Ulysses, doubting whether he shall destroy or not the women servants who commit lewdness with the suitors, resolves at length to spare them for the present. He asks an omen from Jupiter, and that he would grant him also to hear some propitious words from the lips of one in the family. His petitions are both answered. Preparation is made for the feast. Whilst the suitors sit at table, Pallas smites them with a horrid frenzy. Theoclymenus, observing the strange effects of it, prophesies their destruction, and they decide his prophecy.
On a bulls-hide undressd, oer which he spread
The fleece of many a sheep slain by the Greeks,
And, coverd by the households governess
With a wide cloak, composed himself to rest.
Yet slept he not, but meditating lay
Woe to his enemies. Meantime, the train
Of women, wonted to the suitors arms,
Issuing all mirth and laughter, in his soul
A tempest raised of doubts, whether at once
To slay, or to permit them yet to give
Their lusty paramours one last embrace.
As growls the mastiff standing on the start
For battle, if a strangers foot approach
Her cubs new-whelpdso growld Ulysses heart,
While wonder filld him at their impious deeds.
But, smiting on his breast, thus he reproved
The mutinous inhabitant within.
When, uncontroulable by force of man,
The Cyclops thy illustrious friends devourd.
Thy patience then faild not, till prudence found
Delivrance for thee on the brink of fate.
Which, tractable, endured the rigorous curb,
And patient; yet he turnd from side to side.
As when some hungry swain turns oft a maw
Unctuous and savry on the burning coals,
Quick expediting his desired repast,
So he from side to side rolld, pondring deep
How likeliest with success he might assail
Those shameless suitors; one to many opposed.
Then, sudden from the skies descending, came
Minerva in a female form her stand
Above his head she took, and thus she spake.
Thou art at home; here dwells thy wife, and here
Thy son; a son, whom all might wish their own.
O Goddess! true is all that thou hast said,
But, not without anxiety, I muse
How, single as I am, I shall assail
Those shameless suitors who frequent my courts
Daily; and always their whole multitude.
This weightier theme I meditate beside;
Should I, with Joves concurrence and with thine
Prevail to slay them, how shall I escape,
Myself, at last? oh Goddess, weigh it well.
Oh faithless man! a man will in his friend
Confide, though mortal, and in valour less
And wisdom than himself; but I who keep
Thee in all difficulties, am divine.
I tell thee plainly. Were we hemmd around
By fifty troops of shouting warriors bent
To slay thee, thou shouldst yet securely drive
The flocks away and cattle of them all.
But yield to sleeps soft influence; for to lie
All night thus watchful, is, itself, distress.
Fear not. Delivrance waits, not far remote.
Soft slumbers, and when sleep that sooths the mind
And nerves the limbs afresh had seized him once,
To the Olympian summit swift returnd.
But his chaste spouse awoke; she weeping sat
On her soft couch, and, noblest of her sex,
Satiate at length with tears, her prayr addressd
First to Diana of the Powrs above.
I would that with a shaft this moment sped
Into my bosom, thou wouldst here conclude
My mournful life! or, oh that, as it flies,
Snatching me through the pathless air, a storm
Would whelm me deep in Oceans restless tide!
So, when the Gods their parents had destroyd,
Storms suddenly the beauteous daughters snatchd
Of Pandarus away; them left forlorn
Venus with curds, with honey and with wine
Fed duly; Juno gave them to surpass
All women in the charms of face and mind,
With graceful stature eminent the chaste
Diana blessd them, and in works of art
Illustrious, Pallas taught them to excel.
But when the foam-sprung Goddess to the skies
A suitress went on their behalf, to obtain
Blest nuptials for them from the Thundrer Jove,
(For Jove the happiness, himself, appoints,
And the unhappiness of all below)
Meantime, the Harpies ravishing away
Those virgins, gave them to the Furies Three,
That they might serve them. O that me the Gods
Inhabiting Olympus so would hide
From human eyes for ever,
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