View Full Version : Odyssey, The - Homer

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05-27-2007, 01:20 AM

The next day's entertainment of Odysseus, where he sees
them contend in wrestling and other exercises, and upon
provocation took up a greater stone than that which they
were throwing, and overthrew them all. Alcinous and the
lords give him presents. And how the king asked his name,
his country, and his adventures.

Now when early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, then
the mighty king Alcinous gat him up from his bed; and
Odysseus, of the seed of Zeus, likewise uprose, the waster
of cities. And the mighty king Alcinous led the way to the
assembly place of the Phaeacians, which they had
established hard by the ships. So when they had come
thither, and sat them down on the polished stones close by
each other, Pallas Athene went on her way through the town,
in the semblance of the herald of wise Alcinous, devising a
return for the great-hearted Odysseus. Then standing by
each man she spake, saying:

'Hither now get ye to the assembly, ye captains and
counsellors of the Phaeacians, that ye may learn concerning
the stranger, who hath lately come to the palace of wise
Alcinous, in his wanderings over the deep, and his form is
like the deathless gods.'

Therewith she aroused the spirit and desire of each one,
and speedily the meeting-places and seats were filled with
men that came to the gathering: yea, and many an one
marvelled at the sight of the wise son of Laertes, for
wondrous was the grace Athene poured upon his head and
shoulders, and she made him greater and more mighty to
behold, that he might win love and worship and honour among
all the Phaeacians, and that he might accomplish many
feats, wherein the Phaeacians made trial of Odysseus. Now
when they were gathered and come together, Alcinous made
harangue and spake among them:

'Harken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians, and
I will say that which my spirit within me bids me utter.
This stranger, I know not who he is, hath come to my house
in his wandering, whether from the men of the dawning or
the westward, and he presses for a convoy, and prays that
it be assured to him. So let us, as in time past, speed on
the convoy. For never, nay never, doth any man who cometh
to my house, abide here long in sorrow for want of help
upon his way. Nay, come let us draw down a black ship to
the fair salt sea, for her first voyage, and let them
choose fifty and two noble youths throughout the township,
who have been proved heretofore the best. And when ye have
made fast the oars upon the benches, step all a shore, and
thereafter come to our house, and quickly fall to feasting;
and I will make good provision for all. To the noble youths
I give this commandment; but ye others, sceptred kings,
come to my fair dwelling, that we may entertain the
stranger in the halls, and let no man make excuse.
Moreover, bid hither the divine minstrel, Demodocus, for
the god hath given minstrelsy to him as to none other, to
make men glad in what way soever his spirit stirs him to

He spake and led the way, and the sceptred kings
accompanied him, while the henchmen went for the divine
minstrel. And chosen youths, fifty and two, departed at his
command, to the shore of the unharvested sea. But after
they had gone down to the ship and to the sea, first of all
they drew the ship down to the deep water, and placed the
mast and sails in the black ship, and fixed the oars in
leathern loops, all orderly, and spread forth the white
sails. And they moored her high out in the shore water, and
thereafter went on their way to the great palace of the
wise Alcinous. Now the galleries and the courts and the
rooms were thronged with men that came to the gathering,
for there were many, young and old. Then Alcinous
sacrificed twelve sheep among them, and eight boars with
flashing tusks, and two oxen with trailing feet. These they
flayed and made ready, and dressed a goodly feast.

Then the henchman drew near, leading with him the beloved
minstrel, whom the muse loved dearly, and she gave him both
good and evil; of his sight she reft him, but granted him
sweet song. Then Pontonous, the henchman, set for him a
high chair inlaid with silver, in the midst of the guests,
leaning it against the tall pillar, and he hung the loud
lyre on a pin, close above his head, and showed him how to
lay his hands on it. And close by him he placed a basket,
and a fair table, and a goblet of wine by his side, to
drink when his spirit bade him. So they stretched forth
their hands upon the good cheer spread before them. But
after they had put from them the desire of meat and drink,
the Muse stirred the minstrel to sing the songs of famous
men, even that lay whereof the fame had then reached the
wide heaven, namely, the quarrel between Odysseus and
Achilles, son of Peleus; how once on a time they contended
in fierce words at a rich festival of the gods, but
Agamemnon, king of men, was inly glad when the noblest of
the Achaeans fell at variance. For so Phoebus Apollo in his
soothsaying had told him that it must be, in goodly Pytho,
what time he crossed the threshold of stone, to seek to the
oracle. For in those days the first wave of woe was rolling
on Trojans and Danaans through the counsel of great Zeus.

