Chapman, George, trans. (1559?1634). The Odysseys of Homer, vol. 1. 1857.
THE TENTH BOOK OF HOMER'S ODYSSEYS.
- ULYSSES now relates to us
- The grace he had with Æolus,
- Great Guardian of the hollow Winds;
- Which in a leather bag he binds,
- And gives Ulysses; all but one,
- Which Zephyr was, who fill'd alone
- Ulysses' sails. The bag once seen,
- While he slept, by Ulysses' men,
- They thinking it did gold enclose,
- To find it, all the winds did loose,
- Who back flew to their Guard again.
- Forth sail'd he; and did next attain
- To where the Læstrygonians dwell.
- Where he eleven ships lost, and fell
- On the Ææan coast, whose shore
- He sends Eurylochus t' explore,
- Dividing with him half his men.
- Who go, and turn no more again,
- All, save Eurylochus, to swine
- By Circe turn'd. Their stays incline
- Ulysses to their search; who got
- Of Mercury an antidote,
- Which moly was, 'gainst Circe's charms,
- And so avoids his soldiers' harms.
- A year with Circe all remain,
- And then their native forms regain.
- On utter shores a time they dwell,
- While Ithacus descends to hell.
- .... Great Æolus,
- And Circe, friends
- Finds Ithacus;
- And hell descends.
O the Æolian island we attain'd,
That swum about still on the sea, where reign'd
The God-lov'd Æolus Hippotades.
A wall of steel it had; and in the seas
A wave-beat-smooth rock moved about the wall. 5
Twelve children in his house imperial
Were born to him; of which six daughters were,
And six were sons, that youth's sweet flower did bear.
His daughters to his sons he gave as wives;
Who spent in feastful comforts all their lives, 10
Close seated by their sire and his grave spouse.
Past number were the dishes that the house
Made ever savour; and still full the hall
As long as day shined; in the night-time, all
Slept with their chaste wives, each his fair carved bed 15
Most richly furnish'd; and this life they led.
We reach'd the city and fair roofs of these,
Where, a whole month's time, all things that might please
The king vouchsafed us; of great Troy inquired,
The Grecian fleet, and how the Greeks retired. 20
To all which I gave answer as behoved.
The fit time come when I dismission moved,
He nothing would deny me, but address'd
My pass with such a bounty, as might best
Teach me contentment; for he did enfold 25
Within an ox-hide, flayed at nine years old,
All th' airy blasts that were of stormy kinds.
Saturnius made him Steward of his Winds,
And gave him power to raise and to assuage.
And these he gave me, curb'd thus of their rage, 30
Which in a glittering silver band I bound,
And hung up in my ship, enclosed so round
That no egression any breath could find;
Only he left abroad the Western Wind,
To speed our ships, and us with blasts secure. 35
But our securities made all unsure;
Nor could he consummate our course alone,
When all the rest had got egression;
Which thus succeeded: Nine whole days and nights
We sail'd in safety; and the tenth, the lights 40
Borne on our country earth we might descry,
So near we drew; and yet even then fell I,
Being overwatch'd, into a fatal sleep,
For I would suffer no man else to keep
The foot that ruled my vessel's course, to lead 45
The faster home. My friends then Envy fed
About the bag I hung up, and supposed
That gold and silver I had there enclosed,
As gift from Æolus, and said: 'O heaven!
What grace and grave price is by all men given 50
To our commander! Whatsoever coast
Or town he comes to, how much he engrost
Of fair and precious prey, and brought from Troy!
We the same voyage went, and yet enjoy
In our return these empty hands for all. 55
This bag, now, Æolus was so liberal
To make a guest-gift to him; let us try
Of what consists the fair-bound treasury,
And how much gold and silver it contains.'
Ill counsel present approbation gains. 60
They oped the bag, and out the vapours brake,
When instant tempest did our vessel take,
That bore us back to sea, to mourn anew
Our absent country. Up amazed I flew,
And desperate things discoursed; if I should cast 65
Myself to ruin in the seas, or taste
Amongst the living more moan, and sustain?
