steed.
Of all isles, Ithaca doth least provide 810
Or meads to feed a horse, or ways to ride."
He, smiling, said: "Of good blood art thou, son.
What speech, so young! What observation
Hast thou made of the world! I well am pleased
To change my gifts to thee, as being confess'd 815
Unfit indeed, my store is such I may.
Of all my house-gifts then, that up I lay
For treasure there, I will bestow on thee
The fairest, and of greatest price to me.
I will bestow on thee a rich carv'd cup, 820
Of silver all, but all the brims wrought up
With finest gold; it was the only thing
That the heroical Sidonian king
Presented to me, when we were to part
At his receipt of me, and 'twas the art 825
Of that great Artist that of heaven is free;
And yet even this will I bestow on thee."
This speech thus ended, guests came, and did bring
Muttons, for presents, to the God-like king,
And spirit-prompting wine, that strenuous makes. 830
Their riband-wreathed wives brought fruit and cakes.
Thus in this house did these their feast apply;
And in Ulysses' house activity
The Wooers practised; tossing of the spear,
The stone, and hurling; thus delighted, where 835
They exercised such insolence before,
Even in the court that wealthy pavements wore.
Antinous did still their strifes decide,
And he that was in person deified
Eurymachus; both ring-leaders of all, 840
For in their virtues they were principal.
These by Noemon, son to Phronius,
Were sided now, who made the question thus:
"Antinous! Does any friend here know,
When this Telemachus returns, or no, 845
From sandy Pylos? He made bold to take
My ship with him; of which, I now should make
Fit use myself, and sail in her as far
As spacious Elis, where of mine there are
Twelve delicate mares, and under their sides go 850
Laborious mules, that yet did never know
The yoke, nor labour; some of which should bear
The taming now, if I could fetch them there."
This speech the rest admired, nor dream'd that he
Neleian Pylos ever thought to see, 855
But was at field about his flocks' survey,
Or thought his herdsmen held him so away.
Eupitheus son, Antinous, then replied:
"When went he, or with what train dignified?
Of his selected Ithacensian youth? 860
Prest men, or bond men, were they? Tell the truth.
Could he effect this? Let me truly know.
To gain thy vessel did he violence show,
And used her 'gainst thy will? or had her free,
When fitting question he had made with thee?" 865
Noemon answer'd: "I did freely give
My vessel to him. Who deserves to live
That would do other, when such men as he
Did in distress ask? He should churlish be
That would deny him. Of our youth the best 870
Amongst the people, to the interest
His charge did challenge in them, giving way,
With all the tribute all their powers could pay.
Their captain, as he took the ship, I knew,
Who Mentor was, or God. A Deity's shew 875
Mask'd in his likeness. But, to think 'twas he,
I much admire, for I did clearly see,
But yester-morning, God-like Mentor here;
Yet th' other evening he took shipping there,
And went for Pylos." Thus went he for home, 880
And left the rest with envy overcome;
Who sat, and pastime left. Eupitheus son,
Sad, and with rage his entrails overrun,
His eyes like flames, thus interposed his speech:
"Strange thing! An action of how proud a reach 885
Is here committed by Telemachus!
A boy, a child, and we, a sort of us,
Vow'd 'gainst his voyage, yet admit it thus!
With ship and choice youth of our people too!
But let him on, and all his mischief do, 890
Jove shall convert upon himself his powers,
Before their ill presum'd he brings on ours.
Provide me then a ship, and twenty men
To give her manage, that, against again
He turns for home, on th' Ithacensian seas, 895
Or cliffy Samian, I may interprease,
Way-lay, and take him, and make all his craft
Sail with his ruin for his father saft."
This all applauded, and gave charge to do,
Rose, and to greet Ulysses' house did go. 900
But long time past not, ere Penelope
Had notice of their far-fetch'd treachery.
Medon the herald told her, who had heard
Without the hall how they within conferr'd,
And hasted straight to tell it to the queen, 905
Who, from the entry having Medon seen,
Prevents him thus: "Now herald, what affair
Intend the famous Wooers, in your repair?
To tell Ulysses' maids that they must cease
From doing our work, and their banquets dress? 910
I would to heaven, that, leaving wooing me,
Nor ever troubling other company,
Here might the last feast be, and most extreme,
That ever any shall address for them.
They never meet but to consent in spoil, 915
And reap the free fruits of another's toil.
O did they never, when they children were,
What to their fathers was Ulysses, hear?
Who never did 'gainst any one proceed
With unjust usage, or in word or deed? 920
'Tis yet with other kings another right,
One to pursue with love, another spite;
He still yet just, nor would, though might, devour,
Nor to the worst did ever taste of power.
But their unrul'd acts show their minds' estate. 925
Good turns received once, thanks grow out of date."
