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which in its fall killed the pilot. At last the vessel itself went to pieces. The keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses formed of them a raft, to which he clung; and, the wind changing, the waves bore him to Calypso's island. All the rest of the crew perished.
Calypso's Island. — Calypso, a sea-nymph, received Ulysses hospitably, entertained him magnificently, became enamored of him, and wished to retain him forever, offering him immortality. But he persisted in his resolution to return to his country and his wife and son. Calypso at last received the command of Jove to dismiss him. Mercury brought the message to her, and found her in her grotto.
A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides,
Calypso, with much reluctance, proceeded to obey the commands of Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the means of constructing a raft, provisioned it well for him, and gave him a favoring gale. He sped on his course prosperously for many days, till at last, when in sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he was seen by a compassionate sea-nymph, Leucothea, who, in the form of a cormorant, alighted on the raft, and presented him with a girdle, directing him to bind it beneath his breast, that if he should be compelled to trust himself to the waves, it might buoy him up and enable him to reach the land.
§ 172. The Land of the Phaeacians. — Ulysses clung to the raft so long as its timbers held together, and when it no longer yielded him support, binding the girdle around him, he swam. Minerva
1 Homer's Odyssey, 5 : 64. Cowper's Translation.
smoothed the billows before him and sent him a wind that rolled the waves towards the shore. The surf beat high on the rocks and seemed to forbid approach; but at length finding calm water at the mouth of a gentle stream, he landed, spent with toil, breathless and speechless, and almost dead. After some time reviving, he kissed the soil, rejoicing, yet at a loss what course to take. At a short distance he perceived a wood, to which he turned his steps. There finding a covert sheltered by intermingling branches alike from the sun and the rain, he collected a pile of leaves and formed a bed, on which he stretched himself, and heaping the leaves over him, fell asleep.
The land where he was thrown was Scheria, the country of the Phaeacians. These people dwelt originally near the Cyclopes; but, being oppressed by that savage race, they migrated to the isle of Scheria, under the conduct of Nausithous, their king. They were, the poet tells us, a people akin to the gods, who appeared % manifestly and feasted among them when they offered sacrifices, and did not conceal themselves from solitary wayfarers when they met them. They had abundance of wealth, and lived in the enjoyment of it undisturbed by the alarms of war: for, as they dwelt remote from gain-seeking man, no enemy ever approached their shores, and they did not even require to make use of bows and quivers. Their chief employment was navigation. Their ships, which went with the velocity of birds, were endued with intelligence; they knew every port and needed no pilot. Alcinoiis, the son of Nausithous, was now their king, a wise and just sovereign, beloved by his people.
Now it happened that the very night on which Ulysses was cast ashore on the Phaeacian island, and while he lay sleeping on his bed of leaves, Nausicaa, the daughter of the king, had a dream sent by Minerva, reminding her that her wedding day might not be far distant, and that it would be but a prudent preparation for that event to have a general washing of the clothes of the family. This was no slight affair, for the fountains were at some distance, and the garments must be carried thither. On awaking, the princess hastened to her parents to tell them what was on her mind; not alluding to her wedding day, but finding other reasons equally good. Her father readily assented, and ordered the grooms to furnish forth a wagon for the purpose. The clothes were put therein; and the queen mother placed in the wagon likewise an abundant supply of food and wine. The princess took her seat and plied the lash, her attendant virgins following her on foot. Arrived at the river side they turned out the mules to graze, and unlading the carriage, bore the garments down to the water, and, working with cheerfulness and alacrity, soon despatched their labor. Then having spread the garments on the shore to dry, and having themselves bathed, they sat down to enjoy their meal; after which they rose and amused themselves with a game of ball, the princess singing to them while they played. But when they had refolded the apparel, and were about to resume their way to the town, Minerva caused the ball thrown by the princess to fall into the water, whereat they all screamed and Ulysses awaked at the sound.
Utterly destitute of clothing, he discovered that only a few bushes were interposed between him and a group of young maidens, whom, by their deportment and attire, he discovered to be not mere peasant girls, but of a higher class. Breaking off a leafy branch from a tree he held it before him and stepped out from the thicket. The virgins at sight of him fled in all directions, Nausicaa alone excepted, for her Minerva aided and endowed with courage and discernment. Ulysses, standing respectfully aloof, told his sad case, and besought the fair object (whether queen or goddess he professed he knew not) for food and clothing. The princess replied courteously, promising present relief and her father's hospitality when he should become acquainted with the facts. She called back her scattered maidens, chiding their alarm, and reminding them that the Phaeacians had no enemies to fear. This man, she told them, was an unhappy wanderer, whom it was a duty to cherish, for the poor and the stranger are from Jove. She bade them bring food, and the garments of some of her brothers' that were among the contents of the wagon. When this was done, and Ulysses retiring to a sheltered place had washed his body free from the sea-foam, and clothed himself and eaten, Pallas dilated his form and diffused grace over his ample chest and manly brows.
The princess seeing him was filled with admiration, and scrupled not to say to her damsels that she wished the gods would send her such a husband. To Ulysses she recommended that he repair to. the city, following herself and her train so far as the way lay through the fields; but when they should approach the city she desired that he no longer be seen in her company, for she feared the remarks which rude and vulgar people might make on seeing her return accompanied by such a gallant stranger. To avoid this she directed him to stop at a grove adjoining the city, in which were a farm and garden belonging to the king. After allowing time for the princess and her companions to reach the city, he was then to pursue his way thither, and should be easily guided by any he might meet to the royal abode.
Ulysses obeyed the directions, and in due time proceeded to the city, on approaching which he met a young woman bearing a pitcher forth for water. It was Minerva who had assumed that form. Ulysses accosted her and desired to be directed to the palace of Alcinous, the king. The maiden replied respectfully, offering to be his guide; for the palace she informed him stood near her father's dwelling. Under the guidance of the goddess, and, by her power, enveloped in a cloud which shielded him from observation, Ulysses passed among the busy crowd, and with wonder observed their harbor, their ships, their forum (the resort of heroes), and their battlements, till they came to the palace, where the goddess, having first given him some information of the country, king, and people he was about to meet, left him. Ulysses, before entering the court-yard of the palace, stood and surveyed the scene. Its splendor astonished him. Brazen walls stretched from the entrance to the interior house, of which the doors were gold, the door-posts silver, the lintels silver ornamented with gold. On either side were figures of mastiffs wrought in gold and silver, standing in rows as if to guard the approach. Along the walls were seats spread through all their length with mantles of finest texture, the work of Phaeacian maidens. On these seats the princes sat and feasted, while golden statues of graceful youths held in their hands lighted torches which shed radiance over the scene. Full fifty female menials served in household offices, some employed to grind the corn, others to wind off the purple wool or ply the loom. For the Phaeacian women as far exceeded all other women in household arts as the mariners of that country did the rest of mankind in the management of ships. Without the court a spacious garden lay, four acres in extent. In it grew many a lofty tree, pomegranate, pear, apple, fig, and olive. Neither winter's cold nor summer's drought arrested their growth.
The languid sunset, mother of roses,1
Lingers, a light on the magic seas,
Heavy with odor, and loose to the breeze.
The red rose clouds, without law or leader,
Gather and float in the airy plain;
The cedar scatters his scent to the main.
The strange flowers' perfume turns to singing,
Heard afar over moonlit seas:
Falls in scent on the cedar-trees.
As waifs blown out of the sunset, flying,
1 Andrew Lang: A Song of Phasacia.