Silent, I did so, and lay hid again
Beneath the hatches, while an ill wind took
My ships back to Æolia, my men strook 70
With woe enough. We pump'd and landed then,
Took food, for all this; and of all my men
I took a herald to me, and away
Went to the court of Æolus, where they
Were feasting still; he, wife, and children, set 75
Together close. We would not at their meat
Thrust in; but humbly on the threshold sat.
He then, amazed, my presence wonder'd at,
And call'd to me: 'Ulysses! How thus back
Art thou arrived here? What foul spirit brake 80
Into thy bosom, to retire thee thus?
We thought we had deduction curious
Given thee before, to reach thy shore and home;
Did it not like thee?' I, even overcome
With worthy sorrow, answer'd: 'My ill men 85
Have done me mischief, and to them hath been
My sleep th' unhappy motive; but do you,
Dearest of friends, deign succour to my vow.
Your powers command it.' Thus endeavour'd I
With soft speech to repair my misery. 90
The rest with ruth sat dumb. But thus spake he:
'Avaunt, and quickly quit my land of thee,
Thou worst of all that breathe. It fits not me
To convoy, and take in, whom Heavens expose.
Away, and with thee go the worst of woes, 95
That seek'st my friendship, and the Gods thy foes.'
Thus he dismiss'd me sighing. Forth we sail'd,
At heart afflicted. And now wholly fail'd
The minds my men sustain'd, so spent they were
With toiling at their oars, and worse did bear 100
Their growing labours; and they caused their grought
By self-will'd follies; nor now ever thought
To see their country more. Six nights and days
We sail'd; the seventh we saw fair Lamos raise
Her lofty towers, the Læstrigonian state 105
That bears her ports so far disterminate;
Where shepherd shepherd calls out, he at home
Is call'd out by the other that doth come
From charge abroad, and then goes he to sleep,
The other issuing; he whose turn doth keep 110
The night observance hath his double hire,
Since day and night in equal length expire
About that region, and the night's watch weigh'd
At twice the day's ward, since the charge that's laid
Upon the nights-man (besides breach of sleep) 115
Exceeds the days-man's; for one oxen keep,
The other sheep. But when the haven we found,
(Exceeding famous, and environ'd round
With one continuate rock, which so much bent
That both ends almost met, so prominent 120
They were, and made the haven's mouth passing strait)
Our whole fleet in we got; in whole receit
Our ships lay anchor'd close. Nor needed we
Fear harm on any stays, Tranquillity
So purely sat there, that waves great nor small 125
Did ever rise to any height at all.
And yet would I no entry make, but stay'd
Alone without the haven, and thence survey'd,
From out a lofty watch-tower raised there,
The country round about; nor anywhere 130
The work of man or beast appear'd to me,
Only a smoke from earth break I might see.
I then made choice of two, and added more,
A herald for associate, to explore
What sort of men lived there. They went, and saw 135
A beaten way, through which carts used to draw
Wood from the high hills to the town, and met
A maid without the port, about to get
Some near spring-water. She the daughter was
Of mighty Læstrigonian Antiphas, 140
And to the clear spring call'd Artacia went,
To which the whole town for their water sent.
To her they came, and ask'd who govern'd there,
And what the people whom he order'd were?
She answer'd not, but led them through the port, 145
As making haste to show her father's court.
Where enter'd, they beheld, to their affright,
A woman like a mountain-top in height,
Who rush'd abroad, and from the counsel place
Call'd home her horrid husband Antiphas. 150
Who, deadly minded, straight he snatch'd up one,
And fell to supper. Both the rest were gone;
And to the fleet came. Antiphas a cry
Drave through the city; which heard, instantly
This way and that innumerable sorts, 155
Not men, but giants, issued through the ports,
And mighty flints from rocks tore, which they threw
Amongst our ships; through which an ill noise flew
Of shiver'd ships, and life-expiring men,
That were, like fishes, by the monsters slain, 160
And borne to sad feast. While they slaughter'd these,
That were engaged in all th' advantages
The close-mouth'd and most dead-calm haven could give,
I, that without lay, made some means to live,
My sword drew, cut my gables, and to oars 165
Set all my men; and, from the plagues those shores
Let fly amongst us, we made haste to fly,
My men close working as men loth to die.
