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THE CONFERENCE WITH MENELAUS.
TELEMACHUS, with Pisistratus, arriving at Sparta, is hospi tably received by Menelaus, to whom he relates the cause of his coming, and learns from him many particulars of what befel the Greeks since the destruction of Troy. He dwells more at large upon the prophecies of Proteus to him in his return, from which he acquaints Telemachus, that Ulysses is detained in the island of Calypso.
In the meantime the suitors consult to destroy Telemachus in his voyage home. Penelope is apprised of this, but com. forted in a dream by Pallas, in the shape of her sister Ip thima.
AND now proud Sparta with their wheels resounds,
Sparta whose walls a range of bills surrounds:
At the fair dome the rapid labour ends;
Where sat Atrides midst his bridal friends,
With double vows invoking Hymen's pow'r,
To bless his son's and daughter's nuptial hour.
That day, to great Achilles' son resign'd,
Hermione, the fairest of her kind,
Was sent to crown the long-protracted joy,
Espous'd before the fatal doom of Troy:
With steeds and gilded cars, a gorgeous train
Attend the nymph to Phthia's distant reign.
Meanwhile at home, to Megapenthes' bed
The virgin-choir Alector's daughter led.
Brave Megapenthes, from a stol'n amour
To great Atrides' age his handmaid bore:
To Helen's bed the gods alone assign
Hermione, to' extend the regal line;
On whom a radiant pomp of graces wait,
Resembling Venus in attractive state.
While this gay friendly troop the king surround, With festival and mirth the roofs resound;
A bard amid the joyous circle sings
High airs, attemper'd to the vocal strings;
Whilst, warbling to the varied strain, advance
Two sprightly youths to form the bounding dance.
"Twas then, that issuing through the palace gate
The splendid car roll'd slow in regal state:
On the bright eminence young Nestor shone,
And fast beside him great Ulysses' son.
Grave Eteoneus saw the pomp appear,
And, speeding, thus address'd the royal ear:
'Two youths approach, whose semblant features
Their blood devolving from the source of Jove.
Is due reception deign'd, or must they bend
Their doubtful course to seek a distant friend?'
'Insensate! (with a sigh the king replies)
Too long, misjudging, have I thought thee wise:
But sure relentless folly steels thy breast,
Obdurate to reject the stranger-guest;
To those dear hospitable rites a foe,
Which in my wanderings oft reliev'd my woe:
Fed by the bounty of another's board,
Till pitying Jove my native realm restor❜d—
Straight be the coursers from the car releas'd,
Conduct the youths to grace the genial feast.'
The seneschal, rebuk'd, in haste withdrew;
With equal haste a menial train pursue :
Part led the coursers, from the car enlarg'd,
Each to a crib with choicest grain surcharg'd,
Part in a portico, profusely grac'd
With rich magnificence, the chariot plac'd ;
Then to the dome the friendly pair invite,
Who eye the dazzling roofs with vast delight,
Resplendent as the blaze of summer-noon,
Or the pale radiance of the midnight moon.
From room to room their eager view they bend;
Thence to the bath, a beauteous pile, descend;
Where a bright damsel-train attends the guests
With liquid odours, and embroider'd vests.
Refresh'd, they wait them to the bower of state,
Where circled with his peers Atrides sat:
Thron'd next the king, a fair attendant brings
The purest product of the crystal springs;
High on a massy vase of silver mould,
The burnish'd laver flames with solid gold:
In solid gold the purple vintage flows,
And on the board a second banquet rose.
When thus the king with hospitable port:
6 Accept this welcome to the Spartan court;
The waste of nature let the feast repair,
Then your high lineage and your names declare :
Say from what sceptred ancestry ye claim,
Recorded eminent in deathless fame?
For vulgar parents cannot stamp their race
With signatures of such majestic grace.'
Ceasing, benevolent he straight assigns
The royal portion of the choicest chines
To each accepted friend: with grateful haste
They share the honours of the rich repast.
Suffic'd, soft whispering thus to Nestor's son,
His head reclin'd, young Ithacus begun:
'View'st thou unmov'd, O ever-honour'd most!
These prodigies of art, and wondrous cost?
Above, beneath, around the palace shines
The sumless treasure of exhausted mines:
The spoils of elephants, the roofs inlay,
And studded amber darts a golden ray:
Such, and not nobler, in the realms above
My wonder dictates is the dome of Jove.'
The monarch took the word, and grave replied:
'Presumptuous are the vaunts, and vain the pride
Of man who dares in pomp with Jove contest,
Unchang'd, immortal, and supremely bless'd!
With all my affluence when my woes are weigh'd,
Envy will own, the purchase dearly paid.
For eight slow-circling years by tempest tost,
From Cyprus to the fair Phoenician coast,
(Sidon the capital) I stretch'd my toil
Through regions fatten'd with the flows of Nile.
Next Ethiopia's utmost bound explore,
And the parch'd borders of the Arabian shore :
Then warp my voyage on the southern gales,
O'er the warm Libyan wave to spread my sails;
That happy clime! where each revolving year
The teeming ewes a triple offspring bear,
And two fair crescents of translucent horn
The brows of all their young increase adorn;
The shepherd swains with sure abundance bless'd,
On the fat flock and rural dainties feast;
Nor want of herbage makes the dairy fail,
But every season fills the foaming pail.
Whilst heaping unwish'd wealth, I distant roam,
The best of brothers, at his natal home,
By the dire fury of a traitress wife,
Ends the sad evening of a stormy life:
Whence with incessant grief my soul annoy'd,
These riches are possess'd, but not enjoy'd!
My wars, the copious theme of every tongue,
To you, your fathers have recorded long:
How favouring heaven repaid my glorious toils
With a sack'd palace, and barbaric spoils.