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G. R.



GEORGE, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting: Whereas Bernard Lintot of our City of London, Bookseller, hath by his Petition humbly represented unto Us, that he is now Printing a Translation, undertaken by Our Trusty and Well-beloved Alexander Pope, Esq of the Odyssey of Homer from the Greek, in Five Volumes in Folio upon large and small Paper, in Quarto upon Royal Paper, in Octavo and Duodecimo, with large Notes upon each Book, and that he has been at great Expence in carrying on the said Work, and the sole Right and Title of the Copy of the same being vested in the said Bernard Lintot, he has humbly be­sought Us to grant him Our Royal Privilege and Licence for the sole Printing and Publishing thereof for the term of fourteen Years: We are therefore graci­ously pleased to gratify him in his Request, and do by these Presents, agreea­ble to the Statute in that behalf made and provided, for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, give and grant unto him the said Bernard Lintot, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, Our Royal Privilege and Licence for the sole Print­ing and Publishing of the said Translation of the Odyssey of Homer, for and du­ring the term of fourteen Years, to be computed from the Day of the Date here­of. Strictly forbidding and prohibiting all Our Subjects within Our Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, and other our Dominions, to reprint or abridge the same, either in the like, or any other Volume or Volumes whatsoever, or to im­port, buy, vend, utter or distribute any Copies of the same or any Part thereof Re­printed beyond the Seas, within the said Term of fourteen Years, without the Con­sent or Approbation of the said Bernard Lintot, his Heirs, Executors and Assigns, by Writing under his or their Hands and Seals first had and obtained, as they and every of them offending herein will answer the contrary at their Perils. Whereof the Master, Wardens, and Company of Stationers of Our City of London, the Commissioners and other Officers of our Customs, and all other our Officers and Ministers whom it may concern are to take Notice, that due Obedience be given to Our Pleasure herein signified. Given at Our Court at St. James's the Nineteenth Day of February 1724/5. In the Eleventh Year of our Reign.

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A GENERAL VIEW of the EPIC POEM, And of the ILIAD and ODYSSEY. Extracted from BOSSU.


Of the Nature of Epic Poetry THE Fables of Poets were originally em­ploy'd in representing the Divine Nature, according to the notion then conceiv'd of it. This sublime Subject occasion'd the first Poets to be call'd Divines, and Poe­try the Language of the Gods. They divided the divine Attributes into so many Per­sons; because the infirmity of a human Mind cannot sufficiently conceive, or ex­plain, so much Power and Action in a Simplicity so great and in­divisible as that of God. And perhaps they were also jealous of the advantages they reap'd from such excellent and exalted learn­ing, and of which they thought the vulgar part of mankind was not worthy.

[Page ii] They could not describe the Operations of this Almighty Cause, without speaking at the same time of its Effects: so that to Divinity they added Physiology, and treated of both, without quitting the umbrages of their Allegorical Expressions.

But Man being the chief and the most noble of all that God produc'd, and nothing being so proper, or more useful to Poets than this Subject; they added it to the former, and trea­ted of the doctrine of Morality after the same manner as they did that of Divinity and Philosophy: And from Morality thus treated, is form'd that kind of Poem and Fable which we call Epic.

The Poets did the same in Morality, that the Divines had done in Divinity. But that infinite variety of the actions and opera­tions of the Divine Nature, (to which our understanding bears so small a proportion) did as it were force them upon dividing the single Idea of the Only One God into several Persons, under the different names of Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, and the rest.

And on the other hand, the nature of Moral Philosophy being such, as never to treat of things in particular, but in general; the Epic Poets were oblig'd to unite in one single Idea, in one and the same Person, and in an Action which appear'd singular, all that look'd like it in different persons, and in various actions; which might be thus contain'd as so many Species under their Genus.

The Presence of the Deity, and the Care such an august Cause is to be suppos'd to take about any action, obliges the Poet to represent this action as great, important, and manag'd by Res gestae re­gumque ducum­que. Hor. Art. Poet. Kings and Princes. It obliges him likewise to think and speak in an elevated way above the vulgar, and in a style that may in some fort keep up the character of the Divine Persons he in­troduces. Cui mens di­vinior atque os Magna sona­turum, des No­minis hujus ho­norem. Horat. To this end serve the poetical and figurative Expres­sion, and the Majesty of the Heroick Verse.

But all this, being divine and surprising, may quite ruin all Probability: Therefore the Poet should take a peculiar care as to that point, since his chief aim is to instruct, and without Proba­bility any action is less likely to persuade.

[Page iii] Lastly, since Precepts ought to be Quicquid praecipies esto brevis, ut citò dicta Percipiant animi dociles, teneantque fide­les. Hor. Poet. concise, to be the more ea­sily conceiv'd, and less oppress the memory; and since nothing can be more effectual to this end than proposing one single Idea, and collecting all things so well together, as to be present to our minds all at once; therefore the Poets have reduc'd all to one Denique sit quodvis simplex duntaxat, & unum. bid. single action, under one and the same design, and in a body whose members and parts should be homogeneous.

What we have observ'd of the nature of the Epic Poem, gives us a just Idea of it, and we may define it thus:

‘"The Epic Poem is a discourse invented by art, to form the Manners, by such instructions as are disguis'd under the allegories of some One important Action, which is related in verse, after a probable, diverting, and surprizing manner."’


The Fable of the Iliad. IN every design which a man deliberately undertakes, the end he proposes is the first thing in his mind, and that by which he governs the whole work, and all its parts: Thus since the End of the Epic Poem is to regulate the Manners, 'tis with this first view the Poet ought to begin.

But there is a great difference between the Philosophical and the Poetical doctrine of Manners. The Schoolmen content themselves with treating of Virtues and Vices in general: the instructions they give are proper for all States, People, and for all Ages. But the Poet has a nearer regard to his own Coun­try, and the necessities of his own nation. With this design he makes choice of some piece of morality, the most proper and just he can imagin: And in order to press this home, he makes less use of the force of Reasoning, than of the power of Insinua­tion; accommodating himself to the particular customs and inclina­tions of those, who are to be the subject, or the readers, of his work.

Let us now see how Homer has acquitted himself in all these respects.

He saw the Grecians, for whom he design'd his Poem, were divided into as many States as they had capital Cities. Each was [Page iv] a Body Politick apart, and had its form of government indepen­dent from all the rest. And yet these distinct States were very often oblig'd to unite together in one body against their com­mon Enemies. These were two very different sorts of Govern­ment, such as could not be comprehended in one maxim of morality, and in one single Poem.

The Poet therefore has made two distinct Fables of them. The one is for Greece in general, united into one body, but compos'd of parts independent on each other; and the other for each particular state, consider'd as they were in time of peace, without the former circumstances and the necessity of being united.

As for the first sort of government, in the Union or rather in the Confederacy of many independent States; experience has always made it appear, ‘"That nothing so much causes success as a due subordination, and a right understanding among the chief commanders. And on the other hand, the inevitable ruin of such confederacies proceeds from the heats, jealousies and ambition of the differerent leaders, and the discontents of submitting to a single General."’ All sorts of States, and in particular the Grecians, had dearly experienc'd this truth. So that the most useful and necessary instruction that could be given them, was, to lay before their eyes the loss which both the People and the Princes must of necessity suffer, by the ambition, discord, and obstinacy of the latter.

Homer then has taken for the foundation of his Fable this great Truth; That a Misunderstanding between Princes is the Ruin of their own States. ‘"I sing (says he) the Anger of Achil­les, so pernicious to the Grecians, and the cause of so many Heroe's deaths, occasion'd by the Discord and Separation of Aga­memnon and that Prince."’

But that this truth may be compleatly and fully known, there is need of a second to support it. 'Tis necessary in such a design, not only to represent the Confederate States at first disagreeing among them­selves, and from thence unfortunate; but to show the same States afterwards reconciled and united, and of consequence victorious.

[Page v] Let us now see how he has joyn'd all these in one general action.

‘"Several Princes independent on one another were united a­gainst a common enemy. The person whom they had elected their General, offers an affront to the most valiant of all the Confederates. This offended Prince is so far provoked, as to relinquish the Union, and obstinately refuse to fight for the common cause. This Mis-understanding gives the enemy such an advantage, that the Allies are very near quitting their de­sign with dishonour. He himself who made the separation is not exempt from sharing the misfortune which he brought up­on his party. For having permitted his intimate friend to succour them in a great necessity, this friend is kill'd by the enemy's General. Thus the contending Princes being both made wiser at their own cost, are reconcil'd, and unite again: Then this valiant Prince not only obtains the victory in the publick cause, but revenges his private wrongs by killing with his own hands the author of the death of his friend."’

This is the first Platform of the Poem, and the Fiction, which reduces into one important and universal Action all the particu­lars upon which it turns.

In the next place it must be render'd Probable by the circumstan­ces of times, places and persons; Some persons must be found out, already known by History or otherwise, whom we may with Probability make the actors and personages of this Fable. Homer has made choice of the siege of Troy, and feign'd that this action happen'd there. To a Phantome of his brain, whom he would paint valiant and cholerick, he has given the name of A­chilles; that of Agamemnon to his General; that of Hector to the Enemies Commander, and so to the rest.

Besides, he was oblig'd to accommodate himself to the manners, customs, and genius of the Greeks his Auditors, the better to make them attend to the instruction of his Poem; and to gain their approbation by praising them: So that they might the better forgive him the representation of their own faults in some of his [Page vi] chief Personages. He admirably discharges all these duties, by making these brave Princes and those victorious people all Greci­ans, and the fathers of those he had a mind to commend.

But not being content, in a work of such a length, to propose only the principal point of the Moral, and to fill up the rest with useless ornaments and foreign incidents, he extends this Moral by all its necessary consequences. As for instance in the subject before us, 'tis not enough to know, that a good understanding ought always to be maintain'd among Confederates: 'Tis likewise of equal importance, that if there happens any division, care must be taken to keep it secret from the enemy, that their ignorance of this advantage may prevent their making use of it. And in the second place, when their concord is but counterfeit and only in appearance, one should never press the enemy too close­ly; for this would discover the weakness which we ought to conceal from them.

The Episode of Patroclus most admirably furnishes us with these two instructions. For when he appear'd in the arms of Achilles, the Trojans, who took him for that Prince now reconciled and united to the Confederates, immediately gave ground, and quit­ted the advantages they had before over the Greeks. But Patro­clus, who should have been contented with this success, presses upon Hector too boldly, and by obliging him to fight, soon dis­covers that it was not the true Achilles who was clad in his ar­mour, but a Heroe of much inferior prowess. So that Hector kills him, and regains those advantages which the Trojans had lost, on the opinion that Achilles was reconciled.


The Fable of the Odyssey. THE Odyssey was not design'd, like the Iliad, for the instru­ction of all the States of Greece join'd in one body, but for each State in particular. As a State is compos'd of two parts; the Head which commands, and the Members which obey; there are instructions requisite for both, to teach the one to govern, and the others to submit to Government.

[Page vii] There are two Virtues necessary to one in authority, Prudence to order, and Care to see his orders put in execution. The Pru­dence of a Politician is not acquir'd but by a long experience in all sorts of business, and by an acquaintance with all the diffe­rent forms of Governments and States. The Care of the Admi­nistration suffers not him that has the Government to rely upon others, but requires his own presence: And Kings who are ab­sent from their States, are in danger of losing them, and give occasion to great disorders and confusion.

These two points may be easily united in one and the same man. ‘* "A King forsakes his Kingdom to visit the courts of several Princes, where he learns the manners and customs of different nations. From hence there naturally arises a vast number of incidents, of dangers, and of adventures, very use­ful for a Political Institution. On the other side, this Absence gives way to the disorders which happen in his own kingdom, and which end not till his return, whose presence only can re­establish all things."’ Thus the Absence of a King has the same effects in this Fable, as the Division of the Princes had in the former.

The Subjects have scarce any need but of one general max­im, which is, To suffer themselves to be govern'd, and to obey faithfully; whatever reason they may imagine against the orders they receiv'd. It is easy to join this instruction with the other, by bestowing on this wise and industrious Prince such Subjects, as in his absence would rather follow their own judgment than his commands: and by demonstrating the misfortunes which this disobedience draws upon them, the evil consequences which al­most infallibly attend these particular notions, which are entirely different from the general Idaea of him who ought to govern.

But as it was necessary that the Princes in the Iliad shou'd be cholerick and quarrelsome, so it is necessary in the Fable of the Odyssey that the chief person should be sage and prudent. This raises a difficulty in the Fiction; because this person ought to be absent for the two reasons aforemention'd, which are essential to the Fable, and which constitute the principal aim of it: But [Page viii] he cannot absent himself, without offending against another maxim of equal importance; viz. That a King should upon no account leave his Country.

It is true, there are sometimes such necessities as sufficiently excuse the Prudence of a Politician in this point. But such a necessity is a thing important enough of it self to supply matter for another Poem, and this multiplication of the action would be vicious. To prevent which in the first place, this Necessity and the departure of the Hero must be disjoin'd from the Poem; and in the second place, the Hero having been oblig'd to ab­sent himself, for a reason antecedent to the action and plac'd distinct from the Fable, he ought not so far to embrace this oppor­nity of instructing himself, as to absent himself voluntarily from his own Government. For at this rate, his Absence would be meerly Voluntary, and one might with reason lay to his charge all the disorders which might arrive.

Thus in the constitution of the Fable, he ought not to take for his action, and for the foundation of his Poem, the Depar­ture of a Prince from his own country, nor his voluntary stay in any other place; but his Return, and this return retarded a­gainst his will. This is the first Idea Homer gives us of it.Odyss. 5. His Hero appears at first in a desolate Island, sitting upon the side of the Sea, which with tears in his eyes he looks upon as the obstacle that had so long oppos'd his Return, and detain'd him from revisiting his own dear Country.

And lastly, since this forc'd delay might more naturally and usually happen to such as make voyages by sea; Homer has ju­diciously made choice of a Prince whose Kingdom was in an Island.

Let us see then how he has feign'd all this Action, making his Hero a person in years, because Years are requisite to instruct a man in Prudence and Policy.

‘"A Prince had been oblig'd to forsake his native Country, and to head an Army of his Subjects in a foreign expedition. Having gloriously perform'd this enterprise, he was marching home again, and conducting his Subjects to his own State. [Page ix] But spite of all the attempts, with which his eagerness to re­turn had inspir'd him, he was stopp'd by the way by tempests for several years, and cast upon several countries differing from each other in Manners and Government. In these dangers his Companions, not always following his orders, perish'd through their own fault. The Grandees of his country strange­ly abuse his absence, and raise no small disorders at home. They consume his estate, conspire to destroy his son, would constrain his Queen to accept of one of them for her Hus­band; and indulge themselves in all violence, so much the more, because they were persuaded he would never return. But at last he returns, and discovering himself only to his son and some others, who had continu'd firm to him, he is an eye-witness of the insolence of his enemies, punishes them ac­cording to their deserts, and restores to his Island that tran­quility and repose to which they had been strangers during his absence."’

As the Truth, which serves for foundation to this fiction is, that the Absence of a person from his own home, or his neglect of his own affairs, is the cause of great disorders: So the Principal point of the Action, and the most Essential one, is the Absence of the Heroe. This fills almost all the Poem: For not only this real absence lasted several years, but even when the Heroe return'd, he does not discover himself; and this prudent disguise, from whence he reap'd so much ad­vantage, has the same effect upon the Authors of the disor­ders, and all others who knew him not, as his real absence had before, so that he is absent as to them, 'till the very mo­ment of their punishment.

After the Poet had thus compos'd his Fable, and join'd the Fi­ction to the Truth, he then makes choice of Ulysses, the King of the Isle of Ithaca, to maintain the character of his chief Personage, and bestow'd the rest upon Telemachus, Penelope, Antinous, and others, whom he calls by what names he pleases.

I shall not here insist upon the many excellent advices, which are so many parts, and natural consequences of the fundamental [Page x] Truth; and which the Poet very dextrously lays down in those fictions, which are the Episodes and Members of the entire Acti­on. Such for instance are these advices: Not to intrude one's self into the Mysteries of Government, which the Prince keeps secret: This is represented to us by the winds shut up in a bull­hide, which the miserable Companions of Ulysses would needs be so foolish as to pry into. Not to suffer ones self to be led away by the seeming Charms of an idle and inactive life, to which the Sirens Songs invited.Improba Si­ren desidia. Horat. Not to suffer ones self to be sensualiz'd by pleasures, like those who were chang'd into brutes by Circe: And a great many other points of Morality necessary for all sorts of people.

This Poem is more useful to the People than the Iliad, where the Subjects suffer rather by the ill conduct of their Princes, than through their own miscarriages. But in the Odyssey, 'tis not the fault of Ulysses that is the ruin of his Subjects. This wise Prince leaves untry'd no method to make them partakers of the benefit of his return. Thus the Poet in the Iliad says, ‘"He sings the anger of Achilles, which had caused the death of so many Grecians;"’ and on the contrary, in the Odyssey he tells his Readers, ‘"That the Subjects perished through their own fault."’


Of the Uni­ty of the Fable. ARISTOTLE bestows great Encomiums on Homer for the Simplicity of his design, because he has included in one single part all that happen'd at the siege of Troy. And to this he op­poses the ignorance of some Poets who imagin'd that the Unity of the Fable or Action was sufficiently preserved by the Unity of the Heroe: and who compos'd their Theseids, Heracleids, and the like, wherein they only heap'd up in one Poem every thing that happen'd to one Personage.

He finds fault with those Poets who were for reducing the U­nity of the Fable into the Unity of the Heroe, because one man may have performed several adventures, which 'tis impossible to [Page xi] reduce under any one and simple head. This reducing of all things to Unity and Simplicity is what Horace likewise makes his first Rule. Denique sit quodvis simplex duntaxat, & unum.

According to these Rules, it will be allowable to make use of several Fables; or (to speak more correctly) of several Incidents which may be divided into several Fables; provided they are so ordered, that the Unity of the Fable be not spoil'd. This liber­ty is still greater in the Epic Poem, because 'tis of a larger extent, and ought to be entire and compleat.

I will explain my self more distinctly by the Practice of Homer.

No doubt but one might make four distinct Fables out of these four following Instructions.

  • 1. Division between those of the same Party exposes them entirely to their enemies.
  • 2. Conceal your Weakness, and you will be dreaded as much, as if you had none of those imperfections, of which they are ignorant.
  • 3. When your strength is only feign'd, and founded only in the O­pinion of others; never venture so far as if your strength was real.
  • 4. The more you agree together, the less hurt can your Enemies do you.

'Tis plain, I say, that each of these particular Maxims might serve for the Ground-work of a Fiction, and one might make four distinct Fables out of them. May one not then put all these into one single Epopea? Not unless one single Fable can be made out of all. The Poet indeed may have so much skill as to unite all into one Body, as Members and Parts, each of which taken asunder would be imperfect; and if he joins them so, as that this Conjunction shall be no hindrance at all to the Unity and the regular Simplicity of the Fable. This is what Homer has done with such success in the composition of the Iliad.

1. The Division between Achilles and his Allies tended to the ruin of their Designs. 2. Patroclus comes to their relief in the Armour of this Heroe, and Hector retreats. 3. But this young Man pushing the advantage, which his disguize gave him, too far, ventures to en­gage with Hector himself; but not being master of Achilles's strength (whom he only represented in outward appearance) he is killed, and by [Page xii] this means leaves the Grecian Affairs in the same disorder, from which in that disguise he came to free them. 4. Achilles provok'd at the death of his Friend, is reconciled, and revenges his loss by the death of Hector. These various incidents being thus united, do not make different Actions and Fables, but are only the uncom­pleat and unfinish'd parts of one and the same Action and Fable, which alone can be said to be compleat and entire: And all these Maxims of the Moral, are easily reduc'd into these two parts, which in my opinion cannot be separated without enervating the force of both. The two parts are these, Concordiâ res­parvae crescunt: discordiâ mag­nae dilabuntur. Salust. de bello Jug. That a right Under­standing is the preservation, and Discord the destruction of States.

Tho' then the Poet has made use of two parts in his Poems, each of which might have serv'd for a Fable, as we have ob­serv'd: Yet this Multiplication cannot be call'd a vicious and ir­regular Polymythia, contrary to the necessary Unity and Simplicity of the Fable; but it gives the Fable another qualification, alto­gether necessary and regular, namely its Perfection and finishing stroke.


Of the Acti­on of the Epic Poem. THE Action of a Poem is the Subject which the Poet un­dertakes, proposes, and builds upon. So that the Moral and the Instructions which are the End of the Epic Poem are not the Matter of it. Those the Poets leave in their Allegorical and fi­gurative obscurity. They only give notice at the Exordium, that they sing some Action. The Revenge of Achilles, the Return of Ulysses, &c.

Since then the Action is the Matter of a Fable, it is evident that whatever incidents are essential to the Fable, or consti­tute a part of it, are necessary also to the Action, and are parts of the Epic Matter, none of which ought to be omitted. Such for instance, are the contention of Agamemnon and Achilles, the slaughter Hector makes in the Grecian Army, the Re union of the Greek Princes; and lastly, the Re-settlement and Victory which was the consequence of that Re-union.

[Page xiii] There are four qualifications in the Epic Action: the first is its Unity, the second its Integrity, the third its Importance, the fourth its Duration.

The Unity of the Epic Action, as well as the Unity of the Fable, does not consist either in the Unity of the Heroe, or in the Unity of Time: Three things I suppose are necessary to it. The first is, to make use of no Episode but what arises from the very platform and foundation of the Action, and is as it were a natural member of the body. The second is, exactly to Unite these Episodes and these Members with one another. And the third is, never to finish any Episode so as it may seem to be an entire Action; but to let each Episode still appear in its own particular nature, as the member of a body, and as a part of it self not compleat.

Of the Be­ginning, Mid­dle, and End of the Action. Aristotle not only says that the Epic Action should be One, but adds, that it should be entire, perfect, and compleat, and for this purpose ought to have a Beginning, a Middle, and an End. These three parts of a whole are too generally and universally denoted by the words, Beginning, Middle, and End; we may interpret them more precisely, and say, That the Causes and Designs of an Action are the Beginning: That the Effects of these Causes, and the Difficulties that are met with in the execution of these designs, are the Middle; and that the Unravelling and Resolution of these difficulties are the End.

The Action of the Iliad. Homer's design in the Iliad is to relate the Anger and Re­venge of Achilles. The Beginning of this Action is the Change of Achilles from a calm to a passionate temper. The Middle is the Effects of his Passion, and all the illustrious Deaths it is the Cause of. The End of this same Action is the Return of A­chilles to his Calmness of temper again. All was quiet in the Grecian Camp, when Agamemnon their General provokes Apollo against them, whom he was willing to appease afterwards at the cost and prejudice of Achilles, who had no part in his fault. This then is an exact Beginning: It supposes nothing before, and requires after it the Effects of this Anger. Achilles revenges himself, and that is an exact Middle; it supposes before it the Anger of Achilles, this Revenge is the Effect of it. Then this [Page xiv] Middle requires after it the Effects of this Revenge, which is the Satisfaction of Achilles: for the Revenge had not been com­pleat, unless Achilles had been satisfied. By this means the Poet makes his Heroe, after he was glutted by the Mischief he had done to Agamemnon, by the death of Hector, and the Honour he did his Friend, by insulting o'er his Murderer; he makes him, I say, to be moved by the Tears and Misfortunes of King Priam. We see him as calm at the End of the Poem, during the Fune­ral of Hector, as he was at the Beginning of the Poem, whilst the Plague raged among the Grecians. This End is just, since the Calmness of temper Achilles re enjoy'd, is only an Effect of the Revenge which ought to have preceded: And after this no Body expects any more of his Anger. Thus has Homer been very exact in the Beginning, Middle and End of the Action he made choice of for the Subject of his Iliad.

The Action of the Odyssey. His Design in the Odyssey was to describe the Return of Ulys­ses from the Siege of Troy, and his Arrival at Ithaca. He opens this Poem with the complaints of Minerva against Neptune, who opposed the Return of this Heroe, and against Calypso who de­tain'd him in an Island from Ithaca. Is this a Beginning? No; doubtless, the Reader would know why Neptune is displeas'd with Ulysses, and how this Prince came to be with Calypso? He would know how he came from Troy thither? The Poet answers his Demands out of the Mouth of Ulysses himself, who relates these things, and begins the Action, by the Recital of his Travels from the City of Troy. It signifies little whether the Beginning of the Ac­tion be the Beginning of the Poem. The Beginning of this Action is that which happens to Ulysses, when upon his leaving Troy he bends his Course for Ithaca. The Middle comprehends all the Misfortunes he endured, and all the Disorders of his own Government. The End is the re-instating of this Hero in the peaceable possession of his Kingdom, where he was acknowledg'd by his Son, his Wife, his Father, and several others. The Poet was sensible he should have ended ill had he gone no farther than the death of these Princes, who were the Rivals and Enemies of Ulysses, because the Reader might have look'd for some Revenge [Page xv] which the Subjects of these Princes might have taken, on him who had kill'd their Sovereigns: But this Danger over, and the People vanquished and quieted, there was nothing more to be expected. The Poem and the Action have all their Parts, and no more.

But the Order of the Odyssey differs from that of the Iliad, in that the Poem does not begin with the Beginning of the Action.

Of the Causes and Beginning of the Action. The Causes of the Action are also what the Poet is oblig'd to give an Account of. There are three sorts of Causes, the Hu­mours, the Interests, and the Designs of Men; and these different Causes of an Action are likewise often the Causes of one ano­ther, every Man taking up those Interests in which his Humour ingages him, and forming those Designs to which his Humour and Interest incline him. Of all these the Poet ought to inform his Readers, and render them conspicuous in his principal Perso­nages.

Homer has ingeniously begun his Odyssey with the Transactions at Ithaca, during the absence of Ulysses. If he had begun with the Travels of his Heroe, he would scarce have spoken of any one else, and a Man might have read a great deal of the Poem, without conceiving the least Idea of Telemachus, Penelope, or her Suitors, who had so great a share in the Action; but in the beginning he has pitch'd upon, besides these Personages, whom he disco­vers, he represents Ulysses in his full Length, and from the very first opening one sees the Interest which the Gods take in the Action.

The Skill and Care of the same Poet may be seen likewise in in­ducing his Personages in the first Book of his Iliad, where he discovers the Humours, the Interests, and the Designs of Agamem­non, Achilles, Hector, Ulysses, and several others, and even of the Deities. And in his Second he makes a Review of the Grecian and Trojan Armies; which is full Evidence, that all we have here said is very necessary.

Of the Middle or Intrigue of the Action. As these Causes are the Beginning of the Action, the opposite Designs against that of the Hero are the Middle of it, and form that Difficulty or Intrigue, which makes up the greatest part of [Page xvi] the Poem; the Solution or Unravelling commences when the Reader begins to see that difficulty remov'd, and the doubts clear'd up. Homer has divided each of his Poems into two Parts, and has put a particular Intrigue, and the Solution of it, into each Part.

The first Part of the Iliad is the Anger of Achilles, who is for revenging himself upon Agamemnon by the means of Hector and the Trojans. The Intrigue comprehends the three days Fight, which happen'd in the Absence of Achilles: and it consists on one side in the resistance of Agamemnon and the Grecians; and on the other in the revengeful and inexorable Humour of Achilles, which would not suffer him to be reconcil'd. The Loss of the Grecians and the Despair of Agamemnon, prepare for a solution by the satisfaction which the incens'd Heroe receiv'd from it. The death of Patroclus join'd to the Offers of Agamemnon, which of it self had prov'd ineffectual, remove this Difficulty, and make the untravelling of the first part.

This death is likewise the Beginning of the second Part; since it puts Achilles upon the design of revenging himself on Hector. But the design of Hector is opposite to that of Achilles; This Trojan is valiant, and resolv'd to stand on his own defence. This Valour and Resolution of Hector, are on his part the cause of the Intrigue. All the Endeavours Achilles us'd, to meet with Hector and be the death of him; and the contrary Endeavours of the Trojan to keep out of his Reach, and defend himself; are the in­trigue; which comprehends the battle of the last day. The un­ravelling begins at the death of Hector; and besides that, it contains the insulting of Achilles over his Body, the Honours he paid to Patroclus, and the Intreaties of King Priam. The re­grets of this King and the other Trojans, in the sorrowful Obse­quies they paid to Hector's body, end the unravelling; they ju­stifie the satisfaction of Achilles, and demonstrate his Tranquil­lity.

The first part of the Odyssey is the return of Ulysses into Itha­ca. Neptune opposes it by raising tempests, and this makes the Intrigue. The unravelling is the arrival of Ulysses upon his own [Page xvii] Island, where Neptune could offer him no farther injury. The second Part is the re-instating this Heroe in his own Govern­ment. The Princes that are his Rivals, oppose him, and this is a fresh Intrigue: The Solution of it begins at their deaths, and is compleated as soon as the Ithacans were appeas'd.

These two Parts in the Odyssey have not one common In­trigue. The Anger of Achilles forms both the Intrigues in the Iliad; and it is so far the Matter of this Epopéa, that the very Beginning and End of this Poem depend on the Beginning and End of this Anger. But let the Desire Achilles had to revenge himself, and the Desire Ulysses had to return to his own Coun­try, be never so near ally'd, yet we cannot place them under one and the same Notion: For that Desire of Ulysses is not a Passion that Begins and Ends in the Poem with the Action; 'tis a natural Habit; nor does the Poet propose it for his Subject as he does the Anger of Achilles.

We have already observ'd what is meant by the Intrigue, and the Unravelling thereof; let us now say something of the Man­ner of forming both. These two should arise naturally out of the very Essence and Subject of the Poem, and are to be deduced from thence. Their Conduct is so exact and natural, that it seems as if their Action had presented them with whatever they in­serted, without putting themselves to the Trouble of a farther In­quiry.

What is more usual and natural to Warriors, than Anger, Heat, Passion, and Impatience of bearing the least Affront or Disrespect? This is what forms the Intrigue of the Iliad; and every thing we read there is nothing else but the Effect of this Humour and these Passions.

What more natural and usual Obstacle to those who take Voyages, than the Sea, the Winds, and the Storms? Homer makes this the Intrigue of the first Part of the Odyssey: And for the second, he makes use of almost the infallible effect of the long Absence of a Master, whose return is quite despair'd of, viz. the Insolence of his Servants and Neighbours, the Danger of his Son and Wife, and the Sequestration of his Estate. Besides an Ab­sence of almost twenty Years, and the insupportable Fatigues [Page xviii] joyn'd to the Age of which Ulysses then was, might induce him to believe that he should not be own'd by those who thought him dead, and whose Interest it was to have him really so. There­fore if he had presently declar'd who he was, and had call'd him­self Ulysses, they would easily have destroy'd him as an Impostor, before he had an Opportunity to make himself known.

There could be nothing more natural nor more necessary than this ingenious Disguise, to which the advantages his Ene­mies had taken of his Absence had reduc'd him, and to which his long Misfortunes had enur'd him. This allow'd him an op­portunity, without hazarding any thing, of taking the best mea­sures he could, against those persons who could not so much as mistrust any harm from him. This way was afforded him by the very Nature of his Action, to execute his Designs, and over­come the Obstacles it cast before him. And 'tis this con­test between the Prudence and the Dissimulation of a single Man on one hand, and the ungovernable Insolence of so many Ri­vals on the other, which constitutes the Intrigue of the second Part of the Odyssey.

Of the End or Unravelling of the Action. If the Plot or Intrigue must be natural, and such as springs from the very Subject, as has been already urg'd: Then the Winding up of the Plot, by a more sure claim, must have this Qualification, and be a probable consequence of all that went before. As this is what the Readers regard more than the rest, so should the Poet be more exact in it. This is the End of the Poem, and the last Impression that is to be stamp'd upon them.

We shall find this in the Odyssey. Ulysses by a Tempest is cast upon the Island of the Phaeacians, to whom he discovers him­self, and desires they would favor his Return to his own Coun­try which was not very far distant. One cannot see any reason why the King of this Island should refuse such a reasonable Re­quest, to a Heroe whom he seem'd to have in great esteem. The Phaeacians indeed had heard him tell the Story of his Adventures; and in this fabulous recital consisted all the advantage they could derive from his Presence; for the Art of War which they admir'd in him, his Undauntedness under Dangers, his indefati­gable Patience, and other Virtues, were such as these Islanders [Page xix] were not used to. All their Talent lay in singing and dan­cing, and whatsoever was charming in a quiet life. And here we see how dextrously Homer prepares the Incidents he makes use of. These People could do no less, for the Account with which Ulysses had so much entertain'd them, than afford him a Ship and a safe Convoy, which was of little expence or trouble to them.

When he arriv'd, his long Absence, and the Travels which had disfigur'd him, made him altogether unknown; and the Danger he would have incurr'd had he discover'd himself too soon, forced him to a Disguise: Lastly, this Disguise gave him an Op­portunity of surprizing those young Suitors, who for several years together had been accustomed to nothing but to sleep well, and fare daintily.

It was from these Examples that Aristotle drew this Rule, ‘"that Whatever concludes the Poem should so spring from the very constitution of the Fable, as if it were a necessary, or at least a probable consequence."’


The Time of the Action. THE Time of the Epic Action is not fix'd, like that of the Dramatic Poem: It is much longer, for an uninterrupted Dura­tion is much more necessary in an Action which one sees and is present at, than in one which we only read or hear repeated. Besides, Tragedy is fuller of Passion, and consequently of such a Violence as cannot admit of so long a Duration.

The Iliad containing an Action of Anger and Violence, the Poet allows it but a short time, about forty days. The De­sign of the Odyssey required another Conduct; the Character of the Hero is Prudence and Long-suffering; therefore the Time of its Duration is much longer, above eight Years.

The Passions of the Epic Poem. The Passions of Tragedy are different from those of the Epic Poem. In the former, Terror and Pity have the chief place; the Passion that seems most peculiar to Epic Poetry, is Admiration.

Besides this Admiration, which in general distinguishes the E­pic Poem from the Dramatic; each Epic Poem has likewise some peculiar Passion, which distinguishes it in particular from other Epic Poems, and constitutes a kind of singular and individual diffe­rence [Page xx] between these Poems of the same Species. These singular Passions correspond to the Character of the Hero. Anger and Ter­ror reign throughout the Iliad, because Achilles is angry, and the most Terrible of all Men. The Aeneid has all soft and tender Passions, because that is the Character of Aeneas. The Prudence, Wisdom, and Constancy of Ulysses do not allow him either of these Extremes, therefore the Poet does not permit one of them to be predominant in the Odyssey. He confines himself to Ad­miration only, which he carries to an higher pitch than in the Iliad: And 'tis upon this account that he introduces a great ma­ny more Machines in the Odyssey into the Body of the Action, than are to be seen in the Actions of the other two Poems.

The Manners. The Manners of the Epic Poem ought to be poetically good, but it is not necessary they be always morally so. They are poe­tically good, when one may discover the Virtue or Vice, the good or ill Inclinations, of every one who speaks or acts: They are poetically bad, when Persons are made to speak or act out of Character, or inconsistently, or unequally. The Manners of Ae­neas and of Mezentius are equally good, consider'd poetically, because they equally demonstrate the Piety of the one, and the Impiety of the other.

Character of the Heroe. 'Tis requisite to make the same distinction between a Heroe in Morality and a Heroe in Poetry, as between moral and poe­tical Goodness. Achilles had as much right to the latter as Aeneas. Aristotle says, that the Heroe of a Poem should be nei­ther good nor bad; neither advanc'd above the rest of mankind by his Virtues, or sunk beneath 'em by his Vices; that he may be the properer and fuller Example to others, both what to imi­tate and what to decline.

The other Qualifications of the Manners, are, that they be suitable to the Causes which either raise or discover them in the Persons; that they have an exact Resemblance to what History or Fable have delivered of those persons to whom they are ascrib'd; and that there be an Equality in them, so that no man is made to act or speak out of his character.

Unity of the Character. But this Equality is not sufficient for the Unity of the Character: 'tis further necessary that the same Spirit appear in all sort of [Page xxi] Encounters. Thus Aeneas acting with great Piety and Mildness in the first part of the Aeneid, which requires no other Cha­racter; and afterwards appearing illustrious in Heroic valour in the wars of the second part, but there without any ap­pearance either of a hard or a soft disposition, would doubtless be far from offending against the Equality of the Manners: But yet there would be no Simplicity or Unity in the Character. So that besides the Qualities that claim their particular place up­on different occasions, there must be One appearing throughout, which commands over all the rest: And without this we may af­firm 'tis no Character.

One may indeed make a Heroe as valiant as Achilles, as pious as Aeneas, and as prudent as Ulysses. But 'tis a meer Chimaera to imagine a Heroe that has the Valour of Achil­les, the Piety of Aeneas, and the Prudence of Ulysses, at one and the same time. This Vision might happen to an Author, who would suit the character of a Heroe to whatever each part of the Action might naturally require, without regarding the Essence of the Fable, or the Unity of the Character in the same person upon all sorts of occasions: This Heroe would be the mildest, best-natur'd Prince in the world, and also the most cholerick, hard-hearted, and implacable creature imaginable; he would be ex­treamly tender like Aeneas, extreamly violent like Achilles, and yet have the indifference of Ulysses, that is incapable of the two extremes. Would it not be in vain for the Poet to call this Person by the same name throughout?

Let us reflect on the effects it would produce in several Poems, whose Authors were of opinion, that the chief character of a Heroe is that of an accomplish'd Man. They would be all a­like, all valiant in Battle, prudent in Council, pious in the acts of Religion, courteous, civil, magnificent; and lastly endued with all the prodigious Virtues any Poet could invent. All this would be independent from the Action and the Subject of the Poem; and upon seeing each Heroe separated from the rest of the work, we should not easily guess, to what Action and to what Poem the Heroe belong'd? So that we should see that none of those would have a Character, since the Character is that which makes [Page xxii] a person discernable, and which distinguishes him from all others.

This commanding Quality in Achilles is his Anger, in Ulysses the art of Dissimulation, in Aeneas Meekness. Each of these may be stil'd, by way of eminence, the Character in these Heroes.

But these Characters cannot be alone. 'Tis absolutely neces­sary that some other should give them a lustre, and embellish them as far as they are capable: Either by hiding the defects that are in each, by some noble and shining Qualities; as the Poet has done the Anger of Achilles, by shading it with an extraordinary Valour: Or by making them entirely of the nature of a true and solid Virtue, as is to be observ'd in the two others. The Dissi­mulation of Ulysses is a part of his Prudence; and the Meekness of Aeneas is wholly employ'd in submitting his Will to the Gods. For the making up this Union, our Poets have joyn'd together such Qualities as are by nature the most compatible; Valour with Anger, Meekness with Piety, and Prudence with Dissimulation. This last Union was necessary for the Goodness of Ulysses; for without that, his Dissimulation might have degenerated into Wickedness and Double-dealing.


Of the Machi­nery. WE come now to the Machines of the Epic Poem. The chief Passion which it aims to excite being Admiration, nothing is so conducive to that as the Marvellous; and the importance and dig­nity of the Action is by nothing so greatly elevated as by the Care and Interposition of Heaven.

These Machines are of three sorts. Some are Theological, and were invented to explain the nature of God. Others are Physical, and represent things of Nature. The last are Moral, and are the Images of Virtues and Vices.

Homer and the Ancients have given to their Deities the Man­ners, Passions and Vices of Men. Their Poems are wholly Alle­gorical; and in this view it is easier to defend Homer than to blame him. We cannot accuse him for making mention of many Gods, for his bestowing Passions upon them, or even introducing them fighting against men. The Scripture uses the like figures and expressions.

[Page xxiii] If it be allowable to speak thus of the Gods in Theology, much more in the Fictions of Natural Philosophy, where if a Poet de­scribes the Deities, he must give them such Manners, Speeches, and Actions as are conformable to the nature of the things they represent under those Divinities. The case is the same in Moral Deities: Minerva is wise, because she represents Prudence; Venus is both good or bad, because the Passion of Love is capable of these contrary qualities.

Since among the Gods of a Poem some are good, some bad, and some indifferently either; and since of our Passions we make so many allegorical Deities; one may attribute to the Gods all that is done in the Poem, whether good or evil. But these Deities do not act constantly in one and the same manner.

Sometimes they act invisibly, and by meer Inspiration; which has nothing in it extraordinary or miraculous: being no more than what we say every day, ‘"That some God has assisted us, or some Daemon has instigated us."’

At other times they appear visibly, and manifest themselves to men, in a manner altogether miraculous and praeternatural.

The third way has something of both the others: It is in truth a miracle, but is not commonly so accounted: This includes Dreams, Oracles, &c.

All these ways must be Probable; for so necessary as the Mar­vellous is to the Epic Action, as nothing is so conducive to Ad­miration; yet we can on the other hand admire nothing that we think impossible. Tho' the Probability of these Machines be of a very large extent, (since 'tis founded upon Divine Power) it is not without limitations. There are numerous Instances of al­lowable and probable Machines in the Epic Poems, where the Gods are no less Actors than the Men. But the less credible sort, such as Metamorphoses, &c. are far more rare.