My ship flew freely off; but theirs that lay
On heaps in harbours could enforce no way 170
Through these stern fates that had engaged them there.
Forth our sad remnant sail'd, yet still retain'd
The joys of men, that our poor few remain'd.
Then to the isle Ææa we attain'd,
Where fair-hair'd, dreadful, eloquent Circe reign'd, 175
Ææta's sister both by dame and sire,
Both daughters to Heaven's man-enlightning Fire,
And Perse, whom Oceanus begat.
The ship-fit port here soon we landed at,
Some God directing us. Two days, two nights, 180
We lay here pining in the fatal spights
Of toil and sorrow; but the next third day
When fair Aurora had inform'd, quick way
I made out of my ship, my sword and lance
Took for my surer guide, and made advance 185
Up to a prospect; I assay to see
The works of men, or hear mortality
Expire a voice. When I had climb'd a height,
Rough and right hardly accessible, I might
Behold from Circe's house, that in a grove 190
Set thick with trees stood, a bright vapour move.
I then grew curious in my thought to try
Some fit inquiry, when so spritely fly
I saw the yellow smoke; but my discourse
A first retiring to my ship gave force, 195
To give my men their dinner, and to send
(Before th' adventure of myself) some friend.
Being near my ship, of one so desolate
Some God had pity, and would recreate
My woes a little, putting up to me 200
A great and high-palm'd hart, that (fatally,
Just in my way, itself to taste a flood)
Was then descending; the sun heat had sure
Importuned him, besides the temperature
His natural heat gave. Howsoever, I 205
Made up to him, and let my javelin fly,
That struck him through the mid-part of his chine,
And made him, braying, in the dust confine
His flying forces. Forth his spirit flew;
When I stept in, and from the death's wound drew 210
My shrewdly-bitten lance; there let him lie
Till I, of cut-up osiers, did imply
A withe a fathom long, with which his feet
I made together in a sure league meet,
Stoop'd under him, and to my neck I heaved 215
The mighty burden, of which I received
A good part on my lance, for else I could
By no means with one hand alone uphold
(Join'd with one shoulder) such a deathful load.
And so, to both my shoulders, both hands stood 220
Needful assistants; for it was a deer
Goodly-well-grown. When (coming something near
Where rode my ships) I cast it down, and rear'd
My friends with kind words; whom by name I cheer'd,
In note particular, and said: 'See friends, 225
We will not yet to Pluto's house; our ends
Shall not be hasten'd, though we be declined
In cause of comfort, till the day designed
By Fate's fix'd finger. Come, as long as food
Or wine lasts in our ship, let's spirit our blood, 230
And quit our care and hunger both in one.'
This said, they frolick'd, came, and look'd upon
With admiration the huge-bodied beast;
And when their first-served eyes had done their feast,
They wash'd, and made a to-be-strived-for meal 235
In point of honour. On which all did dwell
The whole day long. And, to our venison's store,
We added wine till we could wish no more.
Sun set, and darkness up, we slept, till light
Put darkness down; and then did I excite 240
My friends to counsel, uttering this: 'Now, friends,
Afford unpassionate ear; though ill Fate lends
So good cause to your passion, no man knows
The reason whence and how the darkness grows;
The reason how the morn is thus begun; 245
The reason how the man-enlight'ning sun
Dives under earth; the reason how again
He rears his golden head. Those counsels, then,
That pass our comprehension, we must leave
To him that knows their causes; and receive 250
Direction from him in our acts, as far
As he shall please to make them regular,
And stoop them to our reason. In our state
What then behoves us? Can we estimate,
With all our counsels, where we are? Or know 255
(Without instruction, past our own skills) how,
Put off from hence, to steer our course the more?
