Chapman, George, trans. (1559?1634). The Odysseys of Homer, vol. 1. 1857.
THE ELEVENTH BOOK OF HOMER'S ODYSSEYS.
- ULYSSES' way to Hell appears;
- Where he the grave Tiresias hears;
- Enquires his own and others' fates;
- His mother sees, and th' after states
- In which were held by sad decease
- Heroes, and Heroesses,
- A number, that at Troy waged war;
- As Ajax that was still at jar
- With Ithacus, for th' arms he lost;
- And with the great Achilles' ghost.
- .... Ulysses here
- Invokes the dead.
- The lives appear
- Hereafter led.
RRIVED now at our ship, we launch'd, and set
Our mast up, put forth sail, and in did get
Our late-got cattle. Up our sails, we went,
My wayward fellows mourning now th' event.
A good companion yet, a foreright wind, 5
Circe (the excellent utterer of her mind)
Supplied our murmuring consorts with, that was
Both speed and guide to our adventurous pass.
All day our sails stood to the winds, and made
Our voyage prosp'rous. Sun then set, and shade 10
All ways obscuring, on the bounds we fell
Of deep Oceanus, where people dwell
Whom a perpetual cloud obscures outright,
To whom the cheerful sun lends never light,
Nor when he mounts the star-sustaining heaven, 15
Nor when he stoops earth, and sets up the even,
But night holds fix'd wings, feather'd all with banes,
Above those most unblest Cimmerians.
Here drew we up our ship, our sheep withdrew,
And walk'd the shore till we attain'd the view 20
Of that sad region Circe had foreshow'd;
And then the sacred offerings to be vow'd
Eurylochus and Persimedes bore.
When I my sword drew, and earth's womb did gore
Till I a pit digg'd of a cubit round, 25
Which with the liquid sacrifice we crown'd,
First honey mix'd with wine, then sweet wine neat,
Then water pour'd in, last the flour of wheat.
Much I importuned then the weak-neck'd dead,
And vow'd, when I the barren soil should tread 30
Of cliffy Ithaca, amidst my hall
To kill a heifer, my clear best of all,
And give in off'ring, on a pile composed
Of all the choice goods my whole house enclosed.
And to Tiresias himself, alone, 35
A sheep coal-black, and the selectest one
Of all my flocks. When to the Powers beneath,
The sacred nation that survive with death,
My prayers and vows had done devotions fit,
I took the off'rings, and upon the pit 40
Bereft their lives. Out gush'd the sable blood,
And round about me fled out of the flood
The souls of the deceas'd. There cluster'd then
Youths, and their wives, much-suffering aged men,
Soft tender virgins that but new came there 45
By timeless death, and green their sorrows were.
There men at arms, with armours all embrew'd,
Wounded with lances, and with faulchions hew'd,
In numbers, up and down the ditch, did stalk,
And threw unmeasured cries about their walk, 50
So horrid that a bloodless fear surprised
My daunted spirits. Straight then I advised
My friends to flay the slaughter'd sacrifice,
Put them in fire, and to the Deities,
Stern Pluto and Persephone, apply 55
Exciteful prayers. Then drew I from my thigh
My well-edged sword, stept in, and firmly stood
Betwixt the prease of shadows and the blood,
And would not suffer any one to dip
Within our offering his unsolid lip, 60
Before Tiresias that did all controul.
The first that press'd in was Elpenor's soul,
His body in the broad-way'd earth as yet
Unmourn'd, unburied by us, since we swet
With other urgent labours. Yet his smart 65
I wept to see, and rued it from my heart,
Enquiring how he could before me be
That came by ship? He, mourning, answer'd me:
'In Circe's house, the spite some spirit did bear,
And the unspeakable good liquor there, 70
Hath been my bane; for, being to descend
A ladder much in height, I did not tend
My way well down, but forwards made a proof
To tread the rounds, and from the very roof
Fell on my neck, and brake it; and this made 75
My soul thus visit this infernal shade.
And here, by them that next thyself are dear,
Thy wife, and father, that a little one
Gave food to thee, and by thy only son
At home behind thee left, Telemachus, 80
Do not depart by stealth, and leave me thus,
Unmourn'd, unburied, lest neglected I
Bring on thyself th' incensed Deity.
I know that, sail'd from hence, thy ship must touch
On th' isle Ææa; where vouchsafe thus much, 85
Good king, that, landed, thou wilt instantly
Bestow on me thy royal memory
To this grace, that my body, arms and all,
May rest consumed in fiery funeral;
And on the foamy shore a sepulchre 90
Erect to me, that after times may hear
Of one so hapless. Let me these implore,
And fix upon my sepulchre the oar
With which alive I shook the aged seas,
And had of friends the dear societies.' 95
I told the wretched soul I would fulfill
And execute to th' utmost point his will;
And, all the time we sadly talk'd, I still
My sword above the blood held, when aside
The idol of my friend still amplified 100
His plaint, as up and down the shades he err'd.