This suggests a Reflection on the Method of rendring those Machines probable, which in their own nature are hardly so. Those which require only Divine Probability, should be so disengag'd from the Action, that one might substract them from it with­out destroying the Action. But those which are essential and necessary, should be grounded upon Human Probability, and not [Page xxiv] on the sole Power of God. Thus the Episodes of Circe, the Sy­rens, Polyphemus, &c. are necessary to the Action of the Odyssey, and yet not humanly probable: Yet Homer has artificially re­duc'd them to human Probability, by the Simplicity and Igno­rance of the Phaeacians, before whom he causes those recitals to be made.

The next Question is, Where, and on what occasions Ma­chines may be used? It is certain Homer and Virgil make use of them every where, and scarce suffer any Action to be perform'd without them. Petronius makes this a Precept: Per ambages, de­orumque ministeria &c. The Gods are mention'd in the very Pro­position of their Works, the Invocation is addrest to them, and the whole Narration is full of them. The Gods are the Causes of the Action, they form the Intrigue, and bring about the So­lution. The precept of Aristotle and Horace, that the unravelling of the Plot should not proceed from a Miracle or the appear­ance of a God, has place only in Dramatic Poetry, not in the Epic. For it is plain that both in the Solution of the Iliad and Odyssey the Gods are concern'd: In the former, the Deities meet to appease the Anger of Achilles: Iris and Mercury are sent to that purpose, and Minerva eminently assists Achilles in the deci­sive combate with Hector. In the Odyssey, the same Goddess fights close by Ulysses against the Suitors, and concludes that Peace be­twixt him and the Ithacensians, which compleats the Poem.

We may therefore determine, that a Machine is not an In­vention to extricate the Poet out of any difficulty which embarras­ses him: But that the Presence of a Divinity, and some Action sur­prizing and extraordinary, are inserted into almost all the parts of his work, in order to render it more Majestic and more Admirable. But this mixture ought to be so made, that the Machines might be retrench'd without taking any thing from the Action. At the same time it gives the Readers a lesson of Piety and Virtue; and teaches them, that the most brave and the most wise can do no­thing, and attain nothing great and glorious, without the assistance of Heaven. Thus the Machinery crowns the whole work, and renders it at once, Marvellous, Probable, and Moral.


Minerva's Descent to Ithaca.

The Poem opens within forty eight days of the arrival of Ulys­ses in his dominions. He had now remain'd seven years in the island of Calypso, when the Gods assembled in council propo­sed the method of his departure from thence, and his return to his native country. For this purpose it is concluded to send Mercury to Calypso, and Pallas immediately descends to Ithaca. She holds a conference with Telemachus, in the shape of Men­tes King of the Taphians; in which she advises him to take a journey in quest of his Father Ulysses, to Pylos and Sparta, where Nestor and Menelaus yet reign'd: then after having vi­sibly display'd her divinity, disappears. The suitors of Penelope make great entertainments, and riot in her palace till night. Phemius sings to them the return of the Grecians, till Penelope puts a stop to the song. Some words arise between the suitors and Telemachus, who summons the council to meet the day following.

W.K. [...]


THE Man, for Wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Long exercis'd in woes, oh Muse! resound.
Who, when his arms had wrought the destin'd fall
Of sacred Troy, and raz'd her heav'n-built wall,
Wand'ring from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
Their Manners noted, and their States survey'd.
[Page 4] On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore:
Vain toils! their impious folly dar'd to prey
On Herds devoted to the God of Day;
The God vindictive doom'd them never more
(Ah men unbless'd!) to touch that natal shore.
Oh snatch some portion of these acts from fate,
Celestial Muse! and to our world relate.
Now at their native realms the Greeks arriv'd;
All who the Wars of ten long years surviv'd,
And 'scap'd the perils of the gulfy Main.
Ulysses, sole of all the victor train,
An exile from his dear paternal coast,
Deplor'd his absent Queen, and Empire lost.
Calypso in her caves constrain'd his stay,
With sweet, reluctant, amorous delay:
In vain—for now the circling years disclose
The day predestin'd to reward his woes.
[Page 5] At length his Ithaca is giv'n by Fate,
Where yet new labours his arrival wait;
At length their rage the hostile Pow'rs restrain,
All but the ruthless Monarch of the Main.
But now the God, remote, a heav'nly guest
In Aethiopia grac'd the genial feast,
(A race divided, whom with sloping rays
The rising and descending Sun surveys)
There on the world's extreamest verge rever'd,
With Hecatombs and pray'r in pomp prefer'd,
Distant he lay: while in the bright abodes
Of high Olympus, Jove conven'd the Gods:
Th'assembly thus the Sire supreme addrest;
Aegysthus' fate revolving in his breast,
Whom young Orestes to the dreary coast
Of Pluto sent, a blood-polluted Ghost.
Perverse Mankind! whose Wills, created free,
Charge all their woes on absolute Decree;
All to the dooming Gods their guilt translate,
And Follies are miscall'd the crimes of Fate.
[Page 6] When to his lust Aegysthus gave the rein,
Did Fate, or we, th'adult'rous act constrain?
Did Fate, or we, when great Atrides dy'd,
Urge the bold traitor to the Regicide?
Hermes I sent, while yet his soul remain'd
Sincere from royal blood, and faith profan'd;
To warn the wretch, that young Orestes grown
To manly years shou'd re-assert the throne.
Yet impotent of mind, and uncontrol'd,
He plung'd into the gulf which Heav'n foretold.
Here paus'd the God, and pensive thus replies
Minerva graceful with her azure eyes.
O thou! from whom the whole creation springs,
The source of pow'r on earth deriv'd to Kings!
His death was equal to the direful deed;
So may the Man of blood be doom'd to bleed!
But grief and rage alternate wound my breast
For brave Ulysses, still by fate opprest.
Amid'st an Isle, around whose rocky shore
The forests murmur, and the surges roar,
[Page 7] The blameless heroe from his wish'd-for home
A Goddess guards in her enchanted dome.
(Atlas her sire, to whose far-piercing eye
The wonders of the Deep expanded lye;
Th'eternal columns which on earth he rears
End in the starry vault, and prop the sphears.)
By his fair daughter is the chief confin'd,
Who sooths to dear delight his anxious mind:
Successless all her soft caresses prove,
To banish from his breast his Country's love;
To see the smoke from his lov'd palace rise,
While the dear isle in distant prospect lyes,
With what contentment could he close his eyes?
And will Omnipotence neglect to save
The suffering virtue of the wise and brave?
Must he, whose altars on the Phrygian shore
With frequent rites, and pure, avow'd thy pow'r,
Be doom'd the worst of human ills to prove,
Unbless'd, abandon'd to the wrath of Jove?
Daughter! what words have pass'd thy lips un­weigh'd?
(Reply'd the Thund'rer to the Martial Maid)
[Page 8] Deem not unjustly by my doom opprest
Of humane race the wisest, and the best.
Neptune, by pray'r repentant rarely won,
Afflicts the chief, t'avenge his Giant son
Whose visual orb Ulysses robb'd of light;
Great Polypheme, of more than mortal might!
Him young Thoôsa bore, (the bright increase
Of Phorcys, dreaded in the founds and seas:)
Whom Neptune ey'd with bloom of beauty blest,
And in his cave the yielding nymph comprest.
For this, the god constrains the Greek to roam,
A hopeless exile from his native home,
From death alone exempt—but cease to mourn;
Let all combine t'atchieve his wish'd return:
Neptune aton'd, his wrath shall now refrain,
Or thwart the synod of the gods in vain.
Father and King ador'd! Minerva cry'd,
Since all who in th' Olympian bow'r reside
Now make the wand'ring Greek their public care,
Let Hermes to th' Atlantic isle repair;*
[Page 9] Bid him, arriv'd in bright Calypso's court,
The Sanction of th' assembled pow'rs report:
That wise Ulysses to his native land
Must speed, obedient to their high command.
Mean time Telemachus, the blooming heir
Of sea-girt Ithaca, demands my care:
'Tis mine, to form his green, unpractis'd years,
In sage debates, surrounded with his Peers,
To save the state; and timely to restrain
The bold intrusion of the Suitor-train;
Who crowd his palace, and with lawless pow'r
His herds and flocks in feastful rites devour.
To distant Sparta and the spacious waste
Of sandy Pyle, the royal Youth shall haste.
There, warm with filial love, the cause enquire
That from his realm retards his god-like Sire:
Deliv'ring early to the voice of Fame
The promise of a great, immortal name.
She said: the sandals of caelestial mold
Fledg'd with Ambrosial plumes, and rich with gold,
[Page 10] Surround her feet; with these sublime she sails
Th' aerial space, and mounts the winged gales:
O'er earth and ocean wide prepar'd to soar,
Her dreaded arm a beamy jav'lin bore,
Pond'rous and vast; which when her fury burns
Proud Tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o'erturns.
From high Olympus prone her flight she bends,
And in the realm of Ithaca descends.
Her lineaments divine the grave disguise
Of Mentes' form conceal'd from human eyes:
(Mentes, the Monarch of the Taphian land)
A glitt'ring spear wav'd awful in her hand.
There in the portal plac'd, the heav'n-born maid
Enormous riot and mis-rule survey'd.
On hides of Beeves, before the palace gate,
(Sad spoils of luxury) the Suitors sate.
With rival art, and ardor in their mien,
At Chess they vie, to captivate the Queen,
Divining of their loves. Attending nigh,
A menial train the flowing bowl supply:
[Page 11] Others apart, the spacious hall prepare,
And form the costly feast with busy care.
There young Telemachus, his bloomy face
Glowing caelestial-sweet with godlike grace,
Amid the Circle shines: but hope and fear
(Painful vicissitude!) his bosom tear.
Now, imag'd in his mind, he sees restor'd
In peace and joy, the people's rightful Lord;
The proud Oppressors fly the vengeful sword.
While his fond soul these fancied triumphs swell'd,
The stranger Guest the royal Youth beheld.
Griev'd that a Visitant so long shou'd wait
Unmark'd, unhonour'd, at a Monarch's gate;
Instant he flew with hospitable haste,
And the new friend with courteous air embrac'd.
Stranger! whoe'er thou art, securely rest
Affianc'd in my faith, a friendly guest:
Approach the dome, the social banquet share,
And then the purpose of thy soul declare.
Thus affable and mild, the Prince precedes,
And to the dome th' unknown Caelestial leads.
[Page 12] The spear receiving from her hand, he plac'd
Against a column, fair with sculpture grac'd;
Where seemly rang'd in peaceful order stood
Ulysses' Arms, now long disus'd to blood.
He led the Goddess to the sovereign seat,
Her feet supported with a stool of state;
(A purple carpet spread the pavement wide)
Then drew his seat, familiar, to her side:
Far from the Suitor-train, a brutal crowd,
With insolence, and wine, elate and loud;
Where the free guest, unnoted, might relate
If haply conscious, of his Father's fate.
The golden ew'r a maid obsequious brings,
Replenish'd from the cool, translucent springs;
With copious water the bright vase supplies
A silver Laver, of capacious size:
They wash. The tables in fair order spread,
They heap the glitt'ring Canisters with bread:
Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
Of choicest sort and savour, rich repast!
[Page 13] Delicious wines th' attending herald brought;
The gold gave lustre to the purple draught.
Lur'd with the vapour of the fragrant feast,
In rush'd the Suitors with voracious haste:
Marshal'd in order due, to each a Sew'r
Presents, to bathe his hands, a radiant ew'r.
Luxurious then they feast. Observant round
Gay, stripling youths the brimming goblets crown'd.
The rage of hunger quell'd, they all advance,
And form to measur'd airs the mazy dance:
To Phemius was consign'd the chorded Lyre,
Whose hand reluctant touch'd the warbling wire:
Phemius, whose voice divine cou'd sweetest sing
High strains, responsive to the vocal string.
Mean while, in whispers to his heav'nly guest
His indignation thus the Prince exprest.
Indulge my rising grief, whilst these (my friend)
With song and dance the pompous revel end.
Light is the dance, and doubly sweet the lays,
When, for the dear delight, another pays.
[Page 14] His treasur'd stores these Cormorants consume,
Whose bones, defrauded of a regal tomb
And common turf, lie naked on the plain,
Or doom'd to welter in the whelming main.
Shou'd he return, that troop so blithe and bold,
With purple robes inwrought, and stiff with gold,
Precipitant in fear, wou'd wing their flight,
And curse their cumbrous pride's unwieldy weight.
But ah I dream!—th' appointed hour is fled,
And Hope, too long with vain delusion fed,
Deaf to the rumour of fallacious fame,
Gives to the roll of death his glorious name!
With venial freedom let me now demand
Thy name, thy lineage, and paternal land:
Sincere, from whence began thy course, recite,
And to what ship I owe the friendly freight?
Now first to me this visit dost thou daign,
Or number'd in my Father's social train?
All who deserv'd his choice, he made his own,
And curious much to know, he far was known.
My birth I boast (the blue-ey'd Virgin cries)
From great Anchialus, renown'd and wise:
Mentes my name; I rule the Taphian race,
Whose bounds the deep circumfluent waves embrace.
A duteous people, and industrious Isle,
To naval arts inur'd, and stormy toil.
Freighted with Iron from my native land,
I steer my voyage to the Brutian strand;
To gain by commerce, for the labour'd mass,
A just proportion of refulgent Brass.
Far from your Capital my ship resides
At Reithrus, and secure at anchor rides;
Where waving groves on airy Neion grow,
Supremely tall, and shade the deeps below.
Thence to re-visit your imperial dome,
An old hereditary Guest I come:
Your Father's friend. Laertes can relate
Our faith unspotted, and its early date;
Who prest with heart-corroding grief and years,
To the gay Court a rural shed prefers,
[Page 16] Where sole of all his train, a Matron sage
Supports with homely food his drooping age,
With feeble steps from marshalling his Vines
Returning sad, when toilsome day declines.
With friendly speed, induc'd by erring fame,
To hail Ulysses' safe return I came:
But still the frown of some caelestial pow'r
With envious joy retards the blissful hour.
Let not your soul be sunk in sad despair;
He lives, he breathes this heav'nly vital air,
Among a savage race, whose shelfy bounds
With ceaseless roar the foaming deep surrounds.
The thoughts which rowl within my ravish'd breast,
To me, no Seer, th' inspiring Gods suggest;
Nor skill'd, nor studious, with prophetic eye
To judge the winged Omens of the sky.
Yet hear this certain speech, nor deem it vain;
Though Adamantine bonds the chief restrain,
The dire restraint his wisdom will defeat,
And soon restore him to his regal seat.
[Page 17] But, gen'rous youth! sincere and free declare,
Are you, of manly growth, his royal heir?
For sure Ulysses in your look appears,
The same his features, if the same his years.
Such was that face, on which I dwelt with joy
Ere Greece assembled stem'd the tydes to Troy;
But parting then for that detested shore,
Our eyes, unhappy! never greeted more.
To prove a genuine birth (the Prince replies)
On Female truth assenting faith relies;
Thus manifest of right, I build my claim
Sure-founded on a fair Maternal fame,
Ulysses' Son: but happier he, whom fate
Hath plac'd beneath the storms which toss the great!
Happier the son, whose hoary sire is blest
With humble affluence, and domestic rest!
Happier than I, to future empire born,
But doom'd a Father's wretched fate to mourn!
To whom, with aspect mild, the Guest divine.
Oh true descendent of a scepter'd line!
[Page 18] The Gods, a glorious fate from anguish free
To chaste Penelope's increase decree.
But say, yon' jovial Troop so gaily drest,
Is this a bridal, or a friendly feast?
Or from their deed I rightlier may divine,
Unseemly flown with insolence and wine?
Unwelcome revellers, whose lawless joy
Pains the sage ear, and hurts the sober eye.
Magnificence of old, (the Prince reply'd,)
Beneath our roof with Virtue cou'd reside;
Unblam'd abundance crown'd the royal board,
What time this dome rever'd her prudent Lord;
Who now (so heav'n decrees) is doom'd to mourn,
Bitter constraint! erroneous and forlorn.
Better the Chief, on Ilion's hostile plain
Had fall'n surrounded with his warlike train;
Or safe return'd, the race of glory past,
New to his friends embrace, had breath'd his last!
Then grateful Greece with streaming eyes wou'd raise
Historic Marbles, to record his praise;
[Page 19] His praise, eternal on the faithful stone,
Had with transmissive honour grac'd his Son.
Now snatch'd by Harpies to the dreary coast,
Sunk is the Hero, and his glory lost!
Vanish'd at once! unheard of, and unknown!
And I, his Heir in misery alone.
Nor for a dear, lost Father only flow
The filial tears, but woe succeeds to woe:
To tempt the spouseless Queen with am'rous wiles,
Resort the Nobles from the neighb'ring Isles;
From Samos, circled with th' Iönian main,
Dulichium, and Zacynthus' sylvan reign:
Ev'n with presumptuous hope her bed t'ascend,
The Lords of Ithaca their right pretend.
She seems attentive to their pleaded vows,
Her heart detesting what her ear allows.
They, vain expectants of the bridal hour,
My stores in riotous expence devour,
In feast and dance the mirthful months employ,
And meditate my doom, to crown their joy.
With tender pity touch'd, the Goddess cry'd:
Soon may kind heav'n a sure relief provide,
Soon may your Sire discharge the vengeance due,
And all your wrongs the proud oppressors rue!
Oh! in that portal shou'd the Chief appear,
Each hand tremendous with a brazen spear,
In radiant Panoply his limbs incas'd;
(For so of old my father's court he grac'd,
When social mirth unbent his serious soul,
O'er the full banquet, and the sprightly bowl)
He then from Ephyré, the fair domain
Of Ilus sprung from Jason's royal strain,
Measur'd a length of seas, a toilsome length, in vain.
For voyaging to learn the direful art
To taint with deadly drugs the barbed dart;
Observant of the Gods, and sternly just,
Ilus refus'd t'impart the baneful trust:
With friendlier zeal my father's soul was fir'd,
The drugs he knew, and gave the boon desir'd.
[Page 21] Appear'd he now with such heroic port,
As then conspicuous at the Taphian court;
Soon shou'd yon' boasters cease their haughty strife,
Or each atone his guilty love with life.
But of his wish'd return the care resign;
Be future vengeance to the pow'rs divine.
My sentence hear: With stern distaste avow'd,
To their own districts drive the Suitor-crowd:
When next the morning warms the purple east,
Convoke the Peerage, and the Gods attest;
The sorrows of your inmost soul relate;
And form sure plans to save the sinking state.
Shou'd second love a pleasing flame inspire,
And the chaste Queen connubial rites require;
Dismiss'd with honour let her hence repair
To great Icarius, whose paternal care
Will guide her passion, and reward the choice
With wealthy dow'r, and bridal gifts of price.
Then let this dictate of my love prevail:
Instant, to foreign realms prepare to sail,
[Page 22] To learn your Father's fortunes: Fame may prove
Or omen'd Voice (the messenger of Jove)
Propitious to the search. Direct your toil
Thro' the wide Ocean first to sandy Pyle,
Of Nestor, hoary Sage, his doom demand;
Thence speed your voyage to the Spartan strand,
For young Atrides to th' Achaian coast
Arriv'd the last of all the victor host.
If yet Ulysses views the light, forbear,
'Till the fleet hours restore the circling year.
But if his soul hath wing'd the destin'd flight,
Inhabitant of deep disastrous Night,
Homeward with pious speed repass the main,
To the pale Shade funereal rites ordain,
Plant the fair Column o'er the vacant grave,
A Hero's honours let the Hero have.
With decent grief the royal dead deplor'd,
For the chaste Queen select an equal Lord.
Then let revenge your daring mind employ,
By fraud or force the Suitor-train destroy,
And starting into manhood, scorn the boy.
[Page 23] Hast thou not heard how young Orestes fir'd
With great revenge, immortal praise acquir'd?
His virgin sword Aegysthus' veins imbru'd;
The murd'rer fell, and blood aton'd for blood.
O greatly bless'd with ev'ry blooming grace!
With equal steps the paths of glory trace;
Join to that royal youth's, your rival name,
And shine eternal in the sphere of fame—
But my Associates now my stay deplore,
Impatient on the hoarse-resounding shore.
Thou, heedful of advice, secure proceed;
My praise the precept is, be thine the deed.
The counsel of my friend (the Youth rejoin'd)
Imprints conviction on my grateful mind.
So Fathers speak (persuasive speech and mild!)
Their sage experience to the fav'rite child.
But since to part, for sweet refection due
The genial viands let my train renew;
And the rich pledge of plighted faith receive,
Worthy the heir of Ithaca to give.
Defer the promis'd boon, (the Goddess cries,
Celestial azure brightning in her eyes)
And let me now regain the Reithrian port:
From Temesé return'd, your royal court
I shall revisit; and that pledge receive,
And gifts, memorial of our friendship, leave.
Abrupt, with eagle-speed she cut the sky;
Instant invisible to mortal eye.
Then first he recognis'd th' Aetherial guest;
Wonder and joy alternate fire his breast:
Heroic thoughts infus'd his heart dilate,
Revolving much his father's doubtful fate:
At length compos'd, he join'd the suitor-throng,
Hush'd in attention to the warbled song.
His tender theme the charming Lyrist chose
Minerva's anger, and the direful woes
Which voyaging from Troy the Victors bore,
While storms vindictive intercept the shore.
The shrilling airs the vaulted roof rebounds,
Reflecting to the Queen the silver sounds.
[Page 25] With grief renew'd the weeping fair descends;
Their sovereign's step a virgin train attends:
A veil of richest texture wrought, she wears,
And silent, to the joyous hall repairs.
There from the portal, with her mild command
Thus gently checks the minstrel's tuneful hand.
Phemius! let acts of Gods, and Heroes old,
What ancient bards in hall and bow'r have told,
Attemper'd to the Lyre, your voice employ;
Such the pleas'd ear will drink with silent joy.
But oh! forbear that dear, disastrous name,
To sorrow sacred, and secure of fame:
My bleeding bosom sickens at the sound,
And ev'ry piercing note inflicts a wound.
Why, dearest object of my duteous love,
(Reply'd the Prince) will you the Bard reprove?
Oft, Jove's aetherial rays (resistless fire)
The chanter's soul and raptur'd song inspire;
Instinct divine! nor blame severe his choice,
Warbling the Grecian woes with harp and voice:
[Page 26] For novel lays attract our ravish'd ears;
But old, the mind with inattention hears.
Patient permit the sadly-pleasing strain;
Familiar now with grief, your tears refrain,
And in the publick woe forget your own;
You weep not for a perish'd Lord, alone.
What Greeks, now wand'ring in the Stygian gloom,
With your Ulysses shar'd an equal doom!
Your widow'd hours, apart, with female toil
And various labours of the loom, beguile;
There rule, from palace-cares remote and free,
That care to man belongs, and most to me.
Mature beyond his years the Queen admires
His sage reply, and with her train retires.
Then swelling sorrows burst their former bounds,
With echoing grief afresh the dome resounds;
'Till Pallas, piteous of her plaintive cries,
In slumber clos'd her silver-streaming eyes.
Mean-time rekindl'd at the royal charms,
Tumultuous love each beating bosom warms;
[Page 27] Intemp'rate rage a wordy war began;
But bold Telemachus assum'd the man.
Instant (he cry'd) your female discord end,
Ye deedless boasters! and the song attend:
Obey that sweet compulsion, nor profane
With dissonance, the smooth melodious strain.
Pacific now prolong the jovial feast;
But when the dawn reveals the rosy East,
I, to the Peers assembled, shall propose
The firm resolve I here in few disclose.
No longer live the cankers of my court;
All to your several states with speed resort;
Waste in wild riot what your land allows,
There ply the early feast, and late carouse.
But if, to honour lost, 'tis still decreed
For you my bowl shall flow, my flocks shall bleed,
Judge and revenge my right, impartial Jove!
By him, and all th' immortal thrones above,
(A sacred oath) each proud oppressor slain
Shall with inglorious gore this marble stain.
Aw'd by the Prince, thus haughty, bold, and young,
Rage gnaw'd the lip, and wonder chain'd the tongue.
Silence at length the gay Antinous broke,
Constrain'd a smile, and thus ambiguous spoke.
What God to your untutor'd youth affords
This headlong torrent of amazing words?
May Jove delay thy reign, and cumber late
So bright a genius with the toils of state!
Those toils (Telemachus serene replies)
Have charms, with all their weight, t'allure the wife.
Fast by the Throne obsequious Fame resides,
And Wealth incessant rolls her golden tides.
Nor let Antinous rage, if strong desire
Of wealth and fame a youthful bosom fire:
Elect by Jove his Delegate of sway,
With joyous pride the summons I'd obey.
Whene'er Ulysses roams the realm of Night,
Shou'd factious pow'r dispute my lineal right,
Some other Greeks a fairer claim may plead;
To your pretence their title wou'd precede.
[Page 29] At least, the sceptre lost, I still shou'd reign
Sole o'er my vassals, and domestic train.
To this Eurymachus. To heav'n alone
Refer the choice to fill the vacant Throne.
Your patrimonial stores in peace possess;
Undoubted all your filial claim confess:
Your private right shou'd impious pow'r invade,
The peers of Ithaca wou'd arm in aid.
But say, that Stranger-guest who late withdrew,
What, and from whence? his name and lineage shew.
His grave demeanour, and majestic grace
Speak him descended of no vulgar race:
Did he some loan of antient right require,
Or came fore-runner of your scepter'd Sire?
Oh son of Polybus! the Prince replies,
No more my Sire will glad these longing eyes:
The Queen's fond hope inventive rumour cheers,
Or vain diviners' dreams divert her fears.
That stranger-guest the Taphian realm obeys,
A realm defended with incircling seas:
[Page 30] Mentes, an ever-honour'd name, of old
High in Ulysses' social list inroll'd.
Thus he, tho' conscious of th' aetherial Guest,
Answer'd evasive of the fly request.
Mean time the Lyre rejoins the sprightly lay;
Love-dittied airs, and dance, conclude the day.
But when the Star of Eve, with golden light
Adorn'd the matron-brow of fable Night;
The mirthful train dispersing quit the court,
And to their several domes to Rest resort.
A tow'ring structure to the palace join'd;
To this his steps the thoughtful Prince inclin'd;
In his pavilion there to sleep repairs;
The lighted torch the sage Euryclea bears.
(Daughter of Ops, the just Pisenor's son,
For twenty beeves by great Laertes won;
In rosy prime with charms attractive grac'd,
Honour'd by him, a gentle Lord and chaste,
With deer esteem: too wise, with jealous strife
To taint the joys of sweet, connubial life.
[Page 31] Sole with Telemachus her service ends,
A child she nurs'd him, and a man attends)
Whilst to his couch himself the Prince addrest,
The duteous dame receiv'd the purple vest:
The purple vest with decent care dispos'd,
The silver ring she pull'd, the door re-clos'd;
The bolt, obedient to the silken cord,
To the strong staple's inmost depth restor'd,
Secur'd the valves. There, wrap'd in silent shade,
Pensive, the rules the Goddess gave, he weigh'd;
Stretch'd on the downy fleece, no rest he knows,
And in his raptur'd soul the Vision glows.


WE shall proceed in the same method thro' the course of these Annotations upon the O­dyssey, as in those upon the Iliad; considering Homer chiefly as a Poet, endeavouring to make his beauties understood, and not to praise without a reason given. It is equally an extreme, on the one hand to think Ho­mer has no human defects; and on the other to dwell so much upon those defects, as to depreciate his beauties. The greater part of Criticks form a general character, from the observation of particular errors, taken in their own oblique or im­perfect views; which is as unjust, as to make a judgment of the beauty of a man's body from the shadow it happens to cast, in such or such a position. To convince the Reader of this intend­ed impartiality, we readily allow the Odyssey to be inferior to the Iliad in many respects. It has not that sublimity of spirit, or that enthusiasm of poetry; but then it must be allow'd, if it be less noble, it is more instructive: The other abounds with more Heroism, this with more Morality. The Iliad gives us a draught of Gods and Heroes, of discord, of contentions, and [Page 36] scenes of slaughter; the Odyssey sets before us a scene more amia­ble, the landschapes of nature, the pleasures of private life, the du­ties of every station, the hospitality of ancient times; a less busy, but more agreeable portrait. The Iliad concludes with the ruin, the Odyssey with the happiness of a nation. Horace was of the same opinion, as is evident from the epistle to Lollius.

Seditione, dolis, scelere, libidine, & ira,
Iliacos intra muros peccatur & extra.
Rursus, quid virtus & quid sapientia possit,
Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssem.


The Man, for Wisdom, &c.]

Homer opens his Poem with the utmost simplicity and modesty; he continually grows upon the reader,

Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat.

Cicero lays this down as a rule for the Orator, principia vere­cunda, non elatis intensa verbis; and Horace for the Poet, Nec sic incipies, &c. He proposes the beginning of the Odyssey as a pattern for all future poems, and has translated them in his Art of poetry.

Dic mihi, Musa, virum, captae post tempora Trojae,
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit, & urbes.

May I be forgiven the arrogance, if I should offer a criticism upon this translation? The sufferings of Ulysses are the subject of the whole Odyssey, and yet Horace has omitted the mention of those sufferings: [...]. There is another word also which seems essential, that is, [...], this is likewise omitted. For the sufferings of Ulysses, and the wisdom by which he extricated himself from them, enter into the very [Page 37] design of the Poem. But indeed in another place he has plainly had regard to all these circumstances,

Qui domitor Trojae, multorum providus urbes
Et mores hominum inspexit, latumque per aequor
Dum sibi, dum sociis, reditum parat, aspera multa
Epist. ad Loll.

I must also refute a criticism of Rapin, who will have it that the word [...] includes a character of craft and low cun­ning, unworthy of a brave spirit: But Eustathius admirably vin­dicates the Poet in this respect, he shews us that [...] no where in Homer signifies ( [...]) or Morals; and that it implies a man who could accommodate himself to every condition of life; one who in the worst estate had still a reserve to free him­self from it; it therefore, says he, signifies a man that thro' expe­rience has learn'd wisdom. I have likewise the authority of Ho­race for this sense, in the above-cited passage, Qui domitor Trojae multorum providus urbes. I take providus in this place to signify not only a man who noted the manners of various nations with care, but also one who in calamity could foresee methods to extricate himself from it. And surely nothing can be more unjust than what Rapin objects against Ulysses, in employing his wisdom only in his own preser­vation, while all his companions were lost: Homer himself suffi­ciently refutes this objection, and directly tells us, that he em­ployed his wisdom in the care of their safety, but that they thro' their folly defeated his wisdom. The words of Homer, says Eu­stathius, shew that a wise man neglects not his friends in adversi­ty. But, says Rapin, what could oblige Homer to begin with so dishonourable an action, and place the greatest weakness of his Heroe in the very frontispiece of his Poem? and invoke his Muse to sing the man who with difficulty saved himself, and suffer'd his companions to be destroy'd? There had been some weight in this [Page 38] objection, if Ulysses had saved his own, with the loss of their lives; but I cannot see any dishonour, in his preserving himself by wis­dom, when they destroy'd themselves by folly: It was chiefly by storms that they perish'd; it can be no imputation to his character, not to be able to restrain the effects of a tempest: he did all that a wise man cou'd do, he gave them such admoniti­ons upon every emergency, that if they had pursued them, they had been preserved as well as Ulysses.


For Wisdom's various arts renown'd.]

Bossu's obser­vation in relation to this Epithet [...], given to Ulysses, is worth transcribing. The Fable of the Odyssey (says he) is whol­ly for the conduct and policy of a State: Therefore the quality it requires is Wisdom, but this virtue is of too large an extent for the simplicity which a just and precise character requires; it is therefore requisite it should be limited. The great art of Kings is the mystery of Dissimulation. 'Tis well known, that Lewis the eleventh, for the instruction of his Son, reduc'd all the Latin lan­guage to these words only, viz. Qui nescit dissimulare nescit reg­nare. 'Twas likewise by this practice that Saul began his reign, when he was first elected and as yet full of the spirit of God. The first thing we read of him in holy Writ is, * that he made as if he did not hear the words which seditious people spoke against him.

This then is the character which the Greek Poet gives his Ulysses in the Proposition of his Poem, he calls him [...]; to denote this prudent dissimulation, which disguised him so many ways, and put him upon taking so many shapes.

Without mentioning any thing of Circe, who detain'd him with her a whole year, and who was famous for the transforma­tions she made of all sorts of persons; the reader finds him at first with Calypso the daughter of wise Atlas, who bore up the vast pillars that reach'd from Earth to Heaven, and whose know­ledge penetrated into the depths of the unfathomable Ocean: that [Page 39] is to say, who was ignorant of nothing in Heaven, Earth, or Sea. And as the first product and principal part of so high, so solid, and so profound a knowledge was to know how to conceal ones self; this wise man call'd his daughter by a name that signified a * secret. The Poet makes his Heroe, whom he designed for a Politician, to stay seven whole years with this Nymph. She taught him so well, that afterwards he lost no op­portunity of putting her lessons in practice: for he does nothing without a disguise. At his parting from Ogygia he is cast upon the Isle of Phaeaca: as kind as his reception was, yet he stays 'till the night before he went off ere he wou'd discover himself. From thence he goes to Ithaca: the first adventure that happen'd to him there was with Minerva, the most prudent among the Dei­ties, as Ulysses was the most prudent among men. She says so expressly in that very passage. Nor did they fail to disguise them­selves. Minerva takes upon her the shape of a shepherd, and U­lysses tells her he was oblig'd to fly from Crete, because he had murder'd the son of King Idomeneus. The Goddess discovers her self first, and commends him particularly, because these artifices were so easie and natural to him, that they seem'd to be born with him. Afterwards the Heroe under the form of a beggar de­ceives first of all Eumeus, then his son, and last of all his wife, and every body else, till he found an opportunity of punishing his Enemies, to whom he discover'd not himself 'till he kill'd them, namely on the last night. After his discovering himself in the Palace, he goes the next day to deceive his father, appearing at first under a borrow'd name; before he wou'd give him joy of his return. Thus he takes upon him all manner of shapes, and dissembles to the very last. But the Poet joins to this character a valour and a constancy which render him invincible in the most daring and desperate adventures


Who when his arms had wrought the destin'd fall
Of sacred Troy—

[Page 40] Whence is it that Ulysses is said to have overthrown Troy? and not Achilles, who was of more remarkable courage than Ulysses? Eustathius tells us, that the destruction of Troy ought to be ascri­bed chiefly to Ulysses, as he not only took away the Palladium, but was the inventor of the stratagem of the wooden horse, by which that city was conquer'd. Virgil in his second book of the Aeneis gives a noble description of its destruction, by which we find that Ulysses was not only the contriver of its ruin, but bore a great share in the actions of the night in which that City was overturn'd.


Vain toils! their impious folly, &c.]

By this single trait, Homer marks an essential difference between the Iliad and the Odyssey: namely, that in the former Poem the people perish'd by the folly of their Kings: Quicquid delirunt reges, plectuntur Achivi. In this, the people perish by their own folly, while their Prince omits nothing to procure their felicity. A plain reason why the Odyssey is more calculated for the People, than the Iliad. Dacier.


Oh snatch some portion of these acts from fate.]

It may be ask'd why the Poet invokes the Muse to recount only Part of the sufferings of Ulysses? and why those words, To Us also, are inserted? To the first it may be answer'd, that an heroic Po­em dwells chiefly upon incidents of importance, and passes over every thing that does not contribute to raise our idea of the He­roe, or to the main design of the Poem: To the other Eustathi­us answers several ways; either, says he, the word [...] is to be taken as an expletive, as it is in a thousand places in Homer; or it means that this is a subject so considerable, that it will be a theme to many [Page 41] Poets; or that being a true History it had spread over many nations of the world, and that Homer himself received the story of the Poem from Aegypt; and then the meaning will be, ‘"Sing, oh Muse, to the Greeks as well as to other nations, the sufferings of Ulysses."’ I should prefer the first as being the most natural: the rest seem forced, and consequently improper for the opening of a Poem, where the utmost plainness is neces­sary; especially, if we consider that Ulysses was a Grecian, and it is not probable that the Grecians should be the least acquainted with the story, or the latest to celebrate the actions, of a Grecian.


Now at their native realms the Greeks arriv'd.]

It is necessary for the better understanding of the Poem, to fix the period of Time from which it takes its beginning: Homer, as Eustathius observes, does not begin with the wandrings of U­lysses, he steps at once into the latter end of his actions, and leaves the preceding story to be told by way of narration. Thus in his Iliad, he dates his Poem from the anger of Achilles, which happen'd almost at the conclusion of the Trojan war. From hence Horace drew his observation in his Arte Poet.

Semper ad eventum festinat; & in medias res,
Non secus ac notas, auditorem rapit.

There are but forty eight days from the departure of Ulysses from Calypso, to his discovery in Ithaca; he had been one year with Circe, and seven with Calypso, when the Gods dispatched Mer­cury to that Goddess; from which point of Time we are to date the Odyssey.

This observation gives a reason why the Poet invokes the Muse to recount the wandrings of this Heroe in part only; for Ulysses, as appears from the beginning of the ninth book, after he left the shores of Troy, was driven to Ismarus of the Ciconians. [Page 42] An Historian must have begun from the fall of Troy, and related his wandrings with truth and order; for History is chiefly for instruction: But a Poet takes another method, and disposes every circumstance arbitrarily; he chuses or rejects, as suits best with his principal design, and in such a manner as to give at once de­light and instruction.


Calypso in her Cave constrain'd his stay.]

To the Remark before cited of Bossu, upon the abode of Ulysses with Calypso, may be added this of the Abbè Fraguier: that his resi­ding seven years in the caves of Calypso, (the Goddess of Secrecy) may only be meant that he remain'd so long hid from the know­ledge and enquiry of all men; or that whatever befel him in all that time was lost to History, or made no part in the Poem.


All but the ruthless Monarch of the Main.]

It may be ask'd why Neptune is thus enraged against Ulysses? Homer himself tells us, it was because that Heroe had put out the eye of his son Cyclops. But if we take Neptune by way of Allegory for the Ocean, the passage implies, that the sufferings of Ulysses were chiefly by sea; and therefore Poetry, which adds a grandeur to the meanest circumstance, introduces the God of it as his greatest ene­my. Eustathius.


In Aethiopia, &c.]

Strabo in his first book de­livers his opinion, that ‘"the ancient Grecians included all those people who lived upon the southern Ocean, from east to west, in the general name of Aethiopians, and that it was not confi­ned to those only who lay south of Aegypt."’ Ptolomy says, [Page 43] that ‘"under the Zodiac, from east to west, inhabit the Aethio­pians, black of colour."’ And elsewhere the same Geographer divides Aethiopia into the eastern and the western. These eastern and western Aethiopians were separated by the Arabian or Aegyp­tian Gulf; which tho' never mention'd by Homer, as Aristarchus remark'd, yet it is not probable (says Strabo) that he should be ignorant of it, it being but a thousand stadia distant from the Mediterranean, when he knew the Aegyptian Thebes, which was four times as far off. Strab. Plin. Spondan.

I will not repeat what was observ'd upon the Gods being gone to the Aethiopians, in the first book of the Iliad; 'tis sufficient in general to observe, that the Aethiopians were a people very religi­ous towards the Gods, and that they held a pompous feast twelve days annually to their honour; and in particular, that the Poet very judiciously makes use of this solemnity to remove Neptune out of the way, who was the enemy of Ulysses, that he may with the greater security bring off his Heroe from Calypso's Island. Eustathius.



It is difficult to find a reason why, in the original, Jupiter shou'd give such an honourable appellation to Ae­gysthus, as [...], unblameable, who had dishonoured the bed of Agamemnon, and taken his life away; especially in that very instant when he condemns the fact with so great solemnity: Eustathius says, that Homer, an enemy to censure and invective, introduces that God as having respect only to his good qualities, and com­mending him for his general character; and adds that it had been an indecency in the Poet to have given countenance to that base custom by the authority of Jupiter. Dacier is not satisfy'd with this reason, and tells us, that Homer gives Aegysthus this title, to vindicate Jupiter from the imputation of his crimes: He gives us to understand that Heaven is not the cause of man's failings; that he is by Creation able to act virtuously, and that it is thro' his own misconduct that he deviates into evil; and therefore the [Page 44] meaning is this; ‘"Jupiter calling to mind Aegysthus, that Aegysthus whom he had created wise and virtuous, and made capable to su­stain that character."’ And this agrees admirably with the begin­ning of the speech of Jupiter, who there vindicates his own Divinity.

But if this shou'd seem too refin'd, it may be sufficient to take the word in that good sense which Aegysthus might have deserved for many good qualities: Thus Achilles is call'd the swift of foot, even while he stands, or sleeps; the first being his general character. It may be further confirm'd by a passage something resembling it in the holy Scriptures: The Aegyptian Midwives were guilty of a lye to Pharaoh, and yet God pardons it, and blesses them: He blesses them not because they lyed, but because they preserv'd the children of the Israelites.