I think we cannot. We must then explore
These parts for information; in which way
We thus far are: Last morn I might display 260
(From off a high-rais'd cliff) an island lie
Girt with th' unmeasured sea, and is so nigh
That in the midst I saw the smoke arise
Through tufts of trees. This rests then to advise,
Who shall explore this?' This struck dead their hearts, 265
Rememb'ring the most execrable parts
That Læstrigonian Antiphas had play'd,
And that foul Cyclop that their fellows bray'd
Betwixt his jaws; which moved them so, they cried.
But idle tears had never wants supplied. 270
I in two parts divided all, and gave
To either part his captain. I must have
The charge of one; and one of God-like look,
Eurylochus, the other. Lots we shook,
Put in a casque together, which of us 275
Should lead th' attempt; and 'twas Eurylochus.
He freely went, with two and twenty more;
All which took leave with tears; and our eyes wore
The same wet badge of weak humanity.
These in a dale did Circe's house descry, 280
Of bright stone built, in a conspicuous way.
Before her gates hill-wolves, and lions, lay;
Which with her virtuous drugs so tame she made,
That wolf nor lion would one man invade
With any violence, but all arose, 285
Their huge long tails wagg'd, and in fawns would close,
As loving dogs, when masters bring them home
Relics of feast, in all observance come,
And soothe their entries with their fawns and bounds,
All guests still bringing some scraps for their hounds; 290
So, on these men, the wolves and lions ramp'd,
Their horrid paws set up. Their spirits were damp'd
To see such monstrous kindness, stay'd at gate,
And heard within the Goddess elevate
A voice divine, as at her web she wrought, 295
Subtle, and glorious, and past earthly thought,
As all the housewiferies of Deities are.
To hear a voice so ravishingly rare,
Polites (one exceeding dear to me,
A prince of men, and of no mean degree 300
In knowing virtue, in all acts whose mind
Discreet cares all ways used to turn, and wind)
Was yet surprised with it, and said: 'O friends,
Some one abides within here, that commends
The place to us, and breathes a voice divine, 305
As she some web wrought, or her spindle's twine
She cherish'd with her song; the pavement rings
With imitation of the tunes she sings.
Some woman, or some Goddess, 'tis. Assay
To see with knocking.' Thus said he, and they 310
Both knock'd, and call'd; and straight her shining gates
She open'd, issuing, bade them in to cates.
Led, and unwise, they follow'd; all but one,
Which was Eurylochus, who stood alone
Without the gates, suspicious of a sleight. 315
They enter'd, she made sit; and her deceit
She cloak'd with thrones, and goodly chairs of state;
Set herby honey, and the delicate
Wine brought from Smyrna, to them; meal and cheese;
But harmful venoms she commix'd with these, 320
That made their country vanish from their thought.
Which eat, she touch'd them with a rod that wrought
Their transformation far past human wonts;
Swine's snouts, swine's bodies, took they, bristles, grunts,
But still retain'd the souls they had before, 325
Which made them mourn their bodies' change the more.
She shut them straight in sties, and gave them meat,
Oak-mast, and beech, and cornel fruit, they eat,
Grovelling like swine on earth, in foulest sort.
Eurylochus straight hasted the report 330
Of this his fellows' most remorseful fate,
Came to the ships, but so excruciate
Was with his woe, he could not speak a word,
His eyes stood full of tears, which show'd how stored
His mind with moan remain'd. We all admired, 335
Ask'd what had chanced him, earnestly desired
He would resolve us. At the last, our eyes
Enflamed in him his fellows' memories,
And out his grief burst thus: 'You will'd; we went
Through those thick woods you saw; when a descent 340
Show'd us a fair house, in a lightsome ground,
Where, at some work, we heard a heavenly sound
Breathed from a Goddess', or a woman's, breast.