Then my deceased mother's soul appear'd,
Fair daughter of Autolycus, the great,
Grave Anticlæa, whom, when forth I set
For sacred Ilion, I had left alive. 105
Her sight much moved me, and to tears did drive
My note of her decease; and yet not she
(Though in my ruth she held the highest degree)
Would I admit to touch the sacred blood,
Till from Tiresias I had understood 110
What Circe told me. At the length did land
Theban Tiresias' soul, and in his hand
Sustain'd a golden sceptre, knew me well,
And said: 'O man unhappy, why to hell
Admitt'st thou dark arrival, and the light 115
The sun gives leav'st, to have the horrid sight
Of this black region, and the shadows here?
Now sheathe thy sharp sword, and the pit forbear,
That I the blood may taste, and then relate
The truth of those acts that affect thy fate.' 120
I sheath'd my sword, and left the pit, till he,
The black blood tasting, thus instructed me:
'Renown'd Ulysses! All unask'd I know
That all the cause of thy arrival now
Is to enquire thy wish'd retreat for home; 125
Which hardly God will let thee overcome,
Since Neptune still will his opposure try,
With all his laid-up anger, for the eye
His loved son lost to thee. And yet through all
Thy suffering course (which must be capital) 130
If both thine own affections, and thy friends,
Thou wilt contain, when thy access ascends
The three-fork'd island, having 'scaped the seas,
Where ye shall find fed on the flowery leas
Fat flocks, and oxen, which the sun doth own, 135
To whom are all things as well heard as shown,
And never dare one head of those to slay,
But hold unharmful on your wished way,
Though through enough affliction, yet secure
Your Fates shall land ye; but presage says sure, 140
If once ye spoil them, spoil to all thy friends,
Spoil to thy fleet, and if the justice ends
Short of thyself, it shall be long before,
And that length forced out with infliction's store,
When, losing all thy fellows, in a sail 145
Of foreign built (when most thy Fates prevail
In thy deliv'rance) thus th' event shall sort:
Thou shalt find shipwrack raging in thy port,
Proud men thy goods consuming, and thy wife
Urging with gifts; give charge upon thy life. 150
But all these wrongs revenge shall end to thee,
And force, or cunning, set with slaughter free
Thy house of all thy spoilers. Yet again
Thou shalt a voyage make, and come to men
That know no sea, nor ships, nor oars that are 155
Wings to a ship, nor mix with any fare
Salt's savoury vapour. Where thou first shalt land,
This clear-given sign shall let thee understand,
That there those men remain: Assume ashore
Up to thy royal shoulder a ship oar, 160
With which, when thou shalt meet one on the way
That will in county admiration say
What dost thou with that wan upon thy neck?
There fix that wan thy oar, and that shore deck
With sacred rites to Neptune; slaughter there 165
A ram, a bull, and (who for strength doth bear
The name of husband to a herd) a boar.
And, coming home, upon thy natural shore,
Give pious hecatombs to all the Gods,
Degrees observed. And then the periods 170
Of all thy labours in the peace shall end
Of easy death; which shall the less extend
His passion to thee, that thy foe, the Sea,
Shall not enforce it, but Death's victory
Shall chance in only-earnest-pray-vow'd age, 175
Obtain'd at home, quite emptied of his rage,
Thy subjects round about thee, rich and blest.
And here hath Truth summ'd up thy vital rest.'
I answer'd him: 'We will suppose all these
Decreed in Deity; let it likewise please 180
Tiresias to resolve me, why so near
The blood and me my mother's soul doth bear,
And yet nor word, nor look, vouchsafe her son?
Doth she not know me?' 'No,' said he, 'nor none
Of all these spirits, but myself alone, 185
Knows anything till he shall taste the blood.
But whomsoever you shall do that good,
He will the truth of all you wish unfold;
Who you envy it to will all withhold.'
Thus said the kingly soul, and made retreat 190
Amidst the inner parts of Pluto's seat,
When he had spoke thus by divine instinct.
Still I stood firm, till to the blood's precinct
My mother came, and drunk; and then she knew
I was her son, had passion to renew 195
Her natural plaints, which thus she did pursue:
'How is it, O my son, that you alive
This deadly-darksome region underdive?
'Twixt which, and earth, so many mighty seas,
And horrid currents, interpose their prease, 200
Oceanus in chief? Which none (unless
More help'd than you) on foot now can transgress.