Jupiter's speech.]

The solemnity and senten­tiousness of this speech is taken notice of by Eustathius; and sure­ly Poetry must be highly valuable, when it delivers such excellent instructions. It contain'd the whole of religion amongst the an­tients; and made Philosophy more agreeable. This passage is an instance of it, a passage worthy of a Christian; it shews us that the Supreme Being is sovereignly good; that he rewards the just, and punishes the unjust; and that the folly of man, and not the decree of Heaven, is the cause of human calamity.


Hermes I sent, &c.]

It would be endless to ob­serve every moral passage in the Odyssey, the whole of it being but one lesson of Morality. But surely it must be a pleasure to the Reader to learn what notions the antients had of a Deity, from the oldest book extant, except the book of Moses.

[Page 45] Jupiter here declares that he never fails to warn mankind from evil, and that he had sent by Mercury for this purpose to Aegy­sthus. It may be ask'd what is this Mercury whom Jupiter sends? It is the light of Nature, which Heaven implants in the breast of every man: and which, as Cicero says, is not only more ancient than the world, but co-eval with the Master of the world himself. He writes to this effect. There was from the beginning such a thing as Reason, a direct emanation from Nature it self, which prompted to good, and averted from evil. A Reason which did not then become a law, when it was first reduced to writing, but was so even from the moment it existed, and it existed from ever, of an equal date with the divine Intelligence: It is the true and primordial Law, proper to com­mand and to forbid, it is the Reason of the great Jupiter.

That Reason of the supreme Being, is here call'd Mercury; that Reason flowing from God, which is constantly dictating to the most corrupted hearts, this is good, or, this is evil. Hence arose an ancient Proverb, recorded by Simplicius, Reason is a Mercury to all men. Epictetus [lib. 3. Arrian.] says, Apollo knew that Laius would not obey his Oracle. Apollo nevertheless did not ne­glect to prophecy to Laius those evils that threaten'd him. The good­ness of the Divinity never fails to advertise mankind; that source of truth is ever open and free: but men are ever incredulous, disobedi­ent and rebellious. Dacier.


Minerva's Speech.]

It may be ask'd what re­lation Ulysses has to Aegysthus, that the mention of the one should immediately give occasion for the remembrance of the other? and it may appear unnatural in the Poet to give rise to his Poem by so unexpected a transition from Aegysthus to Ulysses. Eusta­thius vindicates Homer, by shewing that it is not only beautiful but na­tural, to take rise from what offers it self to our immediate observation. What can be more natural, when Jupiter is relating how he punish­es the wicked, than for Wisdom or Minerva to suggest, that the good ought to be rewarded? There is no forced introduction; [Page 46] no artful preparation, but the whole arises from the occasion, which is a great beauty.



Amidst an Isle, &c.]

There was, according to true History, such an Island of Calypso, of which Strabo writes; that Solon gives an account of the Island Atlantis bordering upon Aegypt, and that he went thither to make enquiry, and learn'd that an Island was once there, but by time was vanished. Eustathius.


Atlas her Sire, to whose far-piercing eye
The wonders of the Deep expanded lie:
Th' eternal Columns which on earth he rears
End in the starry vault, and prop the Spheres.]

Atlas is here said to understand all the depths of the Sea: but the Epithet [...] apply'd to him, has two different signi­fications. It implies either, one whose thoughts are full of terrible and dismal things, or, one who has infinite knowledge and unbounded views, and 'tis doubtful which of them Homer means. To re­concile both, may we not think our Author had heard something of the ancient tradition which makes Atlas the same person with Enoch, and represents him as a great Astronomer, who prophe­cy'd of the universal deluge, and exhorted mankind to repentance? Therefore he nam'd his son Methuselah, to show that after his death the waters shou'd overspread the face of the earth. His continual lamentations on this occasion caus'd him to be call'd the Weeper, for the world is always an enemy to melancholy pre­dictions. Thus Homer upon the credit of this Tradition might ve­ry well call Atlas, one whose thoughts ran upon dismal things, or one whose views and cares were vastly extended.

I insist no otherwise upon this but as a conjecture, yet it is fur­ther strengthen'd by what follows in the next lines: That Atlas [Page 47] sustains those Columns which being fixed upon the earth support the Heavens. This is generally interpreted of his great skill in A­stronomy and Geography. But may not the reason be more par­ticular? Since Atlas or Enoch had prophecy'd of the Deluge, and since that prediction was looked upon as the effect of his skill in Astronomy; might it not be said he knew the abysses of the Sea, and sustain'd the pillars of Heaven, to express that he knew how the fountains of the deep and the waters above the Heavens shou'd unite to drown the earth?

As to the image of the pillars of Heaven, it is frequent in the sacred books, and used to express the height of vast mountains. (Pindar calls Aetna the [...]:) and there might proba­bly be something more particular that furnished Homer with this idea; I mean the pillars of Hercules, well-known in his time, and neighbouring to the mountain he describes. Dacier.

See the description of this mountain in the 4th book of Virgil, where the same image is preserv'd without any hint of allegory: As indeed it is no more than a poetical manner of expressing the great height and extensive prospect of the mountain.


To see the smoke from his lov'd Palace rise.]

There is an agreeable tenderness in this Image, and nothing can better paint the ardent desire a man naturally has to review his native country after a long absence. This is still stronger than that which Cicero extols in several places of his works, that Ulysses preferr'd the sight of Ithaca to the Immortality proffer'd him by Calypso. He here desires to purchase, at the price of his life, the pleasure, not of returning to his country, but even of seeing at a distance the very smoke of it. Dacier.

There are some things dispers'd in this speech of Pallas, which I shall lay together; as that Minerva makes it an aggravation to the calamity of Ulysses, to be detain'd by a Goddess that loves him; that he is enclosed in an Island; and she adds, round which the Seas flow; as if that was not common to all Islands; but these [Page 48] expressions are used to shew the impossibility of the escape of Ulysses, without the interposition of Jupiter.

In the conclusion she observes, that Ulysses never neglected to sacrifice before Troy: this is said to shew the great piety of Ulysses, who not only paid his sacrifices in Ithaca, where he abounded in riches, but amongst strangers in an enemy's country, where there might be a scarcity of offerings. Eustathius.


Daughter, what words, &c.]

This verse is frequently repeated both in the Iliad and the Odyssey; it has here a particu­lar energy. Jupiter reproves Minerva for supposing he could ever be unmindful of an Heroe so pious as Ulysses. It is spoken with vehemence; an instance, says Eustathius, that it is not only equita­ble, but an attribute of Divinity, for rulers to remember those who serve them faithfully.


T'avenge his Giant-son.]

It is artful in the Poet to tell the Reader the occasion of the sufferings of Ulysses in the opening of the Poem; 'tis a justice due to his character, to shew that his misfortunes are not the consequence of his crimes, but the effect of Neptune's anger.

It is observable, that Homer does not stop to explain how U­lysses put out the eye of the Cyclops; he hastens forward into the middle of his Poem, and leaves that for the future narration of Ulysses.


VERSE 110.
Mean time Telemachus—demands my care, &c.]

Rapin has rais'd several objections against this piece of conduct in Homer: He tells us that the action of the Odyssey is imperfect, that it begins with the voyages of Telemachus, and ends with those [Page 49] of Ulysses: That the four first books are all concerning Tele­machus: That his voyage bears no proportion to that of Ulysses, that it contributes nothing to his return, which is brought about by Jupiter, and the assistance of the Phaeacians; that this gave occasion to Beni in his academical discourses to assert, that the Fable of the Odyssey is double, that the four first books of it are neither Episode, nor part of an action, nor have any connexion with the rest of the work.

I am of opinion, that these objections are made with too great severity; The destruction of the Suitors is the chief hinge upon which the Poem turns, as it contributes chiefly to the re-establishment of Ulysses in his country and regality; and whatever contributes to this end, contributes to the principal action, and is of a piece with the rest of the Poem; and that this voyage does so is evident, in that it gives a defeat to the Suitors, and controuls their insolence; it preserves Ulysses's throne and bed invi­olate, in that it gives Telemachus courage to resist their attempts: It sets his character in a fair point of light, who is the second personage of the Poem, and is to have a great share in the future actions of it.

Eustathius judiciously observes, that Homer here prepares the way for the defeat of the Suitors, the chief design of his Poem; and lays the ground-work of probability on which he intends to build his Poem, and reconcile it to the rules of credibility.

If it be ask'd for what end this voyage of Telemachus is made; the answer is, to enquire after Ulysses: So that whatever Episodes are interwoven, Ulysses is still in view; and whatever Telemachus acts, is undertaken solely upon his account; and consequently, whatever is acted, contributes to the principal design, the resto­ration of Ulysses. So that the Fable is entire, and the Action not double.

'Tis to be remember'd also, that the sufferings of Ulysses are the subject of the Poem; his personal calamities are not only in­tended, but his domestic misfortunes; and by this conduct Ho­mer shews us the extent of his misfortunes: His Queen is at­tempted, his Throne threaten'd, and his Wealth consumed in riot; [Page 50] Ulysses suffers in Telemachus, and in every circumstance of life is unhappy.


VERSE 118.
To distant Sparta, and the spacious waste Of sandy Pyle.]

Rapin is very severe upon this conduct. When Telemachus, says he, is to search for his father in the Courts of Greece, he cannot make the least progress without Minerva; 'tis she who in­spires his thoughts, and assists in the execution. Could not ho­nour, duty, or nature, have moved his heart toward an absent fa­ther? The Machine, adds he, has not the least appearance of probability, inasmuch as the Goddess conducts him to every place, except only where Ulysses resides; of which she ought by no means to be ignorant, upon the account of her Divinity.

But surely nothing can be be more natural, than for a son, in order to gain intelligence of an absent father, to enquire in those places, and of those persons, where and from whom he is most likely to have information. Such is the conduct of Telemachus: And Poetry, which delights in the Wonderful, because this conduct agrees with wisdom, ascribes it to Minerva the Goddess of it. No doubt but Minerva knew where Ulysses resided: but men must act as men: such an immediate interposition as Rapin re­quires, had stopp'd at once the fountain of the Poet's invention. If what a Poet invents be natural, it is justifiable; and he may give the rein to his imagination, if he restrain it from running into extravagance and wildness.


VERSE 112.
'Tis mine, to form his green, unpractis'd years, &c.]

In this the Poet draws the out-lines of what he is to fill up in the four subsequent books: and nothing can give us a greater idea of his unbounded invention, than his building upon so plain a foundation such a noble superstructure: He entertains us with variety of Episodes, historical relations, and manners of those [Page 51] ancient times. It must be confess'd, that the Characters in the Odyssey, and the number of the chief Actors, are but few; and yet the Poet never tires, he varies and diversifies the story so happily, that he is continually opening new scenes to engage our attention. He resembles his own Proteus, he is capable of all shapes, yet in all shapes the same Deity.


VERSE 136.
Mentes, the Monarch of the Taphian land.]

We are told by tradition, that Homer was so sensible of friendship, that to do honour to his particular friends, he immortalized their names in his Poems. In the Iliad he has shewn his gratitude to Tychius; and in the Odyssey, to Mentes, Phemius, and Mentor. This Mentes was a famous Merchant of the isle of Leucade, who re­ceived Homer at Smyrna, and made him his companion in all his voyages. It is to this Mentes we owe the two Poems of Homer, for the Poet in all probability had never wrote them without those lights and informations he receiv'd, and the discoveries he was enabled to make, by those travels. Homer is not contented to give his name to the King of the Taphians, but feigns also that the Goddess of Wisdom chose to appear in his shape, preferably to that of all the Kings who were nearer neighbours to Ithaca. Eustathius thinks there might have been a real King of Taphos of this name, who was a friend to Ulysses. This may possibly be; but I would chuse to adhere rather to the old tradition, as it does honour to friendship. Dacier.


VERSE 139.
Enormous riot and mis-rule.]

This is the first appearance of the Suitors; and the Poet has drawn their pictures in such colours, as are agreeable to their characters thro' the whole Poem. They are, as Horace expresses it,

[Page 52]
—Fruges consumere nati,
Sponsi Penelopes, Nebulones—

The Poet gives a fine contrast between them and Telemachus; he entertains himself with his own thoughts, weighs the sum of things, and beholds with a virtuous sorrow the disorders of the Suitors: He appears, (like Ulysses among his transform'd compani­ons in the tenth book,) a wife man, among brutes.


VERSE 143.
At Chess they vie, to captivate the Queen,
Divining of their loves—

There are great disputes what this Game was, at which the Sui­tors play'd? Athenaeus relates it from Apian the Grammarian, who had it from Cteson a native of Ithaca, that the sport was in this manner. The number of the Suitors being 108, they equally divided their men, or balls; that is to say, 54 on each side; these were placed on the board opposite to each other. Between the two sides was a vacant space, in the midst of which was the main mark, or Queen, the point which all were to aim at. They took their turns by lot; he who took or displac'd that mark, got his own in its place; and if by a second man, he again took it, without touching any of the others, he won the game; and it pass'd as an omen of obtaining his mistress. This principal mark, or Queen, was called by whatever name the Gamesters pleas'd; and the Suitors gave it the name of Penelope.

'Tis said, this Game was invented by Palamedes during the siege of Troy. [Sophocles in Palam.] Eustath. Spondan. Dacier.


VERSE 157.
Griev'd that a Visitant so long should wait.]

The Reader will lose much of the pleasure of this Poem, if he reads it without the reflection, that he peruses one of the most [Page 53] ancient books in the world; it sets before him persons, places, and actions that existed three thousand years ago: Here we have an instance of the humanity of those early ages: Telemachus pays a reverence to this stranger, only because he is a stranger: He attends him in person, and welcomes him with all the openness of ancient hospitality.


VERSE 185. &c.
The Feast describ'd.]

There is nothing that has drawn more ridicule upon Homer, than the frequent descripti­ons of his entertainments: It has been judged, that he was more than ordinarily delighted with them, since he omits no opportu­nity to describe them; nay, his temperance has not been unsus­pected, according to that verse of Horace, Laudibus arguitur vini vinosus Homerus. But we must not condemn, without stronger evidence: a man may commend a sumptuous entertainment, or good wines, with­out being either a drunkard or a glutton. But since there are so many entertainments describ'd in the Poem, it may not be im­proper to give this some explanation.

They wash before the feast; perhaps, says Eustathius, because they always at the feast made libations to the Gods. The Ewer was of gold, the vessel from whence the water was pour'd of sil­ver, and the cups out of which they drank were of gold.

A damsel attends Mentes, but heralds wait upon the Suitors: Eustathius observes a decency in this conduct; the Suitors were lewd debauchees, and consequently a woman of modesty would have been an improper attendant upon such a company. Beauti­ful Youths attended the company in quality of cup-bearers.

A Matron who has charge of the houshold ( [...]) brings in the bread and the cold meats, for so Eustathius interprets [...]; an Officer, whose employ it was to portion out the victuals, brings in the meats that furnish'd out the rest of the entertain­ment; [Page 54] and after the feast, a Bard diverts them with vocal and instrumental music.

Dacier is in great pain about the cold victuals; she is afraid lest the Reader should think them the leavings of a former day: and tells us they might possibly be in the nature of our cold Tongues, Jambons, &c. But I think such fears to be groundless: We must have reference to the customs of those early ages; and if it was customary for cold meats to be serv'd up, (neither is it ne­cessary to suppose them the leavings of the former entertainment) it can be no disgrace to the hospitality of Telemachus.


VERSE 197.
To Phemius was consign'd the chorded Lyre.]

In ancient times, Princes entertain'd in their families certain learn­ed and wise men, who were both Poets and Philosophers, and not only made it their business to amuse and delight, but to pro­mote wisdom and morality. Ulysses, at his departure for Troy, left one of these with Penelope: and it was usual to consign, in this manner, the care of their wives and families to the Poets of those days, as appears from a signal passage in the third book, verse (of the original) 267, &c. To this man Homer gives the name of Phemius; to celebrate one of his friends, who was so call'd, and who had been his Praeceptor (says Eustathius). I must add one remark, that tho' he places his Master here in no very good company, yet he guards his character from any imputation, by telling us, that he attended the Suitors by compulsion. This is not only a great instance of his gratitude, but also of his ten­derness and delicacy.


VERSE 225.
All who deserv'd his choice—]

'Tis evident, from this and many places in the Iliad, that Hospitality was here­ditary; an happiness and honour peculiar to these heroic ages. And surely nothing can set the character of Ulysses in a more [Page 55] agreeable point of light, than what Telemachus here delivers of it; ‘"He was the friend of all mankind."’ Eustathius observes, that [...] has a middle signification; that it implies that Ulysses behav'd benevolently to all men; or that all men behaved benevolently to Ulysses; either sense makes Ulysses a very ami­able person: He must be a friend to all men, to whom all men are friends.


VERSE 234.
I steer my voyage to the Brutian strand.]

In the country of the Brutians, in the lower part of Italy, was a town call'd Temese. That Homer here meant this city, and not one of the same name in Cyprus, appears not only because this was famous for works of brass, but because (as Strabo observes) Ithaca lay in the direct way from Taphos to this city of the Bru­tii; whereas it was considerably out of the way to pass by Ithaca to that of Cyprus. The same Author says, that the rooms for preparing of brass were remaining in his time; tho' then out of use. Ovid. Met. 15. Hippotadaeque domos regis, Temesesque metalla. And Statius, Sylv. —se totis Temese dedit hausta metallis. Bochart is of opinion, that the name of Temese was given to this town by the Phenicians, from the brass it produced, Temes in their language signifying Fusion of Metals: an Art to which the Phenicians much apply'd themselves. Eustat. Dacier.


VERSE 245.
Laertes's Retirement.]

This most beautiful pas­sage of Laertes has not escap'd the censure of the Critics; they say [Page 56] acts an unmanly part, he forgets that he is a King, and reduces himself unworthily into the condition of a servant. Eustathius gives two reasons for his retirement, which answer those objections; the first is, that he could not endure to see the outrage and inso­lence of the Suitors; the second, that his Grief for Ulysses makes him abandon society, and prefer his vineyard to his Court. This is undoubtedly the picture of human nature under affliction; for sorrow loves solitude. Thus it is, as Dacier well observes, that Menedemus in Terence laments his lost Son: Menedemus is the Picture of Laertes. Nor does it make any difference, that the one is a King, the other a person of private station: Kings are but enobled humanity, and are liable, as other men, to as great, if not greater, sensibility.

The word [...] (creeping about his vineyard) has also given offence, as it carries an idea of meanness with it; but Eustathius observes, that it excellently expresses the melancholy of Laertes, and denotes no meanness of spirit: The same word is apply'd to the great Achilles in the Iliad, when he laments at the Obsequies of Patroclus; and Horace no doubt had it in his view, —Tacitum sylvas inter-reptare salubreis.


VERSE 257.
Among a savage race, &c.]

It is the obser­vation of Eustathius, that what Minerva here delivers bears re­semblance to the Oracles, in which part is false, part true: That Ulysses is detain'd in an Island, is a truth; that he is detain'd by Barbarians, a falshood: This is done by the Goddess, that she may be thought to be really a man, as she appears to be; she speaks with the dubiousness of a man, not the certainty of a Goddess; she raises his expectation, by shewing she has an insight into fu­turity; and to engage his belief, she discovers in part the truth to Telemachus. Neither was it necessary or convenient for Telemachus to know the whole truth: for if he had known that Ulysses in­habited a desart, detain'd by a Goddess, he must of consequence [Page 57] have known of his return, (for he that could certify the one, could certify the other,) and so had never gone in search of him; and it would hence have happen'd, that Homer had been depriv'd of giving us those graces of Poetry which arise from the voyage of Telemachus. Eustathius.


VERSE 275.
To prove a genuine birth, &c.]

There is an ap­pearance of something very shocking in this speech of Telemachus. It literally runs thus: My mother assures me that I am the son of Ulysses, but I know it not. It seems to reflect upon his mother's chastity, as if he had a doubt of his own legitimacy. This seeming simplicity in Telemachus, says Eustathius, is the effect of a troubled spirit; it is grief that makes him doubt if he can be the son of the great, the generous Ulysses; it is no reflection upon Penelope, and consequently no fault in Telemachus: It is an undoubted truth that the mother only knows the legitimacy of the child: Thus Euripides, [...] that is, The mother knows the child, the father only believes it,

Thus also Menander,


that is, No man knows assuredly who begot him, we only guess it, and believe it.

Aristotle in his Rhetoric is also of this opinion; [...] What I have here said, is translated literally from Eustathius, and if it edifies the Reader I am content. But the meaning of the [Page 58] passage is this, Mentes asks Telemachus if he be the son of Ulysses; he replies, ‘"So my mother assures me; but nothing sure so wretched as I am could proceed from that great man."’

But however this may be reconciled to truth, I believe few Ladies would take it as a compliment, if their sons shou'd tell them there was some room to doubt of their legitimacy: there may be abundance of truth in it, and yet very little decency.


VERSE 309.
Now snatch'd by Harpies, &c.]

The meaning of this expression is, that Ulysses has not had the rites of sepulture. This among the Ancients was esteem'd the greatest of calamities, as it hinder'd the Shades of the deceased from entering into the state of the happy.


VERSE 315.
To tempt the spouseless Queen—resort the Nobles.]

It is necessary to reconcile the conduct of the Suitors to proba­bility, since it has so great a share in the process of the Odyssey. It may seem incredible that Penelope, who is a Queen, in whom the supreme power is lodg'd, should not dismiss such unwelcome intruders, especially since many of them were her own subjects: Besides, it seems an extraordinary way of courtship in them, to ruin the person to whom they make their addresses.

To solve this objection we must consider the nature of the Grecian governments: The chief men of the land had great autho­rity; Tho' the government was monarchical, it was not de­spotic; Laertes was retir'd, and disabled with age; Telemachus was yet in his minority; and the fear of any violence either against her own person, or against her son, might deter Penelope from using any endeavours to remove men of such insolence, and such power. Dacier.


VERSE 341.
To taint with deadly drugs the barbed dart.]

It is necessary to explain this passage. It seems at first view, as if Ulysses had requested what a good man could not grant. Ilus, says Mentes, deny'd the Poison, because he fear'd the anger of the Gods; and the poison it self is call'd by Homer [...], as if it were design'd against mankind. Eustathius defends Ulysses va­riously: He intended, says he, to employ it against beasts only, that infested his country, or in hunting. He assigns another reason, and says that the Poet is preparing the way to give an air of probability to the destruction of the Suitors. He poisons his arrows, that every wound may be mortal; on this account the poison may be call'd [...]; for it is certain in the wars of Troy, poison'd arrows were not in use, for many persons who were wounded recover'd; so that of necessity they must be re­serv'd for domestic occasions. From what has been said we may collect the reason why Anchialus granted the poison to Ulysses, and Ilus deny'd it; Anchialus was the friend of Ulysses, and knew that he would not employ it to any ill purpose; but Ilus, who was a stranger to him, was afraid lest he should abuse it. Eustathius.


VERSE 360.
Dismiss'd with honour let her hence repair.]

I will lay before the reader literally what Eustathius observes upon these words. There is a Soloecism, says he, in these verses or words, that cannot be reduc'd to the rules of construction. It should be [...], not [...]. How then comes the accusative case to be used instead of the nominative? Mentes, adds he, may be suppos'd to have intended to have said [...] (send thy Mo­ther away;) but considering, in the midst of the Sentence, that such advice was not suitable to be given to Telemachus, he checks himself, and suppresses [...]; and no other word immedi­ately [Page 60] occurring, that requir'd an accusative case, he falls into a Soloecism.

But perhaps this is more ingenious than true; tho' Mentes was in haste when he spoke it, Homer was not when he compos'd it. Might not an errour creep into the original by the negligence of a Transcriber, who might write [...] for [...]? This is the more probable, because the one stands in the Verse in every respect as well as the other.

What Eustathius adds is very absurd: he says that Telemachus must observe both the interpretations, either send thy Mother a­way, or let thy Mother retire. So that the advice was double, send thy Mother away if thou dost not love her; but if thou art unwilling to grieve her, let her recess be voluntary.


VERSE 367.
Omen'd Voice—of Jove.]

There is a difficulty in this Passage. In any case of enquiry, any Words that were heard by accident were call'd by the Latins, Omens; by Homer, the voice of Jupiter; and he stiles them so, because it is thro' his providence that those words come to our knowledge: [...] signifies fame or rumour; and the Ancients refer'd all voices or sounds to Jupiter; and still'd him [...]. So that the voice of Jove im­plies any words that we hear by chance, from whence we can draw any thing that gives light to our concerns or enquiries. Dacier. Eustathius.


VERSE. 387.
Hast thou not heard, &c.]

It may seem that this example of Orestes does not come fully up to the purpose in­tended: There is a wide difference in the circumstances: Orestes slew an adulterer, and a single person, with an adulteress. The de­signs of Telemachus are not against one, but many enemies; neither are they adulterers, nor have they slain the father of Telemachus, as is [Page 61] the case of Orestes: nor is Penelope an adulteress. The intent therefore of the Goddess is only to shew what a glorious act it is to defend our parents: Orestes, says Mentes, is every where celebrated for honouring his father, and thou shalt obtain equal honour by defending thy mother.

The sense that [...] here bears is remarkable, it signi­fies not only a person who kills his own father, but who kills the father of any other person. Eustathius.


VERSE 413.—
With eagle-speed she cut the sky,
Instant invisible—.]

I pass over the several interpretations that have been given to the word [...]; some say it implies she flew up the chimney, &c. In reality it signifies a species of an eagle; but it may also signi­fie the same as [...] (invisible,) either of the latter senses are na­tural, or both together, like an eagle she disappear'd. Eustathius.


VERSE 420.
Hush'd in attention to the warbled song.]

There may be two reasons why this is inserted; either the Suitors were pleas'd with the sweetness of the song, or the subject of it; they sate attentive to hear the death of Ulysses, in the process of his story. This gives us a reason why immediately Penelope descended to stop the song; she fear'd lest he might touch upon the story of Ulysses, and say that he dy'd in his return. This would have reduc'd her to the utmost necessity, and she could not have deferr'd to marry. Phemius would have certainly found credit, for Poets were believ'd to be inspir'd by the Gods; they were look'd upon as Prophets, and to have something of divinity in them, as appears from Demodocus in the 8th book of the Odyssey. Besides there was a further necessity to put a stop to the song. If Phemius had declar'd him to be dead, Penelope could not have avoided marriage; if alive, the Suitors might have desisted, [Page 62] or arm'd themselves against Ulysses, and then their Deaths, one of the principal incidents of the Poem, could not have follow'd; neither could Telemachus have gone in search of his father, if he had foreknown his death, or sudden return. It is therefore art­ful in the Poet to cut the song short, he reserves the story of Ulysses for future narration, and brings all this about by a very probable method, by the interposition of Penelope, who requests that some other story may be chosen, a story that she can hear without sorrow.

It is very customary for women to be present at the entertain­ments of men; as appears from the conduct of Helen, Arete, Nausicaa, and Penelope in divers parts of the Odyssey: She is here introduced with the greatest decency; she enters not the room, but stands with tears at the threshold; and even at that distance appears with her face shaded by a veil. Eustathius.


VERSE 443.
Oft Jove's aetherial rays, &c.]

Telemachus here reproves his mother for commanding Phemius to desist, or not to make Ulysses the subject of his song: by saying, that it was not in the Poet's own power to chuse his subject, which was frequent­ly dictated and inspired by the Gods. This is a particular instance of the opinion the Ancients held as to the immediate inspiration of their Poets. The words in the original evidently bear this sense. If the subject displease you, 'tis not the Poet but Jupiter is to blame, who inspires men of invention, as he himself pleases. And Mad. Da­cier strangely mistakes this passage, in rendring it, 'tis not the Poet but Jupiter who is the cause of our misfortunes, for 'tis he who dis­penses to wretched mortals good or evil as he pleases. At the same time she acknowledges the word [...], which she here ren­ders laborious, or wretched, to signify persons of wit, in the begin­ning of lib. 4. and persons of skill and ability in their art, in lib. 11.


VERSE 455.
Your widow'd hours, apart, with female toil, &c.]

These verses are taken literally from the 6th book of the Iliad, except that [...] is inserted instead of [...]; Eustathius ex­plains the passage thus: Women are not forbid entirely to speak, for women are talking animals, [...], they have the faculty of talking, and indeed are rational creatures; but they must not give too much liberty to that unruly member, in the company of men. Sophocles advises well, [...] O woman, silence is the ornament of thy sex. Madam Dacier, tho' she plunders almost every thing, has spared this observation.


VERSE 491.
The speech of Antinous.]

Antinous and Eury­machus are Ithacensians, and are call'd the chief of the Suitors. It is therefore necessary to distinguish their characters; Antinous is violent, and determin'd against Ulysses; Eurymachus more gentle and subtle: Antinous derides, Eurymachus flatters.

This speech of Antinous is a conceal'd raillery; he tells Tele­machus, that Jove inspires his soul with wisdom, but means that his education has been such, that he had learn'd nothing from man; he wishes (out of a seemingly kind concern for him) that he may never reign in Ithaca, because the weight of a crown is a burthen; and concludes with mentioning his heredi­tary title to it, to insinuate that is his by descent only, and not by merit.

Telemachus, in his answer, wisely dissembles the affront of Anti­nous, he takes it in the better sense, and seems to differ only in opinion about the Regality. Think you, says he, that to be a King is to be miserable? To be a King, in my judgment, is to [Page 64] enjoy affluence and honour. He asserts his claim to the successi­on of his father, yet seems to decline it, to lay the suspicions of the Suitors asleep, that they may not prevent the measures he takes to obtain it. Eustathius.

The speech of Eurymachus confirms the former observation, that this Suitor is of a more soft and moderate behaviour than An­tinous: He cloaths ill designs with a seeming humanity, and ap­pears a friend, while he carries on the part of an enemy: Telemachus had said, that if it was the will of Jupiter, he would ascend the Throne of Ithaca: Eurymachus answers, that this was as the Gods shou'd determine; an insinuation that they regarded not his claim from his father. Telemachus said he would maintain himself in the possession of his present inheritance: Eurymachus wishes that no one may arrive to dispossess him; the latent mean­ing of which is, ‘"we of your own country are sufficient for that design."’ If these observations of Eustathius be true, Euryma­chus was not a less enemy than Antinous, but a better dissembler.


VERSE 540.
The sage Euryclea.]

Euryclea was a very aged person; she was bought by Laertes, to nurse Ulysses; and in her old age attends Telemachus: She cost Laertes twenty oxen; that is, a certain quantity of money ( [...]) which would buy twenty oxen: or perhaps the form of an ox was stamp'd upon the metal, and from thence had its appellation.

The simplicity of these Heroic times is remarkable; an old woman is the only attendant upon the son of a King: She lights him to his apartment, takes care of his cloaths, and hangs them up at the side of his bed. Greatness then consisted not in shew, but in the mind: this conduct proceeded not from the meanness of poverty, but from the simplicity of manners. Eustathius.

Having now gone thro' the first book, I shall only observe to the Reader, that the whole of it does not take up the com­pass of an entire day: When Minerva appears to Telemachus the Suitors were preparing to sit down to the banquet at noon; and the [Page 65] business of the first book concludes with the day. It is true, that the Gods hold a debate before the descent of Minerva, and some small time must be allow'd for that transaction. It is re­markable, that there is not one Simile in this book, except we allow those three words to be one, [...]; The same observation is true of the first book of the Iliad. See the Notes on that place.



The Council of Ithaca.

Telemachus, in the assembly of the Lords of Ithaca, complains of the injustice done him by the Suitors, and insists upon their depar­ture from his Palace; appealing to the Princes, and exciting the people to declare against them. The Suitors endeavour to justify their stay, at least till he shall send the Queen to the Court of Icarius her father; which he refuses. There appears a prodigy of two Eagles in the sky, which an Augur expounds to the ruin of the Suitors. Telemachus then demands a vessel, to carry him to Pylos and Sparta, there to enquire of his father's fortunes. Pal­las in the shape of Mentor (an ancient friend of Ulysses) helps him to a ship, assists him in preparing necessaries for the voyage, and embarks with him that night; which concludes the second day from the Opening of the Poem.

The SCENE continues in the Palace of Ulysses in Ithaca.

W.K. [...] P.Fourdrinier sc.