Medon, the learn'd in wisdom, answer'd her:
"I wish, O queen, that their ingratitudes were
Their worst ill towards you; but worse by far,
And much more deadly, their endeavours are, 930
Which Jove will fail them in. Telemachus
Their purpose is, as he returns to us,
To give their sharp steels in a cruel death;
Who now is gone to learn, if fame can breathe
News of his sire, and will the Pylian shore, 935
And sacred Sparta, in his search explore."
This news dissolv'd to her both knees and heart,
Long silence held her ere one word would part,
Her eyes stood full of tears, her small soft voice
All late use lost; that yet at last had choice 940
Of wonted words, which briefly thus she used:
"Why left my son his mother? Why refused
His wit the solid shore, to try the seas,
And put in ships the trust of his distress,
That are at sea to men unbridled horse, 945
And run, past rule, their far-engaged course,
Amidst a moisture past all mean unstaid?
No need compell'd this. Did he it, afraid
To live and leave posterity his name?"
"I know not," he replied, "if th' humour came 950
From current of his own instinct, or flow'd
From others' instigations; but he vow'd
Attempt to Pylos, or to see descried
His sire's return, or know what death he died."
This said, he took him to Ulysses' house 955
After the Wooers; the Ulyssean spouse,
Run through with woes, let Torture seize her mind,
Nor in her choice of state chairs stood inclined
To take her seat, but th' abject threshold chose
Of her fair chamber for her loath'd repose, 960
And mourn'd most wretch-like. Round about her fell
Her handmaids, join'd in a continuate yell.
From every corner of the palace, all
Of all degrees tuned to her comfort's fall
Their own dejections; to whom her complaint 965
She thus enforc'd: "The Gods, beyond constraint
Of any measure, urge these tears on me;
Nor was there ever dame of my degree
So past degree grieved. First, a lord so good,
That had such hardy spirits in his blood, 970
That all the virtues was adorn'd withal,
That all the Greeks did their superior call,
To part with thus, and lose! And now a son,
So worthily belov'd, a course to run
Beyond my knowledge; whom rude tempests have 975
Made far from home his most inglorious grave!
Unhappy wenches, that no one of all
(Though in the reach of every one must fall
His taking ship) sustain'd the careful mind,
To call me from my bed, who this design'd 980
And most vow'd course in him had either stay'd,
How much soever hasted, or dead laid
He should have left me. Many a man I have,
That would have call'd old Dolius my slave,
(That keeps my orchard, whom my father gave 985
At my departure) to have run, and told
Laertes this; to try if he could hold
From running through the people, and from tears,
In telling them of these vow'd murderers;
That both divine Ulysses' hope, and his, 990
Resolv'd to end in their conspiracies."
His nurse then, Euryclea, made reply:
"Dear sovereign, let me with your own hands die,
Or cast me off here, I'll not keep from thee
One word of what I know. He trusted me 995
With all his purpose, and I gave him all
The bread and wine for which he pleased to call.
But then a mighty oath he made me swear,
Not to report it to your royal ear
Before the twelfth day either should appear, 1000
Or you should ask me when you heard him gone.
Impair not then your beauties with your moan,
But wash, and put untear-stain'd garments on,
Ascend your chamber with your ladies here,
And pray the seed of goat-nurs'd Jupiter, 1005
Divine Athenia, to preserve your son,
And she will save him from confusion.
Th' old king, to whom your hopes stand so inclin'd
For his grave counsels, you perhaps may find
Unfit affected, for his age's sake. 1010
But heaven-kings wax not old, and therefore make
Fit prayers to them; for my thoughts never will
Believe the heavenly Powers conceit so ill
The seed of righteous Arcesiades,
To end it utterly, but still will please 1015
In some place evermore some one of them
To save, and deck him with a diadem,
Give him possession of erected tow'rs,
And far-stretch'd fields, crown'd all of fruits and flow'rs."
This eas'd her heart, and dried her humorous eyes, 1020
When having wash'd, and weeds of sacrifice
Pure, and unstain'd with her distrustful tears,
Put on, with all her women-ministers
Up to a chamber of most height she rose,
And cakes of salt and barley did impose 1025
Within a wicker basket; all which broke
In decent order, thus she did invoke:
"Great Virgin of the goat-preserved God,
If ever the inhabited abode
Of wise Ulysses held the fatted thighs 1030
Of sheep and oxen, made thy sacrifice
By his devotion, hear me, nor forget
His pious services, but safe see set
His dear son on these shores, and banish hence
These Wooers past all mean in insolence." 1035
This said, she shriek'd, and Pallas heard her prayer.
The Wooers broke with tumult all the air
About the shady house; and one of them,
Whose pride his youth had made the more extreme,
Said: "Now the many-wooer-honour'd queen 1040
Will surely satiate her delayful spleen,
And one of us in instant nuptials take.