A well-built ship he needs that ventures there.
Com'st thou from Troy but now, enforced to err
All this time with thy soldiers? Nor hast seen, 205
Ere this long day, thy country, and thy queen?'
I answer'd: 'That a necessary end
To this infernal state made me contend;
That from the wise Tiresias Theban soul
I might an oracle involv'd unroll; 210
For I came nothing near Achaia yet,
Nor on our loved earth happy foot had set,
But, mishaps suffering, err'd from coast to coast,
Ever since first the mighty Grecian host
Divine Atrides led to Ilion, 215
And I his follower to set war upon
The rapeful Trojans; and so pray'd she would
The fate of that ungentle death unfold,
That forced her thither; if some long disease,
Or that the spleen of her that arrows please, 220
Diana, envious of most eminent dames,
Had made her th' object of her deadly aims?
My father's state and sons I sought, if they
Kept still my goods? Or they became the prey
Of any other, holding me no more 225
In power of safe return? Or if my store
My wife had kept together with her son?
If she her first mind held, or had been won
By some chief Grecian from my love and bed?'
All this she answer'd: 'That affliction fed 230
On her blood still at home, and that to grief
She all the days and darkness of her life
In tears had consecrate. That none possest
My famous kingdom's throne, but th' interest
My son had in it still he held in peace, 235
A court kept like a prince, and his increase
Spent in his subjects' good, administ'ring laws
With justice, and the general applause
A king should merit, and all call'd him king.
My father kept the upland, labouring, 240
And shunn'd the city, used no sumptuous beds,
Wonder'd-at furnitures, nor wealthy weeds,
But in the winter strew'd about the fire
Lay with his slaves in ashes, his attire
Like to a beggar's; when the summer came, 245
And autumn all fruits ripen'd with his flame,
Where grape-charged vines made shadows most abound,
His couch with fall'n leaves made upon the ground,
And here lay he, his sorrow's fruitful state
Increasing as he faded for my fate; 250
And now the part of age that irksome is
Lay sadly on him. And that life of his
She led, and perish'd in; not slaughter'd by
The Dame that darts lov'd, and her archery;
Nor by disease invaded, vast and foul, 255
That wastes the body, and sends out the soul
With shame and horror; only in her moan,
For me and my life, she consum'd her own.
She thus, when I had great desire to prove
My arms the circle where her soul did move. 260
Thrice proved I, thrice she vanish'd like a sleep,
Or fleeting shadow, which struck much more deep
The wounds my woes made, and made ask her why
She would my love to her embraces fly,
And not vouchsafe that even in hell we might 265
Pay pious Nature her unalter'd right,
And give Vexation here her cruel fill?
Should not the Queen here, to augment the ill
Of every suff'rance, which her office is,
Enforce thy idol to afford me this? 270
'O son,' she answer'd, 'of the race of men
The most unhappy, our most equal Queen
Will mock no solid arms with empty shade,
Nor suffer empty shades again t' invade
Flesh, bones, and nerves; nor will defraud the fire 275
Of his last dues, that, soon as spirits expire
And leave the white bone, are his native right,
When, like a dream, the soul assumes her flight.
The light then of the living with most haste,
O son, contend to. This thy little taste 280
Of this state is enough; and all this life
Will make a tale fit to be told thy wife.'
This speech we had; when now repair'd to me
More female spirits, by Persephone
Driven on before her. All th' heroes' wives, 285
And daughters, that led there their second lives,
About the black blood throng'd. Of whom yet more
My mind impell'd me to inquire, before
I let them altogether taste the gore,
For then would all have been dispersed, and gone 290
Thick as they came. I, therefore, one by one
Let taste the pit, my sword drawn from my thigh,
And stand betwixt them made, when, severally,
All told their stocks. The first, that quench'd her fire,
Was Tyro, issued of a noble sire. 295
She said she sprung from pure Salmoneus' bed,
And Cretheus, son of Æolus, did wed;
Yet the divine flood Enipeus loved,
Who much the most fair stream of all floods moved.
Near whose streams Tyro walking, Neptune came, 300
Like Enipeus, and enjoy'd the dame.
Like to a hill, the blue and snaky flood
Above th' immortal and the mortal stood,
And hid them both, as both together lay,
Just where his current falls into the sea. 305
Her virgin waist dissolved, she slumber'd then;
But when the God had done the work of men,
Her fair hand gently wringing, thus he said:
'Woman! rejoice in our combined bed,
For when the year hath run his circle round 310
(Because the Gods' loves must in fruit abound)
My love shall make, to cheer thy teeming moans,
Thy one dear burden bear two famous sons;
Love well, and bring them up. Go home, and see
That, though of more joy yet I shall be free, 315
Thou dost not tell, to glorify thy birth;
Thy love is Neptune, shaker of the earth.'