NOW red'ning from the dawn, the Morning ray
Glow'd in the front of Heav'n, and gave the Day.
The youthful Hero, with return­ing light,
Rose anxious from th'inquietudes of Night.
A royal robe he wore with graceful pride,
A two-edg'd faulchion threaten'd by his side,
[Page 70] Embroider'd sandals glitter'd as he trod,
And forth he mov'd, majestic as a God.
Then by his Heralds, restless of delay,
To council calls the Peers: the Peers obey.
Soon as in solemn form th' assembly sate,
From his high dome himself descends in state.
Bright in his hand a pond'rous javelin shin'd;
Two Dogs, a faithful guard, attend behind;
Pallas with grace divine his form improves,
And gazing crowds admire him as he moves.
His Father's throne he fill'd: while distant stood
The hoary Peers, and Aged Wisdom bow'd.
'Twas silence all: at last Aegyptius spoke;
Aegyptius, by his age and sorrows broke:
A length of days his soul with prudence crown'd,
A length of days had bent him to the ground.
His eldest * hope in arms to Ilion came,
By great Ulysses taught the path to fame;
But (hapless youth) the hideous Cyclops tore
His quiv'ring limbs, and quaff'd his spouting gore.
[Page 71] Three sons remain'd: To climb with haughty fires
The royal bed, Eurynomus aspires;
The rest with duteous love his griefs asswage,
And ease the Sire of half the cares of age.
Yet still his Antiphus he loves, he mourns,
And as he stood, he spoke and wept by turns.
Since great Ulysses sought the Phrygian plains,
Within these walls inglorious silence reigns.
Say then, ye Peers! by whose commands we meet?
Why here once more in solemn council sit?
Ye young, ye old, the weighty cause disclose:
Arrives some message of invading foes?
Or say, does high necessity of state
Inspire some Patriot, and demand debate!
The present Synod speaks its author wise;
Assist him, Jove! thou regent of the skies!
He spoke. Telemachus with transport glows,
Embrac'd the omen, and majestic rose:
(His royal hand th'imperial scepter sway'd)
Then thus, addressing to Aegyptius, said.
Rev'rend old man! lo here confest he stands
By whom ye meet; my grief your care demands.
No story I unfold of public woes,
Nor bear advices of impending foes:
Peace the blest land, and joys incessant crown;
Of all this happy realm, I grieve alone.
For my lost Sire continual sorrows spring,
The great, the good; your Father, and your King.
Yet more; our house from its foundation bows,
Our foes are pow'rful, and your sons the foes:
Hither, unwelcome, to the Queen they come;
Why seek they not the rich Icarian dome?
If she must wed, from other hands require
The dowry; Is Telemachus her Sire?
Yet thro' my court the noise of Revel rings,
And wastes the wise frugality of Kings.
Scarce all my herds their luxury suffice;
Scarce all my wine their midnight hours supplies.
Safe in my youth, in riot still they grow,
Nor in the helpless Orphan dread a foe.
[Page 73] But come it will, the time when manhood grants
More pow'rful advocates than vain complaints.
Approach that hour! unsufferable wrong
Cries to the Gods, and vengeance sleeps too long.
Rise then ye Peers! with virtuous anger rise!
Your same revere, but most th'avenging skies.
By all the deathless pow'rs that reign above,
By righteous Themis and by thund'ring Jove,
(Themis, who gives to councils, or denies
Success; and humbles, or confirms the wise)
Rise in my aid! suffice the tears that flow
For my lost Sire, nor add new woe to woe.
If e'er he bore the sword to strengthen ill,
Or having pow'r to wrong, betray'd the will;
On me, on me your kindled wrath asswage,
And bid the voice of lawless riot rage.
If ruin to our royal race ye doom,
Be You the spoilers, and our wealth consume.
Then might we hope redress from juster laws,
And raise all Ithaca to aid our cause:
[Page 74] But while your Sons commit th' unpunish'd wrong,
You make the Arm of Violence too strong.
While thus he spoke, with rage and grief he frown'd,
And dash'd th'imperial sceptre to the ground.
The big round tear hung trembling in his eye:
The Synod griev'd, and gave a pitying sigh,
Then silent sate—at length Antinous burns
With haughty rage, and sternly thus returns.
O insolence of youth! whose tongue affords
Such railing eloquence, and war of words.
Studious thy country's worthies to defame,
Thy erring voice displays thy Mother's shame.
Elusive of the bridal day, she gives
Fond hopes to all, and all with hopes deceives.
Did not the sun, thro' heav'n's wide azure roll'd,
For three long years the royal fraud behold?
While she, laborious in delusion, spread
The spacious loom, and mix'd the various thread:
Where as to life the wond'rous figures rise,
Thus spoke th'inventive Queen, with artful sighs.
" Tho' cold in death Ulysses breathes no more,
" Cease yet a while to urge the bridal hour;
" Cease, 'till to great Laertes I bequeath
" A task of grief, his ornaments of death.
" Lest when the Fates his royal ashes claim,
" The Grecian matrons taint my spotless fame;
" When he, whom living mighty realms obey'd,
" Shall want in death a shroud to grace his shade.
Thus she: at once the gen'rous train complies,
Nor fraud mistrusts in virtue's fair disguise.
The work she ply'd; but studious of delay,
By night revers'd the labours of the day.
While thrice the sun his annual journey made,
The conscious lamp the midnight fraud survey'd;
Unheard, unseen, three years her arts prevail;
The fourth, her maid unfolds th'amazing tale.
We saw, as unperceiv'd we took our stand,
The backward labours of her faithless hand.
Then urg'd, she perfects her illustrious toils;
A wond'rous monument of female wiles!
But you oh Peers! and thou oh Prince! give ear:
(I speak aloud, that ev'ry Greek may hear)
Dismiss the Queen; and if her sire approves,
Let him espouse her to the Peer she loves:
Bid instant to prepare the bridal train,
Nor let a race of Princes wait in vain.
Tho' with a grace divine her soul is blest,
And all Minerva breathes within her breast,
In wond'rous arts than woman more renown'd,
And more than woman with deep wisdom crown'd;
Tho' Tyro nor Mycene match her name,
Nor great Alcmena, (the proud boasts of Fame)
Yet thus by heav'n adorn'd, by heav'n's decree
She shines with fatal excellence, to thee:
With thee, the bowl we drain, indulge the feast,
'Till righteous heav'n reclaim her stubborn breast.
What tho' from pole to pole resounds her name?
The son's destruction waits the mother's fame:
For 'till she leaves thy court, it is decreed,
Thy bowl to empty, and thy flock to bleed.
While yet he speaks, Telemachus replies.
Ev'n Nature starts, and what ye ask denies.
Thus, shall I thus repay a mother's cares,
Who gave me life, and nurs'd my infant years?
While sad on foreign shores Ulysses treads,
Or glides a ghost with unapparent shades.
How to Icarius in the bridal hour
Shall I, by waste undone, refund the dow'r?
How from my father should I vengeance dread?
How would my mother curse my hated head?
And while in wrath to vengeful Fiends she cries,
How from their hell would vengeful Fiends arise?
Abhorr'd by all, accurs'd my name would grow,
The earth's disgrace, and Humankind my foe.
If this displease, why urge ye here your stay?
Haste from the court, ye spoilers, haste away:
Waste in wild riot what your land allows,
There ply the early feast, and late carouse.
But if, to honour lost, 'tis still decreed
For you my bowl shall flow, my flocks shall bleed;
[Page 78] Judge and assert my right, impartial Jove!
By him, and all th' immortal host above,
(A sacred oath) if heav'n the pow'r supply,
Vengeance I vow, and for your wrongs ye die.
With that, two Eagles from a mountain's height
By Jove's command direct their rapid flight;
Swift they descend with wing to wing conjoin'd,
Stretch their broad plumes, and float upon the wind.
Above th' assembled Peers they wheel on high,
And clang their wings, and hovering beat the sky;
With ardent eyes the rival train they threat,
And shrieking loud denounce approaching fate.
They cuff, they tear, their cheeks and necks they rend,
And from their plumes huge drops of blood descend.
Then failing o'er the domes and tow'rs they fly,
Full tow'rd the east, and mount into the sky.
The wondring Rivals gaze with cares opprest,
And chilling horrours freeze in every breast.
'Till big with knowledge of approaching woes
The Prince of Augurs, Halitherses, rose:
[Page 79] Prescient he view'd th' aerial tracts, and drew
A sure presage from ev'ry wing that flew.
Ye sons (he cry'd) of Ithaca give ear,
Hear all! but chiefly you, oh Rivals! hear.
Destruction sure o'er all your heads impends;
Ulysses comes, and death his steps attends.
Nor to the Great alone is death decreed;
We, and our guilty Ithaca must bleed.
Why cease we then the wrath of heav'n to stay?
Be humbled all, and lead ye Great! the way.
For lo! my words no fancy'd woes relate:
I speak from science, and the voice is Fate.
When great Ulysses sought the Phrygian shores
To shake with war proud Ilion's lofty tow'rs,
Deeds then undone my faithful tongue foretold;
Heav'n seal'd my words, and you those deeds behold.
I see (I cry'd) his woes, a countless train;
I see his friends o'erwhelm'd beneath the main;
How twice ten years from shore to shore he roams;
Now twice ten years are past, and now he comes!
To whom Eurymachus—Fly Dotard, fly!
With thy wise dreams, and fables of the sky.
Go prophecy at home; thy sons advise:
Here thou art sage in vain—I better read the skies.
Unnumber'd Birds glide thro' th' aerial way,
Vagrants of air, and unforeboding stray.
Cold in the tomb, or in the deeps below
Ulysses lies: oh wert thou lay'd as low!
Then would that busy head no broils suggest,
Nor fire to rage Telemachus his breast.
From him some bribe thy venal tongue requires,
And Int'rest, not the God, thy voice inspires.
His guide-less youth, if thy experienc'd age
Mis-lead fallacious into idle rage,
Vengeance deserv'd thy malice shall repress,
And but augment the wrongs thou would'st redress.
Telemachus may bid the Queen repair
To great Icarius, whose paternal care
Will guide her passion, and reward her choice,
With wealthy dow'r, and bridal gifts of price.
[Page 81] 'Till she retires, determin'd we remain,
And both the Prince and Augur threat in vain:
His pride of words, and thy wild dream of fate,
Move not the brave, or only move their hate.
Threat on, oh Prince! elude the bridal day,
Threat on, till all thy stores in waste decay.
True, Greece affords a train of lovely dames,
In wealth and beauty worthy of our flames:
But never from this nobler suit we cease;
For wealth and beauty less than virtue please.
To whom the Youth. Since then in vain I tell
My num'rous woes, in silence let them dwell.
But heav'n, and all the Greeks, have heard my wrongs:
To heav'n, and all the Greeks, redress belongs.
Yet this I ask (nor be it ask'd in vain)
A bark to waft me o'er the rolling main;
The realms of Pyle and Sparta to explore,
And seek my royal sire from shore to shore:
If, or to Fame his doubtful fate be known,
Or to be learn'd from Oracles alone?
[Page 82] If yet he lives, with patience I forbear
'Till the fleet hours restore the circling year;
But if already wand'ring in the train
Of empty shades, I measure back the main;
Plant the fair column o'er the mighty dead,
And yield his consort to the nuptial bed.
He ceas'd; and while abash'd the Peers attend,
Mentor arose, Ulysses' faithful friend:
[When fierce in arms he sought the scenes of war,
" My friend (he cry'd) my palace be thy care;
" Years roll'd on years my god-like sire decay,
" Guard thou his age, and his behests obey.]
Stern as he rose, he cast his eyes around
That flash'd with rage; and as he spoke, he frown'd.
O never, never more! let King be just,
Be mild in pow'r, or faithful to his trust!
Let Tyrants govern with an iron rod,
Oppress, destroy, and be the scourge of God;
Since he who like a father held his reign,
So soon forgot, was just and mild in vain!
[Page 83] True, while my friend is griev'd, his griefs I share;
Yet now the Rivals are my smallest care:
They, for the mighty mischiefs they devise,
Ere long shall pay—their forfeit lives the price.
But against you, ye Greeks! ye coward train,
Gods! how my soul is mov'd with just disdain?
Dumb ye all stand, and not one tongue affords
His injur'd Prince the little aid of words.
While yet he spoke, Leocritus rejoyn'd:
O pride of words, and arrogance of mind!
Would'st thou to rise in arms the Greeks advise?
Join all your pow'rs! in arms ye Greeks arise!
Yet would your pow'rs in vain our strength oppose;
The valiant few o'ermatch an host of foes.
Should great Ulysses stern appear in arms,
While the bowl circles, and the banquet warms;
Tho' to his breast his spouse with transport flies,
Torn from her breast, that hour, Ulysses dies.
But hence retreating to your domes repair;
To arm the vessel, Mentor! be thy care,
[Page 84] And Halitherses! thine: be each his friend;
Ye lov'd the father; go, the son attend.
But yet, I trust, the boaster means to stay
Safe in the court, nor tempt the watry way.
Then, with a rushing sound, th' Assembly bend
Diverse their steps: The rival rout ascend
The royal dome; while sad the Prince explores
The neighb'ring main, and sorrowing treads the shores.
There, as the waters o'er his hands he shed,
The royal suppliant to Minerva pray'd.
O Goddess! who descending from the skies
Vouchsaf'd thy presence to my wond'ring eyes,
By whose commands the raging deeps I trace,
And seek my sire thro' storms and rolling seas!
Hear from thy heav'ns above, oh warrior-maid!
Descend once more, propitious to my aid.
Without thy presence vain is thy command;
Greece, and the rival train thy voice withstand.
Indulgent to his pray'r, the Goddess took
Sage Mentor's form, and thus like Mentor spoke.
O Prince, in early youth divinely wise,
Born, the Ulysses of thy age to rise!
If to the son the father's worth descends,
O'er the wide waves success thy ways attends:
To tread the walks of death he stood prepar'd,
And what he greatly thought, he nobly dar'd.
Were not wise sons descendent of the wise,
And did not Heroes from brave Heroes rise,
Vain were my hopes: few sons attain the praise
Of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
But since thy veins paternal virtue fires,
And all Penelope thy soul inspires,
Go, and succeed! the rivals' aims despise;
For never, never, wicked man was wise.
Blind they rejoice, tho' now, ev'n now they fall;
Death hastes amain: one hour o'erwhelms them all!
And lo, with speed we plow the watry way;
My pow'r shall guard thee, and my hand convey:
The winged vessel studious I prepare,
Thro' seas and realms companion of thy care.
[Page 86] Thou to the court ascend; and to the shores
(When night advances) bear the naval stores;
Bread, that decaying man with strength supplies,
And gen'rous wine, which thoughtful sorrow flies.
Mean-while the Mariners by my command
Shall speed aboard, a valiant chosen band.
Wide o'er the bay, by vessel vessel rides;
The best I chuse, to waft thee o'er the tides.
She spoke: to his high dome the Prince returns,
And as he moves with royal anguish mourns.
'Twas riot all among the lawless train;
Boar bled by boar, and goat by goat lay slain.
Arriv'd, his hand the gay Antinous prest,
And thus deriding, with a smile addrest.
Grieve not, oh daring Prince! that noble heart:
Ill suits gay youth the stern, heroic part.
Indulge the genial hour, unbend thy soul,
Leave thought to Age, and drain the flowing bowl.
Studious to ease thy grief, our care provides
The bark, to waft thee o'er the swelling tides.
Is this (returns the Prince) for mirth a time?
When lawless gluttons riot, mirth's a crime;
The luscious wines dishonour'd lose their taste,
The song is noise, and impious is the feast.
Suffice it to have spent with swift decay
The wealth of Kings, and made my youth a prey.
But now the wise instructions of the sage,
And manly thoughts inspir'd by manly age,
Teach me to seek redress for all my woe,
Here, or in Pyle.—in Pyle or here, your foe.
Deny your vessels; ye deny in vain;
A private voyager I pass the main.
Free breathe the winds, and free the billows flow,
And where on earth I live, I live your foe.
He spoke and frown'd, nor longer deign'd to stay,
Sternly his hand withdrew, and strode away.
Mean time, o'er all the dome, they quaff, they feast,
Derisive taunts were spread from guest to guest,
And each in jovial mood his mate addrest.
Tremble ye not, oh friends! and coward fly,
Doom'd by the stern Telemachus to dye?
To Pyle or Sparta to demand supplies,
Big with revenge, the mighty warrior flies:
Or comes from Ephyré with poisons fraught,
And kills us all in one tremendous draught?
Or who can say (his gamesome mate replies)
But while the dangers of the deeps he tries,
He, like his sire, may sink depriv'd of breath,
And punish us unkindly by his death?
What mighty labours would he then create,
To seize his treasures, and divide his state,
The royal Palace to the Queen convey,
Or him she blesses in the bridal day!
Meantime the lofty rooms the Prince surveys,
Where lay the treasures of th' Ithacian race:
Here ruddy brass and gold refulgent blaz'd;
There polish'd chests embroider'd vestures grac'd;
Here jars of oil breath'd forth a rich perfume;
There casks of wine in rows adorn'd the dome.
[Page 89] (Pure flav'rous wine, by Gods in bounty giv'n,
And worthy to exalt the feasts of heav'n.)
Untouch'd they stood, 'till his long labours o'er
The great Ulysses reach'd his native shore.
A double strength of bars secur'd the gates:
Fast by the door the wise Euryclea waits;
Euryclea, who, great Ops! thy lineage shar'd,
And watch'd all night, all day; a faithful guard.
To whom the Prince. O thou whose guardian care
Nurs'd the most wretched King that breathes the air!
Untouch'd and sacred may these vessels stand,
'Till great Ulysses views his native land.
But by thy care twelve urns of wine be fill'd,
Next these in worth, and firm those urns be seal'd;
And twice ten measures of the choicest flour
Prepar'd, ere yet descends the evening hour.
For when the sav'ring shades of night arise,
And peaceful slumbers close my mother's eyes,
Me from our coast shall spreading sails convey,
To seek Ulysses thro' the wat'ry way.
While yet he spoke, she fill'd the walls with cries,
And tears ran trickling from her aged eyes.
Oh whither, whither flies my son? she cry'd,
To realms, that rocks and roaring seas divide?
In foreign lands thy father's days decay'd,
And foreign lands contain the mighty dead.
The watry way, ill-fated if thou try,
All, all must perish, and by fraud you die!
Then stay, my child! Storms beat, and rolls the main;
Oh beat those storms, and roll the seas in vain!
Far hence (reply'd the Prince) thy fears be driv'n:
Heav'n calls me forth; these counsels are of heav'n.
But by the pow'rs that hate the perjur'd, swear,
To keep my voyage from the royal ear,
Nor uncompell'd the dang'rous truth betray,
'Till twice six times descends the lamp of day:
Lest the sad tale a mother's life impair,
And grief destroy what time a while would spare.
Thus he. The matron with uplifted eyes
Attests th' all-seeing Sovereign of the skies.
[Page 91] Then studious she prepares the choicest flour,
The strength of wheat, and wines, an ample store.
While to the rival train the Prince returns,
The martial Goddess with impatience burns;
Like thee Telemachus, in voice and size,
With speed divine from street to street she flies.
She bids the Mariners prepar'd to stand,
When Night descends, embodyed on the strand.
Then to Noemon swift she runs, she flies,
And asks a bark: the chief a bark supplies.
And now, declining with his sloping wheels,
Down sunk the Sun behind the western hills.
The Goddess shov'd the vessel from the shores,
And stow'd within its womb the naval stores.
Full in the openings of the spacious main
It rides; and now descends the sailor train.
Next, to the court, impatient of delay
With rapid step the Goddess urg'd her way;
There every eye with flumbrous chains she bound,
And dash'd the flowing goblet to the ground.
[Page 92] Drowzy they rose, with heavy fumes opprest,
Reel'd from the palace, and retir'd to rest.
Then thus, in Mentor's reverend form array'd,
Spoke to Telemachus the martial Maid.
Lo! on the seas prepar'd the vessel stands;
Th' impatient mariner thy speed demands.
Swift as she spoke, with rapid pace she leads.
The footsteps of the Deity he treads.
Swift to the shore they move: Along the strand
The ready vessel rides, the sailors ready stand.
He bids them bring their stores: th' attending train
Load the tall bark, and launch into the main.
The Prince and Goddess to the stern ascend;
To the strong stroke at once the rowers bend.
Full from the west she bids fresh breezes blow;
The sable billows foam and roar below.
The Chief his orders gives; th'obedient band
With due observance wait the chief's command;
With speed the mast they rear, with speed unbind
The spacious sheet, and stretch it to the wind.
[Page 93] High o'er the roaring waves the spreading sails
Bow the tall mast, and swell before the gales;
The crooked keel the parting surge divides,
And to the stern retreating roll the tides.
And now they ship their oars, and crown with wine
The holy Goblet to the pow'rs divine:
Imploring all the Gods that reign above,
But chief, the blue-ey'd Progeny of Jove.
Thus all the night they stem the liquid way,
And end their voyage with the morning ray.

W.K. [...]



THIS book opens with the first appearance of Telemachus upon the stage of action. And Bossu observes the great judgment of the Poet, in beginning with the transactions of Ithaca in the absence of Ulysses: By this method he sets the conduct of Telemachus, Penelope, and the Suitors, in a strong point of light; they all have a large share in the story of the Poem, and consequently ought to have distinguish­ing characters. It is as necessary in Epic Poetry, as it is on the Theatre, to let us immediately into the character of every person whom the Poet introduces: This adds perspicuity to the story, and we immediately grow acquainted with each personage, and interest our selves in the good or ill fortune that attends them thro' the whole relation.

Telemachus is now about twenty years of age: In the eleventh book, the Poet tells us, he was an infant in the arms of his mo­ther when Ulysses sail'd to Troy; that Heroe was absent near twenty [Page 98] years, and from hence we may gather the exact age of Telema­chus. He is every where describ'd as a person of piety to the Gods, of duty to his parents, and as a lover of his country: he is pru­dent, temperate, and valiant: and the Poet well sets off the im­portance of this young Heroe, by giving him the Goddess of War and Wisdom for his constant attendant.


VERSE 13.—
In his hand a pond'rous javelin shin'd.]

The Poet describes Telemachus as if he were marching against an ene­my, or going to a council of war, rather than to an assembly of Peers in his own country: Two reasons are assign'd for this conduct; either this was the common usage of Princes in those times, or Telemachus might look upon the Suitors as enemies, and consequently go to council in arms as against enemies. Eustathius.


Two Dogs, a faithful guard, attend behind.]

This passage has not escap'd the raillery of the Critics; they look upon it as a mean description of a Heroe and a Prince, to give him a brace of dogs only for his guards or attendants: But such was the simplicity of ancient Princes, that except in war they had rarely any attendants or equipage. And we may be confident, Homer copies after the custom of the time, unless we can be so absurd as to suppose, he would feign low circumstances unnecessa­rily, thro' a want of judgment.

Virgil judg'd otherwise, and thought this circumstance worthy of his imitation.

Quin etiam gemini custodes limine ab alto
Procedunt, gressumque canes comitantur Herilem.

[Page 99] Achiles is describ'd in the Iliad with the same atten­dants.—Nine large dogs domestic at his board. B. 23.’

Poetry, observes Dacier, is like Painting, which draws the greatest beauties from the simplest customs: and even in history, we receive a sensible pleasure from the least circumstance that de­notes the customs of ancient times. It may be added, that the Poet, as well as the Painter, is obliged to follow the customs of the age of which he writes, or paints: a modern dress would ill become Achilles or Ulysses, such a conduct would be condemned as an absurdity in painting, and ought to be so in poetry.


Yet still his Antiphus he loves, he mourns.]

Ho­mer, says Eustathius, inserts these particularities concerning the fa­mily of Aegyptius, to give an air of truth to his story. It does not appear that Aegyptius knew the certainty of the death of Antiphus; (for it is the Poet who relates it, and not the father;) whence, as Dacier observes, should he learn it? he only laments him, according to the prevailing opinion that all the companions of Ulysses were lost with Ulysses.


Since great Ulysses, &c.]

We are here told, that there never had been any council conven'd in Ithaca, since the departure of Ulysses. The general design and moral of the Odyssey, is to inform us of the mischievous effects which the Ab­sence of a King and Father of a family produces: We deprive, as Bossu observes, the Poem of its very soul, and spoil the Fable, if we retrench from it the disorders which the Suitors create in the absence of Ulysses, both in his family and dominions. No­thing can give us a greater image of those disorders, than what [Page 100] is here related: What must a kingdom suffer in twenty years, without a Ruler, without a Council to make Laws or punish enormities? Such is the condition of Ithaca: Laertes is superan­nuated; Penelope oppress'd by the violence of the Suitors; and Telemachus to this time, in his minority.

It is very artful in the Poet to open the assembly by Aegyptius: Telemachus was the person who conven'd it; and being the great­est personage present, it might be expected that he should open the design of it: But to give Telemachus courage, who was young and inexperienc'd, Aegyptius first rises, and by praising the person who had summon'd them (of whom he seems ignorant) gives Te­lemachus to understand he has friends among the assembly: This he could no other way so safely have done, considering the power of the Suitors. By this means, Telemachus is encouraged to speak boldly, and arraign the disorders of the Suitors with the utmost freedom.


Your Father, and your King.]

Telemachus here sets the character of Ulysses, as a King, in the most agreeable point of light: He rul'd his people with the same mildness as a father rules his children. This must needs have a very happy effect upon the audience; not only as it shews Ulysses to have been a good Governour; but as it recalls the memory of the happiness they receiv'd from that mild government, and obliquely condemns them of ingratitude who had forgot it. By this method also the Poet interests us deeply in the sufferings of Ulysses; we cannot see a good man and good King in distress, without the most tender emotions.


Yet more—our house, &c.]

What Telemachus here says has given offence to the Critics; they think it in­decent for a son to say, that he bears with more regret [Page 101] the disorder of his family than the loss of his father; yet this objection will vanish if we weigh Penelope, Telemachus, and his whole posterity, against the single person of Ulysses.

But what chiefly takes away this objection is, that Telemachus was still in hopes of his father's return: for [...] does not im­ply necessarily his death, but absence: and then both with justice and decency, Telemachus may say that he grieves more for the destruction of his family, than for the absence of Ulysses.


Scarce all my herds their luxury suffice.]

This passage is ridicul'd by the Critics; they set it in a wrong light, and then grow very pleasant upon it: Telemachus makes a sad outcry because the Suitors eat his sheep, his beeves, and fatted goats; and at last falls into tears. The truth is, the riches of Kings and Princes, in those early ages, consisted chiefly in flocks and cattle; thus Aeneas and Paris are describ'd as tending their flocks, &c. and Abraham in the scriptures, as abounding in this kind of wealth.

These Critics would form a different idea of the state and condition of Telemachus, if they consider'd that he had been capa­ble to maintain no fewer than an hundred and eight persons in a manner very expensive for many years; for so many (with their attendants) were the Suitors, as appears from the 16th book; and at the same time he kept up the dignity of his own court, and liv'd with great hospitality.

But it is a sufficient answer to the objections against this passage, to observe, that it is not the expence, but manner of it, that Telemachus laments: This he expresly declares by the word [...]; and surely a sober man may complain against luxury, without being arraigned of meanness; and against pro­fusion, without being condemned for parsimony.


Themis, who gives to Councils, or denies

Eustathius observes, that there was a custom to carry the statue of Themis to the assemblies in former ages, and carry it back again when those assemblies were dissolv'd; and thus Themis may be said to form, and dissolve an assembly. Dacier dislikes this assertion, as having no foundation in antiquity; she thinks that the assertion of Tele­machus is general, that he intimates it is Justice alone that establishes the councils of mankind, and that Injustice confounds and brings the wicked designs of men to confusion.

I have follow'd this interpretation, not only as it suits best with the usual morality of Homer, but also as Jupiter is mention'd with Themis; and no such custom is pretended concerning his statue. He is expresly stil'd by the ancients [...]. In Sicily there was an Altar of [...], or of Jupiter who presides over Councils. Eustathius from Herodotus.


Be You the spoilers, and our wealth consume.]

To understand this passage, we must remember, as Eustathius remarks, that Telemachus is pleading his cause before the Ithacensians; them he constitutes the Judges of his cause: He therefore prevents an answer which they might make, viz. We are not the men that are guilty of these outrages; Telemachus rejoins, ‘"It were better for me to suffer from your hands; for by your quiescence you make my affairs desperate:"’ an intimation that they should rise in his defence.


VERSE. 91.
The big round tear hung trembling in his eye.]

This passage is not one of those, where the Poet can be blam'd for causing [Page 103] a Heroe to weep. If we consider the youth of Telemachus, to­gether with the tenderness agreeable to that time of life; the sub­jects that demand his concern; the apprehension of the loss of a father; and the desolate state of his mother and kingdom: All these make his readiness to burst into tears an argument, not of any want of spirit in him, but of true sense, and goodness of na­ture: and is a great propriety, which shews the right judgment of the Poet.


Oh insolence of youth, &c.]

We find Antinous al­ways setting himself in the strongest opposition to Telemachus; and therefore, he is the first that falls by the spear of Ulysses; the Poet observes justice, and as Antinous is the first in guilt, he is the first in punishment. What Antinous says in this speech concern­ing the treachery of the female servant of Penelope, prepares the way for the punishment Ulysses inflicts on some of the maids in the conclusion of the Poem: This is an act of Poetical justice; and it is as necessary in Epic as in Tragic Poetry to reward the just, and punish the guilty. Eustathius.


Elusive of the bridal day, she gives
Fond hopes to all, and all with hopes deceives.

It will be necessary to vindicate the character of Penelope the He­roine of the Poem, from the aspersions of Antinous. It must be confest that she has a very hard game to play, she neither dares consent, nor deny, if she consents, she injures Ulysses whom she still expects to return: if she denies, she endangers the Throne, and the life of Telemachus, from the violence of the Suitors; so that no other method is left but to elude their addresses.

I must not conceal, what Eustathius has mention'd from some Au­thors, as Lycophron, &c. who say that Penelope was [...], in plain English, an Harlot; and he quotes Herodotus, as affirming that she [Page 104] had a son, named Pan, by Hermes; but the Bishop declares it is all a scandal; and every body must conclude the same, from her conduct, as describ'd in Homer.

To vindicate her in this place, we must consider who it is that speaks: Antinous, an unsuccessful Lover: and what he blames as a crime, is really her glory; he blames her because she does not comply with their desires; and it had been an act of guilt to have comply'd. He himself sufficiently vindicates her in the con­clusion of his speech, where he extols her above all the race of womankind: so that the seeming inconsistence of Penelope must be imputed to the necessity of her affairs: she is artful, but not criminal.

The original says, she deceiv'd the Suitors by her messages; a plain intimation, that she us'd no extraordinary familiarities with her Admirers; and thro' the whole course of the Poem she sel­dom appears in their Assemblies.


VERSE 109.
Cease, 'till to great Laertes I bequeath
A task of grief, his ornaments of death.

It was an ancient custom to dedicate the finest pieces of Weaving and Embroidery, to honour the funerals of the dead: and these were usually wrought by the nearest relations in their life-time. Thus in the 22d Iliad, Andromache laments, that the body of Hector must be exposed to the air, without those ornaments.


And the mother of Euryalus in Virgil, to her son.

—Nec te tua funera mater
Produxi, pressive oculos, aut vulnera lavi,
Veste tegens, tibi quam noctes festina diesque
Urgebam, & tela curas solabar aniles.


VERSE 140.
She shines with fatal excellence, to thee.]

Eusta­thius observes, that Antinous in the opening of his Speech throws the fault upon Penelope, to engage the favour of the multitude: But being conscious that he had said things which Penelope would resent, he extols her in the conclusion of it. He ascribes an ob­stinacy of virtue to her, and by this double conduct endeavours to make both Penelope and the multitude his friends.


VERSE 147.
Telemachus's reply.]

Telemachus every where speaks with an openness and bravery of spirit; this speech is a testimony of it, as well as his former; he answers chiefly to the dismission of Penelope, says it would be an offence against Heaven and Earth; and concludes with a vehemence of expression, and tells Antinous that such a word, [...] shall never fall from his tongue.

The Critics have found fault with one part of the speech, as betraying a spirit of avarice and meanness in Telemachus:

How to Icarius in the bridal hour
Shall I, by waste undone, refund the dow'r?

They think it unworthy of Telemachus to make the Dower of Penelope an argument against her dismission, and consequently ascribe his detention of her, not to duty, but to covetousness. To take away this objection they point the verses in a different man­ner, and place a stop after [...], and then the sense runs thus; ‘"I cannot consent to dismiss her who bore me, and nurs'd me in my infancy, while her husband is absent, or perhaps dead; besides, hard would be the Punishment I should suffer, if I should voluntarily send away Penelope to Icarius."’

[Page 106] Dacier dislikes this solution, and appeals to the customs of those Ages, to justify her opinion: If a son forc'd away his mo­ther from his house, he was obliged to restore her dower, and all she brought in marriage to her husband: But if she retir'd volun­tarily to engage in a second marriage, the dower remain'd with the son as lawful heir. This opinion of Dacier may be con­firm'd from Demosthenes in his orations, [...]. Afterwards upon the decease of her husband, leaving his family, and receiving back her portion, &c. The same Author adds, that the reason why the Suitors are so urgent to send away Penelope, is that she may chuse to marry some one of them, rather than re­turn to Icarius; so that Telemachus only takes hold of their argu­ment for her dismission, in order to detain her. They address'd Penelope more for the sake of her riches than her beauty, (for she must be about forty years old) and he tells them, that if he sends her away against her consent, he must restore those riches, which they covet more than the person of Penelope. This I confess is very refin'd; and perhaps it may be sufficient to take off the objection of covetousness in Telemachus, to understand no more than what the words at the first view seem to imply, viz. an abhorrence of their riots, describ'd by Telemachus to have risen to such a degree as to have almost ruin'd his kingdom, and made their demands impossible. I see nothing unnatural or mean in this interpreta­tion, especially if we remember that the prodigious disorders of his family enter into the essence of the Poem. The greater the disorders are, the greater are the sufferings of Ulysses.


VERSE 155.
How from my father should I vengeance dread.]

There is an ambiguity in the word Father; it may either signify Icarius or Ulysses, as Eustathius observes: but I think the con­text determines the person to be Ulysses; for Telemachus believes him to be yet living, and consequently might fear his vengeance, if he offer'd any indignity to Penelope.


VERSE 157.
And while in wrath to vengeful Fiends she cries,
How from their hell would vengeful Fiends arise?]

In the ninth Iliad we are told that the father of Phaenix impre­cated the Furies against his son,

My sire with curses loads my hated head,
And cries "Ye Furies! barren be his bed.
Infernal Jove, the vengeful Fiends below,
And ruthless Proserpine, confirm'd his vow.

In the same book the Furies hear the curses of Althea upon her son,

She beat the ground, and call'd the Pow'rs beneath,
On her own son to wreak her brother's death.
Hell heard her curses from the realms profound,
And the fell Fiends who walk the nightly round.

These passages shew the opinion the Ancients had of the honour due from children to parents, to be such, that they believ'd there were Furies particularly commission'd to punish those who fail'd in that respect, and to fullfil the imprecations made against 'em by their offended parents. There is a greatness in this Idea, and it must have had an effect upon the obedience of the youth. We see Telemachus is full of the sense of it. Dacier.


VERSE 171. &c.
The Prodigy of the two Eagles.]

This prodigy is usher'd in very magnificently, and the verses are lofty and sonorous. The Eagles are Ulysses and Telemachus; By [Page 108] Jove's command they fly from a mountain's height: this de­notes that the two Heroes are inspir'd by Jupiter, and come from the country to the destruction of the Suitors: The eagles fly with wing to wing conjoyn'd; this shews, that they act in concert, and unity of councils: At first they float upon the wind; this implies the calmness and secresy of the approach of those He­roes: At last they clang their wings and hovering beat the skies; this shews the violence of the assault: With ardent eyes the rival train they threat. This, as the Poet himself interprets it, de­notes the approaching fate of the Suitors. Then failing o'er the domes and tow'rs they fly Full toward the east; this signifies that the Suitors alone are not doom'd to destruction, but that the men of Ithaca are involv'd in danger, as Halitherses inter­prets it.

Nor to the Great alone is death decreed;
We, and our guilty Ithaca must bleed.

See here the natural explication of this prodigy, which is very ingenious! Eustathius, verbatim.


VERSE 203.
I see (I cry'd) his woes—
I see his friends o'erwhelm'd, &c.

In three lines (observes Eustathius) the Poet gives us the whole Odyssey in Miniature: And it is wonderful to think, that so plain a subject should produce such variety in the process of it. Ari­stotle observes the simplicity of Homer's platform; which is no more than this: A Prince is absent from his country; Neptune de­stroys his companions; in his absence his family is disorder'd by many Princes that address his wife, and plot against the life of his only son: but at last after many storms he returns, punishes the Suitors, and re-establishes his affairs: This is all that is essen­tial to the Poem, the rest of it is made up of Episodes. And yet with [Page 109] what miracles of Poetry, (speciosa miracula, as Horace stiles them,) has he furnish'd out his Poem?


VERSE 207.
The speech of Eurymachus.]

It has been ob­serv'd, that Homer is the father of Oratory as well as Poetry; and it must be confess'd, that there is not any one branch of it that is not to be found in his Poetry. The Invective, Persuasive, Iro­nical, &c. may all be gather'd from it. Nothing can be better adapted to the purpose than this speech of Eurymachus: He is to decry the credit of the predictions of Halitherses: he derides, he threats, and describes him as a venal Prophet. He is speaking to the multitude, and endeavours to bring Halitherses into contempt, and in order to it he uses him contemptuously.


VERSE 239.—
all the Greeks have heard my wrongs.]

It is necessary for the Reader to carry in his mind, that this Assem­bly consists not only of the Peers, but of the People of Ithaca: For to the People Telemachus here appeals.

It is evident, that the place of the Assembly was at least open to the Air in the upper parts: for otherways how should the Eagles be visible to the Suitors? and so very plainly as to be dis­cover'd to threat them with their eyes? There was no doubt a place set apart for Council, usually in the market: For Telema­chus is said to seat himself in his Father's throne, in the beginning of this book: But Ulysses had been absent twenty years; and therefore it is evident, that his throne had stood in the same place for the space of twenty years. It is past contradiction, that in Athens and other cities of Greece there were [...], pub­lic Halls for the consultation of affairs.


VERSE 254.
Mentor arose, Ulysses' faithful friend.]

The name of Mentor is another instance of the gratitude of our Poet's temper, it being the same which belong'd to a friend of his by whom he was entertain'd in Ithaca, during a defluxion on his eyes which seiz'd him in his voyages: and at whose house he is said to have laid the plan of this Poem. This character of Men­tor is well sustain'd by his speech, and by the assistance he grate­fully gives to young Telemachus on all occasions.


VERSE 258.
Guard thou my Sire, and his behests obey.]

The original says only, ‘"Obey the old man. Eustathius rightly deter­mines, that the expression means Laertes. The Poet loses no opportunity of giving Ulysses an excellent character; this is as necessary as continually to repeat the disorders of the Suitors.

—Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incoepto processerit, & sibi constet.

This conduct contributes admirably to the design of the Poem; and when the Poet in the unravelling of his Fable comes to re­ward and punish the chief actors, we acknowledge his justice in the death of the Suitors, and re-establishment of Ulysses.


VERSE 282.
While the bowl circles, and the banquet warms.]

The original is not without obscurity: it says, [...]: or, in the time of the banquet. Eustathius interprets it, [...], The Wine as it were fighting on their side; and this agrees with what follows.

[Page 111] The design of this speech is to deter the people of Ithaca from rising in the cause of Ulysses: Mentor speaks justly; Leo­critus insolently: Mentor sets before them the worth of Ulysses; Leocritus the power of the Suitors: Mentor speaks like a brave man; Leocritus (observes Eustathius) like a coward, who wanting true courage flies to the assistance of wine to raise a false one.

Perhaps it may be objected, that there is not a sufficient distin­ction in the characters of the several Suitors; they are all describ'd as insolent voluptuaries. But tho' they agree in this general cha­racter, yet there is something distinguishing in the particular per­sons: Thus Antinous derides, Eurymachus covers villany with mildness; Antinous is ever the foremost in outrage, Eurymachus generally his second: A greater distinction is neither necessary, nor possible to be represented. What the Poet is to describe, is the insolence of the Suitors, and the disorders they create in his family and kingdom; he is oblig'd to dwell upon these cir­cumstances, because they are essential to his design: and conse­quently that general resemblance of their characters, is not a fault in the Poet.


VERSE 291.
Then, with a rushing sound, &c.]

The Assembly which was conven'd by Telemachus, is broke up in a riotous man­ner by Leocritus, who had no right to dissolve it. This agrees with the lawless state of the country in the absence of its King, and shews (says Eustathius) that the Suitors had usurp'd the chief Authority.

There is a fine contraste between the behaviour of Telemachus and that of the Suitors. They return to repeat their disorders and debauches; Telemachus retires to supplicate the Goddess of Wisdom, to assist him in his enterprizes. Thus the Poet raises the chara­cter of Telemachus; he has shew'd him to be a youth of a brave spirit, a good Speaker, and here represents him as a person of piety.


VERSE 307.
The speech of Minerva.]

This speech of Mi­nerva is suited to encourage a young man to imitate the virtue of his father, and not to suffer himself to be overcome by any appearance of difficulties. She sets his father before his eyes, and tells him, there was never any danger which he durst not encounter; if he should suffer himself to be discouraged, he would prove himself an unworthy son of a brave Father. Dacier. Eustathius.


VERSE 341.
Antinous's speech.]

This speech must be un­derstood ironically: [...] is us'd as before, and has relation to the preceding harangues of Telemachus to the people, and his intended voyage; by way of derision Antinous bids him not trouble his brave Spirit in contriving any more Orations, or in any bold attempt to find out Ulysses; or to act the Orator, or Heroe's part.

The Critics have almost generally condemn'd these pieces of gay­ety and raillery, as unworthy of heroic Poetry: if ever they are pro­per, they must be so in the mouths of these Suitors; persons of no serious, or noble characters: Mirth, wine, and feasting is their constant employment; and consequently if they fall into absurdities, they act suitably to their characters. Milton, the best and greatest imitator of Homer, has followed him unworthily in this respect; I mean, has debased even this low raillery into great­er lowness, by playing upon words and syllables. But in this place the raillery is not without its effect, by shewing the utmost contempt of Telemachus; and surely it is the lowest degree of calamity to be at once oppress'd and despis'd.


VERSE 368.
To Pyle or Sparta to demand supplies.]

It is ob­servable, says Eustathius, that the Poet had in his choice several [Page 113] expedients to bring about the destruction of the Suitors, but he rejects them, and chuses the most difficult method, out of reve­rence to truth, being unwilling to falsify the Histories of Sparta and Pylos. This has a double effect; it furnishes the Poet with a series of noble incidents; and also gives an air of probability to the story of Ulysses and Telemachus.


VERSE 378.
The royal Palace to the Queen convey.]

The Suitors allot the Palace to Penelope: it being, says Eustathius, the only thing that they cannot consume; and adds, that the expression of the Suitors concerning the labour they should undergo in di­viding the substance of Ulysses, shews the wealth and abundance of that Heroe. Dacier has found out an allusion between [...] in the first speech, and [...] in the second; they differing only in one letter: She calls this a beauty, which she laments she can­not preserve in her translation. She is the only Commentator that ever was quick-sighted enough to make the discovery. The words have no relation; they stand at a sufficient distance; and I believe Homer would have thought such trifling unworthy of his Poetry. So that all the honour which accrues from that observation must be ascrib'd (in this case, as in many others) to the Com­mentator, and not the Author.


VERSE 381.
Where lay the treasures of th' Ithacian race.]

Such passages as these have ever furnish'd Critics with matter of raillery: They think such houshold cares unworthy of a King, and that this conduct suits better with vulgar persons of less for­tune. I confess, such descriptions now would be ridiculous in a Poet, because unsuitable to our manners. But if we look upon such passages as pictures and exact representations of the old world, the Reader will find a sensible pleasure in them.

[Page 114] It is a true observation, that the Iliad is chiefly suitable to the condition of Kings and Heroes; and consequently fill'd with circumstances in which the greatest part of mankind can have no concern or interest: The Odyssey is of more general use; the story of it is a series of calamities, which concern every man, as every man may feel them. We can bring the sufferings of U­lysses in some degree home to our selves, and make his condi­tion our own; but what private person can ever be in the cir­cumstances of Agamemnon or Achilles? What I would infer from this is, that the Reader ought not to take offence at any such descriptions, which are only mean as they differ from the fashi­ons of the latter ages. In the Iliad, Achilles when he acts in the common offices of life, and not as an Heroe, is liable to the same objection. But if the manners of the antient ages be consider'd, we shall be reconcil'd to the actions of the antient Heroes; and consequently to Homer.


VERSE 394.—
Oh thou, whose guardian care
Nurs'd the most wretched King.]

Euryclea was not properly the Nurse of Telemachus, but of Ulysses; so that she is call'd so not in a strict sense, but as one concern'd in his education from his infancy, and as a general appellati­on of honour. Telemachus here reserves the best wines for Ulysses; a lesson, (observes Eustathius) that even in the smallest matters we ought to pay a deference to our parents. These occasio­nal and seemingly-trivial circumstances are not without their use, if not as poetical ornaments, yet as moral instructions.


VERSE 421.
'Till twice six times descends the lamp of day.]

It may be demanded how it was probable, (if possible) that the departure of Telemachus could be conceal'd twelve days from the knowledge of so fond a mother as Penelope? It must be allow'd, [Page 115] that this would not be possible except in a time of such great disorder as the Suitors created: Penelope confin'd herself almost continually within her own apartment, and very seldom appear'd publickly; so that there is no improbability in this re­lation. Dacier.

It may be added, that tho' Telemachus enjoyn'd secrecy for twelve days, yet he intended a very speedy return: and we find that he actually return'd in a much shorter space than twelve days; so that the strictness of the injunction proceeds solely from filial love, and was only cautionary against accidents that might detain him longer.

Eustathius makes a criticism upon the words [...] and [...], the former is used negatively, the latter affirmatively; namely, the former in swearing not to perform a thing, the latter to perform it.


VERSE 432.
She bids the Mariners, &c.]

It is probable that this passage of Minerva preparing the Mariners, &c. is thus to be understood: The men of Ithaca, retaining in memory the speech of Telemachus, and believing that what he then said, and now requests, was agreeable to justice; and having as it were his image graven upon their hearts; voluntarily resolve to lend him assistance: So that Minerva is to be taken allegorically, to imply that it was every person's own Reason that induced him to assist Telemachus. Eustathius.


VERSE 435.
Noemon—the Bark supplies.]

It may be ask'd why this particularity is necessary, and may it not be thought that such a little circumstance is insignificant? The answer is, that a great deal depends upon this particularity; no less than the disco­very of the voyage of Telemachus to the Suitors; and consequently, whatever the Suitors act in order to intercept him takes its rise from [Page 116] this little incident; the fountain is indeed small, but a large stream of Poetry flows from it.


VERSE 444.
There every eye with flumbrous chains she bound.]

The words in the original are [...] and [...], which are not to be taken for being asleep, but drowzy; this is evident from the usage of [...], in the conclusion of the first book of the Iliad, where the signification has been mistaken by most translators: They make Jupiter there to be asleep; tho' two lines afterwards, in the second book, Homer expresly says,

Th' Immortals slumber'd on their thrones above:
All, but the ever-waking eyes of Jove.

It may be ask'd how Minerva can be said to occasion this drow­ziness in the Suitors, and make them retire sooner than usual? Eustathius replies, that the person who furnish'd the wine supply'd it in greater quantities than ordinary, thro' which wine they con­tracted a drowziness: In this sense Minerva, or Wisdom, may be said to assist the designs of Telemachus.


VERSE 460.
She bids fresh breezes blow.]

This also is an allegory, and implies that the sailors had the experience and art to guide the ship before the winds; but Poetry, that delights to raise every circumstance, exalts it into the marvellous, and ascribes it to the Goddess of Wisdom.



VERSE 464.
With speed the mast they rear, &c.]

It is ob­servable, that Homer never passes by an opportunity of describing [Page 117] the sea, or a ship under sail; (and in many other places, as well as in this, he dwells largely upon it:) I take the reason to be, not only because it furnish'd him with variety of poetical images, but because he himself having made frequent voyages, had a full Idea of it, and consequently was delighted with it: This is evi­dent from his conduct in the Iliad, were variety of allusions and similitudes are drawn from the Sea, and are not the smallest or­naments of his Poetry.


VERSE 470.—
And crown with wine
The holy Goblet to the Pow'rs divine.]

This custom of libations was frequent upon all solemn occasions, before meat, before sleep, voyages, journies; and in all religious rites, sacrifices, &c. They were always made with wine, pure and unmix'd, whence [...] is a word frequent in antient Authors. Sometimes they used mixed wine in Sacrifices; but Eustathius says, that this mixture was of wine with wine, and not of wine with water; hence came the distinction of [...], and [...], the unlawful and lawful libation; wine unmix'd was lawful, the mix'd unlawful. Homer in this place uses [...], or Goblets crown'd with wine; that is, fill'd 'till the wine stood above the brim of the Goblet: they esteem'd it an irreverence to the Gods not to fill the cups full, for then only they esteem'd the libation whole and perfect, [...], and then only worthy of the Gods.

This Book takes up the space of one day and one night: it opens with the morning; the speeches in the Council, with the preparations for the voyage of Telemachus, are the subject of the day; and the voyage is finish'd by the next morning. By this last circumstance we may learn that Ithaca was distant from Pylos but one night's voyage, nay something less, there being some time spent after the setting of the Sun, in carrying the pro­visions from the Palace to the vessel.

