The discovery of Ulysses to Euryclea.
Ulysses and his son remove the weapons out of the armoury. Ulysses, in conversation with Penelope, gives a fictitious account of his adventures; then assures her he had formerly entertained her husband in Crete; and describes exactly his person and dress; affirms to have heard of him in Phaeacia and Thesprotia, and that his return is certain, and within a month. He then goes to bathe, and is attended by Euryclea, who discovers him to be Ulysses by the scar upon his leg, which he formerly received in hunting the wild boar on Parnassus. The poet inserts a digression relating that accident, with all its particulars.
Consulting secret with the blue-eyed maid,
Still in the dome divine Ulysses stay’d:
Revenge mature for act inflamed his breast;
And thus the son the fervent sire address’d:
“Instant convey those steely stores of war
To distant rooms, disposed with secret care:
The cause demanded by the suitor-train,
To soothe their fears, a specious reason feign:
Say, since Ulysses left his natal coast,
Obscene with smoke, their beamy lustre lost,
His arms deform the roof they wont adorn:
From the glad walls inglorious lumber torn.
Suggest, that Jove the peaceful thought inspired,
Lest they, by sight of swords to fury fired,
Dishonest wounds, or violence of soul,
Defame the bridal feast and friendly bowl.”
The prince, obedient to the sage command,
To Euryclea thus: “The female band
In their apartments keep; secure the doors;
These swarthy arms among the covert stores
Are seemlier hid; my thoughtless youth they blame,
Imbrown’d with vapour of the smouldering flame.”
“In happier hour (pleased Euryclea cries),
Tutour’d by early woes, grow early wise;
Inspect with sharpen’d sight, and frugal care,
Your patrimonial wealth, a prudent heir.
But who the lighted taper will provide
(The female train retired) your toils to guide?”
“Without infringing hospitable right,
This guest (he cried) shall bear the guiding light:
I cheer no lazy vagrants with repast;
They share the meal that earn it ere they taste.”
He said: from female ken she straight secures
The purposed deed, and guards the bolted doors:
Auxiliar to his son, Ulysses bears
The plumy-crested helms and pointed spears,
With shields indented deep in glorious wars.
Minerva viewless on her charge attends,
And with her golden lamp his toil befriends.
Not such the sickly beams, which unsincere
Gild the gross vapour of this nether sphere!
A present deity the prince confess’d,
And wrapp’d with ecstasy the sire address’d:
“What miracle thus dazzles with surprise!
Distinct in rows the radiant columns rise;
The walls, where’er my wondering sight I turn,
And roofs, amidst a blaze of glory burn!
Some visitant of pure ethereal race
With his bright presence deigns the dome to grace.”