Book 14

Ulysses arriving at the house of Eumæus, is hospitably entertained, and spends the night there.

   Leaving the haven-side, he turn’d his steps
Into a rugged path, which over hills
Mantled with trees led him to the abode
By Pallas mention’d of his noble friend
The swine-herd, who of all Ulysses’ train
Watch’d with most diligence his rural stores.
Him sitting in the vestibule he found
Of his own airy lodge commodious, built
Amidst a level lawn. That structure neat
Eumæus, in the absence of his Lord,
Had raised, himself, with stones from quarries hewn,
Unaided by Laertes or the Queen.
With tangled thorns he fenced it safe around,
And with contiguous stakes riv’n from the trunks
Of solid oak black-grain’d hemm’d it without.
Twelve penns he made within, all side by side,
Lairs for his swine, and fast-immured in each
Lay fifty pregnant females on the floor.
The males all slept without, less num’rous far,
Thinn’d by the princely wooers at their feasts
Continual, for to them he ever sent
The fattest of his saginated charge.
Three hundred, still, and sixty brawns remained.
Four mastiffs in adjoining kennels lay,
Resembling wild-beasts nourish’d at the board
Of the illustrious steward of the styes.
Himself sat fitting sandals to his feet,
Carved from a stain’d ox-hide. Four hinds he kept,
Now busied here and there; three in the penns
Were occupied; meantime, the fourth had sought
The city, whither, for the suitors’ use,
With no good will, but by constraint, he drove
A boar, that, sacrificing to the Gods,
Th’ imperious guests might on his flesh regale.

   Soon as those clamorous watch-dogs the approach
Saw of Ulysses, baying loud, they ran
Toward him; he, as ever, well-advised,
Squatted, and let his staff fall from his hand.
Yet foul indignity he had endured
Ev’n there, at his own farm, but that the swain,
Following his dogs in haste, sprang through the porch
To his assistance, letting fall the hide.
With chiding voice and vollied stones he soon
Drove them apart, and thus his Lord bespake.

   Old man! one moment more, and these my dogs
Had, past doubt, worried thee, who should’st have proved,
So slain, a source of obloquy to me.
But other pangs the Gods, and other woes
To me have giv’n, who here lamenting sit
My godlike master, and his fatted swine
Nourish for others’ use, while he, perchance,
A wand’rer in some foreign city, seeks
Fit sustenance, and none obtains, if still
Indeed he live, and view the light of day.
But, old friend! follow me into the house,
That thou, at least, with plenteous food refresh’d,
And cheer’d with wine sufficient, may’st disclose
Both who thou art, and all that thou hast borne.

   So saying, the gen’rous swine-herd introduced
Ulysses, and thick bundles spread of twigs
Beneath him, cover’d with the shaggy skin
Of a wild goat, of which he made his couch
Easy and large; the Hero, so received,
Rejoiced, and thus his gratitude express’d.

   Jove grant thee and the Gods above, my host,
For such beneficence thy chief desire!

   To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
My guest! I should offend, treating with scorn
The stranger, though a poorer should arrive
Than ev’n thyself; for all the poor that are,
And all the strangers are the care of Jove.
Little, and with good will, is all that lies
Within my scope; no man can much expect
From servants living in continual fear
Under young masters; for the Gods, no doubt,
Have intercepted my own Lord’s return,
From whom great kindness I had, else, received,
With such a recompense as servants gain
From gen’rous masters, house and competence,
And lovely wife from many a wooer won,
Whose industry should have requited well
His goodness, with such blessing from the Gods
As now attends me in my present charge.
Much had I, therefore, prosper’d, had my Lord
Grown old at home; but he hath died—I would
That the whole house of Helen, one and all,
Might perish too, for she hath many slain
Who, like my master, went glory to win
For Agamemnon in the fields of Troy.

   So saying, he girdled, quick, his tunic close,
And, issuing, sought the styes; thence bringing two
Of the imprison’d herd, he slaughter’d both,
Singed them, and slash’d and spitted them, and placed
The whole well-roasted banquet, spits and all,
Reeking before Ulysses; last, with flour
He sprinkled them, and filling with rich wine
His ivy goblet, to his master sat
Opposite, whom inviting thus he said.

   Now, eat, my guest! such as a servant may
I set before thee, neither large of growth
Nor fat; the fatted—those the suitors eat,
Fearless of heav’n, and pitiless of man.
Yet deeds unjust as theirs the blessed Gods
Love not; they honour equity and right.
Even an hostile band when they invade
A foreign shore, which by consent

  By PanEris using Melati.

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