They knock'd, she oped her bright gates; each her guest
Her fair invitement made; nor would they stay, 345
Fools that they were, when she once led the way.
I enter'd not, suspecting some deceit.
When all together vanish'd, nor the sight
Of any one (though long I look'd) mine eye
Could any way discover.' Instantly, 350
My sword and bow reach'd, I bad show the place,
When down he fell, did both my knees embrace,
And pray'd with tears thus: 'O thou kept of God,
Do not thyself lose, nor to that abode
Lead others rashly; both thyself, and all 355
Thou ventur'st thither, I know well, must fall
In one sure ruin. With these few then fly;
We yet may shun the others' destiny.'
I answer'd him: 'Eurylochus! Stay thou,
And keep the ship then, eat and drink; I now 360
Will undertake th' adventure; there is cause
In great Necessity's unalter'd laws.'
This said, I left both ship and seas, and on
Along the sacred valleys all alone
Went in discovery, till at last I came 365
Where of the main-medicine-making Dame
I saw the great house; where encounter'd me,
The golden-rod-sustaining Mercury,
Even entering Circe's doors. He met me in
A young man's likeness, of the first-flower'd chin, 370
Whose form hath all the grace of one so young.
He first call'd to me, then my hand he wrung,
And said: 'Thou no-place-finding-for-repose,
Whither, alone, by these hill-confines, goes
Thy erring foot? Th' art entering Circe's house, 375
Where, by her med'cines, black, and sorcerous,
Thy soldiers all are shut in well-arm'd sties,
And turn'd to swine. Art thou arrived with prize
Fit for their ransoms? Thou com'st out no more,
If once thou ent'rest, like thy men before 380
Made to remain here. But I'll guard thee free,
And save thee in her spite. Receive of me
This fair and good receipt; with which once arm'd,
Enter her roofs, for th' art to all proof charm'd
Against the ill day. I will tell thee all 385
Her baneful counsel: With a festival
She'll first receive thee, but will spice thy bread
With flowery poisons; yet unaltered
Shall thy firm form be, for this remedy
Stands most approved 'gainst all her sorcery, 390
Which thus particularly shun: When she
Shall with her long rod strike thee, instantly
Draw from thy thigh thy sword, and fly on her
As to her slaughter. She, surprised with fear
And love, at first, will bid thee to her bed. 395
Nor say the Goddess nay, that welcomed
Thou may'st with all respect be, and procure
Thy fellows' freedoms. But before, make sure
Her favours to thee; and the great oath take
With which the blessed Gods assurance make 400
Of all they promise; that no prejudice
(By stripping thee of form, and faculties)
She may so much as once attempt on thee.'
This said, he gave his antidote to me,
Which from the earth he pluck'd, and told me all 405
The virtue of it, with what Deities call
The name it bears; and Moly they impose
For name to it. The root is hard to loose
From hold of earth by mortals; but God's power
Can all things do. 'Tis black, but bears a flower 410
As white as milk. And thus flew Mercury
Up to immense Olympus, gliding by
The sylvan island. I made back my way
To Circe's house, my mind of my assay
Much thought revolving. At her gates I stay'd 415
And call'd; she heard, and her bright doors display'd,
Invited, led; I follow'd in, but traced
With some distraction. In a throne she placed
My welcome person; of a curious frame
'Twas, and so bright I sat as in a flame; 420
A foot-stool added. In a golden bowl
She then suborn'd a potion, in her soul
Deform'd things thinking; for amidst the wine
She mix'd her man-transforming medicine;
Which when she saw I had devour'd, she then 425
No more observ'd me with her soothing vein,
But struck me with her rod, and to her sty
Bad, out, away, and with thy fellows lie.
I drew my sword, and charged her, as I meant
To take her life. When out she cried, and bent 430
Beneath my sword her knees, embracing mine,
And, full of tears, said: 'Who? Of what high line
Art thou the issue? Whence? What shores sustain
Thy native city? I amazed remain
That, drinking these my venoms, th' art not turn'd. 435
Never drunk any this cup but he mourn'd
In other likeness, if it once had pass'd
The ivory bounders of his tongue and taste.
