Book 1

In a council of the Gods, Minerva calls their attention to Ulysses, still a wanderer. They resolve to grant him a safe return to Ithaca. Minerva descends to encourage Telemachus, and in the form of Mentes directs him in what manner to proceed. Throughout this book the extravagance and profligacy of the suitors are occasionally suggested.

   Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed
And genius versatile, who far and wide
A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,
Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.
He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,
Anxious to save himself, and to conduct
His followers to their home; yet all his care
Preserved them not; they perish’d self-destroy’d
By their own fault; infatuate! who devoured
The oxen of the all-o’erseeing Sun,
And, punish’d for that crime, return’d no more.
Daughter divine of Jove, these things record,
As it may please thee, even in our ears.

   The rest, all those who had perdition ’scaped
By war or on the Deep, dwelt now at home;
Him only, of his country and his wife
Alike desirous, in her hollow grots
Calypso, Goddess beautiful, detained
Wooing him to her arms. But when, at length,
(Many a long year elapsed) the year arrived
Of his return (by the decree of heav’n)
To Ithaca, not even then had he,
Although surrounded by his people, reach’d
The period of his suff’rings and his toils.
Yet all the Gods, with pity moved, beheld
His woes, save Neptune; He alone with wrath
Unceasing and implacable pursued
Godlike Ulysses to his native shores.
But Neptune, now, the Æthiopians fought,
(The Æthiopians, utmost of mankind,
These Eastward situate, those toward the West)
Call’d to an hecatomb of bulls and lambs.
There sitting, pleas’d he banqueted; the Gods
In Jove’s abode, meantime, assembled all,
’Midst whom the Sire of heav’n and earth began.
For he recall’d to mind Ægisthus slain
By Agamemnon’s celebrated son
Orestes, and retracing in his thought
That dread event, the Immortals thus address’d.

   Alas! how prone are human-kind to blame
The Pow’rs of Heav’n! From us, they say, proceed
The ills which they endure, yet more than Fate
Herself inflicts, by their own crimes incur.
So now Ægisthus, by no force constrained
Of Destiny, Atrides’ wedded wife
Took to himself, and him at his return
Slew, not unwarn’d of his own dreadful end
By us: for we commanded Hermes down
The watchful Argicide, who bade him fear
Alike, to slay the King, or woo the Queen.
For that Atrides’ son Orestes, soon
As grown mature, and eager to assume
His sway imperial, should avenge the deed.
So Hermes spake, but his advice moved not
Ægisthus, on whose head the whole arrear
Of vengeance heap’d, at last, hath therefore fall’n.

   Whom answer’d then Pallas cærulean-eyed.
Oh Jove, Saturnian Sire, o’er all supreme!
And well he merited the death he found;
So perish all, who shall, like him, offend.
But with a bosom anguish-rent I view
Ulysses, hapless Chief! who from his friends
Remote, affliction hath long time endured
In yonder wood-land isle, the central boss
Of Ocean. That retreat a Goddess holds,
Daughter of sapient Atlas, who the abyss
Knows to its bottom, and the pillars high
Himself upbears which sep’rate earth from heav’n.
His daughter, there, the sorrowing Chief detains,
And ever with smooth speech insidious seeks
To wean his heart from Ithaca; meantime
Ulysses, happy might he but behold
The smoke ascending from his native land,
Death covets. Canst thou not, Olympian Jove!
At last relent? Hath not Ulysses oft
With victims slain amid Achaia’s fleet
Thee gratified, while yet at Troy he fought?
How hath he then so deep incensed thee, Jove?

   To whom, the cloud-assembler God replied.
What word hath pass’d thy lips, Daughter belov’d?
Can I forget Ulysses? Him forget
So noble, who in wisdom all mankind
Excels, and who hath sacrific’d so oft
To us whose dwelling is the boundless heav’n?
Earth-circling Neptune—He it is whose wrath
Pursues him ceaseless for the Cyclops’ sake
Polypheme, strongest of the giant race,
Whom of his eye Ulysses hath deprived.
For Him, Thoösa bore, Nymph of the sea
From Phorcys sprung, by Ocean’s mighty pow’r
Impregnated in caverns of the Deep.
E’er since that day, the Shaker of the shores,
Although he slay him not, yet devious drives
Ulysses from his native isle afar.
Yet come—in full assembly his return
Contrive we now, both means and prosp’rous end;
So Neptune shall his wrath remit, whose pow’r
In contest with the force of all the Gods
Exerted single, can but strive in vain.

   To whom Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed.
Oh Jupiter! above all Kings enthroned!
If the Immortals ever- blest ordain
That wise Ulysses to his home return,
Dispatch we then Hermes the Argicide,
Our messenger,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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