The School Bag

from The Odyssey of Homer (BookXVII)

George Chapman

Such speech they changed: when in the yard there lay
A dog, call'd Argus; which, before his way
Assumed for Ilion; Ulysses bred;
Yet stood his pleasure then, in little stead;
As being too young but growing to his grace,
Young men made choice of him for every chace,
Or of their wild goats, of their hares, or harts.
But, his king gone; and he, now past his parts,
Lay all abjectly on the stable’s store,
Before the ox-stall, and mules’ stable door,
To keep the clothes, cast from the peasants’ hands,
While they laid compass on Ulysses’ lands,
The dog, with ticks (unlook'd to) overgrown.
But by this dog no sooner seen but known
Was wise Ulysses, who new enter'd there,
Up went his dog’s laid ears, and, coming near,
Up he himself rose, fawn'd, and wagg'd his stern,
Couched close his ears, and lay so; nor discern
Could evermore his dear-loved lord again.
Ulysses saw it, nor had power t’ abstain
From shedding tears; which (far-off seeing his swain)
He dried from his sight clean; to whom he thus
His grief dissembled: 'Tis miraculous,
That such a dog as this, should have his lair
On such a dunghill; for his form is fair.
And yet, I know not, if there were in him
Good pace, or parts, for all his goodly limb,
Or he lived empty of those inward things,
As are those trencher-beagles tending kings;
Whom for their pleasure’s, or their glory’s, sake,
Or fashion, they into their favours take.’
    ‘This dog,’ said he, ‘was servant to one dead
A huge time since. But if he bore his head
For form and quality, of such a height,
As when Ulysses, bound for th'Ilion fight,
Or quickly after, left him: your rapt eyes
Would then admire, to see him use his thighs
In strength, and swiftness. He would nothing fly,
Nor any thing let ‘scape. If once his eye
Seized any wild beast, he knew straight his scent;
Go where he would, away with him he went.
Nor was there ever any savage stood
Amongst the thickets of the deepest wood
Long time before him, but he pull'd him down;
As well by that true hunting to be shown
In such vast coverts; as for speed of pace
In any open lawn. For in deep chace,
He was a passing wise, and well-nosed hound.
And yet is all this good in him uncrown'd
With any grace here now, nor he more fed
Then any errant cur. His king is dead,
Far from his country; and his servants are
So negligent, they lend his hound no care.
Where masters rule not, but let men alone,
You never there see honest service done.
That man's half virtue Jove takes quite away,
That once is sun-burnt with the servile day.’