All but thyself are brutishly declined.
Thy breast holds firm yet, and unchanged thy mind. 440
Thou canst be therefore none else but the man
Of many virtues, Ithacensian,
Deep-soul'd, Ulysses, who, I oft was told,
By that sly God that bears the rod of gold,
Was to arrive here in retreat from Troy. 445
Sheathe then thy sword, and let my bed enjoy
So much a man, that when the bed we prove,
We may believe in one another's love.'
I then: 'O Circe, why entreat'st thou me
To mix in any human league with thee, 450
When thou my friends hast beasts turn'd; and thy bed
Tender'st to me, that I might likewise lead
A beast's life with thee, soften'd, naked stripp'd,
That in my blood thy banes may more be steep'd?
I never will ascend thy bed, before, 455
I may affirm, that in heaven's sight you swore
The great oath of the Gods, that all attempt
To do me ill is from your thoughts exempt.'
I said, she swore, when, all the oath-rites said,
I then ascended her adorned bed, 460
But thus prepared: Four handmaids served her there,
That daughters to her silver fountains were,
To her bright-sea-observing sacred floods,
And to her uncut consecrated woods.
One deck'd the throne-tops with rich cloths of state, 465
And did with silks the foot-pace consecrate.
Another silver tables set before
The pompous throne, and golden dishes' store
Served in with several feast. A third fill'd wine.
The fourth brought water, and made fuel shine 470
In ruddy fires beneath a womb of brass.
Which heat, I bath'd; and odorous water was
Disperpled lightly on my head and neck,
That might my late heart-hurting sorrows check
With the refreshing sweetness; and, for that, 475
Men sometimes may be something delicate.
Bath'd, and adorn'd, she led me to a throne
Of massy silver, and of fashion
Exceeding curious. A fair foot-stool set,
Water apposed, and every sort of meat 480
Set on th' elaborately-polish'd board,
She wish'd my taste employ'd; but not a word
Would my ears taste of taste; my mind had food
That must digest; eye meat would do me good.
Circe (observing that I put no hand 485
To any banquet, having countermand
From weightier cares the light cates could excuse)
Bowing her near me, these wing'd words did use:
'Why sits Ulysses like one dumb, his mind
Lessening with languors? Nor to food inclin'd, 490
Nor wine? Whence comes it? Out of any fear
Of more illusion? You must needs forbear
That wrongful doubt, since you have heard me swear.'
'O Circe!' I replied, 'what man is he,
Awed with the rights of true humanity, 495
That dares taste food or wine, before he sees
His friends redeem'd from their deformities?
If you be gentle, and indeed incline
To let me taste the comfort of your wine,
Dissolve the charms that their forced forms enchain, 500
And show me here my honour'd friends like men.'
This said, she left her throne, and took her rod,
Went to her sty, and let my men abroad,
Like swine of nine years old. They opposite stood,
Observed their brutish form, and look'd for food; 505
When, with another medicine, every one
All over smear'd, their bristles all were gone,
Produced by malice of the other bane,
And every one, afresh, look'd up a man,
Both younger than they were, of stature more, 510
And all their forms much goodlier than before.
All knew me, cling'd about me, and a cry
Of pleasing mourning flew about so high
The horrid roof resounded; and the queen
Herself was moved to see our kind so keen, 515
Who bad me now bring ship and men ashore,
Our arms, and goods in caves hid, and restore
Myself to her, with all my other men.
I granted, went, and oped the weeping vein
In all my men; whose violent joy to see 520
My safe return was passing kindly free
Of friendly tears, and miserably wept.