[Page 118] The book consists chiefly in the speeches of Telemachus and his friends, against those of the Suitors. It shews the great judgment of the Poet in chusing this method: hence we see the causes preceding the effects; and know from what spring every action flow'd: we are never at a loss for a reason for every inci­dent; the speeches are as it were the ground-work upon which he builds all that relates to the adventures of Telemachus.

In the Iliad, after the dissolution of the Council in the first book, and the dissension between Agamemnon and Achilles, we immediately see upon what hinge the fable turns. So in the Odyssey, after the Poet has laid before us the warm debates between the Suitors and Telemachus, we immediately expect them to act as enemies: The war is declar'd, and we become judges as well as spectators of the scenes of action. Thus Homer adds the perspicuity of History to the ornaments of Poetry.



The Interview of Telemachus and Nestor.

Telemachus, guided by Pallas in the shape of Mentor, arrives in the morning at Pylos; where Nestor and his sons are sacrificing on the sea-shore to Neptune. Telemachus declares the occasion of his coming, and Nestor relates what past in their return from Troy, how their fleets were separated, and he never since heard of Ulysses. They discourse concerning the death of Agamemnon, the revenge of Orestes, and the injuries of the Suitors. Nestor advises him to go to Sparta and enquire further of Menelaus. The sacrifice ending with the night, Minerva vanishes from them in the form of an Eagle: Telemachus is lodged in the Palace. The next morning they sacrifice a Bullock to Minerva, and Tele­machus proceeds on his journey to Sparta, attended by Pisistratus.

The Scene lies on the sea-shore of Pylos.

W.K. [...]


THE sacred Sun, above the waters rais'd,
Thro' Heav'ns eternal, brazen portals blaz'd;
And wide o'er earth diffus'd his chearing ray,
To Gods and men to give the golden day.
Now on the coast of Pyle the vessel falls,
Before old Neleus' venerable walls.
[Page 122] There, suppliant to the Monarch of the flood,
At nine green Theatres the Pylians stood,
Each held five hundred, (a deputed train)
At each, nine oxen on the sand lay slain.
They taste the entrails, and the altars load
With smoaking thighs, an offering to the God.
Full for the port the Ithacensians stand,
And furl their sails, and issue on the land.
Telemachus already prest the shore;
Not first, the Pow'r of Wisdom march'd before,
And ere the sacrificing throng he join'd,
Admonish'd thus his well-attending mind.
Proceed my son! this youthful shame expel;
An honest business never blush to tell.
To learn what fates thy wretched sire detain,
We past the wide, immeasurable main.
Meet then the Senior, far renown'd for sense,
With rev'rent awe, but decent confidence:
Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies;
And sure he will: For Wisdom never lies.
Oh tell me Mentor! tell me faithful guide,
(The youth with prudent modesty reply'd)
How shall I meet, or how accost the Sage,
Unskill'd in speech, nor yet mature of age?
Awful th'approach, and hard the task appears,
To question wisely men of riper years.
To whom the martial Goddess thus rejoyn'd.
Search, for some thoughts, thy own suggesting mind;
And others, dictated by heav'nly pow'r,
Shall rise spontaneous in the needful hour.
For nought unprosp'rous shall thy ways attend,
Born with good omens, and with heav'n thy friend.
She spoke, and led the way with swiftest speed:
As swift, the youth pursu'd the way she led;
And join'd the band before the sacred fire,
Where sate, encompast with his sons, the Sire.
The youth of Pylos, some on pointed wood
Transfix'd the fragments, some prepar'd the food.
In friendly throngs they gather, to embrace
Their unknown guests, and at the banquet place.
[Page 124] Pisistratus was first, to grasp their hands,
And spread soft hydes upon the yellow sands;
Along the shore th'illustrious pair he led,
Where Nestor sate with youthful Thrasymed.
To each a portion of the Feast he bore,
And held the golden goblet foaming o'er;
Then first approaching to the elder guest,
The latent Goddess in these words addrest.
Whoe'er thou art, whom fortune brings to keep
These rites of Neptune, monarch of the deep,
Thee first it fits, oh stranger! to prepare
The due libation and the solemn prayer:
Then give thy friend to shed the sacred wine;
Tho' much thy younger, and his years like mine,
He too, I deem, implores the pow'rs divine:
For all mankind alike require their grace,
All born to want; a miserable race!
He spake, and to her hand preferr'd the bowl:
A secret pleasure touch'd Athena's soul,
[Page 125] To see the pref'rence due to sacred age
Regarded ever by the just and sage.
Of Ocean's King she then implores the grace.
Oh thou! whose arms this ample globe embrace,
Fullfil our wish, and let thy glory shine
On Nestor first, and Nestor's royal line;
Next grant the Pylian states their just desires,
Pleas'd with their Hecatomb's ascending fires;
Last deign Telemachus and me to bless,
And crown our voyage with desir'd success.
Thus she; and having paid the rite divine,
Gave to Ulysses' son the rosie wine.
Suppliant he pray'd. And now the victims drest
They draw, they part, and celebrate the feast.
The banquet done, the Narrative old man
Thus mild, the pleasing conference began.
Now, gentle guests! the genial banquet o'er,
It fits to ask ye, what your native shore,
And whence your race? on what adventure, say,
Thus far ye wander thro' the watry way?
[Page 126] Relate, if business, or the thirst of gain
Engage your journey o'er the pathless main?
Where savage Pyrates seek thro' seas unknown
The lives of others, vent'rous of their own.
Urg'd by the precepts by the Goddess giv'n,
And fill'd with confidence infus'd from heav'n,
The Youth, whom Pallas destin'd to be wise,
And fam'd among the sons of men, replies.
Enquir'st thou, father! from what coast we came?
(Oh grace and glory of the Grecian name!)
From where high Ithaca o'erlooks the floods,
Brown with o'er-arching shades and pendent woods,
Us to these shores our filial duty draws,
A private sorrow, not a publick cause.
My sire I seek, where-e'er the voice of fame
Has told the glories of his noble name,
The great Ulysses; fam'd from shore to shore
For valour much, for hardy suff'ring more.
Long time with thee before proud Ilion's wall
In arms he fought; with thee beheld her fall.
[Page 127] Of all the Chiefs, this Heroe's fate alone
Has Jove reserv'd, unheard of, and unknown;
Whether in fields by hostile fury slain,
Or sunk by tempests in the gulphy main?
Of this to learn, opprest with tender fears
Lo at thy knee his suppliant son appears.
If or thy certain eye, or curious ear,
Have learnt his fate, the whole dark story clear:
And oh! whate'er heav'n destin'd to betide
Let neither flatt'ry smooth, nor pity hide.
Prepar'd I stand: he was but born to try
The lot of man; to suffer, and to die.
Oh then, if ever thro' the ten years war
The wise, the good Ulysses claim'd thy care;
If e'er he join'd thy council, or thy sword,
True in his deed, and constant to his word;
Far as thy mind thro' backward time can see,
Search all thy stores of faithful memory:
'Tis sacred truth I ask, and ask of thee.
To him experienc'd Nestor thus rejoin'd.
O friend! what sorrows dost thou bring to mind?
Shall I the long, laborious scenes review,
And open all the wounds of Greece anew?
What toils by sea! where dark in quest of prey
Dauntless we rov'd; Achilles led the way:
What toils by land! where mixt in fatal fight
Such numbers fell, such Heroes sunk to night:
There Ajax great, Achilles there the brave,
There wise Patroclus, fill an early grave:
There too my son—ah once my best delight,
Once swift of foot, and terrible in fight,
In whom stern courage with soft virtue join'd,
A faultless body, and a blameless mind:
Antilochus—what more can I relate?
How trace the tedious series of our fate?
Not added years on years my task could close,
The long historian of my country's woes:
Back to thy native Islands might'st thou sail,
And leave half-heard the melancholy tale.
[Page 129] Nine painful years, on that detested shore
What stratagems we form'd, what toils we bore?
Still lab'ring on, 'till scarce at last we found
Great Jove propitious, and our conquest crown'd.
Far o'er the rest thy mighty father shin'd,
In wit, in prudence, and in force of mind.
Art thou the son of that illustrious sire?
With joy I grasp thee, and with love admire:
So like your voices, and your words so wise,
Who finds thee younger must consult his eyes.
Thy Sire and I were one; nor vary'd aught
In publick sentence, or in private thought;
Alike to Council or th' Assembly came,
With equal souls, and sentiments the same.
But when (by wisdom won) proud Ilion burn'd,
And in their ships the conqu'ring Greeks return'd;
'Twas God's high will the victors to divide,
And turn th'event, confounding human pride:
Some he destroy'd, some scatter'd as the dust,
(Not all were prudent, and not all were just)
[Page 130] Then Discord, sent by Pallas from above,
(Stern daughter of the great Avenger Jove)
The Brother-Kings inspir'd with fell debate;
Who call'd to council all th' Achaian state,
But call'd untimely (not the sacred rite
Observ'd, nor heedful of the setting light,
Nor herald sworn, the session to proclaim)
Sour with debauch, a reeling tribe, they came.
To these the cause of meeting they explain,
And Menelaus moves to cross the main;
Not so the King of Men: he will'd to stay;
The sacred rites and hecatombs to pay,
And calm Minerva's wrath. Oh blind to fate!
The Gods not lightly change their love, or hate.
With ire-full taunts each other they oppose,
'Till in loud tumult all the Greeks arose:
Now diff'rent counsels ev'ry breast divide,
Each burns with rancour to the adverse side.
Th' unquiet night strange projects entertain'd;
(So Jove, that urg'd us to our fate, ordain'd.)
[Page 131] We, with the rising morn our ships unmoor'd,
And brought our captives and our stores aboard;
But half the people with respect obey'd
The King of Men, and at his bidding stay'd.
Now on the wings of winds our course we keep,
(For God had smooth'd the waters of the deep)
For Tenedos we spread our eager oars,
There land, and pay due victims to the pow'rs:
To bless our safe return we join in pray'r,
But angry Jove dispers'd our vows in air,
And rais'd new discord. Then (so Heav'n decreed)
Ulysses first and Nestor dis-agreed:
Wise as he was, by various Counsels sway'd,
He there, tho' late, to please the Monarch, stay'd.
But I, determin'd, stem the foamy floods,
Warn'd of the coming fury of the Gods.
With us Tydides fear'd, and urg'd his haste:
And Menelaus came, but came the last.
He join'd our vessels in the Lesbian bay,
While yet we doubted of our watry way;
[Page 132] If to the right to urge the pilot's toil,
(The safer road) beside the Psyrian isle;
Or the strait course to rocky Chios plow,
And anchor under Mimas' shaggy brow?
We sought direction of the pow'r divine:
The God propitious gave the guiding sign;
Thro' the mid seas he bids our navy steer,
And in Eubea shun the woes we fear.
The whistling winds already wak'd the sky;
Before the whistling winds the vessels fly,
With rapid swiftness cut the liquid way,
And reach Gerestus at the point of day.
There hecatombs of bulls to Neptune slain
High-flaming please the monarch of the main.
The fourth day shone, when all their labours o'er
Tydides' vessels touch'd the wish'd-for shore:
But I to Pylos scud before the gales,
The God still breathing on my swelling sails;
Sep'rate from all, I safely landed here;
Their fates or fortunes never reach'd my ear.
[Page 133] Yet what I learn'd, attend; as here I sate,
And ask'd each voyager each Hero's fate;
Curious to know, and willing to relate.
Safe reach'd the Mirmydons their native land,
Beneath Achilles' warlike son's command.
Those, whom the heir of great Apollo's art
Brave Philoctetes, taught to wing the dart;
And those whom Idomen from Ilion's plain
Had led, securely crost the dreadful main.
How Agamemnon touch'd his Argive coast,
And how his life by fraud and force he lost,
And how the Murd'rer pay'd his forfeit breath;
What lands so distant from that scene of death
But trembling heard the Fame? and heard, admire
How well the son appeas'd his slaughter'd sire!
Ev'n to th'unhappy, that unjustly bleed,
Heav'n gives Posterity, t'avenge the deed.
So fell Aegysthus; and may'st thou, my friend,
(On whom the virtues of thy sire descend)
Make future times thy equal act adore,
And be, what brave Orestes was before!
The prudent youth reply'd. Oh thou, the grace
And lasting glory of the Grecian race!
Just was the vengeance, and to latest days
Shall long posterity resound the praise.
Some God this arm with equal prowess bless!
And the proud Suitors shall its force confess:
Injurious men! who while my soul is sore
Of fresh affronts, are meditating more.
But heav'n denies this honour to my hand,
Nor shall my father repossess the land:
The father's fortune never to return,
And the sad son's, to suffer and to mourn!
Thus he, and Nestor took the word: My son,
Is it then true, as distant rumours run,
That crowds of rivals for thy mother's charms
Thy Palace fill with insults and alarms?
Say, is the fault, thro' tame submission, thine?
Or leagu'd against thee, do thy people join,
Mov'd by some Oracle, or voice divine?
And yet who knows, but ripening lies in fate
An hour of vengeance for th' afflicted state;
[Page 135] When great Ulysses shall suppress these harms,
Ulysses singly, or all Greece in arms.
But if Athena, War's triumphant maid,
The happy son, will, as the father, aid,
(Whose fame and safety was her constant care
In ev'ry danger and in ev'ry war:
Never on man did heav'nly favour shine
With rays so strong, distinguish'd, and divine,
As those with which Minerva mark'd thy sire)
So might she love thee, so thy soul inspire!
Soon shou'd their hopes in humble dust be laid,
And long oblivion of the bridal bed.
Ah! no such hope (the Prince with sighs replies)
Can touch my breast; that blessing heav'n denies.
Ev'n by celestial favour were it giv'n,
Fortune or fate wou'd cross the will of heav'n.
What words are these, and what imprudence thine?
(Thus interpos'd the Martial maid divine)
Forgetful youth! but know, the Pow'r above
With ease can save each object of his love;
[Page 136] Wide as his will, extends his boundless grace;
Nor lost in time, nor circumscrib'd by place.
Happier his lot, who, many sorrows past,
Long-lab'ring gains his natal shore at last;
Than who too speedy, hastes to end his life
By some stern ruffian, or adultrous wife.
Death only is the lot which none can miss,
And all is possible to heav'n, but this.
The best, the dearest fav'rite of the sky
Must taste that cup, for man is born to die.
Thus check'd, reply'd Ulysses' prudent heir:
Mentor, no more—the mournful thought forbear;
For he no more must draw his country's breath,
Already snatch'd by Fate, and the black doom of death!
Pass we to other subjects; and engage
On themes remote the venerable Sage:
(Who thrice has seen the perishable kind
Of men decay, and thro' three Ages shin'd,
Like Gods majestic, and like Gods in mind.)
[Page 137] For much he knows, and just conclusions draws
From various precedents, and various laws.
O son of Neleus! awful Nestor, tell
How he, the mighty, Agamemnon fell?
By what strange fraud Aegysthus wrought, relate,
(By force he could not) such a Heroe's fate?
Liv'd Menelaus not in Greece? or where
Was then the martial brother's pious care?
Condemn'd perhaps some foreign shore to tread;
Or sure Aegysthus had not dar'd the deed.
To whom the Full of Days. Illustrious youth,
Attend (tho' partly thou hast guest) the truth.
For had the martial Menelaus found
The ruffian breathing yet on Argive ground;
Nor earth had hid his carcase from the skies,
Nor Grecian virgins shriek'd his obsequies,
But fowls obscene dismember'd his remains,
And dogs had torn him on the naked plains.
While us the works of bloody Mars employ'd,
The wanton youth inglorious peace enjoy'd;
[Page 138] He, stretch'd at ease in Argos' calm recess,
(Whose stately steeds luxuriant pastures bless)
With flattery's insinuating art
Sooth'd the frail Queen, and poyson'd all her heart.
At first with worthy shame and decent pride,
The royal dame his lawless suit deny'd.
For Virtue's image yet possest her mind,
Taught by a Master of the tuneful kind:
Atrides, parting for the Trojan war,
Consign'd the youthful Consort to his care;
True to his charge, the Bard preserv'd her long
In honour's limits (such the pow'r of Song)
But when the Gods these objects of their hate
Dragg'd to destruction, by the links of fate;
The bard they banish'd from his native soil,
And left all helpless in a desart Isle:
There he, the sweetest of the sacred train,
Sung dying to the rocks, but sung in vain.
Then Virtue was no more (her guard away)
She fell, to lust a voluntary prey.
[Page 139] Ev'n to the temple stalk'd th' adult'rous spouse,
With impious thanks, and mockery of vows,
With images, with garments, and with gold,
And od'rous fumes from loaded altars roll'd.
Mean time from flaming Troy we cut the way,
With Menelaus, thro' the curling sea.
But when to Sunium's sacred point we came,
Crown'd with the temple of th' Athenian dame;
Atrides' pilot, Phrontes, there expir'd;
(Phrontes, of all the sons of men admir'd
To steer the bounding bark with steddy toil,
When the storm thickens, and the billows boil)
While yet he exercis'd the steerman's art,
Apollo touch'd him with his gentle dart;
Ev'n with the rudder in his hand, he fell.
To pay whose honours to the Shades of hell
We check'd our haste, by pious office bound,
And laid our old companion in the ground.
And now, the rites discharg'd, our course we keep
Far on the gloomy bosom of the deep:
[Page 140] Soon as Malaea's misty tops arise,
Sudden the Thund'rer blackens all the skies,
And the winds whistle, and the surges roll
Mountains on mountains, and obscure the pole.
The tempest scatters, and divides our fleet;
Part, the storm urges on the coast of Creet,
Where winding round the rich Cydonian plain,
The streams of Jardan issue to the main.
There stands a rock, high eminent and steep,
Whose shaggy brow o'erhangs the shady deep,
And views Gortyna on the western side;
On this, rough Auster drove th'impetuous tyde:
With broken force the billows rowl'd away,
And heav'd the fleet into the neighb'ring bay.
Thus sav'd from death they gain'd the Phaestan shores,
With shatter'd vessels, and disabled oars:
But five tall barks the winds and waters tost
Far from their fellows, on th' Aegyptian coast.
There wander'd Menelaus thro' foreign shores,
Amassing gold, and gath'ring naval stores;
[Page 141] While curst Aegysthus the detested deed
By fraud fulfill'd, and his great brother bled.
Sev'n years, the traytor rich Mycenae sway'd,
And his stern rule the groaning land obey'd;
The eighth, from Athens to his realm restor'd,
Orestes brandish'd the revenging sword,
Slew the dire pair, and gave to fun'ral flame
The vile assassin, and adult'rous dame.
That day, ere yet the bloody triumphs cease,
Return'd Atrides to the coast of Greece,
And safe to Argos' port his navy brought,
With gifts of price and pond'rous treasure fraught.
Hence warn'd, my son beware! nor idly stand
Too long a stranger to thy native land;
Lest heedless absence wear thy wealth away,
While lawless feasters in thy palace sway;
Perhaps may seize thy realm, and share the spoil;
And thou return, with disappointed toil,
From thy vain journey, to a rifled Isle.
[Page 142] Howe'er, my friend, indulge one labour more,
And seek Atrides on the Spartan shore.
He, wand'ring long, a wider circle made,
And many-languag'd nations has survey'd;
And measur'd tracts unknown to other ships,
Amid the monstrous wonders of the deeps;
(A length of Ocean and unbounded sky,
Which scarce the sea-fowl in a year o'erfly)
Go then; to Sparta take the watry way,
Thy ship and sailors but for orders stay;
Or if by land thou chuse thy course to bend,
My steeds, my chariots, and my sons attend:
Thee to Atrides they shall safe convey,
Guides of thy road, companions of thy way.
Urge him with truth to frame his free replies,
And sure he will, for Menelas is wise.
Thus while he speaks, the ruddy sun descends,
And twylight gray her evening shade extends.
Then thus the blue-ey'd Maid: O full of days!
Wise are thy words, and just are all thy ways.
[Page 143] Now immolate the Tongues, and mix the wine,
Sacred to Neptune and the pow'rs divine.
The lamp of day is quench'd beneath the deep,
And soft approach the balmy hours of sleep:
Nor fits it to prolong the heav'nly feast
Timeless, indecent, but retire to rest.
So spake Jove's daughter, the celestial maid.
The sober train attended and obey'd.
The sacred heralds on their hands around
Pour'd the full urns; the youths the goblets crown'd:
From bowl to bowl the holy bev'rage flows;
While to the final sacrifice they rose.
The tongues they cast upon the fragrant flame,
And pour, above, the consecrated stream.
And now, their thirst by copious draughts allay'd,
The youthful Hero and th' Athenian maid
Propose departure from the finish'd rite,
And in their hollow bark to pass the night:
But this the hospitable Sage denied.
Forbid it, Jove! and all the Gods! he cried,
[Page 144] Thus from my walls the much-lov'd son to send
Of such a heroe, and of such a friend?
Me, as some needy peasant, would ye leave,
Whom heav'n denies the blessing to relieve?
Me would ye leave, who boast imperial sway,
When beds of royal state invite your stay?
No—long as life this mortal shall inspire,
Or as my children imitate their sire,
Here shall the wand'ring stranger find his home,
And hospitable rites adorn the dome.
Well hast thou spoke (the blue-ey'd maid replies)
Belov'd old man! benevolent as wise.
Be the kind dictates of thy heart obey'd,
And let thy words Telemachus persuade:
He to thy palace shall thy steps pursue;
I to the ship, to give the orders due,
Prescribe directions, and confirm the crew.
For I alone sustain their naval cares,
Who boast experience from these silver hairs;
All Youths the rest, whom to this journey move
Like years, like tempers, and their Prince's love.
[Page 145] There in the vessel shall I pass the night;
And soon as morning paints the fields of light,
I go to challenge, from the Caucons bold,
A debt, contracted in the days of old.
But this thy guest, receiv'd with friendly care,
Let thy strong coursers swift to Sparta bear;
Prepare thy chariot at the dawn of day,
And be thy son companion of his way.
Then turning with the word, Minerva flies,
And soars an Eagle thro' the liquid skies.
Vision divine! The throng'd spectators gaze
In holy wonder fixt, and still amaze.
But chief the rev'rend Sage admir'd; he took
The hand of young Telemachus, and spoke.
Oh happy Youth! and favour'd of the skies,
Distinguish'd care of guardian deities!
Whose early years for future worth engage,
No vulgar manhood, no ignoble age.
For lo! none other of the court above,
Than she, the daughter of almighty Jove,
[Page 146] Pallas herself, the War-triumphant Maid,
Confest, is thine, as once thy father's aid.
So guide me, Goddess! so propitious shine
On me, my consort, and my royal line!
A yearling bullock to thy name shall smoke,
Untam'd, unconscious of the galling yoke;
With ample forehead, and yet tender horns
Whose budding honours ductile gold adorns.
Submissive thus the hoary Sire preferr'd
His holy vow: the fav'ring Goddess heard.
Then slowly rising, o'er the sandy space
Precedes the father, follow'd by his race,
(A long procession) timely marching home
In comely order to the regal dome.
There when arriv'd, on thrones around him plac'd,
His sons and grand-sons the wide circle grac'd.
To these the hospitable Sage, in sign
Of social welcome, mix'd the racy wine,
(Late from the mellowing cask restor'd to light,
By ten long years refin'd, and rosy-bright.)
[Page 147] To Pallas high the foaming bowl he crown'd,
And sprinkled large Libation on the ground.
Each drinks a full oblivion of his cares,
And to the gifts of balmy sleep repairs.
Deep in a rich Alcove the Prince was laid,
And slept beneath the pompous Colonnade;
Fast by his side Pisistratus lay spread,
(In age his equal) on a splendid bed:
But in an inner court, securely clos'd,
The rev'rend Nestor with his Queen repos'd.
When now Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
With rosie lustre purpled o'er the lawn;
The old man early rose, walk'd forth, and sate
On polish'd stone before his Palace gate:
With unguents smooth the lucid marble shone,
Where antient Neleus sate, a rustic throne;
But he descending to th' infernal shade,
Sage Nestor fill'd it, and the sceptre sway'd.
His sons around him mild obeysance pay,
And duteous take the orders of the day.
[Page 148] First Echephron and Stratius quit their bed;
Then Perseus, Aretus, and Thrasymed;
The last Pisistratus arose from rest:
They came, and near him plac'd the stranger-guest.
To these the Senior thus declar'd his will:
My sons! the dictates of your sire fulfil.
To Pallas, first of Gods, prepare the feast,
Who grac'd our rites, a more than mortal guest.
Let one, dispatchful, bid some swain to lead
A well-fed bullock from the grassy mead;
One seek the harbour where the vessels moor,
And bring thy friends, Telemachus! a-shore,
(Leave only two the gally to attend)
Another to Laerceus must we send,
Artist divine, whose skilful hands infold
The victim's horn with circumfusile gold.
The rest may here the pious duty share,
And bid the handmaids for the feast prepare,
The seats to range, the fragrant wood to bring,
And limpid waters from the living spring.
He said, and busy each his care bestow'd;
Already at the gates the bullock low'd,
Already came the Ithacensian crew,
The dextrous smith the tools already drew:
His pond'rous hammer, and his anvil sound,
And the strong tongs to turn the metal round.
Nor was Minerva absent from the rite,
She view'd her honours, and enjoy'd the sight.
With rev'rent hand the King presents the gold,
Which round th'intorted horns the gilder roll'd;
So wrought, as Pallas might with pride behold.
Young Aretus from forth his bridal bow'r
Brought the full laver, o'er their hands to pour,
And canisters of consecrated flour.
Stratius and Echephron the victim led;
The axe was held by warlike Thrasymed,
In act to strike: Before him Perseus stood,
The vase extending to receive the blood.
The King himself initiates to the Pow'r;
Scatters with quiv'ring hand the sacred flour,
[Page 150] And the stream sprinkles: From the curling brows
The hair collected in the fire he throws.
Soon as due vows on ev'ry part were pay'd,
And sacred wheat upon the victim lay'd,
Strong Thrasymed discharg'd the speeding blow
Full on his neck, and cut the nerves in two.
Down sunk the heavy beast: the females round
Maids, wives, and matrons, mix a shrilling sound.
Nor scorn'd the Queen the holy Choir to join,
(The first-born she, of old Clymenus' line;
In youth by Nestor lov'd, of spotless fame,
And lov'd in age, Eurydicé her name)
From earth they rear him, struggling now with death;
And Nestor's Youngest stops the vents of breath.
The soul for ever flies: on all sides round
Streams the black blood, and smokes upon the ground.
The beast they then divide, and dis-unite
The ribs and limbs, observant of the rite:
On these, in double cawls involv'd with art,
The choicest morsels lay from ev'ry part.
[Page 151] The sacred Sage before his altar stands,
Turns the burnt-off'ring with his holy hands,
And pours the wine, and bids the flames aspire:
The youth with instruments surround the fire.
The thighs now sacrific'd, and entrails drest,
Th'assistants part, transfix, and broil the rest.
While these officious tend the rites divine,
The last fair branch of the Nestorean line
Sweet Polycaste, took the pleasing toil
To bathe the Prince, and pour the fragrant oil.
O'er his fair limbs a flow'ry vest he threw,
And issu'd, like a God to mortal view.
His former feat beside the King he found,
(His people's Father with his Peers around)
All plac'd at ease the holy banquet join,
And in the dazling goblet laughs the wine.
The rage of thirst and hunger now supprest,
The Monarch turns him to his royal guest;
And for the promis'd journey bids prepare
The smooth-hair'd horses, and the rapid car,
[Page 152] Observant of his word. The word scarce spoke,
The sons obey, and join them to the yoke.
Then bread and wine a ready handmaid brings,
And presents, such as suit the state of Kings.
The glitt'ring seat Telemachus ascends;
His faithful guide Pisistratus attends:
With hasty hand the ruling reins he drew:
He lash'd the coursers, and the coursers flew.
Beneath the bounding yoke alike they held
Their equal pace, and smoak'd along the held.
The tow'rs of Pylos sink, its views decay,
Fields after fields fly back, till close of day:
Then sunk the Sun, and darken'd all the way.
To Pherae now, Diocleus' stately seat,
(Of Alpheus' race) the weary youths retreat.
His house affords the hospitable rite,
And pleas'd they sleep (the blessing of the night.)
But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
With rosy lustre purpled o'er the lawn;
[Page 153] Again they mount, their journey to renew,
And from the sounding portico they flew.
Along the waving fields their way they hold,
The fields receding as the chariot roll'd:
Then slowly sunk the ruddy globe of light,
And o'er the shaded landscape rush'd the night.

W.K. [...]



THE Scene is now remov'd from Ithaca to Pylos, and with it a new vein of Poetry is opened: Instead of the riots of the Suitors, we are entertain'd with the wisdom and piety of Nestor. This and the following book are a kind of Supplement to the Iliad; the nature of Epic poetry requires that some­thing should be left to the imagination of the Reader, nor is the picture to be entirely drawn at full length. Homer therefore, to satisfie our curiosity, gives an account of the fortunes of those great men, who made so noble a figure at the siege of Troy. This conduct also shews his art: Variety gives life and delight; and it is much more necessary in Epic than in Comic or Tragic Poetry sometimes to shift the Scenes, to diversify and embellish the story. But as on the stage the Poet ought not to step at once from one part of the world to a too remote country, (for this destroys credi­bility, and the auditor cannot fancy himself this minute here, and the next a thousand miles distant) so in Epic Poetry, every re­moval [Page 158] must be within the degrees of probability. We have here a very easy transition; the Poet carries his Heroe no further than he really might sail in the compass of time he allots for his voyage. If he had still dwelt upon the disorders of the Suitors without inter­ruption, he must grow tiresome; but he artfully breaks the thread of their History with beautiful incidents and Episodes, and re­serves the further recital of their disorders for the end of his Po­em: By this method we sit down with fresh appetite to the en­tertainment, and rise at last not cloy'd, but satisfied.


Thro' Heav'ns eternal, brazen portals—]

The ori­ginal calls Heaven [...], or brazen; the reason of it arises either from the Palaces of the Gods being built of brass by Vulcan; or rather the word implies no more than the Stability of Heaven, which for the same reason is in other places call'd [...], or fram'd of iron. Eustathius.


At nine green Theatres.]

It may be ask'd why the Poet is so very particular as to mention that the Pylians were di­vided into nine assemblies? and may it not seem a circumstance of no importance? Eustathius answers from the Antients, that there were nine cities subject to the power of Nestor: five in Pylos, the rest in Boeotia; the Poet therefore allots one Bank or Theatre to every city, which consisted of 500 men, the whole number amounting to 4500: These cities furnish'd the like com­plement of men to Nestor for the war at Troy: He sail'd in ninety vessels, and allowing fifty men to each vessel, they amount to that number. Hence it appears that this was a national sacrifice, every city furnish'd nine bulls, and by consequence the whole na­tion were partakers of it.


The sacrifice of the Pylians.]

This was a very solemn sacrifice of the Pylians; How comes it then to pass, that Homer passes it over in one line? Eustathius answers, that the oc­casion disallows a longer description, and Homer knows when to speak, and when to be silent. He chuses to carry on the adven­tures of Telemachus, rather than amuse himself in descriptions that contribute nothing to the story; he finds a time of more leisure in the latter part of this book, and there he describes it at length.

They taste the entrails; that is, every person eat a small por­tion of the sacrifice, and by this method every person became partaker of it.

There is nothing in Homer that shews where this sacrifice was offer'd, whether in a Temple, or in the open air. But Eusta­thius tells us from Strabo, that it was in the Temple of Samian Neptune, [...].


Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies;
And sure he will: For Wisdom never lies.]

This sentiment is truly noble, and as nobly expressed: the sim­plicity of the diction corresponds with that of the thought. Homer in many places testifies the utmost abhorrence of a Lye. This verse is twice repeated in the present book, as well as in some others; and nothing can be stronger in the same view than that of A­chilles in the 9th Iliad,

Who dares think one thing and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.


Born with good omens, and with heav'n thy friend.]

There is some obscurity in the Greek expression, and the antient [Page 160] Critics have made it more obscure by their false interpretations; they imagine that the Poet only meant to say that Telemachus was the legitimate son of Penelope and Ulysses. Eustathius.

Dacier very justly condemns this explication, as unworthy of Homer; and gives us a more plain and natural interpretation: viz. ‘"You were not born in despight of the Gods, that is, you are well made, and of a good presence, you have good inclinations, and in a word, your birth is happy."’ She explains [...] after the same manner: ‘"You were not educated in despight of the Gods;"’ that is, ‘"the Gods have blessed your education:"’ This explication seems to be just, and answers perfectly the design of Minerva; which was to give a decent assurance to Telemachus. You are a person, says the Goddess, of a good presence, and hap­py education, why then should you be ashamed to appear before Nestor?


And spread soft Hydes upon the yellow sands.]

It is with pleasure that I read such passages in an Author of so great antiquity, as are pictures of the simplicity of those heroic ages: It is the remark of Eustathius, that Pisistratus the son of a King does not seat these strangers upon purple Tapestry, or any other costly furniture, but upon the Skins of beasts, that had nothing to recommend them but their softness; being spread upon the sand of the sea-shores.

This whole passage pleases me extremely; there is a spi­rit of true Devotion, Morality and good Sense in it; and the de­cency of behaviour between Nestor and Telemachus is describ'd ve­ry happily: Nestor shews great benevolence to Telemachus; Tele­machus great reverence to Nestor: the modesty of the one, and the humanity of the other, are worthy of our observation. We see the same picture of Nestor in the Odyssey that was drawn of him in the Iliads, with this only difference, that there he was a Coun­sellor of War, here he is painted in softer colours, ruling his peo­ple in peace, and diffusing a spirit of piety thro' his whole ter­ritories.

[Page 161] He had now surviv'd the war of Troy almost ten years; and the Gods reward the old age of this wise and religious Prince with peace and happiness.


Last, deign Telemachus and me to bless—]

Since Minerva here mentions the name of Telemachus in her prayer; how comes it to pass, that Nestor is at a loss to know Tele­machus? Minerva sate close by Nestor; he must therefore be sup­pos'd to hear the prayer; and yet in the following lines he en­quires who these strangers are? We can scarce imagine Ne­stor ignorant that the son of Ulysses was named Telemachus, there being so strict a friendship between Nestor and Ulysses. Per­haps therefore Minerva pray'd in secret mentally; or perhaps Nestor might not take notice of what was not addrest immediate­ly to him, and consequently make enquiry about it for the great­er certainty.


Relate, if business or the thirst of gain, &c.]

If we form our images of persons and actions in antient times, from the images of persons and actions in modern ages, we shall fall into great mistakes: Thus in the present passage, if we annex the same idea of Piracy, as it was practis'd three thousand years past, to Piracy as it is practis'd in our ages; what can be a greater af­front than this enquiry of Nestor? But, says Eustathius, Piracy was formerly not only accounted lawful, but honourable. I doubt not but Thucydides had this passage in view when he says, that the antient Poets introduce men enquiring of those who frequent the sea, if they be pirates, as a thing no way igno­minious. Thucydides tells us in the same place that all those who liv'd on the sea-coast, or in the Islands, maintain'd them­selves by frequent inrodes upon unfortify'd towns, and if such piracies were nobly perform'd they were accounted glorious. He­rodotus [Page 162] also writes, that many of the antients, especially about Thrace, thought it ignominious to live by labouring the ground, but to live by piracy and plunder was esteem'd a life of honour. Eustathius.


VERSE 125.
The speech of Nestor.]

Eustathius observes the modesty of Nestor: Telemachus had ascrib'd the fall of Troy in a great measure to Nestor; but Nestor speaks not in particular of himself, but is content with his share of glory in common with other warriors; he speaks in the plural number, and joyns all the Greeks as in the war, so in the glory of it. Nestor speaks of the sufferings of the Greeks by sea, as well as by land, during the siege of Troy: To understand this, it is necessary to remember, that the Greeks made many expeditions against other places during the war both by sea and land, as appears from many passages in the Iliads, particularly from what Achilles says in the ninth book.


VERSE 133.
There Ajax great, Achilles there the brave.]

I have observ'd that the Poet inserts into the Odyssey several in­cidents that happen'd after the fall of Troy, and by that method agreeably diversifies his Poetry, and satisfies the curiosity of the Reader: Eustathius remarks here, that he gives a title of honour to all the Heroes he mentions but only to Achilles. Achilles had been the occasion of the sufferings and death of many of the Greeks by his anger, and obstinacy in refusing to obey Agamem­non; therefore while Nestor is lamenting the calamities of the Greeks, he passes over Achilles without any honourable mention, who had so greatly added to their sufferings. But I think this remark chimerical: one may as well say Achilles needed no Epi­thet to distinguish him.

It is with pleasure I see the old man dwell upon the praise of Antilochus: The father enlarges upon the fame of the son; he gives him four epithets of glory; and while Ajax is only praised [Page 163] as a warrior, Antilochus is great and good, excellent in the stand­ing fight, or swift to pursue an enemy. Longinus has observ'd upon the beauty of this passage.


VERSE 149.
Far o'er the rest thy mighty father shin'd.]

Nestor speaks of Ulysses as an inseparable friend; and it shews an excel­lent disposition in them both, to be rivals, and yet without envy. But the art of Nestor is remarkable, he first gives the character to Ulysses of being superior in wisdom to all the Greeks; and yet at last he finds a way secretly to set himself on a level with him, if not above him; We ever, says he, thought the same thoughts, and were ever of the same sentiments: which tho' it may imply that they were of equal wisdom; yet there is room left for it to signify, that Ulysses always assented to the wisdom of Nestor. Eustathius.


VERSE 157.
The Council or the Assembly.]

There is a remark­able difference between [...] and [...]. The former denotes a select number of men assembled in council; the latter a public assembly where all the people were present. Eustathius.


VERSE 165.
Sent by Pallas—]

Nestor in modesty con­ceals the reason of the anger of the Goddess; out of respect to Ajax the Locrian who was then dead: The crime of Ajax was the violation of Cassandra even in the Temple of Minerva before her image. But why should the Goddess be angry at others for the crime of Ajax? this is because they omitted to punish the offender. If Ajax was criminal in offending, others are cri­minal for not punishing the offence. Eustathius.

The crime of Ajax is mention'd in Virgil. Aen. 1.

[Page 164]
Pallasnè exurere classem
Argivûm, atque ipsos potuit submergere ponto,
Unius ob noxam, & furias Ajacis Oilei? &c.

Could angry Pallas with revengeful spleen
The Graecian navy burn, and drown the men;
She for the fault of one offending foe,
The bolts of Jove himself presum'd to throw. Dryden.

Virgil borrow'd the description of the punishment of Ajax from the 4th of the Odyssey.


VERSE 168, &c.
Who call'd to council—
But call'd untimely, &c.

It may seem at first view, that the Poet affirms the night to be an improper season to convene a Council. This is not his meaning; In the Iliad, there are several councils by night; nay, [...] is used proverbially to express the best-concerted councils. What therefore Nestor here condemns is the calling not a select, but public assembly of the soldiers in the night; when they are in no danger of an enemy, and when they are apt to fly in­to insolence thro' wine, and the joy of victory. The night is then undoubtedly an ill chosen season: because the licence of the soldier cannot be so well restrain'd by night as by day. Eustathius.


VERSE 177.
Oh blind to fate!]

It may be ask'd why Nestor condemns so solemnly this Heroe, calling him [...], when he describes him in so pious an action? this is not because the Gods are implacable, for as Homer himself writes, [...]; but because he vainly imagin'd that they would so soon [Page 165] be appeas'd, without any justice done upon the offender: [...] are the words of Eustathius.


VERSE 197.
Wise as he was, by various Counsels sway'd,
He there, tho' late, to please the Monarch, stay'd.]

It is with great address that Nestor relates the return of Ulysses to Agamemnon; he ascribes it not directly to Ulysses, but to his asso­ciates in the voyage; he mollifies it, in complaisance to Telema­chus. But Nestor, according to Dacier, conceals the true reason of his return; it was not to please Agamemnon, but out of fear of the Goddess Minerva, whose statue he had taken by force from Troy: to appease that Goddess, he returns to joyn in sacrifice with Agamemnon. Eustathius.


VERSE 200.
Warn'd of the coming fury of the Gods.]

It may be ask'd how Nestor attain'd this knowledge of the evils which the Gods were preparing? Eustathius ascribes it to his great Wis­dom, which gave him an insight into futurity. Dacier with more reason tells us, that Nestor knew that Minerva had been offended, and might consequently apprehend a punishment was to be in­flicted for the offence.


VERSE 221.
But I to Pylos, &c.]

Eustathius observes from the Antients, that the Poet with great judgment suspends, and breaks off this relation of Nestor; by this method he has an op­portunity to carry Telemachus to other countries, and insert into his Poem the story of Menelaus and Helen: This method likewise gives an air of probability to what he writes; the Poet seems afraid to deceive, and when he sends Telemachus to other parts for better intelligence, he seems to consult truth and exactness.


VERSE 229.
Achilles' warlike son.]