This said, he plunged into the sea; and she,
Begot with child by him, the light let see
Great Pelias, and Neleus, that became 320
In Jove's great ministry of mighty fame.
Pelias in broad Iolcus held his throne,
Wealthy in cattle; th' other royal son
Ruled sandy Pylos. To these issue more
This queen of women to her husband bore, 325
Æson, and Pheres, and Amythaon
That for his fight on horseback stoop'd to none.
Next her, I saw admir'd Antiope,
Asopus' daughter, who (as much as she
Boasted attraction of great Neptune's love) 330
Boasted to slumber in the arms of Jove,
And two sons, likewise at one burden bore
To that her all-controlling paramour,
Amphion, and fair Zethus; that first laid
Great Thebes' foundations, and strong walls convey'd 335
About her turrets, that seven ports enclosed.
For though the Thebans much in strength reposed,
Yet had not they the strength to hold their own,
Without the added aids of wood and stone.
Alcmena next I saw, that famous wife 340
Was to Amphytrio, and honour'd life
Gave to the lion-hearted Hercules,
That was of Jove's, embrace the great increase.
I saw, besides, proud Creon's daughter there,
Bright Megara, that nuptial yoke did wear 345
With Jove's great son, who never field did try
But bore to him the sower of victory.
The mother then of Oedipus I saw,
Fair Epicasta, that, beyond all law,
Her own son married, ignorant of kind, 350
And he, as darkly taken in his mind,
His mother wedded, and his father slew.
Whose blind act Heaven exposed at length to view,
And he in all-loved Thebes the supreme state
With much moan managed, for the heavy fate 355
The Gods laid on him. She made violent flight
To Pluto's dark house from the loathed light,
Beneath a steep beam strangled with a cord,
And left her son, in life, pains as abhorr'd
As all the Furies pour'd on her in hell. 360
Then saw I Chloris, that did so excell
In answering beauties, that each part had all.
Great Neleus married her, when gifts not small
Had won her favour, term'd by name of dower.
She was of all Amphion's seed the flower; 365
Amphion, call'd Iasides, that then
Ruled strongly, Myniæan Orchomen,
And now his daughter ruled the Pylian throne,
Because her beauty's empire overshone.
She brought her wife-awed husband, Neleus, 370
Nestor much honour'd, Periclymenus,
And Chromius, sons with sovereign virtues graced;
But after brought a daughter that surpass'd,
Rare-beautied Pero, so for form exact
That Nature to a miracle was rack'd 375
In her perfections, blazed with th' eyes of men;
That made of all the country's hearts a chain,
And drew them suitors to her. Which her sire
Took vantage of, and, since he did aspire
To nothing more than to the broad-brow'd herd 380
Of oxen, which the common fame so rear'd,
Own'd by Iphiclus, not a man should be
His Pero's husband, that from Phylace
Those never-yet-driven oxen could not drive.
Yet these a strong hope held him to achieve, 385
Because a prophet, that had never err'd,
Had said, that only he should be preferr'd
To their possession. But the equal fate
Of God withstood his stealth; inextricate
Imprisoning bands, and sturdy churlish swains 390
That were the herdsmen, who withheld with chains
The stealth attempter; which was only he
That durst abet the act with prophecy,
None else would undertake it, and he must;
The king would needs a prophet should be just. 395
But when some days and months expired were,
And all the hours had brought about the year,
The prophet did so satisfy the king
(Iphiclus, all his cunning questioning)
That he enfranchised him; and, all worst done, 400
Jove's counsel made th' all-safe conclusion.
Then saw I Leda, link'd in nuptial chain
With Tyndarus, to whom she did sustain
Sons much renown'd for wisdom; Castor one,
That past for use of horse comparison; 405
And Pollux, that excell'd in whirlbat fight;
Both these the fruitful earth bore, while the light
Of life inspired them; after which, they found
Such grace with Jove, that both lived under ground,
By change of days; life still did one sustain, 410
While th' other died; the dead then lived again,
The living dying; both of one self date
Their lives and deaths made by the Gods and Fate.
Iphimedia after Leda came,
That did derive from Neptune too the name 415
Of father to two admirable sons.
Life yet made short their admirations,
Who God-opposed Otus had to name,
And Ephialtes far in sound of fame.
The prodigal earth so fed them, that they grew 420
To most huge stature, and had fairest hue
Of all men, but Orion, under heaven.
At nine years old nine cubits they were driven
Abroad in breadth, and sprung nine fathoms high.
