Book 22

Ulysses, with some little assistance from Telemachus, Eumæus and Philœtius, slays all the suitors, and twelve of the female servants who had allowed themselves an illicit intercourse with them, are hanged. Melanthius also is punished with miserable mutilation.

   Then, girding up his rags, Ulysses sprang
With bow and full-charged quiver to the door;
Loose on the broad stone at his feet he pour’d
His arrows, and the suitors, thus, bespake.

   This prize, though difficult, hath been atchieved.
Now for another mark which never man
Struck yet, but I will strike it if I may,
And if Apollo make that glory mine.

   He said, and at Antinoüs aimed direct
A bitter shaft; he, purposing to drink,
Both hands advanced toward the golden cup
Twin-ear’d, nor aught suspected death so nigh.
For who, at the full banquet, could suspect
That any single guest, however brave,
Should plan his death, and execute the blow?
Yet him Ulysses with an arrow pierced
Full in the throat, and through his neck behind
Started the glitt’ring point. Aslant he droop’d;
Down fell the goblet, through his nostrils flew
The spouted blood, and spurning with his foot
The board, he spread his viands in the dust.
Confusion, when they saw Antinoüs fall’n,
Seized all the suitors; from the thrones they sprang,
Flew ev’ry way, and on all sides explored
The palace-walls, but neither sturdy lance
As erst, nor buckler could they there discern,
Then, furious, to Ulysses thus they spake.

   Thy arrow, stranger, was ill-aimed; a man
Is no just mark. Thou never shaft dispute
Prize more. Inevitable death is thine.
For thou hast slain a Prince noblest of all
In Ithaca, and shalt be vultures’ food.

   Various their judgments were, but none believed
That he had slain him wittingly, nor saw
Th’ infatuate men fate hov’ring o’er them all.
Then thus Ulysses, louring dark, replied.

   O dogs! not fearing aught my safe return
From Ilium, ye have shorn my substance close,
Lain with my women forcibly, and sought,
While yet I lived, to make my consort yours,
Heedless of the inhabitants of heav’n
Alike, and of the just revenge of man.
But death is on the wing; death for you all.

   He said; their cheeks all faded at the sound,
And each with sharpen’d eyes search’d ev’ry nook
For an escape from his impending doom,
Till thus, alone, Eurymachus replied.

   If thou indeed art he, the mighty Chief
Of Ithaca return’d, thou hast rehears’d
With truth the crimes committed by the Greeks
Frequent, both in thy house and in thy field.
But he, already, who was cause of all,
Lies slain, Antinoüs; he thy palace fill’d
With outrage, not solicitous so much
To win the fair Penelope, but thoughts
Far diff’rent framing, which Saturnian Jove
Hath baffled all; to rule, himself, supreme
In noble Ithaca, when he had kill’d
By an insidious stratagem thy son.
But he is slain. Now therefore, spare thy own,
Thy people; public reparation due
Shall sure be thine, and to appease thy wrath
For all the waste that, eating, drinking here
We have committed, we will yield thee, each,
Full twenty beeves, gold paying thee beside
And brass, till joy shall fill thee at the sight,
However just thine anger was before.

   To whom Ulysses, frowning stern, replied,
Eurymachus, would ye contribute each
His whole inheritance, and other sums
Still add beside, ye should not, even so,
These hands of mine bribe to abstain from blood,
Till ev’ry suitor suffer for his wrong.
Ye have your choice. Fight with me, or escape
(Whoever may) the terrours of his fate,
But ye all perish, if my thought be true.

   He ended, they with trembling knees and hearts
All heard, whom thus Eurymachus address’d.

   To your defence, my friends! for respite none
Will he to his victorious hands afford,
But, arm’d with bow and quiver, will dispatch
Shafts from the door till he have slain us all.
Therefore to arms—draw each his sword—oppose
The tables to his shafts, and all at once
Rush on him; that, dislodging him at least
From portal and from threshold, we may give
The city on all sides a loud alarm,
So shall this archer soon have shot his last.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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