The son of Achilles was nam'd Neoptolemus, by others Pyrrhus; his story is this: When he had reach'd Thessaly with the Myrmidons of Achilles, by the advice of Thetis he set fire to his vessels: And being warn'd by Helenus, from the Oracles, to fix his habitation where he found a house whose foundations were iron, whose walls were wood, and whose roof was wool; he took his journey on foot, and coming to a certain lake of Epirus, he found some persons fixing their spears with the points downwards into the earth, and covering the tops of them with their cloaks, and after this manner making their tents: he look'd upon the Oracle as fulfill'd, and dwelt there. Afterwards having a son by Andromache the wife of Hector, he nam'd him Molossus; from whom the region took the name of Molossia. From this country are the Molossi canes, mention'd by Virgil. Eustathius.


VERSE 242.
So fell Aegysthus; and may'st thou, my friend, &c.]

Nestor introduces the mention of Aegysthus very artfully; it is to raise an emulation in Telemachus to revenge Ulysses, as Orestes had Agamemnon; it has the intended effect, and we find that Telema­chus dwells upon his story with a virtuous envy; yet at the same time with great modesty: Eustathius gives us a different reading in




both the expressions are used in Homer, the preference is there­fore submitted to the Reader.


VERSE 264.
Mov'd by some Oracle, or voice divine.]

The words in the original are, following the voice of some God, that is, some Oracle: Homer does not confine the expression either to a good or bad sense, but the context plainly shews, that they must be understood in a bad sense; namely to imply, that the people had recourse to pretended Oracles to justify their rebellion. This is evident from what follows, where Nestor encourages Telemachus to expect that Ulysses may punish them for their crimes, [...]—if there had been no crime, there ought to be no pu­nishment.


VERSE 268.
Ulysses singly, or all Greece in arms.]

The Poet shews his great judgment in preparing the Reader for the de­struction of the Suitors: that great Catastrophe is manag'd by few hands, and it might seem incredible that so few could destroy so many: the Poet therefore to give an air of truth to his action, frequently inculcates the assistance of Pallas, which must at least shew that such a great exploit is not impossible to be executed by stratagems and valour: It is by art, not strength, that Ulysses conquers.

All Greece in arms.

This is spoken in a general sense, and comprehends not only the subjects of Ulysses, or even the Pylians and Spartans, but implies that all the Greeks would rise in the cause of Ulysses. What the Suitors had spoken scoffingly in the preceding book, viz. that Telemachus was sailing to Pyle or Sparta for supplies, appears in this not to be impracticable; so that it was choice and not necessity that de­termin'd the Poet to make use of no such easy expedients for the destruction of the Suitors. Eustathius.

[Page 168] It may be added, that the very nature of Epic Poetry, and of the Odyssey in particular, requires such a conduct: In the Iliad Achilles is the chief agent, and performs almost all the great actions; Aeneas is painted after the same manner by Virgil; the one kills Hector, the other Turnus, both which are the decisive actions: It was equally necessary to exalt the character of Ulysses, by bringing him into difficulties from which he is personally to extricate him­self: This the Poet sufficiently brings about by refusing all the easy methods for his re-establishment, because the more difficult ways are most conducive to the honour of his Heroe: Thus as Achilles and Aeneas kill Hector and Turnus with their own hands, so the Suitors fall chiefly by the hand of Ulysses: It is necessary for the Heroe of the Poem to execute the decisive action, for by this method the Poet compleats his character, his own greatness sur­mounts all difficulties, and he goes off the stage with the utmost advantage, by leaving a noble character upon the mind of the spectators.


VERSE 282.
Fortune or fate wou'd cross the will of Heav'n.]

It may be ask'd how an expression so near blasphemy, as Eusta­thius observes, could escape a person of such piety as Telemachus? 'Tis true, the Poet makes Minerva herself correct it; but yet the objection remains, viz. how could Telemachus speak it? I think since the Poet himself condemns it, we may give it up as an in­decency in Telemachus; it is natural for men in despair (and that was the condition of Telemachus) to use a vehemence of expressi­on, and this might transport Telemachus beyond the bounds of prudence. The only possible way that occurs to me to take off the impiety is to have recourse to Destiny: It was the opinion of the Antients, that the Gods could not alter Destiny: and then Telemachus may mean no more, than that it was decreed by the Destinies that Ulysses shall return no more, so the Gods themselves could not restore him.

[Page 169] Thus in the 15th of the Metamorphosis, Venus in vain applies to the Gods to preserve Julius Caesar.

—Superosque movet, qui rumpere quanquam
Ferrea non possunt veterum decreta sororum, &c.

And a little lower Jupiter says to Venus,

—Sola insuperabile fatum,
Nata, movere paras?


VERSE 289.
Happier his lot, who, &c.]

Nothing can be better imagin'd to encourage Telemachus, than what the Poet here delivers: She sets Agamemnon in opposition to Ulysses: Agamemnon made a speedy voyage to his country, and there fell by treachery; Ulysses has long been absent, but yet is happier than Agamemnon: the Gods perhaps reserve him for better fortunes, at least nothing can be concluded from his long absence, and this is sufficient to teach Telemachus not to despair. Eustathius.


VERSE 294.
And all is possible to heav'n, but this.]

What Minerva here says justifies the remark I made, that what Telema­chus seem'd to have spoken rashly, may be soften'd if not vindi­cated by having recourse to Destiny: It is evident from this passage that Destiny was superior to the power of the Gods; otherwise Minerva speaks as blasphemously as Telemachus: For what diffe­rence is there between saying, that the Gods cannot preserve even these they love from death, and saying that the Gods could not save Ulysses? Why therefore may not the words of Telemachus be thought to have respect to Destiny?

I am of opinion, that the Poet had something further in view by putting these words into the mouth of Minerva: The words [Page 170] of Telemachus, if taken grosly, might appear shocking to so pious a person as Nestor, and make an ill impression upon him to the disadvantage of Telemachus; Minerva therefore artfully ex­plains it, and softens the horrour of it by reconciling it to the Theology of those ages.


VERSE 301.
Pass we to other subjects—]

Telemachus here puts several questions, as it were in a breath, to Nestor; and Plu­tarch observes upon this passage, that he who enquires any thing of an old man, tho' the old man himself has no concern in the story, wins his heart at once; and incites a person, who is upon all occasions very willing to discourse. He introduces this as an instance of the art Telemachus uses, in adapting himself by his questions to the temper of the person with whom he converses: He puts together, continues he, several questions upon several subjects, which is more judicious than to confine his answer to a single interrogatory, and by that method deprive Nestor of one of the most pleasant enjoyments of old age, I mean the pleasure of talking. Plutarch Symposiac.


VERSE 303.
Who thrice has seen the perishable kind
Of men decay—]

The Poet here tells us that Nestor was now in his fourth genera­tion: Ovid took the word [...] to signify an hundred years; but then Nestor must have been above 300 years old. Others with more probability understand it to signify a generation, or such a portion of time in which any race of men flourish together, which is computed to be about thirty years. I refer the Reader to the Note upon the 333d verse in the first book of the Iliad, for the particular age of Nestor. According to that computati­on, he must now be about ninety five years of age.


VERSE 309.
How he, the mighty, Agamemnon fell?]

Tele­machus does not ask this question out of curiosity, but with great judgment; he knows there were designs against his life, as well as there had been against Agamemnon; he therefore asks it, that he may learn how to defeat them; chiefly to instruct himself how best to assist his father upon his return, by aiding him in esca­ping the snares of the Suitors. Dacier.


VERSE 333.
Taught by a Master of the tuneful kind.]

Homer thro' the whole Odyssey speaks much in honour of the Art which he himself loved, and in which he so eminently excell'd: From these and other passages, we may learn the state of Poetry in those ages: ‘"Poets (says Eustathius) were rank'd in the class of Philosophers; and the Ancients made use of them as Prae­ceptors in Music and Morality."’ Strabo quotes this very pas­sage as an instance of the excellence of Poetry in forming the soul to worthy actions: Aegysthus could not debauch Clytemnestra, 'till he banish'd the Poet, who was her guide and instructor.

Various are the conjectures of the Ancients about the name of the Bard here celebrated: Some, says Eustathius, tell us, it was Chariades, some Demodocus, some Glaucus, &c. but I pass them over, because they are conjectures.

There were many degrees of these [...]; some were [...], others [...]: But such Bards as are here mention'd were of an higher station, and retain'd as instructors by Kings and Princes.

I cannot omit one remark of Eustathius: he tells us, that some persons write that these [...] had their names from hence, [...]; exactly resembling the modern Italian singers: Madam Dacier is not to be forgiven for passing over a remark of such importance; if this be true, it makes a great [Page 172] difference between the antient and modern Poets, and is the on­ly advantage I know we have over them.


VERSE 344.
Then Virtue was no more (her guard away)
She fell,—&c.]

There is a fine moral couch'd in the story of the Bard and Clytem­nestra; it admirably paints the advantage we draw from wise com­panions for the improvement of our Virtues: Clytemnestra was chaste because her instructor was wise: His wisdom was an in­superable guard to her modesty. It was long before she yielded; virtue and honour had a long contest: but she no sooner yielded to adultery, but she assisted in the murder of her husband; from whence we may draw another moral, that one vice betrays us into another, and when once the fences of honour are thrown down, we become a prey to every passion. Dacier.


VERSE 346.
Ev'n to the temple stalk'd th' adult'rous spouse.]

Here is a surprizing mixture of religion and impiety: Aegysthus, upon the accomplishment of so great a crime as adultery, returns thanks to the Gods by oblations, as if they had assisted him in the execution of it. Nestor dwells upon it at large, to shew that Aegysthus greatly aggravated his guilt by such a piece of impious devotion. Dacier.


VERSE 359.
Apollo touch'd him with his gentle dart.]

Homer calls the darts of Apollo [...] or gentle; to signify that those who dye thus suddenly, dye without pain. Eustathius.

Dacier complains that some Critics think Homer worthy of blame for enlarging upon so mean a person as a pilot, and giving us his genealogy. It is a sufficient answer to observe, that arts were in [Page 173] high esteem in those times, and men that were eminent in them were in great honour. Neither were arts then confin'd as in these ages to mean personages: no less a person than Ulysses builds a vessel in the sequel of the Odyssey; so that this is a false piece of delicacy. If Homer be culpable, so is Virgil; he gives the ge­nealogy of Palinurus, as well as Homer of Phrontis. Virgil's de­scription is censur'd as too long, Homer concludes his in seven lines; and lastly, Virgil's Episode has been judg'd by the Critics to be an unnecessary ornament, and to contribute nothing to the Poem: Homer relates the death of Phrontis, to introduce the dis­persion of the fleet of Menelaus; the fleet might well be scat­ter'd, when it wanted so excellent a pilot.


VERSE 371.
Part, the storm urges on the coast of Crete.]

Homer does not amuse us by relating, what became of these com­panions of Menelaus; he omits this judiciously, and follows the thread of his story: Menelaus is the person whom the Poet has in view; he therefore passes over the story of his companions, to carry on the fable of the Poem by leading us directly to Menelaus.


VERSE 383.—
On th' Aegyptian coast.]

In the original it is, The wind and water carry'd them to Aegyptus. Homer by Aegyptus means the river Nile, and then it is always used in the masculine gender; the region about it took its name from the river Aegyptus, this is always used in the feminine gender; but the country had not receiv'd that name in the days of Homer. Eustathius.

What Dacier adds to this observation, may assist in determi­ning the dispute concerning the priority of Homer and Hesiod: He­siod makes mention of the river Nilus; if therefore it be true that Aegyptus had not been called by the name of Nilus in the times [Page 174] of Homer, it is a demonstration that Hesiod was posterior to Ho­mer; otherwise he could not have been acquainted with any other name but that of Aegyptus.


VERSE 390.
From Athens to his realm—.]

There is a different reading in this place: instead of [...], some write [...]; for Orestes was educated by Strophius King of Phocis, and father of Pylades: The Ancients reconcile the diffe­rence, by saying that Orestes might be sent from Phocis to Athens for his education, and returning thence to his own country, might revenge the death of his father Agamemnon; so that al­though he was first bred up in Phocis, he was afterwards a sojour­ner in Athens. Eustathius.


VERSE 411.
A length of Ocean and unbounded sky,
Which scarce the sea-fowl in a year o'erfly.]

It must be confest, that Nestor greatly exaggerates this descripti­on: Homer himself tells us, that a ship may sail in five days from Crete to Aegypt; wherefore then this Hyperbole of Nestor? It might perhaps be to deter Telemachus from a design of sailing to Crete, and he through his inexperience might believe the descri­ption. It may be added, that what Nestor speaks concerning the flight of birds, may be only said to shew the great distance of that sea: Nay, by a favourable interpretation it may be recon­cil'd to truth; the meaning then must be this: Should a person observe that sea a whole year, he would not see one bird flying over it, both because of the vastness and dreadfulness of it; and perhaps the whole of this might arise from the observation, that this sea is not frequented by birds. This is wholly and almost li­terally taken from Eustathius; and if we add to this the igno­rance of the sea and sea-affairs in those ages, we shall the less won­der to hear so wise a man as Nestor describing it with so much [Page 175] terror; Navigation is now greatly improv'd, and the Moderns sail further in a month, than the Ancients could in a year; their whole art consisting chiefly in coasting along the shores, and con­sequently they made but little way.


VERSE 425.
Now immolate the tongues—.]

Various are the reasons which Eustathius reports concerning this oblation of the tongues at the conclusion of the sacrifice. It was to purge themselves from any evil words they might have utter'd; or because the tongue was reckon'd the best part of the sacrifice, and so reserv'd for the completion of it; or they offer'd the tongue to the Gods, as witnesses to what they had spoken. I omit the rest as superfluous. They had a custom of offering the tongues to Mercury, because they believ'd him the giver of Eloquence. Da­cier expatiates upon this custom: The people, says she, might fear, lest thro' wine and the joy of the festival they might have ut­ter'd some words unbecoming the sanctity of the occasion: by this sacrifice of the tongues, they signify'd that they pur­ged away whatever they had spoken amiss during the festi­val; and ask'd in particular pardon of Mercury, who presi­ded over discourse; to the end they might not carry home any uncleanness which might stop the blessings expected from the sacrifice.


VERSE 429.
Nor fits it to prolong the heav'nly feast,
Timeless, indecent, &c.—]

Eustathius shews the difference between [...] festivals, and [...], or sacrifices: in the former it was customary to spend the whole night in wine and rejoicing: In the latter, this was reck­on'd an unlawful custom, thro' the fear of falling into any inde­cencies through wine. He likewise gives another reason of this injunction, by telling us that it was the custom to offer sacrifices [Page 176] to the celestial Powers in the time of the day, and even to fi­nish them about the setting of the sun; and that those who dealt in incantations perform'd their sacrifices to the infernal powers by night, and finish'd them before sun-rising. Either of these reasons sufficiently explains the words of the Goddess; and the former carries in it an excellent moral, that particular care should be taken in our acts of devotion, not to turn religion into impiety.


VERSE 450.
When beds of royal state invite your stay?]

This passage gives us a full insight into the manners of these hospita­ble ages; they not only kept a treasury for bowls or vases of gold or silver, to give as [...], or gifts of hospitality, but also a wardrobe of various habits and rich furniture, to lodge and be­stow upon strangers. Eustathius relates, that Tellias of Agrigen­tum was a person of so great hospitality, that five hundred horse­men coming to his house in the winter season, he entertain'd them, and gave every man a cloak and a tunic. This laudable custom prevailed, and still prevails, in the eastern countries: it was the practice of Abraham of old, and is at this day of the Turks, as we may learn from their Caravansaries, erected for the reception of travellers. And yet Dacier observes, that a French Critic has shew'd so ill a taste as to ridicule this passage. ‘"Te­lemachus (says that Author) being entertain'd by Nestor, inti­mates his intention of returning to lodge on shipboard with his companions: but Nestor detains him, by asking if he thought he had not quilts or coverlets to give him a night's lodging? Upon this Telemachus goes to bed in a resounding gallery, and Nestor in a bed which his wife made ready for him."’ The noblest things are most liable to burlesque, by perverting their meaning; as some pictures, by varying the position, represent a man or a monster. He is very severe upon the resounding gallery, which in truth means no more than very lofty or elevated, and by conse­quence very noble and magnificent.


VERSE 468.
I go to challenge from the Caucons.]

The Poet makes a double use of these words of the Goddess; she gives an air of probability to her excuse, why she should not be press'd to stay; and at the same time Homer avoids the absurdity of intro­ducing that Goddess at Sparta, where Menelaus and Helen are ce­lebrating the nuptials of their son and daughter: Minerva is a Virgin Deity, and consequently an enemy to all nuptial ceremo­nies. Eustathius.

But it may be necessary to observe who these Caucons are: we find in the tenth book the Caucons mention'd as auxiliaries to Troy: There Dolon says

The Carians, Caucons, the Pelasgian host,
And Leleges encamp along the coast.

Are these Caucons the same with those here mention'd? Eustathius informs us, that there was a people of Triphyly, between Elis and Pylos, named Caucons: But Strabo says, that the whole race is now extinct, and that these here mention'd are of Dymaea, and take their name from the river Caucon: whereas those in the Iliads are Paphlagonians: they were a wandring nation, and consequently might be the same people originally, and retain the same name in different countries.


VERSE 478.
But chief the rev'rend Sage admir'd—]

It may be ask'd why Nestor is in such a surprize at the discovery of the Goddess: It is evident from the Iliad, that he had been no stranger to such intercourses of the Deities; nay, in this very book Nestor tells us, that Ulysses enjoy'd almost the constant presence of Minerva; insomuch that Sophocles, the great imitator of Homer, relates, that he knew the Goddess by her voice, without seeing [Page 178] her. Eustathius answers, that the wonder of Nestor arose not from the discovery of that Deity, but that she should accompany so young a person as Telemachus: After her departure, the old man stood amaz'd, and look'd upon that Heroe as some very extraordi­nary person, whom in such early years the Goddess of War and Wis­dom had vouchsafed to attend. This interpretation agrees perfect­ly with what Nestor speaks to Telemachus.


VERSE 481.
Distinguish'd care of guardian deities.]

I will take this opportunity to obviate an objection that may be made against all interposition of the Gods in assisting the Heroes of the Odyssey: It has been thought by some Critics a disparagement to them to stand in continual need of such supernatural succour: If two persons were engaged in combat, and a third person should immediately step in to the assistance of one of the parties and kill the adversary, would it not reflect upon the valour of his friend who was so weak as to want such assistance? Why, for in­stance, should Jupiter help Aeneas to kill Turnus? Was not he brave enough to fight, and strong enough to conquer his enemy by his own prowess? and would not Turnus have kill'd Aeneas with the same assistance? It is therefore a disparagement to the actors, thus con­tinually to supply the defects of a Heroe, by the power of a Deity.

But this is a false way of arguing, and from hence it might be infer'd that the love and favour of a Deity serves only to make those whom he assists, and those who depend upon such assistance, appear weak, impotent, cowardly, and unworthy to be conque­rors. Can any doubt arise whether the love and favour of a God be a disparagement or honour to those whom he favours? Ac­cording to these Critics, we should find the character of a per­fect Heroe in an impious Mezentius, who acknowledges no God but his own arm and his own sword: 'Tis true, the objection would be just if the Heroe himself perform'd nothing of the action; or if when he were almost conquer'd by the superior va­lour of his enemy, he ow'd his life and victory to Gods [Page 179] and Miracles: But the Heroe always behaves himself in all his actions, as if he were to gain success without the assistance of the Deity; and the presence of the Gods is so order'd, that we may retrench every thing that is miraculous, without making any alteration in the action or character of the human persona­ges. Thus in the instance of Aeneas and Turnus, tho' Jupiter fa­vours Aeneas, yet Aeneas is painted in stronger colours of forti­tude, he appears superior, as a man unassisted, and able to conquer Turnus; and consequently the favour of Jupiter makes no altera­tion in the action or character of Aeneas.

There is likewise a wide difference between the assistance of a Man, and of a God: The actions of men belong only to the performers of those actions, but when a Deity assists us by in­spiring us with strength and courage, the actions we perform are really our own, and the more he favours us the more glory he gives us: so that the assistance of man eclipses, but the assistance of a God exalts, our glory. Thus for instance, when Achilles is pursuing Hector, he charges the Greeks to keep off from Hector; their assistance might lessen his glory: but when Pallas offers her assistance he immediately embraces it as an honour, and boasts of it as such to Hector. I have been large upon this objection, because the Reader ought to carry it in his memory thro' the whole Po­em, and apply it to every action, in which any share is ascribed to any Deity. See Bossu more at large concerning this objection.


VERSE 519.
And sate On polish'd stone before his Palace gate.]

We have here an ancient custom recorded by the Poet; a King places himself before the gate of his Palace upon a seat of marble, worn smooth by long use, says Eustathius, or perhaps smooth'd exquisitely by the hand of the workman. What I would chiefly observe is, that they placed themselves thus in public for the dispatch of justice: We read in the scripture of Judges sitting in the gate; and that this procedure of Nestor was for that purpose is probable from the expression, He sate in the seat where Ne­leus [Page 180] [ [...], or Consiliarius,] used to sit, (which seems to express his wisdom in the discharge of justice.) Nestor is also describ'd as bearing his sceptre in his hand, which was never used but upon some act of regality, in the dispatch of justice, or other solemn occasions. Perhaps, says Dacier, these seats or thrones might be consecrated with oil, to draw a reverence to the seats of Justice, as by an act of religion; but I rather judge (adds she) that no more is meant than to express the shining of these thrones, they being undoubtedly made of marble.


VERSE 528.

Would I indulge my fancy in a conjecture, I might suppose that the famous tyrant Pisistratus was descended, or borrow'd his name, from this son of Nestor. Herodotus informs us, as Eustathius observes, that all the Pisistrati were originally Pylians. If this be true, we have a very strong evidence that Homer is not all fiction, but that he celebrates the great men of those ages with reality, and only embellishes the true story with the ornaments of Poetry.


VERSE 540.
Laerceus—Artist divine, &c.]

The Author of the Parallel quotes this passage to prove that Homer was igno­rant of the Mechanic arts: We have here, says he, a Gilder with his anvil and hammer; but what occasion has he for an anvil and hammer in the art of a Gilder? Boileau has excellently vindi­cated Homer from this objection, in his reflections upon Longinus; this Gilder was a gold-beater; Nestor we see furnish'd the gold, and he beat it into leaves, so that he had occasion to make use of his anvil and hammer; the anvil was portable, because the work was not laborious. Our modern travellers assure us, that it is at this day the practice in the eastern regions, as in Persia, &c. for the artists in metals to carry about with them the whole imple­ments of trade, to the house of the persons where they find em­ployment; [Page 181] it is therefore a full vindication of Homer, to observe that the gold this artist used in gilding, was nothing but gold beat into fine leaves.


VERSE 552.
Nor was Minerva absent—]

It may be ask'd in what sense Minerva can be said to come to the sacrifice? Eusta­thius answers, that the Ancients finding the inclinations of men to be bent incontinently upon pleasures, to oblige them to use them moderately, distinguish'd times, ordain'd sacrifices, and repre­senting the Gods in the forms of men, brought them to use those pleasures with discretion; they taught them that the Gods came down to their libations and sacrifices, to induce them to govern their conversation with reverence and modesty: Thus Ju­piter and the other Gods in the Iliads, and Neptune in the Odyssey, are said to feast with the Aethiopians.

If I might be pardon'd a conjecture, I would suppose, that Minerva may in another sense be said to come to the sacrifice; I mean by her Image or statue: and what may seem to confirm this opinion, is what Diodorus relates in his third book concerning the above-mention'd Aethiopians; they carry'd about the statues of Jupiter and the other Gods twelve days, during which time the Gods were said to be gone to the Aethiopians: and if the Gods may be said to come to the Aethiopians by their statues; why may not the same be said of Minerva, from the introduction of her statue among the Pylians? So that the appearance of the Goddess may possibly mean the appearance of her statue.


VERSE 560.
Stratius and Echephron, &c.]

Nestor here makes use only of the ministry of his sons; the reason of it is, because it was reckon'd honourable to serve in the performance of sacrifice, this being in some sense an attending upon the Gods: or because it was the practice of those ages for [Page 182] great persons to do those offices with their own hands, which in the latter have been perform'd by servants.

Eustathius reports a saying of Antigonus, who observing his son behaving himself imperiously to his subjects, ‘"Know'st thou not, says he, that Royalty it self is but illustrious servitude!"’ an intimation that he himself was but a servant of the public, and therefore should use his servants with moderation.

But the true reason of Nestor's assisting in the sacrifice is, be­cause Kings anciently had the inspection of religion, and Priest­hood was joyn'd to Royalty, according to that of Virgil, Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos.


VERSE 573.
Maids, wives, and matrons, mix a shrilling sound.]

I have kept the meaning of the word in the original, which sig­nifies prayers made with loud cries, [...], says He­sychius, is, [...], the voice of women, which they make at sacrifices in their pray­ers. But there is still something in it more to the present pur­pose; the Scholiast upon Aeschylns remarks, that this word is not used properly but when apply'd to the prayers offer'd to Minerva; for Minerva is the only Goddess to whom prayers are made with loud cries, she being the Goddess of War; to other Deities they offer prayer with thanksgiving; [...].

Thus also in the 6th book of the Iliads, verse 301.


They fill the dome with supplicating cries.

And in the present passage in the Odyssey,

[...], &c.


VERSE 594.
Sweet Polycaste took the pleasing toil
To bathe the Prince, &c.]

It is very necessary to say something about this practice of wo­men bathing and anointing men; it frequently occurs thro' the whole Odyssey, and is so contrary to the usage of the moderns as to give offence to modesty; neither is this done by women of in­ferior quality, but we have here a young Princess, bathing, anoint­ing, and cloathing the naked Telemachus. Eustathius indeed tells us, it was undoubtedly by her father's command: but if it was a piece of immodesty, it does not solve the objection, whoever com­manded it. I confess it would be immodest in these ages of the world, and the only excuse that occurs to me is, to say that Cu­stom establish'd it. It is in manners, in some degree, as in dress; if a fashion never so indecent prevails, yet no person is ridi­culous, because it is fashionable; so in manners, if a practice pre­vails universally, tho' not reconcilable to real modesty, yet no per­son can be said to be immodest who comes into it, because it is agreeable to the custom of the times and countries.

VERSE 610. &c.
The conclusion of the book.]

I shall lay together what I have further to observe on the conclusion of this book: It is remarkable that the Poet does not amuse himself in descri­bing the present he receiv'd from Nestor, or the provisions for the journey, or even the journey it self at large; he dispatches the whole in a few lines very judiciously; he carries his Heroe directly to Menelaus, who is to furnish many incidents that contribute to the design of the Poem, and passes over other matters as unnecessary.

We have here likewise a piece of poetical Geography, and learn that it is exactly two days journey from Pyle to Lacedaemon.

This book takes up three days; the first is spent in the enquiries Telemachus makes of Nestor concerning Ulysses; the two last in the morning sacrifice at Pylos, and in the journey of Telemachus to Lacedaemon; so that five days have now pass'd since the opening [Page 184] of the Poem. I have said nothing about the sacrifice, tho' it be the most exact description of the sacrifices as practis'd by the An­cients, perhaps extant in any Author; I refer to the observations upon the first book of the Iliad.

I would here remark that the three first books are writ­ten with the utmost simplicity, there has been no room for such exalted strokes of Poetry as are to be found in the Iliad, or in the future parts of the Odyssey: But this is not owing to the decay of genius in Homer, as some Critics have affirm'd, (who look upon the Odyssey as bearing marks of his declining years,) but to the nature of the subject. The characters of Achilles and Ulysses are both very great, but very different. The Iliad con­sists of battles, and a continual commotion; the Odyssey in Pati­ence and Wisdom: and consequently the style of the two Poems must be as different as the characters of the two Heroes. A no­ble fountain of Poetry opens in the next book, and flows with an uninterrupted course almost through the whole Odyssey.




Telemachus with Pisistratus arriving at Sparta, is hospitably receiv'd 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 detain'd in the Island of Calypso.

In the mean-time the Suitors consult to destroy Telemachus in his voyage home. Penelope is appriz'd of this, but comforted in a dream by Pallas, in the shape of her sister Ipthima.


W.K. [...]


