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he seemed, and even if he saw him insulted, or beaten, not to interpose otherwise than he might do for any stranger. At the palace they found the usual scene of feasting and riot going on. The suitors pretended to receive Telemachus with joy at his return, though secretly mortified at the failure of their plots to take his life. The old beggar was permitted to enter, and provided · with a portion from the table. A touching incident occurred as Ulysses entered the court-yard of the palace. An old dog lay in the yard almost dead with age, and seeing a stranger enter, raised his head, with ears erect. It was Argus, Ulysses' own dog, that he had in other days often led to the chase.
Soon as he perceived
... Then his destiny released
Ulysses in the twentieth year restored. 1 As Ulysses sat eating his portion in the hall, the suitors soon began to exhibit their insolence to him. When he mildly remonstrated, one of them raised a stool and with it gave him a blow. Telemachus had hard work to restrain his indignation at seeing his father so treated in his own hall; but, remembering his father's injunctions, said no more than what became him as master of the house, though young, and protector of his guests.
Once, again, was the wanderer all but betrayed ; — when his agèd nurse Euryclea, bathing his feet, recognized the scar of a
whelmed the crone, and she would have revealed him to Penelope, had not Ulysses enjoined silence upon her.
Penelope had protracted her decision in favor of any one of her suitors so long, that there seemed to be no further pretence for
1 Odyssey 16: 290. Cowper's translation.
delay. The continued absence of her husband seemed to prove that his return was no longer to be expected. Meanwhile her son
had grown up, and was able to manage his own affairs. She therefore consented to subinit, the question of her choice to a trial of skill among the suitors. The test selected was shooting with the bow. Twelve rings were arranged in a line, and he whose arrow was sent through the whole twelve, was to have the queen for his prize. A bow that one of his brother heroes had given to Ulysses in former times,
was brought from the armory, and with its quiver full of arrows was laid in the hall. Telemachus had taken care that all other weapons should be removed, under pretence that in the heat of competition, there was danger, in some rash moment, of putting them to an improper use.
All things being prepared for the trial, the first thing to be done was to bend the bow in order to attach the string. Telemachus endeavored to do it, but found all his efforts fruitless; and modestly confessing that he had attempted a task beyond his strength, he yielded the bow to another. He tried it with no better success, and, amidst the laughter and jeers of his companions, gave it up. Another tried it and another; they rubbed the bow with tallow, but all to no purpose; it would not bend. Then spoke Ulysses, humbly suggesting that he should be permitted to try; for, said he, “beggar as I am, I was once a soldier, and there is still some strength in these old limbs of mine.” The suitors hooted with derision, and commanded to turn him out of the hall for his insolence. But Telemachus spoke up for him, and merely to gratify the old man, bade him try. Ulysses took the bow, and handled it with the hand of a master. With ease he
adjusted the cord to its notch, then fitting an arrow to the bow he drew the string and sped the arrow unerring through the rings.
Without allowing them time to express their astonishment, he said, “Now for another mark !” and aimed direct at the most insolent one of the suitors. The arrow pierced through his throat and he fell dead. Telemachus, Eumæus, and another faithful follower, well armed, now sprang to the side of Ulysses. The suitors, in amazement, looked round for arms, but found none, neither was there any way of escape, for Eumæus had secured the door. Ulysses left them not long in uncertainty; he announced himself as the long-lost chief, whose house they had invaded, whose substance they had squandered, whose wife and son they had persecuted for ten long years; and told them he meant to have ample vengeance. All were slain, and Ulysses was left master of his palace and possessor of his kingdom and his wife.
Tennyson's poem of Ulysses represents the old hero, — his dangers past and nothing left but to stay at home and be happy, growing tired of inaction and resolving to set forth again in quest of new adventures.
“ It little profits that an idle King,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
“This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle -
“ There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail :
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down : It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides: and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are: One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” )