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And then, as is natural, they all weep; and Helen, as being the daughter of Jupiter, and as having learnt of the philosophers in Egypt many expedients of all kinds, pours into some wine a medicinal panacea, as it was in reality; and begins to relate some of the exploits of Ulysses, while working at her loom in the meantime; not doing this so much for the purpose of amusement, as because she had been bred up in that way at home. And so Venus, coming to her after the single combat in the Iliad, takes a form not her own—
To her beset with Trojan beauties, came
In borrow'd form the laughter-loving dame.
She seem'd an ancient maid, well skill'd to cull
The snowy fleece, and wind the twisted wool.1
And her industry is made manifest not in a merely cursory manner, in the following description—
In this suspense bright Helen graced the room;
Before her breathed a gale of rich perfume;
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 Philo brought;
To Sparta's queen of old the radiant vase
Alcandra gave, a pledge of royal grace,
2 [p. 305] Sharer of Polybus's high command,
She gave the distaff too to Helen's hand,
And that rich vase with living sculpture wrought,
Which, heap'd with wool, the beauteous Philo brought;
The silken fleece, impurpled for the loom,
Rivall'd the hyacinth in vernal bloom.
And she seems to be aware of her own proficiency in the art: at all events, when she presents Telemachus with arobe, she says—
Accept, dear youth, this monument of love,
Long since, in better days, by Helen wove.
Safe in thy mother's care the vesture lay,
To deck thy bride, and grace thy nuptial day.3
And that fondness for employment proves her temperance and modesty. For she is never represented as luxurious or arrogant, because of her beauty. Accordingly, she is found at her loom weaving and embroidering—
Her in the palace at the loom she found,
The golden web her own sad story crown'd;
The Trojan wars she weaved, (herself the prize,)
And the dire triumph of her fatal eyes.4

1 Iliad, iii. 385.

2 Odyss. iv. 123.

3 Odyss. xv. 125.

4 Iliad, iii. 125.

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