AND now proud Sparta with their wheels resounds,
Sparta, whose walls a range of hills surrounds:
At the fair dome their rapid la­bour ends;
Where sate Atrides 'midst his bridal friends,
With double vows invoking Hymen's pow'r,
To bless his sons and daughters 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 final doom of Troy:
With steeds, and gilded cars, a gorgeous train
Attend the nymph to Phthia's distant reign.
Mean-while at home, to Megapenthes' bed
The virgin-choir Alector's daughter led.
Brave Megapenthes, from a stol'n amour
To great Atrides' age his hand-maid bore:
To Helen's bed the Gods alone assign
Hermione, t'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.
[Page 189] 'Twas then that issuing thro' 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 prove
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, mis-judging, 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 wand'rings oft reliev'd my woe:
Fed by the bounty of another's board,
'Till pitying Jove my native realm restor'd—
Strait be the coursers from the car releast,
Conduct the youths to grace the genial feast.
The Seneshal 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 dazling 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 attend the guests
With liquid odors, and embroider'd vests.
Refresh'd, they wait them to the bow'r of state,
Where circled with his Peers Atrides sate:
Thron'd next the King, a fair attendant brings
The purest product of the chrystal springs;
High on a massy vase of silver mold,
The burnish'd laver flames with solid gold;
[Page 191] In solid gold the purple vintage flows,
And on the board a second banquet rose.
When thus the King with hospitable port:—
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 scepter'd ancestry ye claim,
Recorded eminent in deathless fame?
For vulgar parents cannot stamp their race
With signatures of such majestic grace.
Ceasing, benevolent he strait 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 un-mov'd, O ever-honour'd most!
These prodigies of art, and wond'rous cost?
Above, beneath, around the Palace shines
The sumless treasure of exhausted mines:
[Page 192] 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 reply'd.
Presumptuous are the vaunts, and vain the pride
Of man, who dares in pomp with Jove contest,
Unchang'd, immortal, and supremely blest!
With all my affluence when my woes are weigh'd,
Envy will own, the purchase dearly paid.
For eight slow-circling years by tempests tost,
From Cyprus to the far Phoenician coast,
(Sidon the Capital) I stretch'd my toil
Thro' regions fatten'd with the flows of Nile.
Next, Aethiopia's utmost bound explore,
And the parcht borders of th' 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;
[Page 193] And two fair crescents of translucent horn
The brows of all their young increase adorn:
The shepherd swains with sure abundance blest,
On the fat flock and rural dainties feast;
Nor want of herbage makes the dairy fail,
But ev'ry 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 ev'ry tongue,
To you, your fathers have recorded long:
How fav'ring heav'n repaid my glorious toils
With a sack'd Palace, and barbaric spoils.
Oh! had the Gods so large a boon deny'd,
And Life, the just equivalent, supply'd
To those brave warriors, who, with glory fir'd,
Far from their country in my cause expir'd!
[Page 194] Still in short intervals of pleasing woe,
Regardful of the friendly dues I owe,
I to the glorious dead, for ever dear!
Indulge the tribute of a grateful tear.
But oh! Ulysses—deeper than the rest
That sad Idea wounds my anxious breast!
My heart bleeds fresh with agonizing pain;
The bowl, and tasteful viands tempt in vain,
Nor sleep's soft pow'r can close my streaming eyes,
When imag'd to my soul his sorrows rise.
No peril in my cause he ceas'd to prove,
His labours equal'd only by my love:
And both alike to bitter fortune born,
For him, to suffer, and for me, to mourn!
Whether he wanders on some friendless coast,
Or glides in Stygian gloom a pensive ghost,
No fame reveals; but doubtful of his doom,
His good old Sire with sorrow to the tomb
Declines his trembling steps; untimely care
Withers the blooming vigour of his heir;
[Page 195] And the chaste partner of his bed and throne,
Wastes all her widow'd hours in tender moan.
While thus pathetic to the Prince he spoke,
From the brave youth the streaming passion broke:
Studious to veil the grief, in vain represt,
His face he shrowded with his purple vest:
The conscious Monarch pierc'd the coy disguise,
And view'd his filial love with vast surprize;
Dubious to press the tender theme, or wait
To hear the youth enquire his father's fate.
In this suspence bright Helen grac'd the room;
Before her breath'd a gale of rich perfume.
So moves, adorn'd with each attractive grace,
The silver-shafted Goddess of the Chace!
The seat of majesty Adraste brings,
With art illustrious, for the pomp of Kings.
To spread the pall beneath the regal chair
Of softest woof, is bright Alcippe's care.
A silver canister divinely wrought,
In her soft hands the beauteous Phylo brought:
[Page 196] To Sparta's Queen of old the radiant vase
Alcandra gave, a pledge of royal grace:
For Polybus her Lord, (whose sov'reign sway
The wealthy tribes of Pharian Thebes obey)
When to that court Atrides came, carest
With vast munificence th'imperial guest:
Two lavers from the richest ore refin'd,
With silver tripods, the kind host assign'd;
And bounteous, from the royal treasure told
Ten equal talents of refulgent gold.
Alcandra, confort of his high command,
A golden distaff gave to Helen's hand;
And that rich vase, with living sculpture wrought,
Which heap'd with wool the beauteous Phylo brought:
The silken fleece impurpl'd for the loom,
Rival'd the hyacinth in vernal bloom.
The sovereign seat then Jove-born Helen press'd,
And pleasing thus her sceptred Lord address'd.
Who grace our palace now, that friendly pair,
Speak they their lineage, or their names declare?
[Page 197] Uncertain of the truth, yet uncontroul'd
Hear me the bodings of my breast unfold.
With wonder rapt, on yonder cheek I trace
The feature of the Ulyssean race:
Diffus'd o'er each resembling line appear,
In just similitude, the grace and air
Of young Telemachus! the lovely boy,
Who bless'd Ulysses with a father's joy,
What time the Greeks combin'd their social arms,
T'avenge the stain of my ill-fated charms!
Just is thy thought, the King assenting cries,
Methinks Ulysses strikes my wond'ring eyes:
Full shines the father in the filial frame,
His port, his features, and his shape the same:
Such quick regards his sparkling eyes bestow;
Such wavy ringlets o'er his shoulders flow!
And when he heard the long disastrous store
Of cares, which in my cause Ulysses bore;
Dismay'd, heart-wounded with paternal woes,
Above restraint the tide of sorrow rose:
[Page 198] Cautious to let the gushing grief appear,
His purple garment veil'd the falling tear.
See there confess'd, Pisistratus replies,
The genuine worth of Ithacus the wise!
Of that heroic sire the youth is sprung,
But modest awe hath chain'd his tim'rous tongue.
Thy voice, O King! with pleas'd attention heard,
Is like the dictates of a God rever'd.
With him at Nestor's high command I came,
Whose age I honour with a parent's name.
By adverse destiny constrain'd to sue
For counsel and redress, he sues to you.
Whatever ill the friendless orphan bears,
Bereav'd of parents in his infant years,
Still must the wrong'd Telemachus sustain,
If hopeful of your aid, he hopes in vain:
Affianc'd in your friendly pow'r alone,
The youth wou'd vindicate the vacant throne.
Is Sparta blest, and these desiring eyes
View my friend's son? (the King exulting cries)
[Page 199] Son of my friend, by glorious toils approv'd,
Whose sword was sacred to the man he lov'd:
Mirror of constant faith, rever'd, and mourn'd!—
When Troy was ruin'd, had the chief return'd,
No Greek an equal space had e'er possest
Of dear affection, in my grateful breast.
I, to confirm the mutual joys we shar'd,
For his abode a Capital prepar'd;
Argos the seat of sovereign rule I chose;
Fair in the plan the future palace rose,
Where my Ulysses and his race might reign,
And portion to his tribes the wide domain.
To them my vassals had resign'd a soil,
With teeming plenty to reward their toil.
There with commutual zeal we both had strove,
In acts of dear benevolence, and love:
Brothers in peace, not rivals in command,
And death alone dissolv'd the friendly band!
Some envious pow'r the blissful scene destroys;
Vanish'd are all the visionary joys:
[Page 200] The soul of friendship to my hope is lost,
Fated to wander from his natal coast!
He ceas'd; a gust of grief began to rise:
Fast streams a tide from beauteous Helen's eyes;
Fast for the Sire the filial sorrows flow;
The weeping Monarch swells the mighty woe:
Thy cheek, Pisistratus, the tears bedew,
While pictur'd to thy mind appear'd in view
Thy martial * Brother; on the Phrygian plain
Extended pale, by swarthy Memnon slain!
But silence soon the son of Nestor broke,
And melting with fraternal pity spoke.
Frequent, O King, was Nestor wont to raise
And charm attention, with thy copious praise:
To crown thy various gifts, the sage assign'd
The glory of a firm capacious mind:
With that superior attribute controul
This unavailing impotence of soul.
Let not your roof with echoing grief resound,
Now for the feast the friendly bowl is crown'd:
[Page 201] But when from dewy shade emerging bright,
Aurora streaks the sky with orient light,
Let each deplore his dead: the rites of woe
Are all, alas! the living can bestow:
O'er the congenial dust injoin'd to shear
The graceful curl, and drop the tender tear.
Then mingling in the mournful pomp with you,
I'll pay my brother's ghost a warrior's due,
And mourn the brave Antilochus, a name
Not unrecorded in the rolls of fame:
With strength and speed superior form'd, in fight
To face the foe, or intercept his flight:
Too early snatch'd by fate ere known to me!
I boast a witness of his worth in thee.
Young and mature! the Monarch thus rejoins,
In thee renew'd the soul of Nestor shines:
Form'd by the care of that consummate sage,
In early bloom an Oracle of age.
When-e'er his influence Jove vouchsafes to show'r
To bless the natal, and the nuptial hour;
[Page 202] From the great sire transmissive to the race,
The boon devolving gives distinguish'd grace.
Such, happy Nestor! was thy glorious doom;
Around thee full of years, thy offspring bloom,
Expert of arms, and prudent in debate;
The gifts of heav'n to guard thy hoary state.
But now let each becalm his troubled breast,
Wash, and partake serene the friendly feast.
To move thy suit, Telemachus, delay,
'Till heav'n's revolving lamp restores the day.
He said, Asphalion swift the laver brings;
Alternate all partake the grateful springs:
Then from the rites of purity repair,
And with keen gust the sav'ry viands share.
Mean-time with genial joy to warm the soul,
Bright Helen mix'd a mirth-inspiring bowl:
Temper'd with drugs of sov'reign use, t'assuage
The boiling bosom of tumultuous Rage;
To clear the cloudy front of wrinkled Care,
And dry the tearful sluices of Despair:
[Page 203] Charm'd with that virtuous draught, th' exalted mind
All sense of woe delivers to the wind.
Though on the blazing pile his parent lay,
Or a lov'd brother groan'd his life away,
Or darling son oppress'd by ruffian-force
Fell breathless at his feet, a mangled corse,
From morn to eve, impassive and serene,
The man entranc'd wou'd view the deathful scene.
These drugs, so friendly to the joys of life,
Bright Helen learn'd from Thone's imperial wife;
Who sway'd the sceptre, where prolific Nile
With various simples cloaths the fat'ned soil.
With wholsome herbage mix'd, the direful bane
Of vegetable venom, taints the plain;
From Paeon sprung, their patron-god imparts
To all the Pharian race his healing arts.
The beverage now prepar'd t'inspire the feast,
The circle thus the beauteous Queen address'd.
Thron'd in omnipotence, supremest Jove
Tempers the fates of human race above;
[Page 204] By the firm sanction of his sov'reign will,
Alternate are decreed our good and ill.
To feastful mirth be this white hour assign'd,
And sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind.
My self assisting in the social joy,
Will tell Ulysses' bold exploit in Troy:
Sole witness of the deed I now declare;
Speak you, (who saw) his wonders in the war.
Seam'd o'er with wounds, which his own sabre gave,
In the vile habit of a village slave,
The foe deceiv'd, he pass'd the tented plain,
In Troy to mingle with the hostile train.
In this attire secure from searching eyes,
'Till haply piercing thro' the dark disguise
The chief I challeng'd; he, whose practis'd wit
Knew all the serpent-mazes of deceit,
Eludes my search: but when his form I view'd
Fresh from the bath with fragrant oils renew'd,
His limbs in military purple dress'd;
Each brightning grace the genuine Greek confess'd.
[Page 205] A previous pledge of sacred faith obtain'd,
'Till he the lines and Argive fleet regain'd
To keep his stay conceal'd; the chief declar'd
The plans of war against the town prepar'd.
Exploring then the secrets of the state,
He learn'd what best might urge the Dardan fate:
And safe returning to the Grecian host,
Sent many a shade to Pluto's dreary coast.
Loud grief resounded thro' the tow'rs of Troy,
But my pleas'd bosom glow'd with secret joy:
For then with dire remorse, and conscious shame,
I view'd th' effects of that disastrous flame,
Which kindled by th' imperious Queen of love,
Constrain'd me from my native realm to rove:
And oft in bitterness of soul deplor'd
My absent daughter, and my dearer Lord;
Admir'd among the first of human race,
For ev'ry gift of mind, and manly grace.
Right well, reply'd the King, your speech displays
The matchless merit of the chief you praise:
[Page 206] Heroes in various climes my self have found,
For martial deeds, and depth of thought renown'd;
But Ithacus, unrival'd in his claim,
May boast a title to the loudest fame:
In battel calm he guides the rapid storm,
Wise to resolve, and patient to perform.
What wond'rous conduct in the chief appear'd,
When the vast fabric of the Steed we rear'd!
Some Daemon anxious for the Trojan doom,
Urg'd you with great Deiphobus to come,
T'explore the fraud: with guile oppos'd to guile,
Slow-pacing thrice around th' insidious pile;
Each noted leader's name you thrice invoke,
Your accent varying as their spouses spoke:
The pleasing founds each latent warrior warm'd,
But most Tydides' and my heart alarm'd:
To quit the steed we both impatient press,
Threat'ning to answer from the dark recess.
Unmov'd the mind of Ithacus remain'd,
And the vain ardors of our love restrain'd:
[Page 207] But Anticlus unable to controul,
Spoke loud the languish of his yerning soul:
Ulysses strait with indignation fir'd,
(For so the common care of Greece requir'd)
Firm to his lips his forceful hands apply'd,
'Till on his tongue the flutt'ring murmurs dy'd:
Mean-time Minerva from the fraudful horse,
Back to the Court of Priam bent your course.
Inclement fate! Telemachus replies,
Frail is the boasted attribute of wise:
The leader, mingling with the vulgar host,
Is in the common mass of matter lost!
But now let sleep the painful waste repair
Of sad reflection, and corroding care.
He ceas'd; the menial fair that round her wait,
At Helen's beck prepare the room of state:
Beneath an ample Portico, they spread
The downy fleece to form the slumbrous bed;
And o'er soft palls of purple grain unfold
Rich tapistry, stiff with inwoven gold:
[Page 208] Then thro' th'illumin'd dome, to balmy rest
Th'obsequious Herald guides each princely guest:
While to his regal bow'r the King ascends,
And beauteous Helen on her Lord attends.
Soon as the morn, in orient purple drest,
Unbarr'd the portal of the roseate east
The Monarch rose: magnificent to view,
Th'imperial mantle o'er his vest he threw;
The glitt'ring zone athwart his shoulder cast
A starry fauchion low-depending grac'd,
Clasp'd on his feet th'embroider'd sandals shine,
And forth he moves, majestic and divine:
Instant to young Telemachus he press'd,
And thus benevolent his speech address'd.
Say, royal youth, sincere of soul report
What cause hath led you to the Spartan court?
Do public or domestic cares constrain
This toilsom voyage o'er the surgy main?
O highly favour'd delegate of Jove!
(Replies the Prince) inflam'd with filial love,
[Page 209] And anxious hope, to hear my parent's doom,
A suppliant to your royal court I come.
Our sovereign seat a lewd usurping race
With lawless riot, and mis-rule disgrace;
To pamper'd insolence devoted fall
Prime of the flock, and choicest of the stall:
For wild ambition wings their bold desire,
And all to mount th'imperial bed aspire.
But prostrate I implore, oh King! relate
The mournful series of my father's fate:
Each known disaster of the Man disclose,
Born by his mother to a world of woes!
Recite them! nor in erring pity fear
To wound with storied grief the filial ear:
If e'er Ulysses, to reclaim your right,
Avow'd his zeal in council or in fight,
If Phrygian camps the friendly toils attest,
To the sire's merit give the son's request.
Deep from his inmost soul Atrides sigh'd,
And thus indignant to the Prince reply'd:
[Page 210] Heav'ns! wou'd a soft, inglorious, dastard train
An absent heroe's nuptial joys profane!
So with her young, amid the woodland shades
A tim'rous hind the lion's court invades,
Leaves in that fatal laire the tender fawns,
Climbs the green cliff, or feeds the flow'ry lawns:
Mean-time return'd, with dire remorseless sway
The monarch-savage rends the trembling prey.
With equal fury, and with equal fame,
Ulysses soon shall re-assert his claim.
O Jove, supreme, whom Gods and men revere!
And * thou, to whom 'tis giv'n to gild the sphere!
With pow'r congenial join'd, propitious aid
The chief adopted by the martial maid!
Such to our wish the warrior soon restore,
As when contending on the Lesbian shore
His prowess Philomelides confess'd,
And loud-acclaiming Greeks the victor bless'd:
Then soon th'invaders of his bed and throne,
Their love presumptuous shall with life atone.
[Page 211] With patient ear, oh royal youth, attend
The storied labours of thy father's friend:
Fruitful of deeds, the copious tale is long,
But truth severe shall dictate to my tongue:
Learn what I heard the sea-born Seer relate,
Whose eye can pierce the dark recess of fate.
Long on th' Aegyptian coast by calms confin'd,
Heav'n to my fleet refus'd a prosp'rous wind:
No vows had we prefer'd, nor victim slain!
For this the Gods each sav'ring gale restrain:
Jealous, to see their high behests obey'd,
Severe, if men th' eternal rights evade!
High o'er a gulphy sea, the Pharian Isle
Fronts the deep roar of disemboguing Nile:
Her distance from the shore, the course begun
At dawn, and ending with the setting sun,
A gally measures; when the stiffer gales
Rise on the poop, and fully stretch the sails.
There anchor'd vessels safe in harbour lye,
Whilst limpid springs the failing cask supply.
And now the twentieth sun descending, laves
His glowing axle in the western waves;
Still with expanded sails we court in vain
Propitious winds, to waft us o'er the main:
And the pale mariner at once deplores
His drooping vigour, and exhausted stores.
When lo! a bright caerulean form appears,
The fair Eidothea! to dispel my fears;
Proteus her sire divine. With pity press'd,
Me sole the daughter of the deep address'd;
What-time, with hunger pin'd, my absent mates
Roam the wild Isle in search of rural cates,
Bait the barb'd steel, and from the fishy flood
Appease th' afflictive fierce desire of food.
Whoe'er thou art, (the azure Goddess cries,)
Thy conduct ill deserves the praise of wise:
Is death thy choice, or misery thy boast,
That here inglorious on a barren coast
Thy brave associates droop, a meagre train
With famine pale, and ask thy care in vain?
Struck with the kind reproach, I strait reply;
Whate'er thy title in thy native sky,
A Goddess sure! for more than mortal grace
Speaks thee descendent of etherial race:
Deem not, that here of choice my fleet remains;
Some heav'nly pow'r averse my stay constrains:
O, piteous of my fate, vouchsafe to shew,
(For what's sequester'd from celestial view?)
What pow'r becalms th'innavigable seas?
What guilt provokes him, and what vows appease?
I ceas'd, when affable the Goddess cry'd;
Observe, and in the truths I speak confide:
Th'oraculous Seer frequents the Pharian coast,
From whose high bed my birth divine I boast;
Proteus, a name tremendous o'er the main,
The delegate of Neptune's watry reign.
Watch with insidious care his known abode;
There fast in chains constrain the various God:
Who bound, obedient to superior force,
Unerring will prescribe your destin'd course.
[Page 214] If studious of your realms, you then demand
Their state, since last you left your natal land;
Instant the God obsequious will disclose
Bright tracks of glory, or a cloud of woes.
She ceas'd, and suppliant thus I made reply;
O Goddess! on thy aid my hopes rely:
Dictate propitious to my duteous ear,
What arts can captivate the changeful Seer?
For perilous th' assay, unheard the toil,
T' elude the prescience of a God by guile.
Thus to the Goddess mild my suit I end.
Then she. Obedient to my rule, attend:
When thro' the Zone of heav'n the mounted sun
Hath journey'd half, and half remains to run;
The Seer, while Zephyrs curl the swelling deep,
Basks on the breezy shore, in grateful sleep,
His oozy limbs. Emerging from the wave,
The Phocae swift surround his rocky cave,
Frequent and full; the consecrated train
Of * her, whose azure trident awes the main:
[Page 215] There wallowing warm, th'enormous herd exhales
An oily steam, and taints the noon-tide gales.
To that recess, commodious for surprize,
When purple light shall next suffuse the skies,
With me repair; and from thy warrior band
Three chosen chiefs of dauntless soul command:
Let their auxiliar force befriend the toil,
For strong the God, and perfected in guile.
Stretch'd on the shelly shore, he first surveys
The flouncing herd ascending from the seas;
Their number summ'd, repos'd in sleep profound
The scaly charge their guardian God surround:
So with his batt'ring flocks the careful swain
Abides, pavilion'd on the grassy plain.
With pow'rs united, obstinately bold
Invade him, couch'd amid the scaly fold:
Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
The mimic force of every savage shape:
Or glides with liquid lapse a murm'ring stream,
Or wrapt in flame, he glows at every limb.
[Page 216] Yet still retentive, with redoubled might
Thro' each vain passive form constrain his flight.
But when, his native shape resum'd, he stands
Patient of conquest, and your cause demands;
The cause that urg'd the bold attempt declare,
And sooth the vanquish'd with a victor's pray'r.
The bands relax'd, implore the Seer to say
What godhead interdicts the wat'ry way?
Who strait propitious, in prophetic strain
Will teach you to repass th' unmeasur'd main.
She ceas'd, and bounding from the shelfy shore,
Round the descending nymph the waves redounding roar.
High rapt in wonder of the future deed,
With joy impetuous, to the port I speed:
The wants of nature with repast suffice,
'Till night with grateful shade involv'd the skies,
And shed ambrosial dews. Fast by the deep,
Along the tented shore, in balmy sleep
Our cares were lost. When o'er the eastern lawn,
In saffron robes the Daughter of the dawn
[Page 217] Advanc'd her rosy steps; before the bay,
Due ritual honours to the Gods I pay:
Then seek the place the sea-born nymph assign'd,
With three associates of undaunted mind.
Arriv'd, to form along th' appointed strand
For each a bed, she scoops the hilly sand:
Then from her azure car, the finny spoils
Of four vast Phocae takes, to veil her wiles;
Beneath the finny spoils extended prone,
Hard toil! the prophet's piercing eye to shun;
New from the corse, the scaly frauds diffuse
Unsavoury stench of oil, and brackish ooze:
But the bright sea-maid's gentle pow'r implor'd,
With nectar'd drops the sick'ning sense restor'd.
Thus 'till the sun had travel'd half the skies,
Ambush'd we lie, and wait the bold emprise:
When thronging thick to bask in open air,
The flocks of Ocean to the strand repair:
Couch'd on the sunny sand, the monsters sleep:
Then Proteus mounting from the hoary deep,
[Page 218] Surveys his charge, unknowing of deceit:
(In order told, we make the sum compleat.)
Pleas'd with the false review, secure he lies,
And leaden slumbers press his drooping eyes.
Rushing impetuous forth, we strait prepare
A furious onset with the sound of war,
And shouting seize the God: our force t'evade
His various arts he soon resumes in aid:
A Lion now, he curls a surgy mane;
Sudden, our bands a spotted Pard restrain;
Then arm'd with tusks, and lightning in his eyes,
A Boar's obscener shape the God belies:
On spiry volumes there a Dragon rides;
Here, from our strict embrace a Stream he glides:
And last, sublime his stately growth he rears,
A Tree, and well-dissembled foliage wears.
Vain efforts! with superior pow'r compress'd,
Me with reluctance thus the Seer address'd.
Say, son of Atreus, say what God inspir'd
This daring fraud, and what the boon desir'd?
I thus; O thou, whose certain eye foresees
The fix'd event of fate's remote decrees;
After long woes, and various toil endur'd,
Still on this desert Isle my fleet is moor'd;
Unfriended of the gales. All-knowing! say
What Godhead interdicts the wat'ry way?
What vows repentant will the Pow'r appease,
To speed a prosp'rous voyage o'er the seas?
To Jove, (with stern regard the God replies,)
And all th' offended synod of the skies;
Just hecatombs with due devotion slain,
Thy guilt absolv'd, a prosp'rous voyage gain.
To the firm sanction of thy fate attend!
An exile thou, nor cheering face of friend,
Nor sight of natal shore, nor regal dome
Shalt yet enjoy, but still art doom'd to roam.
Once more the Nile, who from the secret source
Of Jove's high seat descends with sweepy force,
Must view his billows white beneath thy oar,
And altars blaze along his sanguine shore.
[Page 220] Then will the Gods, with holy pomp ador'd,
To thy long vows a safe return accord.
He ceas'd: heart-wounded with afflictive pain,
(Doom'd to repeat the perils of the main,
A shelfy tract, and long!) O Seer, I cry,
To the stern sanction of th' offended sky
My prompt obedience bows. But deign to say,
What fate propitious, or what dire dismay
Sustain those Peers, the reliques of our host,
Whom I with Nestor on the Phrygian coast
Embracing left? Must I the warriors weep,
Whelm'd in the bottom of the monstrous deep?
Or did the kind domestic friend deplore
The breathless heroes on their native shore?
Press not too far, reply'd the God; but cease
To know, what known will violate thy peace:
Too curious of their doom! with friendly woe
Thy breast will heave, and tears eternal flow.
Part live; the rest, a lamentable train!
Range the dark bounds of Pluto's dreary reign.
[Page 221] Two, foremost in the roll of Mars renown'd,
Whose arms with conquest in thy cause were crown'd,
Fell by disastrous fate; by tempests tost,
A third lives wretched on a distant coast.
By Neptune rescu'd from Minerva's hate,
On Gyrae safe Oilean Ajax sate,
His ship o'erwhelm'd: but frowning on the floods,
Impious he roar'd defiance to the Gods:
To his own prowess all the glory gave,
The pow'r defrauding who vouchsaf'd to save.
This heard the raging Ruler of the main;
His spear, indignant for such high disdain,
He launch'd; dividing with his forky mace
Th' aerial summit from the marble base:
The rock rush'd sea-ward, with impetuous roar
Ingulf'd, and to th' abyss the boaster bore.
By Juno's guardian aid, the wat'ry Vast
Secure of storms, your royal brother past:
'Till coasting nigh the Cape, where Malea shrowds
Her spiry cliffs amid surrounding clouds;
[Page 222] A whirling gust tumultuous from the shore,
Across the deep his lab'ring vessel bore.
In an ill-fated hour the coast he gain'd,
Where late in regal pomp Thyestes reign'd;
But when his hoary honours bow'd to fate,
Aegisthus govern'd in paternal state.
The surges now subside, the tempest ends;
From his tall ship the King of men descends:
There fondly thinks the Gods conclude his toil!
Far from his own domain salutes the soil;
With rapture oft the verge of Greece reviews,
And the dear turf with tears of joy bedews.
Him thus exulting on the distant strand,
A Spy distinguish'd from his airy stand;
To bribe whose vigilance, Aegisthus told
A mighty sum of ill-persuading gold:
There watch'd this guardian of his guilty fear,
'Till the twelfth moon had wheel'd her pale career;
And now admonish'd by his eye, to court
With terror wing'd conveys the dread report.
[Page 223] Of deathful arts expert, his Lord employs
The ministers of blood in dark surprize:
And twenty youths in radiant mail incas'd,
Close ambush'd nigh the spacious hall he plac'd.
Then bids prepare the hospitable treat:
Vain shews of love to veil his felon hate!
To grace the victor's welcome from the wars,
A train of coursers, and triumphal cars
Magnificent he leads: the royal guest
Thoughtless of ill, accepts the fraudful feast.
The troop forth issuing from the dark recess,
With homicidal rage the King oppress!
So, whilst he feeds luxurious in the stall,
The sov'reign of the herd is doom'd to fall.
The partners of his fame and toils at Troy,
Around their Lord, a mighty ruin! lye:
Mix'd with the brave, the base invaders bleed;
Aegisthus sole survives to boast the deed.
He said; chill horrors shook my shiv'ring soul,
Rack'd with convulsive pangs in dust I roul;
[Page 224] And hate, in madness of extreme despair,
To view the sun, or breathe the vital air.
But when superior to the rage of woe,
I stood restor'd, and tears had ceas'd to flow;
Lenient of grief, the pitying God began.—
Forget the brother, and resume the man:
To fate's supreme dispose the dead resign,
That care be fate's, a speedy passage thine.
Still lives the wretch who wrought the death deplor'd,
But lives a victim for thy vengeful sword;
Unless with filial rage Orestes glow,
And swift prevent the meditated blow:
You timely will return a welcome guest,
With him to share the sad funereal feast.
He said: new thoughts my beating heart employ,
My gloomy soul receives a gleam of joy.
Fair hope revives; and eager I addrest
The prescient Godhead to reveal the rest.
The doom decreed of those disastrous Two
I've heard with pain, but oh! the tale pursue;
[Page 225] What third brave son of Mars the fates constrain
To roam the howling desart of the main:
Or in eternal shade if cold he lies,
Provoke new sorrow from these grateful eyes.
That chief (rejoin'd the God) his race derives
From Ithaca, and wond'rous woes survives;
Laertes' son: girt with circumfluous tides,
He still calamitous constraint abides.
Him in Calypso's cave of late I view'd,
When streaming grief his faded cheek bedew'd.
But vain his pray'r, his arts are vain to move
Th'enamour'd Goddess, or elude her love:
His vessel sunk, and dear companions lost,
He lives reluctant on a foreign coast.
But oh belov'd by heav'n! reserv'd to thee
A happier lot the smiling fates decree:
Free from that law, beneath whose mortal sway
Matter is chang'd, and varying forms decay;
Elysium shall be thine; the blissful plains
Of utmost earth, where Rhadamanthus reigns.
[Page 226] Joys ever-young, unmix'd with pain or fear,
Fill the wide circle of th'eternal year:
Stern winter smiles on that auspicious clime:
The fields are florid with unfading prime:
From the bleak pole no winds inclement blow,
Mold the round hail, or flake the fleecy snow;
But from the breezy deep, the Blest inhale
The fragrant murmurs of the western gale.
This grace peculiar will the Gods afford
To thee the Son of Jove, and beauteous Helen's Lord.
He ceas'd, and plunging in the vast profound,
Beneath the God the whirling billows bound.
Then speeding back, involv'd in various thought,
My friends attending at the shore I sought.
Arriv'd, the rage of hunger we controll,
'Till night with silent shade invests the pole;
Then lose the cares of life in pleasing rest.—
Soon as the morn reveals the roseate east,
With sails we wing the masts, our anchors weigh,
Unmoor the fleet, and rush into the sea.
[Page 227] Rang'd on the banks, beneath our equal oars
White curl the waves, and the vex'd ocean roars.
Then steering backward from the Pharian Isle,
We gain the stream of Jove-descended Nile:
There quit the ships, and on the destin'd shore
With ritual hecatombs the Gods adore:
Their wrath aton'd, to Agamemnon's name
A Cenotaph I raise of deathless fame.
These rites to piety and grief discharg'd,
The friendly Gods a springing gale inlarg'd:
The fleet swift tilting o'er the surges flew,
'Till Grecian cliffs appear'd, a blissful view!
Thy patient ear hath heard me long relate
A story, fruitful of disastrous fate:
And now, young Prince, indulge my fond request;
Be Sparta honour'd with his royal guest,
'Till from his eastern goal, the joyous sun
His twelfth diurnal race begins to run.
Mean-time my train the friendly gifts prepare,
Three sprightly coursers, and a polish'd car:
[Page 228] With these, a goblet of capacious mold,
Figur'd with art to dignify the gold,
(Form'd for libation to the Gods,) shall prove
A pledge and monument of sacred love.
My quick return, young Ithacus rejoin'd,
Damps the warm wishes of my raptur'd mind:
Did not my fate my needful haste constrain,
Charm'd by your speech, so graceful and humane,
Lost in delight the circling year wou'd roll,
While deep attention fix'd my list'ning soul.
But now to Pyle permit my destin'd way,
My lov'd associates chide my long delay.
In dear remembrance of your royal grace,
I take the present of the promis'd Vase;
The coursers for the champian sports, retain;
That gift our barren rocks will render vain:
Horrid with cliffs, our meagre land allows
Thin herbage for the mountain-goat to browze,
But neither mead nor plain supplies, to feed
The sprightly courser, or indulge his speed:
[Page 229] To sea-surrounded realms the Gods assign
Small tract of fertile lawn, the least to mine.
His hand the King with tender passion press'd,
And smiling thus, the royal Youth address'd:
O early worth! a soul so wise, and young,
Proclaims you from the sage Ulysses sprung.
Selected from my stores, of matchless price
An urn shall recompence your prudent choice:
Not mean the massy mold, of silver grac'd
By Vulcan's art, the verge with gold enchas'd:
A pledge the sceptred pow'r of Sidon gave,
When to his realm I plow'd the orient wave.
Thus they alternate; while with artful care
The menial train the regal feast prepare:
The firstlings of the flock are doom'd to dye;
Rich fragrant wines the cheering bowl supply;
A female band the gift of Ceres bring;
And the gilt roofs with genial triumph ring.
Mean-while, in Ithaca, the Suitor-powrs
In active games divide their jovial hours:
[...] [...]
[Page 230] In Areas vary'd with mosaic art,
Some whirl the disk, and some the jav'lin dart.
Aside, sequester'd from the vast resort,
Antinous sate spectator of the sport;
With great Eurymachus, of worth confest,
And high descent, superior to the rest;
Whom young Noëmon lowly thus addrest.
My ship equip'd within the neighb'ring port,
The Prince, departing for the Pylian court,
Requested for his speed; but, courteous, say
When steers he home, or why this long delay?
For Elis I shou'd sail with utmost speed,
T'import twelve mares which there luxurious feed,
And twelve young mules, a strong laborious race,
New to the plow, unpractis'd in the trace.
Unknowing of the course to Pyle design'd,
A sudden horror seiz'd on either mind:
The Prince in rural bow'r they fondly thought,
Numb'ring his flocks and herds, not far remote.
[Page 231] Relate, Antinous cries, devoid of guile,
When spread the Prince his sail for distant Pyle?
Did chosen chiefs across the gulphy main
Attend his voyage, or domestic train?
Spontaneous did you speed his secret course,
Or was the vessel seiz'd by fraud or force?
With willing duty, not reluctant mind,
(Noëmon cry'd) the vessel was resign'd.
Who in the balance, with the great affairs
Of courts, presume to weigh their private cares?
With him, the peerage next in pow'r to you:
And Mentor, captain of the lordly crew,
Or some Celestial in his reverend form,
Safe from the secret rock and adverse storm,
Pilots their course: For when the glimm'ring ray
Of yester dawn disclos'd the tender day,
Mentor himself I saw, and much admir'd.—
Then ceas'd the Youth, and from the court retir'd.
Confounded and appall'd, th'unfinish'd game
The Suitors quit, and all to council came:
[Page 232] Antinous first th'assembled Peers addrest,
Rage sparkling in his eyes, and burning in his breast.
O shame to manhood! shall one daring boy
The scheme of all our happiness destroy?
Fly unperceiv'd, seducing half the flow'r
Of nobles, and invite a foreign pow'r?
The pond'rous engine rais'd to crush us all,
Recoiling, on his head is sure to fall.
Instant prepare me, on the neighb'ring strand,
With twenty chosen mates a vessel mann'd;
For ambush'd close beneath the Samian shore
His ship returning shall my spies explore:
He soon his rashness shall with life atone,
Seek for his father's fate, but find his own.
With vast applause the sentence all approve;
Then rise, and to the feastful hall remove:
Swift to the Queen the Herald Medon ran,
Who heard the consult of the dire Divan:
Before her dome the royal matron stands,
And thus the message of his haste demands.
What will the Suitors? must my servant train
Th' allotted labours of the day refrain,
For them to form some exquisite repast?
Heav'n grant this festival may prove their last!
Or if they still must live, from me remove
The double plague of luxury and love!
Forbear, ye sons of insolence! forbear,
In riot to consume a wretched heir.
In the young soul illustrious thought to raise,
Were ye not tutor'd with Ulysses' praise?
Have not your fathers oft my Lord defin'd,
Gentle of speech, beneficent of mind?
Some Kings with arbitrary rage devour,
Or in their tyrant-Minions vest the pow'r:
Ulysses let no partial favours fall,
The people's parent, he protected all:
But absent now, perfidious and ingrate!
His stores ye ravage, and usurp his state.
He thus; O were the woes you speak the worst!
They form a deed more odious and accurst;
[Page 234] More dreadful than your boding soul divines:
But pitying Jove avert the dire designs!
The darling object of your royal care
Is mark'd to perish in a deathful snare:
Before he anchors in his native port,
From Pyle re-sailing and the Spartan court,
Horrid to speak! in ambush is decreed
The hope and heir of Ithaca to bleed!
Sudden she sunk beneath the weighty woes;
The vital streams a chilling horror froze:
The big round tear stands trembling in her eye,
And on her tongue imperfect accents dye.
At length, in tender language interwove
With sighs, she thus express'd her anxious love.
Why rashly wou'd my son his fate explore,
Ride the wild waves, and quit the safer shore?
Did he, with all the greatly wretched, crave
A blank oblivion, and untimely grave?
'Tis not, reply'd the Sage, to Medon giv'n
To know, if some inhabitant of heav'n,
[Page 235] In his young breast the daring thought inspir'd:
Or if alone with filial duty fir'd,
The winds and waves he tempts in early bloom,
Studious to learn his absent father's doom.
The Sage retir'd: Unable to controul
The mighty griefs that swell her lab'ring soul,
Rolling convulsive on the floor, is seen
The piteous object of a prostrate Queen.
Words to her dumb complaint a pause supplies,
And breath, to waste in unavailing cries.
Around their sov'reign wept the menial fair,
To whom she thus address'd her deep despair.
Behold a wretch whom all the Gods consign
To woe! Did ever sorrows equal mine?
Long to my joys my dearest Lord is lost,
His country's buckler, and the Grecian boast:
Now from my fond embrace by tempests torn,
Our other column of the state is born:
Nor took a kind adieu, nor sought consent!—
Unkind confed'rates in his dire intent!
[Page 236] Ill suits it with your shews of duteous zeal,
From me the purpos'd voyage to conceal:
Tho' at the solemn midnight hour he rose,
Why did you fear to trouble my repose?
He either had obey'd my fond desire,
Or seen his mother pierc'd with grief expire.
Bid Dolius quick attend, the faithful slave
Whom to my nuptial train Icarius gave,
To tend the fruit-groves: With incessant speed
He shall this violence of death decreed,
To good Laertes tell. Experienc'd age
May timely intercept their ruffian rage,
Convene the tribes, the murd'rous plot reveal,
And to their pow'r to save his race appeal.
Then Euryclea thus. My dearest dread!
Tho' to the sword I bow this hoary head,
Or if a dungeon be the pain decreed,
I own me conscious of th'unpleasing deed:
Auxiliar to his flight, my aid implor'd,
With wine and viands I the vessel stor'd:
[Page 237] A solemn oath impos'd the secret seal'd,
'Till the twelfth dawn the light of heav'n reveal'd.
Dreading th'effect of a fond mother's fear,
He dar'd not violate your royal ear.
But bathe, and in imperial robes array'd,
Pay due devotions to the * martial maid,
And rest affianc'd in her guardian aid.
Send not to good Laertes, nor engage
In toils of state the miseries of age:
'Tis impious to surmize, the pow'rs divine
To ruin doom the Jove-descended line:
Long shall the race of just Arcesius reign,
And Isles remote enlarge his old domain.
The Queen her speech with calm attention hears,
Her eyes restrain the silver-streaming tears:
She bathes, and rob'd, the sacred dome ascends;
Her pious speed a female train attends:
The salted cakes in canisters are laid,
And thus the Queen invokes Minerva's aid.
Daughter divine of Jove, whose arm can wield
Th'avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield!
If e'er Ulysses to thy fane prefer'd
The best and choicest of his flock and herd;
Hear, Goddess, hear, by those oblations won;
And for the pious sire preserve the son:
His wish'd return with happy pow'r befriend,
And on the suitors let thy wrath descend.
She ceas'd; shrill ecstasies of joy declare
The fav'ring Goddess present to the pray'r:
The Suitors heard, and deem'd the mirthful voice
A signal of her Hymenaeal choice:
Whilst one most jovial thus accosts the board;
" Too late the Queen selects a second lord:
" In evil hour the nuptial rite intends,
" When o'er her son disastrous death impends."
Thus he, unskill'd of what the fates provide!
But with severe rebuke Antinous cry'd.
These empty vaunts will make the voyage vain;
Alarm not with discourse the menial train:
[Page 239] The great event with silent hope attend;
Our deeds alone our council must commend.
His speech thus ended short, he frowning rose,
And twenty chiefs renown'd for valour chose:
Down to the strand he speeds with haughty strides,
Where anchor'd in the bay the vessel rides;
Replete with mail, and military store,
In all her tackle trim, to quit the shore.
The desp'rate crew ascend, unfurl the sails;
(The sea-ward prow invites the tardy gales)
Then take repast, 'till Hesperus display'd
His golden circlet in the western shade.
Mean-time the Queen without refection due,
Heart-wounded, to the bed of state withdrew:
In her sad breast the Prince's fortunes roul,
And hope and doubt alternate seize her soul.
So when the wood-man's toyl her cave surrounds
And with the hunter's cry the grove resounds;
With grief and rage the mother-lion stung,
Fearless herself, yet trembles for her young.
While pensive in the silent slumb'rous shade,
Sleep's gentle pow'rs her drooping eyes invade;
Minerva, life-like on imbody'd air,
Impress'd the form of Iphthima the fair:
(Icarius' daughter she, whose blooming charms
Allur'd Eumelus to her virgin-arms;
A sceptred Lord, who o'er the fruitful plain
Of Thessaly wide stretch'd his ample reign:)
As Pallas will'd, along the sable skies
To calm the Queen the Phantom-sister flies.
Swift on the regal dome descending right,
The bolted Valves are pervious to her flight.
Close to her head the pleasing vision stands,
And thus performs Minerva's high commands.
O why, Penelope, this causeless fear,
To render sleep's soft blessing unsincere?
Alike devote to sorrow's dire extreme
The day reflection, and the midnight dream!
Thy son, the Gods propitious will restore,
And bid thee cease his absence to deplore.
To whom the Queen, (whilst yet her pensive mind
Was in the silent gates of sleep confin'd)
O sister, to my soul for ever dear,
Why this first visit to reprove my fear?
How in a realm so distant shou'd you know
From what deep source my ceaseless sorrows flow?
To all my hope my royal Lord is lost,
His country's buckler, and the Grecian boast:
And with consummate woe to weigh me down,
The heir of all his honours, and his crown,
My darling son is fled! an easy prey
To the fierce storms, or men more fierce than they:
Who in a league of blood associates sworn,
Will intercept th'unwary Youth's return.
Courage resume, the shadowy form reply'd,
In the protecting care of heav'n confide:
On him attends the blue-ey'd martial Maid;
What earthly can implore a surer aid?
Me now the guardian Goddess deigns to send,
To bid thee patient his return attend.
The Queen replies: If in the blest abodes,
A Goddess thou, hast commerce with the Gods;
Say, breathes my Lord the blissful realm of light,
Or lies he wrapt in ever-during night?
Enquire not of his doom, the Phantom cries,
I speak not all the counsel of the skies:
Nor must indulge with vain discourse, or long,
The windy satisfaction of the tongue.
Swift thro' the valves the visionary fair
Repass'd, and viewless mix'd with common air.
The Queen awakes, deliver'd of her woes;
With florid joy her heart dilating glows:
The vision, manifest of future fate,
Makes her with hope her son's arrival wait.
Mean-time the Suitors plow the wat'ry plain,
Telemachus in thought already slain!
When sight of less'ning Ithaca was lost,
Their sail directed for the Samian coast,
A small but verdant Isle appear'd in view,
And Asteris th'advancing Pilot knew:
[Page 243] An ample port the rocks projected form,
To break the rowling waves, and ruffling storm:
That safe recess they gain with happy speed,
And in close ambush wait the murd'rous deed.

W.K. [...]



ARISTOTLE in his Poetics reports, that certain ancient Critics reproached Homer for an inde­cency in making Telemachus take his abode with Menelaus, and not with his own grand­father Icarius: this Monsieur Dacier suffici­ently answers, by shewing that Icarius had settled himself in Acarnania, and not in La­cedaemon.


invoking Hymen's pow'r.]

Athenaeus has been very severe upon this passage, as Eustathius observes, and Dacier from Eustathius.

Aristarchus, says Athenaeus, misguides us, the words [...], led him into an error; whereas the marriage is com­pleated, the wedded couples gone away from Menelaus, and he and Helen are alone at Lacedaemon. The five verses, continues he, [Page 248] (the fifteenth to the twentieth inclusively) are taken from the 18th book of the Iliads, and inserted very improperly in this place by Aristarchus. Athenaeus gives several reasons for his opinion, as that music and dancing were very contrary to the severe manners of the Lacedaemonians; besides the dance was a Cretan dance, how then could it be practis'd among the Spartans? The Poet men­tions neither the name of the Bard, nor one word of the sub­ject of the songs: neither can the words [...], be apply'd at all to the Dancers, but to the Musicians; and last­ly, it is not to be imagin'd that Telemachus and Pisistratus should be so unpolite, as not to be at all affected with the music, had there been any, and yet break out into such wonder at the sight of the beauty of the Palace of Menelaus. Aristarchus, adds he, thought the description of the wedding of the son and daughter of a King was too meanly and concisely describ'd, and therefore made this addition.

But it is easy to refute Athenaeus, and vindicate Aristarchus. A­thenaeus understood [...] and [...] in the wrong sense, they are of the imperfect, he was sending, or about to send, and not had sent, &c. If the marriage had been absolutely finish'd, why should Minerva absent her self from Menelaus, when the ce­lebration of the nuptials is the only reason of the absence of that Goddess? and as for music and dancing being contrary to the severe manners of the Lacedaemonians, this is all conjecture: Menelaus lived more than three hundred years before Lycurgus; and because such diversions were forbid in Sparta in the days of Lycurgus, must it follow that they were not used in those of Me­nelaus? And should it be granted that music and dancing were not used in his times, might he not relax a little from the se­verity of his times, upon such an occasion of joy as the marriage of a son and daughter? I am sure these diversions are not more contrary to the severity of the Spartans, than the magnificence of the Palace of Menelaus was to their simplicity. ‘"But he does not name the Bard, or the subject of his songs":’ But is this a reason why the verses are spurious? we should rather admire the judgment of the Poet, who having so fair an opportunity to [Page 249] describe these nuptials, yet rejects the temptation, dismisses the whole in a few lines, and follows where his subject leads him. The obje­ction about the dance being Cretan is not more valid: Menelaus (as we learn from the preceding book) had been in Crete, and might bring it thence to Lacedaemon. And as for the Criticism upon [...] it is but a fallacy; Casaubon has shewn beyond contradiction, that [...] is apply'd indifferently to all those who give example to others; and consequently may be apply'd to Dancers as well as Musicians. It may be further added, that al­though it should be allow'd that the word [...] is only pro­perly apply'd to music, yet in this place the word would not be improperly apply'd to dancers; for the dancers, without usurping upon the province of the singer, might [...], or chuse those songs, to which they desired to dance; as is the usage at this day.

Diodorus is of opinion, that the whole twelve lines after the second to the fifteenth are not genuine; but what has been said of Athenaeus, may be apply'd to Diodorus.


Menelaus blames Eteoneus.]

This is the first ap­pearance of Menelaus; and surely nothing can more reconcile him to the favour of the spectators, than those amiable colours in which the Poet paints him. There is an overflow of humanity and gratitude in his expressions, like that of Dido in Virgil, Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco. They contain a fine piece of morality, and teach that those men are more tender-hearted and humane who have felt the reverse of fortune, than those who have only liv'd in a condition of prosperity.


Soft-whisp'ring thus to Nestor's son.]

This may be thought a circumstance of no importance, and very trivial in Telemachus; but it shews his address and decency: He whispers, to avoid the appearance of a flatterer, or to conceal his own inex­perience, in shewing too much surprize at the magnificence of the Palace of Menelaus. Eustathius.


The Monarch took the word, &c.]

The ancients, says Eustathius, observe the prudence of Menelaus in his reply to Telemachus; and the prudence of Telemachus in his behaviour to Menelaus: Menelaus denies not his riches and magnificence, but to take off the envy which they might attract, he throws the calamities he has undergone into the contrary scale, and balan­ces his felicity with his misfortunes: And Telemachus coming into the Palace at the time of an entertainment, chuses to satisfie his curiosity rather than his appetite. Plutarch I confess condemns Telemachus of inexperience; who when he saw the Palace of Ne­stor furnish'd only with things useful to life, as beds, tables, &c. is seiz'd with no admiration; but the superfluities of Menelaus, his ivory, amber and gold, &c. carry him into transports: whereas a Socrates or a Diogenes would have exclaim'd, What heaps of vanities have I beheld! 'Tis true, such a judgment might become Philosophers; but who, as Dacier observes, can think the character of a Socrates or a Diogenes suitable to young Telemachus? What is decent in a Prince, and a young man, would ill become the gravity and wisdom of a Philosopher.


VERSE 100.
Thro' regions fatten'd with the flows of Nile.
Next, Aethiopia, &c.]

The words are in the original [...], others read [Page 251] them [...], from their veracity in oracles, for which they were very famous; and indeed the word [...] is not necessary, it being used in the very same sentence, tho' it must be confess'd such repetitions are frequent in Homer. There is also a different reading of the word [...]; some have it [...], or Blacks; others, [...]; but the com­mon reading is thought the best. The Erembri are the Arabian Troglodytes. Strabo informs us, that in former ages the bounds of the Aethiopians lay near to Thebes in Aegypt, so that Mene­laus travelling to Thebes, might with ease visit the Aethiopians. Others have without any foundation imagin'd that he pass'd the streights of Gibraltar, and sail'd to the Indies. Sidon is the capi­tal of the Phaenicians. Eustathius.


VERSE 105.—
Where each revolving year
The teeming Ewes, &c.]

These sheep, as describ'd by Homer, may be thought the creation of the Poet, and not the production of nature: But Herodotus, says Eustathius, writes, that in Scythia the oxen have no horns thro' the extremity of the cold: He quotes this very verse, right­ly intimating, adds Herodotus, that in hot regions the horns of cattle shoot very speedily. Aristotle directly asserts, that in Libya the young ones of horned cattle have horns immediately after they are brought into the world. So that Aristotle and Herodotus vindicate Homer. The Poet adds, that the sheep breed three times in the year; these words may have a different interpretation, and imply that they breed in three seasons of the year, and not only in the spring as in other countries; or that the sheep have at once three lambs; but the first is the better interpretation. Athe­naeus upon this passage writes, that there are things in other coun­tries no less strange than what Homer relates of these sheep of Li­bya. Thus in Lusitania a country of Spain, now Portugal, there is a wonderful fruitfulness in all cattle, by reason of the excellent temper of the air; the fruits there never rot, and the roses, vio­lets [Page 252] and asparagus, never fail above three months in the year.



VERSE 114.
The best of brothers,—
—a traitress wife.

Menelaus neither mentions Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, nor Aegy­sthus by name: a just indignation and resentment is the occasion of his suppressing the names of Clytemnestra and Aegysthus. Thro' the whole Iliad Menelaus is describ'd as a very affectionate bro­ther, and the love he bears Agamemnon is the reason why he pas­ses by his name in silence. We see that he dispatches the whole in one verse and a half; Nestor had told the story pretty large­ly in the preceding book, and as he was a person less nearly concern'd, might speak of it with more ease and better temper than Menelaus; the Poet avoids a needless repetition, and a re­petition too of a story universally known to all the Greeks. The death of Agamemnon is distributed into four places in the Odyssey; Nestor, Menelaus, Proteus, and the shade of Agamem­non in the 11th book, all relate it, and every one very pro­perly. Proteus as a prophet more fully than Nestor or Menela­us, and Agamemnon more fully than them all, as being best ac­quainted with it. Eustathius.


VERSE 119.
My wars, the copious theme, &c.]

In the ori­ginal Menelaus says, I have destroy'd a house, &c. There is an ambi­guity in the expression, as Eustathius observes: for it may either sig­nify the house of Priam, or his own in Argos; if it be understood of his own, then the meaning is, ‘"I have indeed great wealth, but have purchas'd it with the loss of my people; I could be con­tent with the third part of it, if I could restore those to life who have perish'd before Troy."’ If it be understood of the kingdom of Priam, the regret he shews will still appear the [Page 253] greater. He is enumerating his domestic happiness, and his fo­rein conquest of Troy; but he throws the destruction of so many brave men who fell before it, in the contrary scale; and it so far outweighs both his wealth and his glory, that they both are joyless to him. Either of these interpretations shew an excellent tem­per of humanity in Menelaus, who thinks the effusion of blood too dear a price for glory. At the same time the Poet gives an admirable picture of human nature, which is restless in the pursuit of what it miscalls happiness, and when in possession of it, neglects it. But the disquiet of Menelaus arises not from incon­stancy of temper, but wisdom; it shews that all happiness is un­satisfactory.


