Book 4

Telemachus, with Pisistratus, arrives at the palace of Menelaus, from whom he receives some fresh information concerning the return of the Greecians, and is in particular told on the authority of Proteus, that his father is detained by Calypso. The suitors, plotting against the life of Telemachus, lie in wait to intercept him in his return to Ithaca. Penelope being informed of his departure, and of their designs to slay him, becomes inconsolable, but is relieved by a dream sent to her from Minerva.

   In hollow Lacedæmon’s spacious vale
Arriving, to the house they drove direct
Of royal Menelaus; him they found
In his own palace, all his num’rous friends
Regaling at a nuptial banquet giv’n
Both for his daughter and the prince his son.
His daughter to renown’d Achilles’ heir
He sent, to whom he had at Troy engaged
To give her, and the Gods now made her his.
With chariots and with steeds he sent her forth
To the illustrious city where the prince,
Achilles’ offspring, ruled the Myrmidons.
But to his son he gave a Spartan fair,
Alector’s daughter; from an handmaid sprang
That son to Menelaus in his age,
Brave Megapenthes; for the Gods no child
To Helen gave, made mother, once, of her
Who vied in perfect loveliness of form
With golden Venus’ self, Hermione.

   Thus all the neighbour princes and the friends
Of noble Menelaus, feasting sat
Within his spacious palace, among whom
A sacred bard sang sweetly to his harp,
While, in the midst, two dancers smote the ground
With measur’d steps responsive to his song.

   And now the Heroes, Nestor’s noble son
And young Telemachus arrived within
The vestibule, whom, issuing from the hall,
The noble Eteoneus of the train
Of Menelaus, saw; at once he ran
Across the palace to report the news
To his Lord’s ear, and, standing at his side,
In accents wing’d with haste thus greeted him.

   Oh Menelaus! Heav’n descended Chief!
Two guests arrive, both strangers, but the race
Of Jove supreme resembling each in form.
Say, shall we loose, ourselves, their rapid steeds,
Or hence dismiss them to some other host?

   But Menelaus, Hero golden-hair’d,
Indignant answer’d him. Boethe’s son!
Thou wast not, Eteoneus, heretofore,
A babbler, who now pratest as a child.
We have ourselves arrived indebted much
To hospitality of other men,
If Jove shall, even here, some pause at last
Of woe afford us. Therefore loose, at once,
Their steeds, and introduce them to the feast.

   He said, and, issuing, Eteoneus call’d
The brisk attendants to his aid, with whom
He loos’d their foaming coursers from the yoke.
Them first they bound to managers, which with oats
And mingled barley they supplied, then thrust
The chariot sidelong to the splendid wall.
Themselves he, next, into the royal house
Conducted, who survey’d, wond’ring, the abode
Of the heav’n-favour’d King; for on all sides
As with the splendour of the sun or moon
The lofty dome of Menelaus blazed.
Satiate, at length, with wonder at that sight,
They enter’d each a bath, and by the hands
Of maidens laved, and oil’d, and cloath’d again
With shaggy mantles and resplendent vests,
Sat both enthroned at Menelaus’ side.
And now a maiden charged with golden ew’r,
And with an argent laver, pouring first
Pure water on their hands, supplied them next
With a bright table, which the maiden, chief
In office, furnish’d plenteously with bread
And dainties, remnants of the last regale.
Then came the sew’r, who with delicious meats
Dish after dish, served them, and placed beside
The chargers cups magnificent of gold,
When Menelaus grasp’d their hands, and said.

   Eat and rejoice, and when ye shall have shared
Our nuptial banquet, we will then inquire
Who are ye both, for, certain, not from those
Whose generation perishes are ye,
But rather of some race of sceptred Chiefs
Heav’n-born; the base have never sons like you.

   So saying, he from the board lifted his own
Distinguish’d portion, and the fatted chine
Gave to his guests; the sav’ry viands they
With outstretch’d hands assail’d, and when the force
No longer now of appetite they felt,
Telemachus, inclining close his head
To Nestor’s son, lest others should his speech
Witness, in whisper’d words him thus address’d.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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