This song it was that the famous minstrel sang; but
Odysseus caught his great purple cloak with his stalwart
hands, and drew it down over his head, and hid his comely
face, for he was ashamed to shed tears beneath his brows in
presence of the Phaeacians. Yea, and oft as the divine
minstrel paused in his song, Odysseus would wipe away the
tears, and draw the cloak from off his head, and take the
two-handled goblet and pour forth before the gods. But
whensoever he began again, and the chiefs of the Phaeacians
stirred him to sing, in delight at the lay, again would
Odysseus cover up his head and make moan. Now none of all
the company marked him weeping, but Alcinous alone noted it
and was ware thereof as he sat by him and heard him
groaning heavily. And presently he spake among the
Phaeacians, masters of the oar:

'Hearken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,
now have our souls been satisfied with the good feast, and
with the lyre, which is the mate of the rich banquet. Let
us go forth anon, and make trial of divers games, that the
stranger may tell his friends, when home he returneth, how
greatly we excel all men in boxing, and wrestling, and
leaping, and speed of foot.'

He spake, and led the way, and they went with him. And the
henchman hung the loud lyre on the pin, and took the hand
of Demodocus, and let him forth from the hall, and guided
him by the same way, whereby those others, the chiefs of
the Phaeacians, had gone to gaze upon the games. So they
went on their way to the place of assembly, and with them a
great company innumerable; and many a noble youth stood up
to play. There rose Acroneus, and Ocyalus, and Elatreus,
and Nauteus, and Prymneus, and Anchialus, and Eretmeus, and
Ponteus, and Proreus, Thoon, and Anabesineus, and
Amphialus, son of Polyneus, son of Tekton, and likewise
Euryalus, the peer of murderous Ares, the son of Naubolus,
who in face and form was goodliest of all the Phaeacians
next to noble Laodamas. And there stood up the three sons
of noble Alcinous, Laodamas, and Halius, and god-like
Clytoneus. And behold, these all first tried the issue in
the foot race. From the very start they strained at utmost
speed: and all together they flew forward swiftly, raising
the dust along the plain. And noble Clytoneus was far the
swiftest of them all in running, and by the length of the
furrow that mules cleave in a fallow field, {*} so far did
he shoot to the front, and came to the crowd by the lists,
while those others were left behind. Then they made trial
of strong wrestling, and here in turn Euryalus excelled all
the best. And in leaping Amphialus was far the foremost,
and Elatreus in weight-throwing, and in boxing Laodamas,
the good son of Alcinous. Now when they had all taken their
pleasure in the games, Laodamas, son of Alcinous, spake
among them:

{* The distance here indicated seems to be that which the
mule goes in ploughing, without pausing to take breath.}

'Come, my friends, let us ask the stranger whether he is
skilled or practised in any sport. Ill fashioned, at least,
he is not in his thighs and sinewy legs and hands withal,
and his stalwart neck and mighty strength: yea and he lacks
not youth, but is crushed by many troubles. For I tell thee
there is nought else worse than the sea to confound a man,
how hardy soever he may be.'

And Euryalus in turn made answer, and said: 'Laodamas,
verily thou hast spoken this word in season. Go now thyself
and challenge him, and declare thy saying.'

Now when the good son of Alcinous heard this, he went and
stood in the midst, and spake unto Odysseus: 'Come, do thou
too, father and stranger, try thy skill in the sports, if
haply thou art practised in any; and thou art like to have
knowledge of games, for there is no greater glory for a man
while yet he lives, than that which he achieves by hand and
foot. Come, then, make essay, and cast away care from thy
soul: thy journey shall not now be long delayed; lo, thy
ship is even now drawn down to the sea, and the men of thy
company are ready.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying;
'Laodamas, wherefore do ye mock me, requiring this thing of
me? Sorrow is far nearer my heart than sports, for much
have I endured and laboured sorely in time past, and now I
sit in this your gathering, craving my return, and making
my prayer to the king and all the people.'

And Euryalus answered, and rebuked him to his face: 'No
truly, stranger, nor do I think thee at all like one that
is skilled in games, whereof there are many among men,
rather art thou such an one as comes and goes in a benched
ship, a master of sailors that are merchantmen, one with a
memory for his freight, or that hath the charge of a cargo
homeward bound, and of greedily gotten gains; thou seemest
not a man of thy hands.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on him and
said: 'Stranger, thou hast not spoken well; thou art like a
man presumptuous. So true it is that the gods do not give
every gracious gift to all, neither shapeliness, nor
wisdom, nor skilled speech. For one man is feebler than
another in presence, yet the god crowns his words with
beauty, and men behold him and rejoice, and his speech runs
surely on his way with a sweet modesty, and he shines forth
among the gathering of his people, and as he passes through
the town men gaze on him as a god. Another again is like
the deathless gods for beauty, but his words have no crown
of grace about them; even as thou art in comeliness
pre-eminent, nor could a god himself fashion thee for the
better, but in wit thou art a weakling. Yea, thou hast
stirred my spirit in my breast by speaking thus amiss. I am
not all unversed in sports, as thy words go, but methinks I
was among the foremost while as yet I trusted in my youth
and my hands, but now am I holden in misery and pains: for
I have endured much in passing through the wars of men and
the grievous waves of the sea. Yet even so, for all my
affliction, I will essay the games, for thy word hath
bitten to the quick, and thou hast roused me with thy

