this polish’d bow with ease,
Since in this whole assembly I discern
None like Ulysses, whom myself have seen
And recollect, though I was then a boy.

   He said, but in his heart, meantime, the hope
Cherish’d, that he should bend, himself, the bow,
And pass the rings; yet was he destin’d first
Of all that company to taste the steel
Of brave Ulysses’ shaft, whom in that house
He had so oft dishonour’d, and had urged
So oft all others to the like offence.
Amidst them, then, the sacred might arose
Of young Telemachus, who thus began.

   Saturnian Jove questionless hath deprived
Me of all reason. My own mother, fam’d
For wisdom as she is, makes known to all
Her purpose to abandon this abode
And follow a new mate, while, heedless, I
Trifle and laugh as I were still a child.
But come, ye suitors! since the prize is such,
A woman like to whom none can be found
This day in all Achaia; on the shores
Of sacred Pylus; in the cities proud
Of Argos or Mycenæ; or even here
In Ithaca; or yet within the walls
Of black Epirus; and since this yourselves
Know also, wherefore should I speak her praise?
Come then, delay not, waste not time in vain
Excuses, turn not from the proof, but bend
The bow, that thus the issue may be known.
I also will, myself, that task essay;
And should I bend the bow, and pass the rings,
Then shall not my illustrious mother leave
Her son forlorn, forsaking this abode
To follow a new spouse, while I remain
Disconsolate, although of age to bear,
Successful as my sire, the prize away.

   So saying, he started from his seat, cast off
His purple cloak, and lay’d his sword aside,
Then fix’d, himself, the rings, furrowing the earth
By line, and op’ning one long trench for all,
And stamping close the glebe. Amazement seized
All present, seeing with how prompt a skill
He executed, though untaught, his task.
Then, hasting to the portal, there he stood.
Thrice, struggling, he essay’d to bend the bow,
And thrice desisted, hoping still to draw
The bow-string home, and shoot through all the rings.
And now the fourth time striving with full force
He had prevail’d to string it, but his sire
Forbad his eager efforts by a sign.
Then thus the royal youth to all around—

   Gods! either I shall prove of little force
Hereafter, and for manly feats unapt,
Or I am yet too young, and have not strength
To quell the aggressor’s contumely. But come—
(For ye have strength surpassing mine) try ye
The bow, and bring this contest to an end.

   He ceas’d, and set the bow down on the floor,
Reclining it against the shaven pannels smooth
That lined the wall; the arrow next he placed,
Leaning against the bow’s bright-polish’d horn,
And to the seat, whence he had ris’n, return’d.
Then thus Eupithes’ son, Antinoüs spake.

   My friends! come forth successive from the right,
Where he who ministers the cup begins.

   So spake Antinoüs, and his counsel pleased.
Then, first, Leiodes, Œnop’s son, arose.
He was their soothsayer, and ever sat
Beside the beaker, inmost of them all.
To him alone, of all, licentious deeds
Were odious, and, with indignation fired,
He witness’d the excesses of the rest.
He then took foremost up the shaft and bow,
And, station’d at the portal, strove to bend
But bent it not, fatiguing, first, his hands
Delicate and uncustom’d to the toil.
He ceased, and the assembly thus bespake.

   My friends, I speed not; let another try;
For many Princes shall this bow of life
Bereave, since death more eligible seems,
Far more, than loss of her, for whom we meet
Continual here, expecting still the prize.
Some suitor, haply, at this moment, hopes
That he shall wed whom long he hath desired,
Ulysses’ wife, Penelope; let him
Essay the bow, and, trial made, address
His spousal offers to some other fair
Among the long-stoled Princesses of Greece,
This Princess leaving his, whose proffer’d gifts
Shall please her most, and whom the Fates ordain.

   He said, and set the bow down on the floor,
Reclining it against the shaven pannels smooth
That lined the wall; the arrow, next, he placed,
Leaning against the bow’s bright-polish’d horn,
And to the seat whence he had ris’n return’d.
Then him Antinoüs, angry thus reproved.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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