Book 17

Telemachus returns to the city, and relates to his mother the principal passages of his voyage; Ulysses, conducted by Eumæus, arrives there also, and enters among the suitors, having been known only by his old dog Argus, who dies at his feet. The curiosity of Penelope being excited by the account which Eumæus gives her of Ulysses, she orders him immediately into her presence, but Ulysses postpones the interview till evening, when the suitors having left the palace, there shall be no danger of interruption. Eumæus returns to his cottage.

   Now look’d Aurora from the East abroad,
When the illustrious offspring of divine
Ulysses bound his sandals to his feet;
He seiz’d his sturdy spear match’d to his gripe,
And to the city meditating quick
Departure now, the swine-herd thus bespake.

   Father! I seek the city, to convince
My mother of my safe return, whose tears,
I judge, and lamentation shall not cease
Till her own eyes behold me. But I lay
On thee this charge. Into the city lead,
Thyself, this hapless guest, that he may beg
Provision there, a morsel and a drop
From such as may, perchance, vouchsafe the boon.
I cannot, vext and harass’d as I am,
Feed all, and should the stranger take offence,
The worse for him. Plain truth is my delight.

   To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Nor is it my desire to be detained.
Better the mendicant in cities seeks
His dole, vouchsafe it whosoever may,
Than in the villages. I am not young,
Nor longer of an age that well accords
With rural tasks, nor could I all perform
That it might please a master to command.
Go then, and when I shall have warm’d my limbs
Before the hearth, and when the risen sun
Shall somewhat chase the cold, thy servant’s task
Shall be to guide me thither, as thou bidd’st,
For this is a vile garb; the frosty air
Of morning would benumb me thus attired,
And, as ye say, the city is remote.

   He ended, and Telemachus in haste
Set forth, his thoughts all teeming as he went
With dire revenge. Soon in the palace-courts
Arriving, he reclined his spear against
A column, and proceeded to the hall.
Him Euryclea, first, his nurse, perceived,
While on the variegated seats she spread
Their fleecy cov’ring; swift with tearful eyes
She flew to him, and the whole female train
Of brave Ulysses swarm’d around his son,
Clasping him, and his forehead and his neck
Kissing affectionate; then came, herself,
As golden Venus or Diana fair,
Forth from her chamber to her son’s embrace,
The chaste Penelope; with tears she threw
Her arms around him, his bright-beaming eyes
And forehead kiss’d, and with a murmur’d plaint
Maternal, in wing’d accents thus began.

   Thou hast return’d, light of my eyes! my son!
My lov’d Telemachus! I had no hope
To see thee more when once thou hadst embark’d
For Pylus, privily, and with no consent
From me obtain’d, news seeking of thy sire.
But haste; unfold. Declare what thou hast seen.

   To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Ah mother! let my sorrows rest, nor me
From death so lately ’scaped afflict anew,
But, bathed and habited in fresh attire,
With all the maidens of thy train ascend
To thy superior chamber, there to vow
A perfect hecatomb to all the Gods,
When Jove shall have avenged our num’rous wrongs.
I seek the forum, there to introduce
A guest, my follower from the Pylian shore,
Whom sending forward with my noble band,
I bade Piræus to his own abode
Lead him, and with all kindness entertain
The stranger, till I should myself arrive.

   He spake, nor flew his words useless away.
She, bathed and habited in fresh attire,
Vow’d a full hecatomb to all the Gods,
Would Jove but recompense her num’rous wrongs.
Then, spear in hand, went forth her son, two dogs
Fleet-footed following him. O’er all his form
Pallas diffused a dignity divine,
And ev’ry eye gazed on him as he pass’d.
The suitors throng’d him round, joy on their lips
And welcome, but deep mischief in their hearts.
He, shunning all that crowd, chose to himself
A seat, where Mentor sat, and Antiphus,
And Halytherses, long his father’s friends
Sincere, who of his voyage much enquired.
Then drew Piræus nigh, leading his guest
Toward the forum; nor Telemachus
Stood long aloof, but greeted his approach,
And was accosted by Piræus thus.

   Sir! send thy menial women to bring home
The precious charge committed to my care,
Thy gifts at Menelaus’ hands received.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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