Book 7

Nausicaa returns from the river, whom Ulysses follows. He halts, by her direction, at a small distance from the palace, which at a convenient time he enters. He is well received by Alcinoüs and his Queen; and having related to them the manner of his being cast on the shore of Scheria, and received from Alcinoüs the promise of safe conduct home, retires to rest.

   Such pray’r Ulysses, toil-worn Chief renown’d,
To Pallas made; meantime the virgin, drawn
By her stout mules, Phæacia’s city reach’d,
And, at her father’s house arrived, the car
Stay’d in the vestibule; her brothers five,
All godlike youths, assembling quick around,
Released the mules, and bore the raiment in.
Meantime, to her own chamber she return’d,
Where, soon as she arrived, an antient dame
Eurymedusa, by peculiar charge
Attendant on that service, kindled fire.
Sea-rovers her had from Epirus brought
Long since, and to Alcinoüs she had fall’n
By public gift, for that he ruled, supreme,
Phæacia, and as oft as he harangued
The multitude, was rev’renced as a God.
She waited on the fair Nausicaa, she
Her fuel kindled, and her food prepared.
And now Ulysses from his seat arose
To seek the city, around whom, his guard
Benevolent, Minerva, cast a cloud,
Lest, haply, some Phæacian should presume
T’ insult the Chief, and question whence he came.
But ere he enter’d yet the pleasant town,
Minerva azure-eyed met him, in form
A blooming maid, bearing her pitcher forth.
She stood before him, and the noble Chief
Ulysses, of the Goddess thus enquired.
   Daughter! wilt thou direct me to the house
Of brave Alcinoüs, whom this land obeys?
For I have here arrived, after long toil,
And from a country far remote, a guest
To all who in phæacia dwell, unknown.
To whom the Goddess of the azure-eyes.
The mansion of thy search, stranger revered!
Myself will shew thee; for not distant dwells
Alcinoüs from my father’s own abode:
But hush! be silent—I will lead the way;
Mark no man; question no man; for the sight
Of strangers is unusual here, and cold
The welcome by this people shown to such.
They, trusting in swift ships, by the free grant
Of Neptune traverse his wide waters, borne
As if on wings, or with the speed of thought.
So spake the Goddess, and with nimble pace
Led on, whose footsteps he, as quick, pursued.
But still the seaman-throng through whom he pass’d
Perceiv’d him not; Minerva, Goddess dread,
That sight forbidding them, whose eyes she dimm’d
With darkness shed miraculous around
Her fav’rite Chief. Ulysses, wond’ring, mark’d
Their port, their ships, their forum, the resort
Of Heroes, and their battlements sublime
Fenced with sharp stakes around, a glorious show!
But when the King’s august abode he reach’d,
Minerva azure-eyed, then, thus began.
My father! thou behold’st the house to which
Thou bad’st me lead thee. Thou shalt find our Chiefs
And high-born Princes banqueting within.
But enter fearing nought, for boldest men
Speed ever best, come whencesoe’er they may.
First thou shalt find the Queen, known by her name
Areta; lineal in descent from those
Who gave Alcinoüs birth, her royal spouse.
Neptune begat Nausithoüs, at the first,
On Peribæa, loveliest of her sex,
Latest-born daughter of Eurymedon,
Heroic King of the proud giant race,
Who, losing all his impious people, shared
The same dread fate himself. Her Neptune lov’d,
To whom she bore a son, the mighty prince
Nausithoüs, in his day King of the land.
Nausithoüs himself two sons begat,
Rhexenor and Alcinoüs. Phoebus slew
Rhexenor at his home, a bridegroom yet,
Who, father of no son, one daughter left,
Areta, wedded to Alcinoüs now,
And whom the Sov’reign in such honour holds,
As woman none enjoys of all on earth
Existing, subjects of an husband’s pow’r.
Like veneration she from all receives
Unfeign’d, from her own children, from himself.
Alcinoüs, and from all Phæacia’s race,
Who, gazing on her as she were divine,
Shout when she moves in progress through the town.
For she no wisdom wants, but sits, herself,
Arbitress of such contests as arise
Between her fav’rites, and decides aright.
Her count’nance once and her kind aid secured,
Thou may’st thenceforth expect thy friends to see,
Thy dwelling, and thy native soil again.
So Pallas spake, Goddess cærulean-eyed,
And o’er the untillable and barren Deep
Departing, Scheria left, land of delight,
Whence reaching Marathon, and Athens next,
She pass’d into Erectheus’fair abode.
Ulysses, then, toward the palace moved
Of King Alcinoüs, but immers’d in thought
Stood, first, and paused, ere with his foot he press’d
The brazen threshold; for a light he saw
As of the sun or moon illuming clear
The palace of Phæacia’s mighty King.
Walls plated bright with brass, on either side
Stretch’d from the portal to th’ interior house,
With azure cornice crown’d; the doors were gold
Which shut the palace fast; silver the posts
Rear’d on a brazen threshold, and above,
The lintels, silver, architraved with gold.
Mastiffs, in gold and silver, lined the approach
On either side, by art celestial framed
Of Vulcan, guardians of Alcinoüs’ gate
For ever, unobnoxious to decay.
Sheer from the threshold to the inner house
Fixt thrones the walls, through all their length, adorn’d,
With mantles overspread of subtlest warp
Transparent, work of many a female hand.
On these the princes of Phæacia sat,
Holding perpetual feasts, while golden youths
On all the sumptuous altars stood, their hands
With burning torches charged, which, night by night,
Shed radiance

  By PanEris using Melati.

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