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THE

ODYSSEY.

BOOK XX.

ARGUMENT.

While Ulysses lies in the vestibule of the palace, he is witness to the disorders of the women. Minerva comforts him, and casts him asleep. At his waking he desires a favourable sign from Jupiter, which is granted. The feast of Apollo is celebrated by the people, and the suitors banquet in the palace. Telemachus exerts his authority amongst them; notwithstanding which, Ulysses is insulted by Ctesippus, and the rest continue in their excesses. Strange prodigies are seen by Theoclymenus the augur, who explains them to the destruction of the wooers.

THE

ODYSSEY.

BOOK XX.

AN ample hide divine Ulysses spread,
And form'd of fleecy skins his humble bed:
(The remnants of the spoil the suitor-crowd
In festival devour'd, and victims vow'd).
Then o'er the chief, Eurynomè the chaste
With duteous care a downy carpet cast:
With dire revenge his thoughtful bosom glows,
And, ruminating wrath, he scorns repose.
As thus pavilion'd in the porch he lay,
Scenes of lewd loves his wakeful eyes survey,
Whilst to nocturnal joys impure repair,
With wanton glee, the prostituted fair.
His heart with rage this new dishonour stung,
Wavering his thoughts in dubious balance hung;
Or instant should he quench the guilty flame
With their own blood, and intercept the shame;
Or to their lust indulge a last embrace,
And let the peers consummate the disgrace.
Round his swoln heart the murmurous fury rolls;
As o'er her young the mother-mastiff growls,
And bays the stranger groom: so wrath compress'd
Recoiling, mutter'd thunder in his breast.

Poor suffering heart! he cried, support the pain
Of wounded honour, and thy rage restrain.
Not fiercer woes thy fortitude could foil,
When the brave partners of thy ten years' toil
Dire Polypheme devour'd; I then was freed
By patient prudence from the death decreed.
Thus anchor'd safe on reason's peaceful coast,
Tempests of wrath his soul no longer tost;
Restless his body rolls, to rage resign'd:
As one who long with pale-ey'd famine pin'd,
The savoury cates on glowing embers cast
Incessant turns, impatient for repast:
Ulysses so, from side to side devolv'd,

In self-debate the suitors' doom resolv'd.
When, in the form of mortal nymph array'd,
From heaven descends the Jove-born martial maid;
And hovering o'er his head in view confess'd,
The goddess thus her favourite care address'd:
Oh thou, of mortals most inur'd to woes!
Why roll those eyes unfriended of repose?
Beneath thy palace roof forget thy care;
Blest in thy queen! blest in thy blooming heir!
Whom, to the gods when suppliant fathers bow,
They name the standard of their dearest vow.
Just is thy kind reproach (the chief rejoin'd),
Deeds full of fate distract my various mind,
In contemplation rapt. This hostile crew
What single arm hath prowess to subdue?
Or if, by Jove's and thy auxiliar aid,
They're doom'd to bleed; O say, celestial maid!
Where shall Ulysses shun, or how sustain
Nations embattled to revenge the slain ?

Oh impotence of faith! Minerva cries,
If man on frail unknowing man relies,
Doubt you the gods? Lo, Pallas' self descends,
Inspires thy counsels, and thy toils attends.

In me affianc'd, fortify thy breast,

Though myriads leagu'd thy rightful claim contest:
My sure divinity shall bear the shield,

And edge thy sword to reap the glorious field.
Now, pay the debt to craving nature due,
Her faded powers with balmy rest renew.
She ceas'd, ambrosial slumbers seal his eyes;
His care dissolves in visionary joys:
The goddess, pleas'd, regains her natal skies.
Not so the queen: the downy bands of sleep
By grief relax'd, she wak'd again to weep:
A gloomy pause ensu'd of dumb despair;
Then thus her fate invok'd with fervent prayer.
Diana! speed thy deathful ebon dart,
And cure the pangs of this convulsive heart.
Snatch me, ye whirlwinds! far from human race,
Tost through the void illimitable space:
Or if dismounted from the rapid cloud,
Me with his whelming wave let Ocean shroud!
So, Pandarus, thy hopes, three orphan-fair,
Were doom'd to wander through the devious air;
Thyself untimely, and thy consort died,

But four celestials both your cares supplied.
Venus in tender delicacy rears

With honey, milk, and wine, their infant years:
Imperial Juno to their youth assign'd

A form majestic, and sagacious mind:

With shapely growth Diana grac'd their bloom;
And Pallas taught the texture of the loom.
But whilst, to learn their lots in nuptial love,
Bright Cytherea sought the bower of Jove
(The god supreme, to whose eternal eye
The registers of fate expanded lie);

Wing'd Harpies snatch th' unguarded charge away,
And to the Furies bore a grateful prey.

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