They threaten'd to give battle to the sky, 425
And all th' Immortals. They were setting on
Ossa upon Olympus, and upon
Steep Ossa leavy Pelius, that even
They might a highway make with lofty heaven;
And had perhaps perform'd it, had they lived 430
Till they were striplings; but Jove's son deprived
Their limbs of life, before th' age that begins
The flower of youth, and should adorn their chins.
Phædra and Procris, with wise Minos' flame,
Bright Ariadne, to the offering came. 435
Whom whilome Theseus made his prise from Crete,
That Athens' sacred soil might kiss her feet,
But never could obtain her virgin flower,
Till, in the sea-girt Dia, Dian's power
Detain'd his homeward haste, where (in her fane, 440
By Bacchus witness'd) was the fatal wane
Of her prime glory. Mæra, Clymene,
I witness'd there; and loath'd Eriphyle,
That honour'd gold more than she loved her spouse.
But, all th' heroesses in Pluto's house 445
That then encounter'd me, exceeds my might
To name or number, and ambrosian night
Would quite be spent, when now the formal hours
Present to sleep our all-disposed powers,
If at my ship, or here. My home-made vow 450
I leave for fit grace to the Gods and you."
This said; the silence his discourse had made
With pleasure held still through the house's shade,
When white-arm'd Arete this speech began:
"Phæacians! How appears to you this man, 455
So goodly person'd, and so match'd with mind?
My guest he is, but all you stand combin'd
In the renown he doth us. Do not then
With careless haste dismiss him, nor the main
Of his dispatch to one so needy maim, 460
The Gods' free bounty gives us all just claim
To goods enow." This speech, the oldest man
Of any other Phæacensian,
The grave heroe, Echineus, gave
All approbation, saying: "Friends! ye have 465
The motion of the wise queen in such words
As have not miss'd the mark, with which accords
My clear opinion. But Alcinous,
In word and work must be our rule." He thus;
And then Alcinous said: "This then must stand, 470
If while I live I rule in the command
Of this well-skill'd-in-navigation state:
Endure then, guest, though most importunate
Be your affects for home. A little stay
If your expectance bear, perhaps it may 475
Our gifts make more complete. The cares of all
Your due deduction asks; but principal
I am therein the ruler." He replied:
"Alcinous, the most duly glorified
With rule of all of all men, if you lay 480
Commandment on me of a whole year's stay,
So all the while your preparations rise,
As well in gifts as time, ye can devise
No better wish for me; for I shall come
Much fuller handed, and more honour'd, home, 485
And dearer to my people, in whose loves
The richer evermore the better proves."
He answer'd: "There is argued in your sight
A worth that works not men for benefit,
Like prollers or impostors; of which crew, 490
The gentle black earth feeds not up a few,
Here and there wanderers, blanching tales and lies,
Of neither praise, nor use. You move our eyes
With form, our minds with matter, and our ears
With elegant oration, such as bears 495
A music in the order'd history
It lays before us. Not Demodocus
With sweeter strains hath used to sing to us
All the Greek sorrows, wept out in your own.
But say: Of all your worthy friends, were none 500
Objected to your eyes that consorts were
To Ilion with you, and served destiny there?
This night is passing long, unmeasur'd, none
Of all my household would to bed yet; on,
Relate these wondrous things. Were I with you, 505
If you would tell me but your woes, as now,
Till the divine Aurora show'd her head,
I should in no night relish thought of bed."
"Most eminent king," said he, "times all must keep,
There's time to speak much, time as much to sleep, 510
But would you hear still, I will tell you still,
And utter more, more miserable ill
Of friends than yet, that scaped the dismal wars,
And perish'd homewards, and in household jars
Waged by a wicked woman. The chaste Queen, 515
No sooner made these lady ghosts unseen,
Here and there flitting, but mine eye-sight won
The soul of Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
Sad, and about him all his train of friends,
That in Ægisthus' house endured their ends 520
With his stern fortune. Having drunk the blood,
He knew me instantly, and forth a flood
Of springing tears gush'd; out he thrust his hands,
With will t' embrace me, but their old commands
Flow'd not about him, nor their weakest part. 525
I wept to see, and moan'd him from my heart,
And ask'd: 'O Agamemnon! King of men!
What sort of cruel death hath render'd slain
Thy royal person? Neptune in thy fleet
Heaven and his hellish billows making meet, 530
Rousing the winds? Or have thy men by land
Done thee this ill, for using thy command,
Past their consents, in diminution
Of those full shares their worths by lot had won
Of sheep or oxen? Or of any town, 535
In covetous strife, to make their rights thine own
In men or women prisoners?' He replied:
'By none of these in any right I died,
But by Ægisthus and my murderous wife
(Bid to a banquet at his house) my life 540
Hath thus been reft me, to my slaughter led
Like to an ox pretended to be fed.
