Book 6

Minerva designing an interview between the daughter of Alcinoüs and Ulysses, admonishes her in a dream to carry down her clothes to the river, that she may wash them, and make them ready for her approaching nuptials. That task performed, the Princess and her train amuse themselves with play; by accident they awake Ulysses; he comes forth from the wood, and applies himself with much address to Nausicaa, who compassionating his distressed condition, and being much affected by the dignity of his appearance, interests himself in his favour, and conducts him to the city.

   There then the noble suff’rer lay, by sleep
Oppress’d and labour; meantime, Pallas sought
The populous city of Phæacia’s sons.
They, in old time, in Hypereia dwelt
The spacious, neighbours of a giant race
The haughty Cyclops, who, endued with pow’r
Superior, troubled them with frequent wrongs,
Godlike Nausithoüs then arose, who thence
To Scheria led them, from all nations versed
In arts of cultivated life, remote;
With bulwarks strong their city he enclosed,
Built houses for them, temples to the Gods,
And gave to each a portion of the soil.
But he, already by decree of fate
Had journey’d to the shades, and in his stead
Alcinoüs, by the Gods instructed, reign’d.
To his abode Minerva azure-eyed
Repair’d, neglecting nought which might advance
Magnanimous Ulysses’ safe return.
She sought the sumptuous chamber where, in form
And feature perfect as the Gods, the young
Nausicaa, daughter of the King, reposed.
Fast by the pillars of the portal lay
Two damsels, one on either side, adorn’d
By all the Graces, and the doors were shut.
Soft as a breathing air, she stole toward
The royal virgin’s couch, and at her head
Standing, address’d her. Daughter she appear’d
Of Dymas, famed for maritime exploits,
Her friend and her coeval; so disguised
Cærulean-eyed Minerva thus began.

   Nausicaa! wherefore hath thy mother borne
A child so negligent? Thy garments share,
Thy most magnificent, no thought of thine.
Yet thou must marry soon, and must provide
Robes for thyself, and for thy nuptial train.
Thy fame, on these concerns, and honour stand;
These managed well, thy parents shall rejoice.
The dawn appearing, let us to the place
Of washing, where thy work-mate I will be
For speedier riddance of thy task, since soon
The days of thy virginity shall end;
For thou art woo’d already by the prime
Of all Phæacia, country of thy birth.
Come then—solicit at the dawn of day
Thy royal father, that he send thee forth
With mules and carriage for conveyance hence
Of thy best robes, thy mantles and thy zones.
Thus, more commodiously thou shalt perform
The journey, for the cisterns lie remote.

   So saying, Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed,
Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat
Eternal of the Gods, which never storms
Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm
The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day.
There the inhabitants divine rejoice
For ever, (and her admonition giv’n)
Cærulean-eyed Minerva thither flew.

   Now came Aurora bright-enthroned, whose rays
Awaken’d fair Nausicaa; she her dream
Remember’d wond’ring, and her parents sought
Anxious to tell them. Them she found within.
Beside the hearth her royal mother sat,
Spinning soft fleeces with sea-purple dyed
Among her menial maidens, but she met
Her father, whom the Nobles of the land
Had summon’d, issuing abroad to join
The illustrious Chiefs in council. At his side
She stood, and thus her filial suit preferr’d.

   Sir! wilt thou lend me of the royal wains
A sumpter-carriage? for I wish to bear
My costly cloaths but sullied and unfit
For use, at present, to the river side.
It is but seemly that thou should’st repair
Thyself to consultation with the Chiefs
Of all Phæacia, clad in pure attire;
And my own brothers five, who dwell at home,
Two wedded, and the rest of age to wed,
Are all desirous, when they dance, to wear
Raiment new bleach’d; all which is my concern.

   So spake Nausicaa; for she dared not name
Her own glad nuptials to her father’s ear,
Who, conscious yet of all her drift, replied.

   I grudge thee neither mules, my child, nor aught
That thou canst ask beside. Go, and my train
Shall furnish thee a sumpter-carriage forth
High-built, strong-wheel’d, and of capacious size.

   So saying, he issued his command, whom quick
His grooms obey’d. They in the court prepared
The sumpter- carriage, and adjoin’d the mules.
And now the virgin from her chamber, charged
With raiment, came,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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