Book 19

Ulysses and Telemachus remove the arms from the hall to an upperchamber. The Hero then confers with Penelope, to whom he gives a fictitious narrative of his adventures. Euryclea, while bathing Ulysses, discovers him by a scar on his knee, but he prevents her communication of that discovery to Penelope.

   They went, but left the noble Chief behind
In his own house, contriving by the aid
Of Pallas, the destruction of them all,
And thus, in accents wing’d, again he said.

   My son! we must remove and safe dispose
All these my well-forged implements of war;
And should the suitors, missing them, enquire
Where are they? thou shalt answer smoothly thus—
I have convey’d them from the reach of smoke,
For they appear no more the same which erst
Ulysses, going hence to Ilium, left,
So smirch’d and sullied by the breath of fire.
This weightier reason (thou shalt also say)
Some God suggested to me,—lest, inflamed
With wine, ye wound each other in your brawls,
Shaming both feast and courtship; for the view
Itself of arms incites to their abuse.

   He ceased, and, in obedience to his will,
Calling the ancient Euryclea forth,
His nurse, Telemachus enjoin’d her thus.

   Go—shut the women in; make fast the doors
Of their apartment, while I safe dispose
Elsewhere, my father’s implements of war,
Which, during his long absence, here have stood
Till smoke hath sullied them. For I have been
An infant hitherto, but, wiser grown,
Would now remove them from the breath of fire.

   Then thus the gentle matron in return.
Yes truly—and I wish that now, at length,
Thou would’st assert the privilege of thy years,
My son, thyself assuming charge of all,
Both house and stores; but who shall bear the light?
Since they, it seems, who would, are all forbidden.

   To whom Telemachus discrete replied.
This guest; for no man, from my table fed,
Come whence he may; shall be an idler here.

   He ended, nor his words flew wing’d away,
But Euryclea bolted every door.
Then, starting to the task, Ulysses caught,
And his illustrious son, the weapons thence,
Helmet, and bossy shield, and pointed spear,
While Pallas from a golden lamp illumed
The dusky way before them. At that sight
Alarm’d, the Prince his father thus address’d.

   Whence—whence is this, my father? I behold
A prodigy! the walls of the whole house,
The arches, fir- tree beams, and pillars tall
Shine in my view, as with the blaze of fire!
Some Pow’r celestial, doubtless, is within.

   To whom Ulysses, ever-wise, replied.
Soft! ask no questions. Give no vent to thought,
Such is the custom of the Pow’rs divine.
Hence, thou, to bed. I stay, that I may yet
Both in thy mother and her maidens move
More curiosity; yes—she with tears
Shall question me of all that I have seen.

   He ended, and the Prince, at his command,
Guided by flaming torches, sought the couch
Where he was wont to sleep, and there he slept
On that night also, waiting the approach
Of sacred dawn. Thus was Ulysses left
Alone, and planning sat in solitude,
By Pallas’ aid, the slaughter of his foes.

   At length, Diana-like, or like herself,
All golden Venus, (her apartment left)
Enter’d Penelope. Beside the hearth
Her women planted her accustom’d seat
With silver wreathed and ivory. That throne
Icmalius made, artist renown’d, and join’d
A footstool to its splendid frame beneath,
Which ever with an ample fleece they spread.
There sat discrete Penelope; then came
Her beautiful attendants from within,
Who cleared the litter’d bread, the board, and cups
From which the insolent companions drank.
They also raked the embers from the hearths
Now dim, and with fresh billets piled them high,
Both for illumination and for warmth.
Then yet again Melantho with rude speech
Opprobrious, thus, assail’d Ulysses’ ear.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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