So miserably fell I, and with me
My friends lay massacred, as when you see
At any rich man's nuptials, shot, or feast, 545
About his kitchen white-tooth'd swine lie drest.
The slaughters of a world of men thine eyes,
Both private, and in prease of enemies,
Have personally witness'd; but this one
Would all thy parts have broken into moan, 550
To see how strew'd about our cups and cates,
As tables set with feast, so we with fates,
All gash'd and slain lay, all the floor embrued
With blood and brain. But that which most I rued,
Flew from the heavy voice that Priam's seed, 555
Cassandra, breath'd, whom, she that wit doth feed
With baneful crafts, false Clytemnestra, slew,
Close sitting by me; up my hands I threw
From earth to heaven, and tumbling on my sword
Gave wretched life up; when the most abhorr'd, 560
By all her sex's shame, forsook the room,
Nor deign'd, though then so near this heavy home,
To shut my lips, or close my broken eyes.
Nothing so heap'd is with impieties,
As such a woman that would kill her spouse 565
That married her a maid. When to my house
I brought her, hoping of her love in heart,
To children, maids, and slaves. But she (in th' art
Of only mischief hearty) not alone
Cast on herself this foul aspersion, 570
But loving dames, hereafter, to their lords
Will bear, for good deeds, her bad thoughts and words.'
'Alas,' said I, 'that Jove should hate the lives
Of Atreus' seed so highly for their wives!
For Menelaus' wife a number fell, 575
For dangerous absence thine sent thee to hell.'
'For this,' he answer'd, 'be not thou more kind
Than wise to thy wife. Never all thy mind
Let words express to her. Of all she knows,
Curbs for the worst still, in thyself repose. 580
But thou by thy wife's wiles shalt lose no blood,
Exceeding wise she is, and wise in good.
Icarius' daughter, chaste Penelope,
We left a young bride, when for battle we
Forsook the nuptial peace, and at her breast 585
Her first child sucking, who, by this hour, blest,
Sits in the number of surviving men.
And his bliss she hath, that she can contain,
And her bliss thou hast, that she is so wise.
For, by her wisdom, thy returned eyes 590
Shall see thy son, and he shall greet his sire
With fitting welcomes; when in my retire,
My wife denies mine eyes my son's dear sight,
And, as from me, will take from him the light,
Before she adds one just delight to life, 595
Or her false wit one truth that fits a wife.
For her sake therefore let my harms advise,
That though thy wife be ne'er so chaste and wise,
Yet come not home to her in open view,
With any ship or any personal show, 600
But take close shore disguised, nor let her know,
For 'tis no world to trust a woman now.
But what says Fame? Doth my son yet survive,
In Orchomen, or Pylos? Or doth live
In Sparta with his uncle? Yet I see 605
Divine Orestes is not here with me.'
I answer'd, asking: 'Why doth Atreus' son
Enquire of me, who yet arrived where none
Could give to these news any certain wings?
And 'tis absurd to tell uncertain things.' 610
Such sad speech past us; and as thus we stood,
With kind tears rendering unkind fortunes good,
Achilles' and Patroclus' soul appear'd,
And his soul, of whom never ill was heard,
The good Antilochus, and the soul of him 615
That all the Greeks past both for force and limb
Excepting the unmatch'd Æacides,
Illustrious Ajax. But the first of these
That saw, acknowledged, and saluted me,
Was Thetis' conquering son, who (heavily 620
His state here taking) said: 'Unworthy breath!
What act yet mightier imagineth
Thy vent'rous spirit? How dost thou descend
These under regions, where the dead man's end
Is to be look'd on, and his foolish shade?' 625
I answer'd him: 'I was induced t' invade
These under parts, most excellent of Greece,
To visit wise Tiresias, for advice
Of virtue to direct my voyage home
To rugged Ithaca; since I could come 630
To note in no place, where Achaia stood,
And so lived ever, tortured with the blood
In man's vain veins. Thou therefore, Thetis' son,
Hast equall'd all, that ever yet have won
The bliss the earth yields, or hereafter shall. 635
In life thy eminence was ador'd of all,
Even with the Gods; and now, even dead, I see
Thy virtues propagate thy empery
To a renew'd life of command beneath;
So great Achilles triumphs over death.' 640
This comfort of him this encounter found:
'Urge not my death to me, nor rub that wound,
I rather wish to live in earth a swain,
Or serve a swain for hire, that scarce can gain
Bread to sustain him, than, that life once gone, 645
Of all the dead sway the imperial throne.