You have not seen young heifers (highly kept,
Fill'd full of daisies at the field, and driven
Home to their hovels, all so spritely given 525
That no room can contain them, but about
Bace by the dams, and let their spirits out
In ceaseless bleating) of more jocund plight
Than my kind friends, even crying out with sight
Of my return so doubted; circled me 530
With all their welcomes, and as cheerfully
Disposed their rapt minds, as if there they saw
Their natural country, cliffy Ithaca,
And even the roofs where they were bred and born,
And vow'd as much, with tears: 'O your return 535
As much delights us as in you had come
Our country to us, and our natural home.
But what unhappy fate hath reft our friends?'
I gave unlook'd for answer, that amends
Made for their mourning, bad them first of all 540
Our ship ashore draw, then in caverns stall
Our foody cattle, hide our mutual prize,
'And then,' said I, 'attend me, that your eyes,
In Circe's sacred house, may see each friend
Eating and drinking banquets out of end.' 545
They soon obey'd; all but Eurylochus,
Who needs would stay them all, and counsell'd thus:
'O wretches! whither will ye? Why are you
Fond of your mischiefs, and such gladness show
For Circe's house, that will transform ye all 550
To swine, or wolves, or lions? Never shall
Our heads get out, if once within we be,
But stay compell'd by strong necessity.
So wrought the Cyclop, when t' his cave our friends
This bold one led on, and brought all their ends 555
By his one indiscretion. I for this
Thought with my sword (that desperate head of his
Hewn from his neck) to gash upon the ground
His mangled body, though my blood was bound
In near alliance to him. But the rest 560
With humble suit contain'd me, and request,
That I would leave him with my ship alone,
And to the sacred palace lead them on.'
I led them; nor Eurylochus would stay
From their attendance on me, our late fray 565
Struck to his heart so. But mean time, my men,
In Circe's house, were all, in several bain,
Studiously sweeten'd, smug'd with oil, and deck'd
With in and out weeds, and a feast secret
Served in before them; at which close we found 570
They all were set, cheer'd, and carousing round.
When mutual sight had, and all thought on, then
Feast was forgotten, and the moan again
About the house flew, driven with wings of joy.
But then spake Circe: ' Now, no more annoy. 575
I know myself what woes by sea, and shore,
And men unjust have plagued enough before
Your injured virtues. Here then feast as long,
And be as cheerful, till ye grow as strong
As when ye first forsook your country earth. 580
Ye now fare all like exiles; not a mirth,
Flash'd in amongst ye, but is quench'd again
With still-renew'd tears, though the beaten vein
Of your distresses should, methink, be now
Benumb with suff'rance.' We did well allow 585
Her kind persuasions, and the whole year stay'd
In varied feast with her. When, now array'd
The world was with the spring, and orby hours
Had gone the round again through herbs and flowers,
The months absolved in order, till the days 590
Had run their full race in Apollo's rays,
My friends remember'd me of home, and said,
If ever fate would sign my pass, delay'd
It should be now no more. I heard them well,
Yet that day spent in feast, till darkness fell, 595
And sleep his virtues through our vapours shed.
When I ascended sacred Circe's bed,
Implored my pass, and her performed vow
Which now my soul urged, and my soldiers now
Afflicted me with tears to get them gone. 600
All these I told her, and she answer'd these:
'Much skill'd Ulysses Laertiades!
Remain no more against your wills with me,
But take your free way; only this must be
Perform'd before you steer your course for home: 605
You must the way to Pluto overcome,
And stern Persephone, to form your pass,
By th' aged Theban soul Tiresias,
The dark-brow'd prophet, whose soul yet can see
Clearly, and firmly; grave Persephone, 610
Even dead, gave him a mind, that he alone
Might sing truth's solid wisdom, and not one
Prove more than shade in his comparison.'
This broke my heart; I sunk into my bed,
Mourn'd, and would never more be comforted 615
With light, nor life. But having now express'd
My pains enough to her in my unrest,
That so I might prepare her ruth, and get
All I held fit for an affair so great,
I said: 'O Circe, who shall steer my course 620
To Pluto's kingdom? Never ship had force
To make that voyage.' The divine-in-voice
Said: 'Seek no guide, raise you your mast, and hoise
Your ship's white sails, and then sit you at peace,
The fresh North Spirit shall waft ye through the seas. 625
But, having past the ocean, you shall see
A little shore, that to Persephone
Puts up a consecrated wood, where grows
Tall firs, and sallows that their fruits soon loose.