He spake, and clad even as he was in his mantle leaped to
his feet, and caught up a weight larger than the rest, a
huge weight heavier far than those wherewith the Phaeacians
contended in casting. With one whirl he sent it from his
stout hand, and the stone flew hurtling: and the
Phaeacians, of the long oars, those mariners renowned,
crouched to earth beneath the rushing of the stone. Beyond
all the marks it flew, so lightly it sped from his hand,
and Athene in the fashion of a man marked the place, and
spake and hailed him:

'Yea, even a blind man, stranger, might discern that token
if he groped for it, for it is in no wise lost among the
throng of the others, but is far the first; for this bout
then take heart: not one of the Phaeacians shall attain
thereunto or overpass it.'

So spake she; and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced
and was glad, for that he saw a true friend in the lists.
Then with a lighter heart he spake amid the Phaeacians:

'Now reach ye this throw, young men, if ye may; and soon,
methinks, will I cast another after it, as far or yet
further. And whomsoever of the rest his heart and spirit
stir thereto, hither let him come and try the issue with
me, in boxing or in wrestling or even in the foot race, I
care not which, for ye have greatly angered me: let any of
all the Phaeacians come save Laodamas alone, for he is mine
host: who would strive with one that entreated him kindly?
Witless and worthless is the man, whoso challengeth his
host that receiveth him in a strange land, he doth but maim
his own estate. But for the rest, I refuse none and hold
none lightly, but I fain would know and prove them face to
face. For I am no weakling in all sports, even in the feats
of men. I know well how to handle the polished bow, and
ever the first would I be to shoot and smite my man in the
press of foes, even though many of my company stood by, and
were aiming at the enemy. Alone Philoctetes in the Trojan
land surpassed me with the bow in our Achaean archery. But
I avow myself far more excellent than all besides, of the
mortals that are now upon the earth and live by bread. Yet
with the men of old time I would not match me, neither with
Heracles nor with Eurytus of Oechalia, who contended even
with the deathless gods for the prize of archery. Wherefore
the great Eurytus perished all too soon, nor did old age
come on him in his halls, for Apollo slew him in his wrath,
seeing that he challenged him to shoot a match. And with
the spear I can throw further than any other man can shoot
an arrow. Only I doubt that in the foot race some of the
Phaeacians may outstrip me, for I have been shamefully
broken in many waters, seeing that there was no continual
sustenance on board; wherefore my knees are loosened.'

So spake he and all kept silence; and Alcinous alone
answered him, saying:

'Stranger, forasmuch as these thy words are not ill-taken
in our gathering, but thou wouldest fain show forth the
valour which keeps thee company, being angry that yonder
man stood by thee in the lists, and taunted thee, in such
sort as no mortal would speak lightly of thine excellence,
who had knowledge of sound words; nay now, mark my speech;
so shalt thou have somewhat to tell another hero, when with
thy wife and children thou suppest in thy halls, and
recallest our prowess, what deeds Zeus bestoweth even upon
us from our fathers' days even until now. For we are no
perfect boxers, nor wrestlers, but speedy runners, and the
best of seamen; and dear to us ever is the banquet, and the
harp, and the dance, and changes of raiment, and the warm
bath, and love, and sleep. Lo, now arise, ye dancers of the
Phaeacians, the best in the land, and make sport, that so
the stranger may tell his friends, when he returneth home,
how far we surpass all men besides in seamanship, and speed
of foot, and in the dance and song. And let one go quickly,
and fetch for Demodocus the loud lyre which is lying
somewhere in our halls.'

So spake Alcinous the godlike, and the henchman rose to
bear the hollow lyre from the king's palace. Then stood up
nine chosen men in all, the judges of the people, who were
wont to order all things in the lists aright. So they
levelled the place for the dance, and made a fair ring and
a wide. And the henchman drew near bearing the loud lyre to
Demodocus, who gat him into the midst, and round him stood
boys in their first bloom, skilled in the dance, and they
smote the good floor with their feet. And Odysseus gazed at
the twinklings of the feet, and marvelled in spirit.

