As on the listed field he used to place
Six beams, opposed to six in equal space;
Elanced afar by his unerring art,
Sure through six circlets flew the whizzing dart.
So, when the sun restores the purple day,
Their strength and skill the suitors shall assay;
To him the spousal honour is decreed,
Who through the rings directs the feather’d reed.
Torn from these walls (where long the kinder powers
With joy and pomp have wing’d my youthful hours!)
On this poor breast no dawn of bliss shall beam;
The pleasure past supplies a copious theme
For many a dreary thought, and many a doleful dream!”
“Propose the sportive lot (the chief replies),
Nor dread to name yourself the bowyer’s prize;
Ulysses will surprise the unfinish’d game,
Avow’d, and falsify the suitors’ claim.”
To whom with grace serene the queen rejoin’d:
“In all thy speech what pleasing force I find!
O’er my suspended woe thy words prevail;
I part reluctant from the pleasing tale,
But Heaven, that knows what all terrestrials need,
Repose to night, and toil to day decreed;
Grateful vicissitudes! yet me withdrawn,
Wakeful to weep and watch the tardy dawn
Establish’d use enjoins; to rest and joy
Estranged, since dear Ulysses sail’d to Troy!
Meantime instructed is the menial tribe
Your couch to fashion as yourself prescribe.”
Thus affable, her bower the queen ascends;
The sovereign step a beauteous train attends;
There imaged to her soul Ulysses rose;
Down her pale cheek new-streaming sorrow flows;
Till soft oblivious shade Minerva spread,
And o’er her eyes ambrosial slumber shed.
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 Caesippus, and the rest continue in their excesses. Strange prodigies are seen by Theoclymenus, the augur, who explains them to the destruction of the wooers.
An ample hide devine 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, Eurynome the chaste
With duteous care a downy carpet cast:
With dire revenge his thoughtful bosom glows,
And, ruminating wrath, he scorns repose.