His sceptre, weeping. Pity at that sight
Seizd all the people; mute the assembly sat
Long time, none dared to greet Telemachus
With answer rough, till of them all, at last,
Antinoüs, sole arising, thus replied.
High-sounding orator! it is thy drift
To make us all odious; but the offence
Lies not with us the suitors; she alone
Thy mother, who in subtlety excels,
And deep-wrought subterfuge, deserves the blame.
It is already the third year, and soon
Shall be the fourth, since with delusive art
Practising on their minds, she hath deceived
The Greecians; message after message sent
Brings hope to each, by turns, and promise fair,
But she, meantime, far otherwise intends.
Her other arts exhausted all, she framed
This stratagem; a web of amplest size
And subtlest woof beginning, thus she spake.
Princes, my suitors! since the noble Chief
Ulysses is no more, press not as yet
My nuptials, wait till I shall finish, first,
A funral robe (lest all my threads decay)
Which for the antient Hero I prepare,
Laertes, looking for the mournful hour
When fate shall snatch him to eternal rest;
Else I the censure dread of all my sex,
Should he, so wealthy, want at last a shroud.
So spake the Queen, and unsuspicious, we
With her request complied. Thenceforth, all day
She wove the ample web, and by the aid
Of torches ravelld it again at night.
Three years by such contrivance she deceived
The Greecians; but when (three whole years elapsd)
The fourth arrivd, then, conscious of the fraud,
A damsel of her train told all the truth,
And her we found ravling the beauteous work.
Thus, through necessity she hath, at length,
Performd the task, and in her own despight.
Now therefore, for the information clear
Of thee thyself, and of the other Greeks,
We answer. Send thy mother hence, with charge
That him she wed on whom her fathers choice
Shall fall, and whom she shall, herself, approve.
But if by long procrastination still
She persevere wearing our patience out,
Attentive only to display the gifts
By Pallas so profusely dealt to her,
Works of surpassing skill, ingenious thought,
And subtle shifts, such as no beauteous Greek
(For aught that we have heard) in antient times
Eer practised, Tyro, or Alcemena fair,
Or fair Mycene, of whom none in art
Eer matchd Penelope, although we yield
To this her last invention little praise,
Then know, that these her suitors will consume
So long thy patrimony and thy goods,
As she her present purpose shall indulge,
With which the Gods inspire her. Great renown
She to herself insures, but equal woe
And devastation of thy wealth to thee;
For neither to our proper works at home
Go we, of that be sure, nor yet elsewhere,
Till him she wed, to whom she most inclines.
Antinoüs! it is not possible
That I should thrust her forth against her will,
Who both produced and reared me. Be he dead,
Or still alive, my Sire is far remote,
And should I, voluntary, hence dismiss
My mother to Icarius, I must much
Refund, which hardship were and loss to me.
So doing, I should also wrath incur
From my offended Sire, and from the Gods
Still more; for she, departing, would invoke
Erynnis to avenge her, and reproach
Beside would follow me from all mankind.
That word I, therefore, never will pronounce.
No, if ye judge your treatment at her hands
Injurious to you, go ye forth yourselves,
Forsake my mansion; seek where else ye may
Your feasts; consume your own; alternate feed
Each at the others cost. But if it seem
Wisest in your account and best to eat
Voracious thus the patrimonial goods
Of one man, rendring no account of all,
Bite to the roots; but know that I will cry
Ceaseless to the eternal Gods, in hope
That Jove, in retribution of the wrong,
Shall doom you, where ye have intruded, there
To bleed, and of your blood ask no account.
The Thundrer from a lofty mountain-top
Turnd off two eagles; on the winds, awhile,
With outspread pinions ample side by side
They floated; but, ere long, hovring aloft,
Right oer the midst of the assembled Chiefs
They wheeld around, clangd all their numrous plumes,
And with a downward look eyeing the throng,
Death boded, ominous; then rending each
The others face and neck, they sprang at once
Toward the right, and darted through the town.
Amazement universal, at that sight,
Seized the assembly, and with anxious thought
Each scannd the future; amidst whom arose
The Hero Halitherses, antient Seer,
Offspring of Mastor; for in judgment he
Of portents augural, and in forecast
Unerring, his coevals all excelld,
And prudent thus the multitude bespake.
Though chief my speech shall to the suitors look,
For, on their heads devolved, comes down the woe.
Ulysses shall not from his friends, henceforth,
Live absent long, but, hasting to his home,
Comes even now, and as he comes, designs
A bloody death for these, whose bitter woes
No few shall share, inhabitants with us
Of pleasant Ithaca; but let us frame
Effectual means maturely
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|