But say, and of my son some comfort yield,
If he goes on in first fights of the field,
Or lurks for safety in the obscure rear?
Or of my father if thy royal ear 650
Hath been advertised, that the Phthian throne
He still commands, as greatest Myrmidon?
Or that the Phthian and Thessalian rage
(Now feet and hands are in the hold of age)
Despise his empire? Under those bright rays, 655
In which heaven's fervour hurls about the days,
Must I no more shine his revenger now,
Such as of old the Ilion overthrow
Witness'd my anger, th' universal host
Sending before me to this shady coast, 660
In fight for Grecia. Could I now resort,
(But for some small time) to my father's court,
In spirit and power as then, those men should find
My hands inaccessible, and of fire my mind,
That durst with all the numbers they are strong 665
Unseat his honour, and suborn his wrong.'
This pitch still flew his spirit, though so low,
And this I answer'd thus: 'I do not know
Of blameless Peleus any least report,
But of your son, in all the utmost sort, 670
I can inform your care with truth, and thus:
From Scyros princely Neoptolemus
By fleet I convey'd to the Greeks, where he
Was chief, at both parts, when our gravity
Retired to council, and our youth to fight. 675
In council still so fiery was Conceit
In his quick apprehension of a cause,
That first he ever spake, nor past the laws
Of any grave stay, in his greatest haste.
None would contend with him, that counsell'd last, 680
Unless illustrious Nestor, he and I
Would sometimes put a friendly contrary
On his opinion. In our fights, the prease
Of great or common, he would never cease,
But far before fight ever. No man there, 685
For force, he forced. He was slaughterer
Of many a brave man in most dreadful fight.
But one and other whom he reft of light,
In Grecian succour, I can neither name,
Nor give in number. The particular fame 690
Of one man's slaughter yet I must not pass;
Eurypylus Telephides he was,
That fell beneath him, and with him the falls
Of such huge men went, that they show'd like whales
Rampired about him. Neoptolemus 695
Set him so sharply, for the sumptuous
Favours of mistresses he saw him wear;
For past all doubt his beauties had no peer
Of all that mine eyes noted, next to one,
And that was Memnon, Tithon's Sun-like son. 700
Thus far, for fight in public, may a taste
Give of his eminence. How far surpast
His spirit in private, where he was not seen,
Nor glory could be said to praise his spleen,
This close note I excerpted. When we sat 705
Hid in Epeus' horse, no optimate
Of all the Greeks there had the charge to ope
And shut the stratagem but I. My scope
To note then each man's spirit in a strait
Of so much danger, much the better might 710
Be hit by me, than others, as, provoked,
I shifted place still, when, in some I smoked
Both privy tremblings, and close vent of tears,
In him yet not a soft conceit of theirs
Could all my search see, either his wet eyes 715
Ply'd still with wipings, or the goodly guise,
His person all ways put forth, in least part,
By any tremblings, show'd his touch'd-at heart.
But ever he was urging me to make
Way to their sally, by his sign to shake 720
His sword hid in his scabbard, or his lance
Loaded with iron, at me. No good chance
His thoughts to Troy intended. In th' event,
High Troy depopulate, he made ascent
To his fair ship, with prise and treasure store, 725
Safe, and no touch away with him he bore
Of far-off hurl'd lance, or of close-fought sword,
Whose wounds for favours war doth oft afford,
Which he (though sought) miss'd in war's closest wage.
In close fights Mars doth never fight, but rage.' 730
This made the soul of swift Achilles tread
A march of glory through the herby mead,
For joy to hear me so renown his son;
And vanish'd stalking. But with passion
Stood th' other souls struck, and each told his bane. 735
Only the spirit Telamonian
Kept far off, angry for the victory
I won from him at fleet; though arbitry
Of all a court of war pronounced it mine,
And Pallas' self. Our prise were th' arms divine 740
Of great Æacides, proposed t' our fames
By his bright Mother, at his funeral games.
I wish to heaven I ought not to have won;
Since for those arms so high a head so soon
The base earth cover'd, Ajax, that of all 745
The host of Greece had person capital,
And acts as eminent, excepting his
Whose arms those were, in whom was nought amiss.
I tried the great soul with soft words, and said:
'Ajax! Great son of Telamon, array'd 750
In all our glories! What! not dead resign
Thy wrath for those curst arms? The Powers divine
In them forged all our banes, in thine own one,
In thy grave fall our tower was overthrown.
We mourn, for ever maim'd, for thee as much 755
As for Achilles; nor thy wrong doth touch,
In sentence, any but Saturnius' doom;
In whose hate was the host of Greece become
A very horror; who express'd it well
In signing thy fate with this timeless hell. 760
Approach then, king of all the Grecian merit,
Repress thy great mind, and thy flamy spirit,
And give the words I give thee worthy ear.'
