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who throws a stool at him, for which he is thus rebuked by one of his companions,―
"Not to thine honour hast thou now let fall,
Yea, through the wide earth in all shapes they go,
Changed, yet the same, and with their own eyes learn,
How live the sacred laws-who hold them, and who spurn.'
Then Irus, another beggar, threatens to drive him away, but hesitates to meddle with him on seeing his muscular arms. Ulysses, however, with a single blow, breaks his jaw, and drags him out, on which the revellers award him a paunch of mince-meat.
Penelope now enters the hall to speak with her son, and taunting Eurymachus with meanness, in answer to his expressions of admiration, he and the others offer her valuable presents, which she carries away to her chamber; and, when the company have quitted the hall for the night, she descends again, and asks to hear the stranger's tale. He represents himself as the brother of King Idomeneus of Crete, and as having once entertained Ulysses, minutely describing his dress, which the queen remembers having worked for him. He also tells her that her husband is within easy reach of Ithaca, and, grateful for the comfort, she orders him a bath, at which he is tended by the old nurse Eurycleia, who is struck with his likeness to her master, and her eyes fall on a well-remembered scar on his foot, received, when he was a youth, from a boar's tusk while hunting with his grandsire Autolycus on Mount Parnassus. She doubts no longer, and, upsetting the bath, exclaims,
Surely thou art Ulysses-yes, thou art
My darling child, and I knew not my king,
He charges her to keep his secret, and, refusing all softer accommodation, lies down on a couch of bull hide.
The morrow is a festival of Apollo, and is celebrated by the suitors with more than their usual revelry. Ulysses is still subjected to their insults, but some ominous portents occur during the feast, and the rioters turn on Telemachus, who, biding his time, makes no reply. Meanwhile, his mother has thought of a new device to delay her choice of a lover. She brings forth Ulysses' bow, and will accept whichever of them can send an arrow through the rings of twelve axe-heads, as he was wont to do. Telemachus makes the first attempt, but, at a sign from his father, professes himself unable to bend the bow. One after another the rival suitors all fail, and, at last, the seeming beggar, after being well abused for his audacity, is permitted to try his hand. Gently and lovingly handling the bow, he brings notes shrill and sweet as the voice of the swallow' from the tight-strained string, and fitting an arrow as he sits, he draws and accomplishes the feat.
It is the prelude of the end. Telemachus, seizing his sword and spear, stood by his father's throne, stript of his rags the king takes aim, and pierces Antinous in the throat as he is raising a goblet to his mouth, from whence the proverb, 'There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.' His comrades are aghast as Ulysses declares himself and his purpose, and would fain make terms; but, supported by his son and two of his faithful retainers, he holds them at bay until the combat ends in the slaughter of the whole band of intruders, the women servants who had joined them, and the traitorous goatherd, whose ears and nose and limbs are first lopped off. Eurycleia would have raised a shout of triumph, but the king restrains her, saying
'Nurse, with a mute heart this my vengeance hail,
These heaven and their crimes have brought to bail,
Penelope comes to look upon the corpses, but will not be convinced that their slayer is her husband. He orders all traces of the scene to be obliterated, and that the palace shall ring with harp and song and dance, as if the queen had made her choice. Endued once more by his guardian
goddess with his locks and noble mien, he again appeals to his wife's memory, but she will give no token of recognition, although the form and features she acknowledges are those of the Ulysses from whom she parted twenty years ago. She will put him to a certain test. 'Give him his own bed,' she says; 'go bring it forth from our bridal chamber.' But it consisted of the stem of an olive tree, rooted in the ground round which the chamber was built. 'Move it!' exclaimed Ulysses, 'who could stir it from its place?' and all her doubts are solved in happy certainty. Minerva lengthens the duration of the night that they may narrate their personal adventures to each other, and so the poem might have ended.
An episode, however, follows, in which Mercury conducts the spirits of the dead suitors to that 'sunless land,' where again Agamemnon contrasts his dishonoured end with the noble death of Achilles, and the treachery of Clytemnestra with the fidelity of Penelope :
"Oh to her first one love how true she was !
Nought shall make dim the flower of her sweet fame
For ever, but the gods unceasingly
Shall to the earth's inhabitants her name,
Wide on the wings of song, with endless praise proclaim.'
Ulysses has still to visit his aged father Laertes, who is living in sad retirement on his farm; and, while he seems yet incredulous, his son reminds him how, when a child, he had given him,' for his very own,' a certain number of fruit trees, which he enumerates; a token which is irresistible, and the old man almost faints with joy.
An attempt at rebellion, headed by the father of Antinous, and suppressed after a brief contest, contains no point of interest; and a fresh adventure for the hero, to seek some people who have never seen the sea, or eaten salt, as a penance to appease Neptune for the injury inflicted on Polyphemus, is merely hinted at and left untold.
DIED B.C. 730.
ESIOD'S own lines tell us that, as he was feeding his flocks near Helicon in Boeotia, he was commissioned
by the muses to be the bard of didactic, as Homer was of epic, poetry; and Plato, alluding to the intellectual creations of both, observes, 'Who would not rather have such children than ordinary human offspring?'
In his poem entitled, 'Works and Days,' addressed to his brother Perses, he first contrasts, by the aid of proverb lore, honest labour with idleness, and worthy emulation with strife and envying. The next part consists of hints relating to husbandry, and the last of remarks on lucky and unpropitious days for the occupations of rural and nautical life. The antiquity of four separate callings is established in the following lines :
'Thus emulous his wheel the potter turns,
The smith his anvil beats, the beggar throng
Alluding next to the offence of Prometheus, he narrates how Jupiter and his attendant deities created the nymph Pandora, to scatter from her casket the ills that haunt our frail humanity, concealing hope beneath the lid. Then he describes the five ages of the world, and the increase of evil as each succeeds the other.
The first race of mortals in the golden age he represents as, after death, becoming genii, and moving invisibly
through the earth as 'ministers of good, and guards of man.' In the silver age the innocence of childhood was retained for a hundred years, but men gave not to the deities due respect, and, when earth hid them, they did not attain to immortality. Still more degenerate was the brazen age,
'They by each other's hands inglorious fell,
In horrid darkness plunged, the house of hell.'
The venerated heroes, however, are assigned an after state in the Isles of the Blest,
'Apart from heaven's immortals, calm they share
And yearly thrice, with sweet luxuriance crowned,
During the iron era the race becomes corrupt, unrestful, and toilsome,—
'Scarcely they spring into the light, of day,
and all is violence, oppression, and sword law; until, at last, in the poet's own generation, the fair forms of all the nobler impulses,
'From the broad earth have winged their heavenward flight,
The weight of evil and the cureless woe.'
The allegory thus finished, its lesson is illustrated by a fable of the hawk and the nightingale, and a comparison of the results of iniquity and justice, followed by some terse general maxims, inculcating industry, honesty, and expediency, with a mistrust of women, and a warning that 'the more children, the more cares.'
Turning now to farming operations, the poet indicates the seasons by the movements of the stars, bidding the husbandman begin reaping when the Pleiades rise in May, and ploughing when they set in November. Then he is told he must have his own implements, that the workdeferrer never sees his barn full, when to fell timber, how to make an axle-tree, the proper wood and shape for a plough, that nine-year-old oxen are best for yoking, and that a