VERSE 131.
But oh! Ulysses—&c.]

It is with admira­ble address that the Poet falls into his subject; it is art, but yet it seems to be nature: This conduct has a double effect, it takes away all suspicion of flattery, for Menelaus is ignorant that the person with whom he discourses is Telemachus, this gives him a manifest evidence of the love he bears to Ulysses; the young man could not but be pleased with the praise of his father, and with the sincerity of it. It is also observable, that Menelaus builds his friendship for Ulysses upon a noble foundation; I mean the sufferings which Ulysses underwent for his friend: Menelaus ascribes not their affection to any familiarity or Intercourse of entertainments, but to a more sincere cause, to the hazards which brave men undertake for a friend. In short, the friendship of Menelaus and Ulysses is the friendship of Heroes. Eustathius.


VERSE 157.—
Bright Helen grac'd the room.]

Menelaus conjectur'd that the person he had entertain'd was the son of U­lysses, from the tears he shed at the name of his father, and from the resemblance there was between Ulysses and Telemachus; it [Page 254] might therefore have been expected that Menelaus should imme­diately have acknowledg'd Telemachus, and not delay'd a full dis­covery one moment, out of regard to his absent friend; but Me­nelaus defers it upon a twofold account, to give some time to Telemachus to indulge his sorrow for his father, and recover him­self from it, and also to avoid the repetition of a discovery upon the appearance of Helen, who would be curious to know the condition of the strangers.

It may be necessary to say something concerning Helen, that fatal beauty that engag'd Greece and Asia in arms; she is drawn in the same colours in the Odyssey as in the Iliad; it is a vicious character, but the colours are so admirably soften'd by the art of the Poet, that we pardon her infidelity. Menelaus is an uncom­mon instance of conjugal affection, he forgives a wife who had been false to him, and receives her into a full degree of favour. But perhaps the Reader might have been shock'd at it, and pre­judiced against Helen as a person that ought to be forgot, or have her name only mention'd to disgrace it: The Poet there­fore, to reconcile her to his Reader, brings her in as a penitent, condemning her own infidelity in very strong expressions; she shews true modesty, when she calls herself impudent, and by this conduct we are inclined, like Menelaus, to forgive her.


VERSE 161. &c.
Adraste, Alcippe, Helen's Maids.]

It has been observ'd, that Helen has not the same attendants in the O­dessey as she had in the Iliad; they perhaps might be Trojans, and consequently be left in their own country; or rather, it was an act of prudence in Menelaus, not to suffer those servants about her who had been her attendants and confidents in her infidelity. Eustathius.


VERSE 192.—
The grace and air
Of young Telemachus!]

It may seem strange that Helen should at first view recollect the features of Ulysses in Telemachus; and that Menelaus, who was bet­ter acquainted with him, and his constant friend, should not make the same observation. But Athenaeus, to reconcile this to probability, says, that women are curious and skilful ob­servers of the likeness of children to parents, for one particu­lar reason, that they may, upon finding any dissimilitude, have the pleasure of hinting at the Unchastity of others.


VERSE 234.
For his abode a Capital prepar'd.]

The Poet puts these words in the mouth of Menelaus, to express the sinceri­ty of his friendship to Ulysses; he intended him all advantage, and no detriment: we must therefore conclude, that Ulysses was still to retain his sovereignty over Ithaca, and only remove to Argos, to live with so sincere a friend as Menelaus. Eustathius.


VERSE 249.—
A gust of grief began to rise, &c.]

It has been observ'd thro' the Iliad, and may be observ'd through the whole Odyssey, that it was not a disgrace to the greatest Heroes to shed tears; and indeed I cannot see why it should be an ho­nour to any man, to be able to divest himself of humane nature so far as to appear insensible upon the most affecting occasions; No man is born a Stoic; it is art, not nature; tears are only a shame, when the cause from whence they flow is mean or vici­ous. Here Menelaus laments a friend, Telemachus a father, Pisi­stratus [Page 256] a brother: but from what cause arise the tears of Helen? It is to be remember'd that Helen is drawn in the softest colours in the Odyssey; the character of the adultress is lost in that of the penitent; the name of Ulysses throws her into tears, because she is the occasion of all the sufferings of that brave man; the Poet makes her the first in sorrow, as she is the cause of all their tears.


VERSE 265.
Let not your roof with echoing grief resound,
Now for the feast the friendly howl is crown'd.

It may be ask'd why sorrow for the dead should be more unsea­sonable in the evening than the morning? Eustathius answers, lest others should look upon our evening tears as the effect of wine, and not of love to the dead.

Intempestiores venit inter pocula fletus.
Nee lacrymas dulci fas est miscere falerno.

I fancy there may be a more rational account given of this ex­pression; The time of feasting was ever look'd upon as a time of joy, and thanksgiving to the Gods; it bore a religious venerati­on among the Ancients, and consequently to shed tears when they should express their gratitude to the Gods with joy, was esteem'd a prophanation.


VERSE 301.
Bright Helen mix'd a mirth-inspiring bowl, &c.]

The conjectures about this cordial of Helen have been almost in­finite. Some take Nepenthes allegorically, to signify History, Mu­sic, or Philosophy. Plutarch in the first of the Symposiacs af­firms it to be, discourse well suiting the present passions and con­ditions [Page 257] of the hearers. Macrobius is of the same opinion, Delinimentum illud quod Helena vino miscuit, non herba fuit, non ex Indiâ succus, sed narrandi opportunitas, quae hospitem maero­ris oblitum flexit ad gaudium. What gave a foundation to this fiction of Homer, as Dacier observes, might be this. Diodorus writes that in Aegypt, and chiefly at Heliopolis, the same with Thebes where Menelaus sojourn'd, as has been already observ'd, there lived women who boasted of certain potions which not only made the unfortunate forget all their calamities, but drove away the most violent sallies of grief or anger. Eusebius directly af­firms, that even in his time the women of Diospolis were able to calm the rage of grief or anger by certain potions. Now whe­ther this be truth or fiction, it fully vindicates Homer, since a Poet may make use of a prevailing, tho' false, opinion.

Milton mentions this Nepenthes in his excellent Masque of Comus.

—Behold this cordial Julep here,
That flames and dances in his chrystal bounds!
Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone
In Aegypt gave to Jove-born Helena,
Is of such pow'r as this to stir up joy,
To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst.

But that there may be something more than fiction in this is very probable, since the Aegyptians were so notoriously skill'd in phy­sick; and particularly since this very Thon, or Thonis, or Thoon, is reported by the ancients to have been the inventor of physic a­mong the Aegyptians. The description of this Nepenthes agrees admirably with what we know of the qualities and effects of Opium.

It is further said of Thon, that he was King of Canopus, and entertain'd Menelaus hospitably before he had seen Helen; but after­wards falling in love with her, and offering violence, he was slain by Menelaus. From his name the Aegyptians gave the name of Thoth to the first month of their year, and also to a city the name of Thonis. Aelian writes that Menelaus when he travell'd [Page 258] to the Aethiopians, committed Helen to the protection of Thonis; that she fell in love with him, that Polydamna growing jealous confin'd her to the Island Pharos, but gave her an herb to pre­serve her from the poison of serpents there frequent, which from Helen was call'd Helenium. Strabo writes, that at Canopus on the mouth of Nile there stands a city named Thonies, from King Thonis, who receiv'd Helen and Menelaus. Herodotus relates, that Thonis was Governor of Canopus, that he represented the injury which Paris had done to Menelaus, to Proteus who reign'd in Mem­phis. Eustathius.

This last remark from Herodotus is sufficient to shew, that Ho­mer is not so fictitious as is generally imagined, that there really was a King named Proteus, that the Poet builds his fables upon truth, and that it was truth that originally determin'd Homer to intro­duce Proteus into his Poetry; but I intend to explain this more largely in the story of Proteus.


VERSE 331.
My self—
Will tell Ulysses' bold exploit—]

What is here related shews the necessity of the introduction of He­len, and the use the Poet makes of it: she is not brought in merely as a muta Persona, to fill up the number of persons; but she re­lates several incidents, in which she her self was concern'd, and which she could only know; and consequently not only diversisies, but carries on the design of the story. Eustathius.


VERSE 335.
Seam'd o'er with wounds, &c.]

The Poet here shews his judgment in passing over many instances of the suffe­rings of Ulysses, and relating this piece of conduct, not mention'd by any other Author. The art of Ulysses in extricating himself from difficulties is laid down as the groundwork of the Poem, he is [...], and this is an excellent example of it. This fur­ther [Page 259] shews the necessity of the appearance of Helen, no other per­son being acquainted with the story. If this stratagem be not a reality, yet it bears the resemblance of it; and Megabysus the Persian (as Eustathius observes) practis'd it, as we learn from history. We may reasonably conjecture that Ulysses was commit­ted to Helen, in hopes that he would discover the affairs of the army more freely to her than any other person: for what could be more agreeable to a Greek, than to be committed to the care of a Greek, as Ulysses was to Helen? By the same conduct the Poet raises the character of Helen, by making her shew her re­pentance by an act of generosity to her countryman. The origi­nal says she gave an oath to Ulysses not to discover him before he was in Safety in the Grecian army: Now this does not imply that she ever discover'd to the Trojans that Ulysses had enter'd Troy: the contrary opinion is most probable; for it cannot be imagin'd but all Troy must have been incens'd greatly against her, had they known that she had conceal'd one of their mor­tal enemies, and dismiss'd him in safety: It was sufficient for U­lysses to take her oath that she would not discover him, 'till he was in security: he left her future conduct to her own discretion. It is probable that she furnish'd Ulysses with a sword, for in his re­turn he slew many Trojans: He came to Troy, observes Eustathius, in rags, and like a slave; and to have conceal'd a sword, would have endanger'd his life upon a discovery of it, and given strong suspicions of an impostor.


VERSE 351.
Exploring then the secrets of the state.]

The word [...] is here used in a large sense: it takes in all the ob­servations Ulysses made during his continuance in Troy; it takes in the designs and counsels of the enemy, his measuring the gates, the height of the walls, the easiest plan for an assault or ambush, the taking away the Palladium, or whatever else a wise man may be suppos'd to observe, or act, in execution of such a stratagem. Eustathius.


VERSE 357.
For then with dire remorse, &c.]

The conclu­sion of this speech is very artful: Helen ascribes her seduction to Venus, and mentions nothing of Paris. Instead of naming Troy, she conceals it, and only says she was carry'd thither, leaving Troy to the imagination of Menelaus; she suffers not herself to menti­on names so odious now to herself, and ever to Menelaus, as Pa­ris and Troy. She compliments Menelaus very handsomely, and says, that he wanted no accomplishment either in mind or body: It being the nature of man not to resent the injuries of a wife so much upon the account of her being corrupted, but of the preference she gives to another person; he looks upon such a pre­ference as the most affecting part of the injury. Eustathius.


VERSE 365.
Menelaus's answer.]

The judgment of the Poet in continuing the story concerning Ulysses is not observ'd by any Commentator. Ulysses is the chief Heroe of the Poem, every thing should have a reference to him, otherwise the narra­tion stands still without any advance towards the conclusion of it. The Poet therefore to keep Ulysses in our minds, dwells upon his sufferings and adventures: he supplies his not appearing in the present scene of Action, by setting his character before us, and continually forcing his prudence, patience, and valour upon our observation. He uses the same art and judgment with relation to Achilles in the Iliads: The Heroe of the Poem is absent from the chief scenes of action during much of the time which that Poem comprises, but he is continually brought into the mind of the Reader, by recounting his exploits and glory.


VERSE 375.
Some Daemon anxious for the Trojan doom.]

It is the observation of Eustathius, that these words are very artful­ly introduced to vindicate Helen; They imply that what she acted was by compulsion, and to evidence this more clearly, Deiphobus is given her for an attendant as a spy upon her actions, that she might not conceal any thing that should happen, but act her part well by endeavouring to deceive the Greeks in favour of Troy. It is the Daemon, not Helen, that is in fault; this, continues Eustathius, answers many objections that lye against Helen; for if she was a real penitent, as she her self affirms, how comes she to endeavour to deceive the Greeks, by the disguise of her voice, into more mi­sery than had yet arisen from a ten years war? Or indeed is it credible that any person could modulate her voice so artfully as to resemble so many voices? And how could the Greeks enclosed in the wooden horse believe that their wives who were in Greece, could be arriv'd in so short a space as they had been conceal'd there, from the various regions of Greece, and meet together in Troy? Would the wives of these Heroes come into an enemy's country, when the whole army, except these latent Heroes, were retir'd from it? this is ridiculous and impossible. I must confess there is great weight in these objections: But Eustathius answers all by the interposition of the Daemon; and by an idle tradition that Helen had the name of Echo, from the faculty of mimicking sounds; and that this gift was bestow'd upon her by Venus when she married Menelaus, that she might be able to detect him if he should prove false to her bed, by imitating the voice of the suspected person: (but Menelaus had more occasion for this faculty than Helen.) As for the excuse of the Daemon, it equally excuses all crimes: For instance, was Helen false to Menelaus? The Daemon occasion'd it: Does she act an imposture to destroy all her Grecian friends, and even Menelaus? The Daemon compells her to it: The Daemon compells her to go with Deiphobus, to surround the horse thrice, to sound the [Page 262] sides of it, to endeavour to surprize the latent Greeks by an imi­tion of the voices of their wives, and in short, to act like a per­son that was very sincere in mischief.

Dacier takes another course, and gives up Helen, but remarks the great address of Menelaus. Helen had, said she, long de­sired nothing so much as to return to Lacedaemon; and her heart had long been wholly turn'd to Menelaus: Menelaus is not at all convinc'd of this pretended sincerity; but it would have been too gross, after he had taken her again to his bed, to con­vict her of falshood: He therefore contents himself barely to re­ply that some Daemon, an enemy to the Greeks, had forc'd her to a conduct disagreeable to her sincerity. This (continues Dacier) is an artful, but severe Irony.

As for the objection concerning the impossibility of the Greeks believing their wives could be in Troy; she answers, that the Au­thors of this objection have not sufficiently consider'd human na­ture. The voice of a belov'd person might of a sudden, and by surprize, draw from any person a word involuntary, before he has time to make reflection. This undoubtedly is true, where cir­cumstances make an imposture probable; but here is an impossi­bility; it is utterly impossible to believe the wives of these He­roes could be in Troy. Besides, Menelaus himself tells us, that even he had fallen into the snare, but Ulysses prevented it; this adds to the incredibility of the story, for if this faculty of mi­mickry was given upon his marriage with Helen, it was nothing new to him, he must be suppos'd to be acquainted with it, and consequently be the less liable to surprize: Nay it is not impos­sible, but the experiment might have been made upon him be­fore Helen fled away with Paris.

In short, I think this passage wants a further vindication: the circumstances are low, if not incredible. Virgil, the great imitator of Homer, has given us a very different and more noble descri­ption of the destruction of Troy: he has not thought fit to imi­tate him in this description.

[Page 263] If we allow Helen to act by compulsion, to have fear'd the Trojans, and that Deiphobus was sent as a spy upon her actions; yet this is no vindication of her conduct: she still acts a mean part, and thro' fear becomes an accomplice in endeavouring to betray and ruin the Greeks.

I shall just add, that after the death of Paris, Helen married Deiphobus; that the story of the wooden horse is probably foun­ded upon the taking of Troy by an engine call'd a Horse, as the like engine was call'd a Ram by the Romans.


VERSE 447.
Heav'ns! would a soft, inglorious, dastard train.]

Menelaus is fir'd with indignation at the injuries offer'd his friend by the Suitors: he breaks out into an exclamation, and in a just contempt vouchsafes not to mention them: he thinks he fully distinguishes whom he intends, by calling them [...] those cowards. The comparison which he introduces is very just, they are the Fawns, Ulysses is the Lion.

This is the first Simile that Homer has inserted in the Odyssey; but I cannot think it proceeded from a barrenness of invention, or thro'phlegm in the declension of his years, as some have imagin'd. The nature of the Poem requires a difference of stile from the Iliad: The Iliad rushes along like a torrent; the Odyssey flows; gently on like a deep stream, with a smooth tranquility: Achilles is all fire, Ulysses all wisdom.

The Simile in Homer is really beautiful; but in Hobbs ridi­culous.

As when a stag and hind ent'ring the den
Of th' absent Lion, lulls his whelps with tales,
Of hills and dales; the Lion comes agen,
And tears them into pieces with his nails.

Can any thing be more foreign to the sense of Homer, or worse translated? He construes [...], by telling stories of [Page 264] hills and dales to the Lion's whelps, instead of Juga investigat: but such mistakes are so frequent in Hobbs, that one would almost suspect his learning in Greek: he has disgraced the best Poet, and a very great Historian; Homer, and Thucydides.


VERSE 462.
As when contending on the Lesbian shore.]

The Poet here gives an account of one of Ulysses's adventures. Philome­lides was King of Lesbos, and Eustathius observes, that there was a tradition that Ulysses and Diomedes slew him, and turn'd a state­ly monument he had rais'd for himself into a public place for the reception of strangers.


VERSE 479.—
The Pharian Isle.]

This description of Pha­ros has given great trouble to the Critics and Geographers; it is generally concluded, that the distance of Pharos is about seven Stadia from Alexandria; Ammianus Marcellinus mentions this very passage thus, lib. 22. Insula Pharos, ubi Protea cum Phocarum gre­gibus diversatum Homerus fabulatur inflatius, a civitatis littore mille passibus disparata, or, about a mile distant from the shores. How then comes Homer to affirm it to be distant a full day's sail? Da­cier answers, that Homer might have heard that the Nile, continu­ally bringing down much earthy substance, had enlarg'd the con­tinent: and knowing it not to be so distant in his time, took the liberty of a Poet, and describ'd it as still more distant in the days of Menelaus. But Dacier never sees a mistake in Homer. Had his Poetry been worse if he had describ'd the real distance of Pha­ros? It is allowable in a Poet to disguise the truth, to adorn his story; but what ornament has he given his Poetry by this enlarge­ment? Bochart has fully prov'd that there is no accession to the Continent from any substance that the Nile brings down with it: [Page 265] the violent agitation of the seas prohibit it from lodging, and forming it self into solidity. Eratosthenes is of opinion, that Ho­mer was ignorant of the mouths of Nile: but Strabo answers, that his silence about them is not an argument of his ignorance, for neither has he ever mention'd where he was born. But Strabo does not enter fully into the meaning of Eratosthenes: Eratost­henes does not mean that Homer was ignorant of the mouths of Nile from his silence, but because he places Pharos at the distance of a whole day's sail from the Continent. The only way to u­nite this inconsistence is to suppose, that the Poet intended to spe­cify the Pelusiac mouth of Nile, from which Pharos stands about a day's sail: but this is submitted to the Critics.

I can't tell whether one should venture to make use of the word Nile in the translation, it is doubtless an Anachronism; that name being unknown in the times of Homer and Menelaus, when the Nile was call'd Aegyptus. Homer in this very book ‘— [...] Yet on the other hand, this name of Aegyptus is so little known, that a common Reader would scarce distinguish the river from the country; and indeed universal custom has obtain'd for using the Latin name instead of the Grecian, in many other instances which are equally anachronisms. Witness all the names of the Gods and Goddesses throughout Homer. Jupiter for Zeus, Ju­no for Erè, Neptune for Posidaon, &c.


VERSE 499.
Bait the barb'd steel, and from the fishy flood.]

Menelaus says, hunger was so violent among his companions that they were compell'd to eat fish. Plutarch in his Symposiacs ob­serves, that among the Aegyptians, Syrians, and Greeks, to abstain from fish was esteem'd a piece of sanctity; that tho' the Greeks were encamp'd upon the Hellespont, there is not the least intima­tion [Page 266] that they eat fish, or any sea-provision; and that the com­panions of Ulysses, in the 12th book of the Odyssey, never fought for fish till all their other provisions were consum'd, and that the same necessity compell'd them to eat the herds of the Sun which induced them to taste fish. No fish is ever offer'd in sacri­fice: The Pythagoreans in particular command fish not to be eaten more strictly than any other animal: Fish afford no excuse at all for their destruction, they live as it were in another world, disturb not our air, consume not our fruits, or injure the wa­ters; and therefore the Pythagoreans, who were unwilling to offer violence to any animals, fed very little, or not at all on fishes. I thought it necessary to insert this from Plutarch, because it is an observation that explains other passages in the sequel of the Odyssey.


VERSE 521.
Proteus, a name tremendous o'er the main.]

Eu­stathius enumerates various opinions concerning Proteus; some understand Proteus allegorically to signify the first matter which undergoes all changes; others make him an emblem of true friend­ship, which ought not to be settled till it has been try'd in all shapes: others make Proteus a picture of a flatterer, who takes up all shapes, and suits himself to all forms, in compliance to the temper of the person whom he courts. The Greeks (observes Di­odorus) imagin'd all these metamorphoses of Proteus to have been borrow'd from the practices of the Aegyptian Kings, who were accustom'd to wear the figures of Lions, Bulls or Dragons in their diadems, as emblems of Royalty, and sometimes that of Trees, &c. not so much for ornament as terror. Others took Proteus to be an enchanter; and Eustathius recounts several that were eminent in this art, as Cratisthenes the Phliasian, (which Da­cier renders by mistake Callisthenes the Physician) who when he pleased could appear all on fire, and assume other appearances to the astonishment of the spectators: such also was Xenophon, Scymnus [Page 267] of Tarentum, Philippides of Syracuse, Heraclitus of Mitylene, and Nymphodorus, all practisers of magical arts; and Eusta­thius recites that the Phocae were made use of in their Incan­tations. Some write that Proteus was an Aegyptian tumbler, who could throw himself into variety of figures and postures; others, a Stage-player; others, that he was a great General, skill'd in all the arts and stratagems of war: Dacier looks upon him to have been an enchanter, or [...]. 'Tis certain from Herodotus, that there was in the times of Menelaus a King named Proteus, who reign'd in Memphis; that Aegypt was always remarkable for those who excell'd in magical Arts; thus Jannes and Jambres chang'd, at least in appearance, a rod into a Serpent, and water into blood: It is not therefore improbable but that Menelaus hearing of him while he was in Aegypt went to consult him as an Enchanter, which kind of men always pretended to fore-know events; This perhaps was the real foundation of the whole story concerning Proteus; the rest is the fiction and embellishment of the Poet, who ascribes to his Proteus whatever the credulity of men usually ascribes to Enchanters.


VERSE 569.
But when, his native shape resum'd, &c.]

This is founded upon the practice of Enchanters, who never give their answers, till they have astonish'd the imagination of those who consult them with their juggling delusions.



VERSE 613.
And shouting seize the God.—]

Proteus has, thro' the whole story, been describ'd as a God who knew all things; it may then be ask'd, how comes it that he did not fore­know the violence that was design'd against his own person? and is it not a contradiction, that he who knew Menelaus without information, should not know that he lay in ambush to seize him? The only answer that occurs to me is, that these enchanters never [Page 268] pretend to have an inherent fore-knowledge of events, but learn things by magical arts, and by recourse to the secrets of their profession; so that Proteus having no suspicion, had not consulted his art, and consequently might be surprized by Mene­laus: So far is agreeable to the pretensions of such deluders: The Poet indeed has drawn him in colours stronger than life; but Poetry adds or detracts at pleasure, and is allow'd frequently to step out of the way, to bring a foreign ornament into the story.


VERSE 635.
To Jove—just Hecatombs—&c.]

Homer continually inculcates morality, and piety to the Gods; he gives in this place a great instance of the necessity of it. Menelaus cannot succeed in any of his actions, till he pays due honours to the Gods; the neglect of sacrifice is the occasion of all his cala­mity, and the performance of it opens a way to all his future prosperity.


VERSE 643.—
Nile, who from the secret source
Of Jove's high seat descends—]

Homer, it must be confess'd, gives the epithet [...] generally to all rivers; if he had used it here peculiarly, there might have been room to have imagin'd that he had been acquainted with the true cause of the inundations of this famous river: The word [...] implies it: For it is now generally agreed, that these prodigious inundations proceed from the vast rains and the melt­ing of the snows on the mountains of the Moon in Aethiopia, a­bout the autumnal Aequinox; when those rains begin to fall, the river by degrees increases, and as they abate, it decreases; the word [...] is therefore peculiarly proper when apply'd to the Nile, for tho' all rivers depend upon the waters that fall from the air, or [...] yet the Nile more especially, for when the rain ceases, the Nile consists only of seven empty channels.


VERSE 682.
And to th' abyss the boaster bore.]

It is in the original, He dy'd having drunk the salt water. This verse has been omitted in many editions of Homer; and the Ancients, says Eu­stathius, blame Aristarchus for not marking it as a verse that ought to be rejected; the simplicity of it consists in the sense, more than in the terms, and it is unworthy of Proteus to treat the death of Ajax with pleasantry, as he seems to do, by adding having drunk salt water: But why may not Proteus be suppos'd to be serious, and the terms [...], to imply no more than that he was drown'd in waves of the ocean? I know only one reason that can give any colour to the objection, viz. it's being possi­bly become a vulgar expression, and used commonly in a ludi­crous sense; then indeed it is to be avoided in Poetry; but it does not follow, because perhaps it might be used in this man­ner in the days of these Critics, that therefore it was so used in the days of Homer. What was poetical in the time of the Poet might be grown vulgar in the time of the Critics.


VERSE 719.
So, whilst he feeds luxurious in the stall, &c.]

Dacier translates [...], by taureau a bull; and misunderstands Eu­stathius who directly says, that in the 2d Iliad the Poet compares Agamemnon to a bull, in this place to an oxe, [...]. The one was undoubtedly design'd to describe the courage and majestic port of a warrior, the o­ther to give us an image of a Prince falling in full peace and plenty, [...].


VERSE 749.
Or in eternal shade if cold he lyes.]

Proteus in the beginning of his relation had said, that one person was alive, [Page 270] and remain'd enclosed by the ocean: How then comes Menelaus here to say, Give me an account of that other person who is a­live, or dead? Perhaps the sorrow which Menelaus conceived for his friend Ulysses, might make him fear the worst; and Proteus adding enclos'd by the ocean might give a suspicion that he was dead, the words being capable of ambiguity. However this be, it sets the friendship of Menelaus in a strong light: where friend­ship is sincere, a state of uncertainty is a state of fears, we dread even possibilities, and give them an imaginary certainty. Upon this, one of the finest compliments that a Poet ever made to a patron turns, that of Horace to Mecaenas, in the first of the Epodes.

It may not perhaps be disagreeable to the Reader to observe, that Virgil has borrow'd this story of Proteus from Homer, and translated it almost literally. Rapine says, that Homer's descripti­on is more ingenious and fuller of invention, but Virgil's more judicious. I wish that Critic had given his reasons for his opi­nion. I believe in general, the plan of the Iliad and Odyssey is allow'd by the best of Critics to be more perfect than that of the Aeneis. Homer with respect to the unity of time, has the advan­tage very manifestly; Rapine confesses it, and Aristotle proposes him as an example to all Epic Authors. Where then is the su­periority of judgment? Is it that there are more fabulous, I mean incredible, stories in Homer than Virgil? as that of the Cyclops, the ships of Alcinous, &c. Virgil has imitated most of these bold fables, and the story of the ships of Alcinous is not more incre­dible than the transformation of the ships of Aeneas. But this is too large a subject to be discuss'd in the compass of these Annotati­ons. In particular passages I freely allow the preference to Vir­gil, as in the descent of Aeneas into hell, &c. but in this story of Proteus, I cannot see any superiority of judgment. Virgil is little more than a translator; to shew the particulars would be too tedious: I refer it to the Reader to compare the two Authors, and shall only instance in one passage.

[...], &c.

Cum clamore ruit magno, manicisque jacentem
Occupat: ille suae contra non immemor artis,
Omnia transformat sese in miracula rerum,
Ignemque, horribilemque feram, fluviumque liquentem. &c.

Homer has a manifest advantage in the occasion of the story: The loss of a few bees seems to be a cause too trivial for an un­dertaking so great as the surprize of a Deity; whereas the whole happiness of Menelaus depends upon this consultation of Proteus: This is a far more important cause, and consequently in this re­spect something more is due to Homer, than the sole honour of an inventor.


VERSE 765.
Elysium shall be thine; the blissful plains
Of utmost earth, &c.—]

This is the only place in which the Elysian field is mention'd in Homer. The conjectures of the Ancients are very various about it: Plato in his Phaed. places it in coelo stellato, or the region of the Stars; but since Homer fixes it, [...], or (as Mil­ton expresses it) at the earth's green end, I will pass over the con­jectures of others, especially since the [...], by which others express Elysium, confines it to this world.

Strabo, says Eustathius, places it not far from Maurusia, that lies near the Streights: It is suppos'd by Bochart, as Dacier ob­serves, that the fable is of Phaenician extraction, that Alizuth in Hebrew signifies joy or exultation, which word the Greeks adapt­ing to their way of pronunciation, call'd Elysius. If this be true, I should come into an opinion that has much prevail'd, that the Greeks had heard of Paradise from the Hebrews; and that the [Page 272] Hebrews describing Paradise as a place of Alizuth, or joy, gave occasion to all the fables of the Grecian Elysium.


VERSE 806.
Three sprightly coursers.]

How comes it to pass that Menelaus proffers three horses to Telemachus? This was a compleat set among the Ancients, they used one Pole-horse and two leaders. Eustathius.


VERSE 822.
That gift our barren rocks will render vain.]

This passage where Telemachus refuses the horses has been much observ'd, and turn'd to a moral sense, viz. as a lesson to men to desire nothing but what is suitable to their conditions. Horace has introduced it into his Epistles.

Haud male Telemachus proles patientis Ulyssei;
Non est aptus equis Ithacae locus, ut neque planis
Porrectus spatiis, nec multae prodigus herbae:
Atride, magis apta tibi tua dona relinquam.

This is the reason why Ulysses (as Eustathius observes upon the 10th of the Iliads) leaves the horses of Rhesus to the disposal of Diomedes; so that the same spirit of Wisdom reign'd in Telema­chus, that was so remarkable in Ulysses. This is the reason why Menelaus smil'd; it was not at the frankness or simplicity of Telemachus, but it was a smile of joy, to see the young Prince inherit his father's wisdom.

It is the remark of Eustathius, that Telemachus is far from ex­alting the nature of his country; he confesses it to be barren, and more barren than the neighbouring Islands; yet that natural and laudable affection which all worthy persons have for their country makes him prefer it to places of a more happy situati­on. This appears to me a replication to what Menelaus had be­fore [Page 273] offer'd concerning the transplantation of Ulysses to Sparta; this is contain'd in [...]; and then the meaning is, 'Tis true I­thaca is a barren region, yet more desirable than this country of Lacedaemon, this [...]. It is the more probable from the offer of horses which Menelaus had then made, and is also another reason for the smile of Menelaus.

Eustathius remarks that Menelaus, tho' he has expressed the greatest friendship for Ulysses, yet makes no offer to restore the fortunes of his friend by any military assistance; tho' he had a most fair opportunity given him to repay the past kindness of Ulysses to his wife Penelope, and his son Telemachus; and how comes Telemachus not to ask it either of Nestor or Menelaus? He an­swers, that this depended upon the uncertainty they were yet under, concerning the life of Ulysses. But the truer reason in my opinion is, that the nature of Epic Poetry requires a contrary conduct: The Heroe of the Poem is to be the chief agent, and the re-establishment of his fortunes must be owing to his own wisdom and valour. I have enlarg'd upon this already, so that there is no occasion in this place to insist upon it.


VERSE 896.
For ambush'd close, &c.]

We have here ano­ther use which the Poet makes of the voyage of Telemachus. Eu­stathius remarks that these incidents not only diversify but enli­ven the Poem. But it may be ask'd why the Poet makes not use of so fair an opportunity to insert a gallant action of Telemachus, and draw him not as eluding, but defeating his adversaries? The answer is easy; That the Suitors sail'd compleatly arm'd, and Tele­machus unprovided of any weapons: and therefore Homer consults credibility, and forbears to paint his young Heroe in the colours of a Knight in Romance, who upon all disadvantages engages and defeats his opposers. But then to what purpose is this ambush of the Suitors, and what part of the design of the Poem is car­ry'd on by it? The very chief aim of it; To shew the sufferings of Ulysses: He is unfortunate in all relations of life, as a King, [Page 274] as an husband, and here very eminently as a father; these sufferings are laid down in the proposition of the Odyssey as essential to the Poem, and consequently this ambush laid by the Suitors against the life of Telemachus is an essential ornament.


VERSE 906.
The speech of Penelope.]

Longinus in particu­lar commends this speech as a true picture of a person that feels various emotions of soul, and is born by every gust of passion from sentiment to sentiment, with sudden and unex­pected transitions. There is some obscurity in the Greek, this ari­ses from the warmth with which she speaks, she has not leisure to explain her self fully, a circumstance natural to a person in anger.

Penelope gives a very beautiful picture of Ulysses: ‘"The best of Princes are allow'd to have their favourites, and give a greater share of affection than ordinary to particular persons. But Ulysses was a father to all his people alike, and loved them all as his children; a father, tho' he bears a more tender affection to one child than to another, yet shews them all an equal treatment; thus also a good King is not sway'd by inclination, but justice, towards all his subjects." Dacier.

One circumstance is very remarkable, and gives us a full view of a person in anger; at the very sight of Medon Penelope flies out into passion, she gives him not time to speak one sylla­ble, but speaks her self as if all the Suitors were present, and re­proaches them in the person of Medon, tho' Medon is just to her and Ulysses; but anger is an undistinguishing passion. What she says of ingratitude, recalls to my memory what is to be found in Laertius: Aristotle being ask'd what thing upon earth soonest grew old? reply'd, an Obligation. [...]; respondit, [...].


VERSE 941.
Ride the wild waves—]

Were this passage to be render'd literally, it would run thus; climb the swift ships, which are horses to men on the seas. Eustathius observes the allu­sion is very just, and that the only doubt is, whether it be brought in opportunely by Penelope? it may be doubted, if the mind could find leisure to introduce such allusions? Dacier answers, that Penelope speaks thus thro' indignation: The grief that she conceives at the hardiness of men, in finding out a way to pass the seas as well as land, furnished her with these figures very na­turally, for figures are agreeable to passion.


VERSE 998.
And Isles remote enlarge his old domain.]

Da­cier offers a Criticism upon these last words of Euryclea: It can­not be imagin'd that these fertile fields can be spoken of Ithaca, Plutarch's description of it is entirely contradictory to this: ‘"I­thaca, says he, is rough and mountainous, fit only to breed goats; upon cultivation it scarce yields any fruits, and these so worthless, as scarce to recompence the labour of gathering."’ Homer therefore by this expression intended the other dominions of Ulysses, such as Cephalenia, &c.

But I question not that the whole dominions of Ulysses are included, Ithaca as well as Cephalenia; for tho' Ithaca was moun­tainous, yet the vallies were fruitful, according to the description of it in the 13th of the Odyssey.

The rugged soil allows no level space
For flying chariots, or the rapid race;
Yet not ungrateful to the Peasant's pain,
Suffices fulness to the swelling grain:
The loaded trees their various fruits produce,
And clustring grapes afford a gen'rous juice, &c.

[Page 276] As for her remark upon [...], it is of no validity; the word stands in opposition to [...], and implies no more than here, or at a distance in general.


VERSE 1015.
The Suitors heard, and deem'd the mirthful voice,
A signal of her hymenaeal choice.]

It may be ask'd whence this conjecture of the Suitors arises? Pe­nelope is describ'd as weeping grievously, and fainting away, and yet immediately the Suitors conclude she is preparing for the Nuptials. Eustathius answers, that undoubtedly the Suitors un­derstood the Queen had purify'd her self with water, and supplicated the Goddess Minerva, tho' the Poet omits the rela­tion of such little particularities. But whence is it that the Po­et gives a greater share of wisdom to Euryclea than to Penelope? Penelope commands a servant to fly with the news of the absence of Telemachus to Laertes, which could not at all advantage Tele­machus, and only grieve Laertes: Euryclea immediately diverts her from that vain intention, advises her to have recourse to heaven, and not add misery to the already miserable Laertes: This is Wisdom in Euryclea. But it must be confess'd that the other is Nature in Penelope: Euryclea is calm, Penelope in a passion: and Homer would have been a very bad painter of human Nature, if he had drawn Penelope thus heated with passion in the mild temper of Euryclea; grief and resentment give Penelope no time to deli­berate, whereas Euryclea is less concern'd, and consequently capa­ble of thinking with more tranquillity.


VERSE 1022.
With rebuke severe Antinous cry'd.]

Antinous speaks thus in return to what had been before said by one of the Suitors concerning Telemachus, viz. ‘"the Queen little imagines that her son's death approaches;"’ he fears lest Penelope should know their intentions, and hinder their measures by raising the subjects of Ithaca that still retain'd their fidelity. Dacier.


VERSE 1041.
So when the woodman's toyl, &c.]

The Poet, to shew the majesty and high spirit of Penelope, compares her to a Lioness: He manages the allusion very artfully: he describes the Lioness not as exerting any dreadful act of violence, (for such a comparison is only proper to be apply'd to a Heroe) but in­closed by her enemies; which at once shews both her danger and nobleness of spirit under it: It is in the Greek [...], which may signify either, a circle of toils or nets, or a circle of enemies: The former is perhaps preferable, as corresponding best with the condition of Penelope, who was surrounded with the secret ambushes and snares of the Suitors. Eustathius.


VERSE 1047.
Minerva, life-like on imbody'd air,
Imprest the form, &c.]

We have here an imaginary Being introduc'd by the Poet: The whole is manag'd with great judgment; It is short, because it has not a direct and immediate relation to the progress of the Poem, and because such imaginary entercourses have ever been looked upon as sudden in appearance, and as sudden in vanishing away. The use the Poet makes of it, is to relieve Penelope from the ex­tremity of despair, that she may act her part in the future scenes with courage and constancy. We see it is Minerva who sends this phantom to Penelope to comfort her: Now this is an allegory to express that as soon as the violence of sorrow was over, the mind of Penelope return'd to some degree of tranquilli­ty: Minerva is no more than the result of her own refle­ction and wisdom, which banish'd from her breast those me­lancholy apprehensions. The manner likewise of its intro­duction is not less judicious; the mind is apt to dwell upon those objects in sleep which make a deep impression when awake: This is the foundation of the Poet's fiction; it is [Page 278] no more than a dream which he here describes, but he cloaths it with a body, gives it a momentary existence, and by this method exalts a low circumstance into dignity and Poetry.


VERSE 1073.
And with consummate woe, &c.]

In the ori­ginal, Penelope says plainly, she is more concern'd for her son than her husband. I shall translate Dacier's observation upon this pas­sage. We ought not to reproach Penelope for this seemingly shock­ing declaration, in preferring a son to an husband: Her senti­ment is natural and just; she had all the reason in the world to believe that Ulysses was dead, so that all her hopes, all her affection was entirely placed upon Telemachus: His loss therefore must unavoidably touch her with the highest degree of sensibili­ty; if he is lost, she can have recourse to no second comfort. But why may we not allow the reason which Penelope her self gives for this superiority of sorrow for Telemachus? ‘"Telemachus, says she, is unexperienc'd in the world, and unable to contend with difficulties; whereas Ulysses knew how to extricate himself up­on all emergencies."’ This is a sufficient reason why she should fear more for Telemachus than Ulysses: Her affection might be greater for Ulysses than Telemachus, yet her fears might be strong­er for the son than the husband, Ulysses being capable to sur­mount dangers by experience, Telemachus being new to all diffi­culties.


VERSE 1089.
Enquire not of his doom, &c.]

It may be ask'd what is the reason of this conduct, and why should the Phantom refuse to relate any thing concerning the condition of Ulysses? Eustathius answers, that if the Phantom had related the full truth of the story, the Poem had been at an end; the very constitution of it requires that Ulysses should arrive unknown to all, but chiefly to his wife, as will appear in the prosecution of [Page 279] the story: The question is very natural for an affectionate wife to make concerning an absent husband; but this being an im­proper place for the discovery, the Poet defers the solution of it, 'till the unravelling of the whole in the conclusion of the Poem.

The action of this book takes up the space of two nights and one day, so that from the opening of the Poem to the introdu­ction of Ulysses are six days compleated.

But how long a time Telemachus afterwards stay'd with Mene­laus, is a question which has employ'd some modern French Cri­tics; one of which maintains, that he stay'd no longer than these two nights at Lacedaemon: But it is evident from the sequel of the Odyssey, that Telemachus arriv'd again at Ithaca two days after U­lysses; but Ulysses was twenty nine days in passing from Ogygia to Ithaca, and consequently during that whole time Telemachus must have been absent from Ithaca. The ground of that Critick's mi­stake was from the silence of Homer as to the exact time of his stay, which was of no importance, being distinguish'd by no action, and only in an Episodical part. The same thing led me into the like error in the 33d Note on the second book, where it is said that Telemachus return'd to Ithaca in less than twelve days.

The End of the First Volume.

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