All this no word drew from him, but less near
The stern soul kept; to other souls he fled, 765
And glid along the river of the dead.
Though anger moved him, yet he might have spoke,
Since I to him. But my desires were strook
With sight of other souls. And then I saw
Minos, that minister'd to Death a law, 770
And Jove's bright son was. He was set, and sway'd
A golden sceptre; and to him did plead
A sort of others, set about his throne,
In Pluto's wide-door'd house; when straight came on
Mighty Orion, who was hunting there 775
The herds of those beasts he had slaughter'd here
In desert hills on earth. A club he bore,
Entirely steel, whose virtues never wore.
Tityus I saw, to whom the glorious earth
Open'd her womb, and gave unhappy birth. 780
Upwards, and flat upon the pavement, lay
His ample limbs, that spread in their display
Nine acres' compass. On his bosom sat
Two vultures, digging, through his caul of fat,
Into his liver with their crooked beaks; 785
And each by turns the concrete entrail breaks
(As smiths their steel beat) set on either side.
Nor doth he ever labour to divide
His liver and their beaks, nor with his hand
Offer them off, but suffers by command 790
Of th' angry Thund'rer, off'ring to enforce
His love Latona, in the close recourse
She used to Pytho through the dancing land,
Smooth Panopæus. I saw likewise stand,
Up to the chin, amidst a liquid lake, 795
Tormented Tantalus, yet could not slake
His burning thirst. Oft as his scornful cup
Th' old man would taste, so oft 'twas swallow'd up,
And all the black earth to his feet descried,
Divine power (plaguing him) the lake still dried. 800
About his head, on high trees, clust'ring, hung
Pears, apples, granates, olives ever young,
Delicious figs, and many fruit trees more
Of other burden; whose alluring store
When th' old soul strived to pluck, the winds from sight, 805
In gloomy vapours, made them vanish quite.
There saw I Sisyphus in infinite moan,
With both hands heaving up a massy stone,
And on his tip-toes racking all his height,
To wrest up to a mountain-top his freight; 810
When prest to rest it there, his nerves quite spent,
Down rush'd the deadly quarry, the event
Of all his torture new to raise again;
To which straight set his never-rested pain.
The sweat came gushing out from every pore, 815
And on his head a standing mist he wore,
Reeking from thence, as if a cloud of dust
Were raised about it. Down with these was thrust
The idol of the force of Hercules,
But his firm self did no such fate oppress, 820
He feasting lives amongst th' Immortal States,
White-ankled Hebe and himself made mates
In heavenly nuptials. Hebe, Jove's dear race,
And Juno's whom the golden sandals grace.
About him flew the clamours of the dead 825
Like fowls, and still stoop'd cuffing at his head.
He with his bow, like Night, stalk'd up and down,
His shaft still nock'd, and hurling round his frown
At those vex'd hoverers, aiming at them still,
And still, as shooting out, desire to still. 830
A horrid bawdrick wore he thwart his breast,
The thong all gold, in which were forms imprest,
Where art and miracle drew equal breaths,
In bears, boars, lions, battles, combats, deaths.
Who wrought that work did never such before, 835
Nor so divinely will do ever more.
Soon as he saw, he knew me, and gave speech:
'Son of Laertes, high in wisdom's reach,
And yet unhappy wretch, for in this heart,
Of all exploits achieved by thy desert, 840
Thy worth but works out some sinister fate,
As I in earth did. I was generate
By Jove himself, and yet past mean opprest
By one my far inferior, whose proud hest
Impos'd abhorred labours on my hand. 845
Of all which one was, to descend this strand,
And hale the dog from thence. He could not think
An act that danger could make deeper sink.
And yet this depth I drew, and fetch'd as high,
As this was low, the dog. The Deity 850
Of sleight and wisdom, as of downright power,
Both stoop'd, and raised, and made me conqueror.'
This said, he made descent again as low
As Pluto's court; when I stood firm, for show
Of more heroes of the times before, 855
And might perhaps have seen my wish of more,
(As Theseus and Pirithous, derived
From roots of Deity) but before th' achieved
Rare sight of these, the rank-soul'd multitude
In infinite flocks rose, venting sounds so rude, 860
That pale Fear took me, lest the Gorgon's head
Rush'd in amongst them, thrust up, in my dread,
By grim Persephone. I therefore sent
My men before to ship, and after went.
Where, boarded, set, and launch'd, th' ocean wave 865
Our oars and forewinds speedy passage gave.
FINIS LIBRI UNDECIMI HOM. ODYSS.