Poor dame, she dreams not, what design we make
Upon the life and slaughter of her son."
So said he; but so said was not so done; 1045
Whose arrogant spirit in a vaunt so vain
Antinous chid, and said: "For shame, contain
These braving speeches. Who can tell who hears?
Are we not now in reach of others' ears?
If our intentions please us, let us call 1050
Our spirits up to them, and let speeches fall.
By watchful danger men must silent go.
What we resolve on, let's not say, but do."
This said, he choos'd out twenty men, that bore
Best reckoning with him, and to ship and shore 1055
All hasted, reach'd the ship, launch'd, rais'd the mast,
Put sails in, and with leather loops made fast
The oars; sails hoisted, arms their men did bring,
All giving speed and form to everything.
Then to the high deeps their rigg'd vessel driven, 1060
They supp'd, expecting the approaching even.
Mean space, Penelope her chamber kept
And bed, and neither eat, nor drank, nor slept,
Her strong thoughts wrought so on her blameless son,
Still in contention, if he should be done 1065
To death, or 'scape the impious Wooers' design.
Look how a lion, whom men-troops combine
To hunt, and close him in a crafty ring,
Much varied thought conceives, and fear doth sting
For urgent danger; so fared she, till sleep, 1070
All juncture of her joints and nerves did steep
In his dissolving humour. When, at rest,
Pallas her favours varied, and addressed
An idol, that Iphthima did present
In structure of her every lineament, 1075
Great-soul'd Icarius' daughter, whom for spouse
Eumelus took, that kept in Pheris' house.
This to divine Ulysses' house she sent,
To try her best mean how she might content
Mournful Penelope, and make relent 1080
The strict addiction in her to deplore.
This idol, like a worm, that less or more
Contracts or strains her, did itself convey,
Beyond the wards or windings of the key,
Into the chamber, and, above her head 1085
Her seat assuming, thus she comforted
Distress'd Penelope: "Doth sleep thus seize
Thy powers, affected with so much dis-ease?
The Gods, that nothing troubles, will not see
Thy tears nor griefs, in any least degree, 1090
Sustain'd with cause, for they will guard thy son
Safe to his wish'd and native mansion,
Since he is no offender of their states,
And they to such are firmer than their fates."
The wise Penelope receiv'd her thus, 1095
Bound with a slumber most delicious,
And in the port of dreams: "O sister, why
Repair you hither, since so far off lie
Your house and household? You were never here
Before this hour, and would you now give cheer 1100
To my so many woes and miseries,
Affecting fitly all the faculties
My soul and mind hold, having lost before
A husband, that of all the virtues bore
The palm amongst the Greeks, and whose renown 1105
So ample was that Fame the sound hath blown
Through Greece and Argos to her very heart?
And now again, a son, that did convert
My whole powers to his love, by ship is gone;
A tender plant, that yet was never grown 1110
To labour's taste, nor the commerce of men;
For whom more than my husband I complain,
And lest he should at any suff'rance touch
(Or in the sea, or by the men so much
Estrang'd to him that must his consorts be) 1115
Fear and chill tremblings shake each joint of me.
Besides, his danger sets on foes profess'd
To way-lay his return, that have address'd
Plots for his death." The scarce-discerned Dream,
Said: "Be of comfort, nor fears so extreme 1120
Let thus dismay thee; thou hast such a mate
Attending thee, as some at any rate
Would wish to purchase, for her power is great;
Minerva pities thy delights' defeat,
Whose grace hath sent me to foretell thee these." 1125
"If thou," said she, "be of the Goddesses,
And heardst her tell thee these, thou mayst as well
From her tell all things else. Deign then to tell,
If yet the man to all misfortunes born,
My husband, lives, and sees the sun adorn 1130
The darksome earth, or hides his wretched head
In Pluto's house, and lives amongst the dead?"
"I will not," she replied, "my breath exhale
In one continued and perpetual tale,
Lives he or dies he. 'Tis a filthy use, 1135
To be in vain and idle speech profuse."
This said, she, through the key-hole of the door,
Vanish'd again into the open blore.
Icarius' daughter started from her sleep,
And Joy's fresh humour her lov'd breast did steep, 1140
When now so clear, in that first watch of night,
She saw the seen Dream vanish from her sight.
The Wooers' ship the sea's moist waves did ply,
And thought the prince a haughty death should die.
There lies a certain island in the sea, 1145
Twist rocky Samos and rough Ithaca,
That cliffy is itself, and nothing great,
Yet holds convenient havens that two ways let
Ships in and out, call'd Asteris; and there
The Wooers hoped to make their massacre. 1150
FINIS LIBRI QUARTI HOM. ODYSS.