Cast anchor in the gulfs, and go alone 630
To Pluto's dark house, where, to Acheron
Cocytus' runs, and Pyriphlegethon,
Cocytus born of Styx, and where a rock
Of both the met floods bears the roaring shock.
The dark heroe, great Tiresias, 635
Now coming near, to gain propitious pass,
Dig of a cubit every way a pit,
And pour to all that are deceas'd in it
A solemn sacrifice. For which, first take
Honey and wine, and their commixtion make; 640
Then sweet wine neat; and thirdly water pour;
And lastly add to these the whitest flour.
Then vow to all the weak necks of the dead
Offerings a number; and, when thou shalt tread
The Ithacensian shore, to sacrifice 645
A heifer never-tamed, and most of prize,
A pile of all thy most esteemed goods
Enflaming to the dear streams of their bloods;
And, in secret rites, to Tiresias vow
A ram coal-black at all parts, that doth flow 650
With fat and fleece, and all thy flocks doth lead.
When the all-calling nation of the dead
Thou thus hast pray'd to, offer on the place
A ram and ewe all black; being turn'd in face
To dreadful Erebus, thyself aside 655
The flood's shore walking. And then, gratified
With flocks of souls of men and dames deceas'd
Shall all thy pious rites be. Straight address'd
See then the offering that thy fellows slew,
Flay'd, and imposed in fire; and all thy crew 660
Pray to the state of either Deity,
Grave Pluto, and severe Persephone.
Then draw thy sword, stand firm, nor suffer one
Of all the faint shades of the dead and gone
T' approach the blood, till thou hast heard their king, 665
The wise Tiresias; who thy offering
Will instantly do honour, thy home ways,
And all the measure of them by the seas,
Amply unfolding.' This the Goddess, told;
And then the Morning in her throne of gold 670
Survey'd the vast world; by whose orient light
The Nymph adorn'd me with attires as bright,
Her own hands putting on both shirt and weed,
Robes fine, and curious, and upon my head
An ornament that glitter'd like a flame, 675
Girt me in gold; and forth betimes I came
Amongst my soldiers, roused them all from sleep,
And bad them now no more observance keep
Of ease, and feast, but straight a-shipboard fall,
For now the Goddess had inform'd me all. 680
Their noble spirits agreed; nor yet so clear
Could I bring all off, but Elpenor there
His heedless life left. He was youngest man
Of all my company, and one that wan
Least fame for arms, as little for his brain; 685
Who (too much steep'd in wine, and so made fain
To get refreshing by the cool of sleep,
Apart his fellows, plunged in vapours deep,
And they as high in tumult of their way)
Suddenly waked and (quite out of the stay 690
A sober mind had given him) would descend
A huge long ladder, forward, and an end
Fell from the very roof, full pitching on
The dearest joint his head was placed upon,
Which, quite dissolved, let loose his soul to hell. 695
I to the rest, and Circe's means did tell
Of our return, as crossing clean the hope
I gave them first, and said: 'You think the scope
Of our endeavours now is straight for home;
No; Circe otherwise design'd, whose doom 700
Enjoin'd us first to greet the dreadful house
Of austere Pluto and his glorious spouse,
To take the counsel of Tiresias,
The reverend Theban, to direct our pass.'
This brake their hearts, and grief made tear their hair. 705
But grief was never good at great affair;
It would have way yet. We went woful on
To ship and shore, where was arrived as soon
Circe unseen, a black ewe and a ram
Binding for sacrifice, and, as she came, 710
Vanish'd again unwitness'd by our eyes;
Which grieved not us, nor check'd our sacrifice,
For who would see God, loath to let us see,
This way, or that bent; still his ways are free.
FINIS DECIMI LIBRI HOM. ODYSS.