Now as the minstrel touched the lyre, he lifted up his
voice in sweet song, and he sang of the love of Ares and
Aphrodite, of the fair crown, how at the first they lay
together in the house of Hephaestus privily; and Ares gave
her many gifts, and dishonoured the marriage bed of the
lord Hephaestus. And anon there came to him one to report
the thing, even Helios, that had seen them at their
pastime. Now when Hephaestus heard the bitter tidings, he
went his way to the forge, devising evil in the deep of his
heart, and set the great anvil on the stithy, and wrought
fetters that none might snap or loosen, that the lovers
might there unmoveably remain. Now when he had forged the
crafty net in his anger against Ares, he went on his way to
the chamber where his marriage bed was set out, and strewed
his snares all about the posts of the bed, and many too
were hung aloft from the main beam, subtle as spiders'
webs, so that none might see them, even of the blessed
gods: so cunningly were they forged. Now after he had done
winding the snare about the bed, he made as though he would
go to Lemnos, that stablished castle, and this was far the
dearest of all lands in his sight. But Ares of the golden
rein kept no blind watch, what time he saw Hephaestus, the
famed craftsman, depart afar. So he went on his way to the
house of renowned Hephaestus, eager for the love of crowned
Cytherea. Now she was but newly come from her sire, the
mighty Cronion, and as it chanced had sat her down; and
Ares entered the house, and clasped her hand, and spake,
and hailed her:

'Come, my beloved, let us to bed, and take our pleasure of
love, for Hephaestus is no longer among his own people;
methinks he is already gone to Lemnos, to the Sintians, men
of savage speech.'

So spake he, and a glad thing it seemed to her to lie with
him. So they twain went to the couch, and laid them to
sleep, and around them clung the cunning bonds of skilled
Hephaestus, so that they could not move nor raise a limb.
Then at the last they knew it, when there was no way to
flee. Now the famous god of the strong arms drew near to
them, having turned him back ere he reached the land of
Lemnos. For Helios had kept watch, and told him all. So
heavy at heart he went his way to his house, and stood at
the entering in of the gate, and wild rage gat hold of him,
and he cried terribly, and shouted to all the gods:

'Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods, that live for
ever, come hither, that ye may see a mirthful thing and a
cruel, for that Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, ever
dishonours me by reason of my lameness, and sets her heart
on Ares the destroyer, because he is fair and straight of
limb, but as for me, feeble was I born. Howbeit, there is
none to blame but my father and mother,--would they had
never begotten me! But now shall ye see where these have
gone up into my bed, and sleep together in love; and I am
troubled at the sight. Yet, methinks, they will not care to
lie thus even for a little while longer, despite their
great love. Soon will they have no desire to sleep
together, but the snare and the bond shall hold them, till
her sire give back to me the gifts of wooing, one and all,
those that I bestowed upon him for the hand of his
shameless girl; for that his daughter is fair, but without

So spake he; and lo, the gods gathered together to the
house of the brazen floor. Poseidon came, the girdler of
the earth, and Hermes came, the bringer of luck, and prince
Apollo came, the archer. But the lady goddesses abode each
within her house for shame. So the gods, the givers of good
things, stood in the porch: and laughter unquenchable arose
among the blessed gods, as they beheld the sleight of
cunning Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, looking to
his neighbour:

'Ill deed, ill speed! The slow catcheth the swift! Lo, how
Hephaestus, slow as he is, hath overtaken Ares, albeit he
is the swiftest of the gods that hold Olympus, by his craft
hath he taken him despite his lameness; wherefore surely
Ares oweth the fine of the adulterer.' Thus they spake one
to the other. But the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, spake to

'Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger and giver of good things,
wouldst thou be fain, aye, pressed by strong bonds though
it might be, to lie on the couch by golden Aphrodite?'

Then the messenger, the slayer of Argos, answered him: 'I
would that this might be, Apollo, my prince of archery! So
might thrice as many bonds innumerable encompass me about,
and all ye gods be looking on and all the goddesses, yet
would I lie by golden Aphrodite.'

So spake he, and laughter rose among the deathless gods.
Howbeit, Poseidon laughed not, but was instant with
Hephaestus, the renowed artificer, to loose the bonds of
Ares: and he uttered his voice, and spake to him winged

'Loose him, I pray thee, and I promise even as thou biddest
me, that he shall himself pay all fair forfeit in the
presence of the deathless gods.'

Then the famous god of the strong arms answered him:
'Require not this of me, Poseidon, girdler of the earth.
Evil are evil folk's pledges to hold. How could I keep thee
bound among the deathless gods, if Ares were to depart,
avoiding the debt and the bond?'

Then Poseidon answered him, shaker of the earth:
'Hephaestus, even if Ares avoid the debt and flee away, I
myself will pay thee all.'

Then the famous god of the strong arms answered him: 'It
may not be that I should say thee nay, neither is it meet.'

Therewith the mighty Hephaestus loosed the bonds, and the
twain, when they were freed from that strong bond, sprang
up straightway, and departed, he to Thrace, but
laughter-loving Aphrodite went to Paphos of Cyprus, where
is her precinct and fragrant altar. There the Graces bathed
and anointed her with oil imperishable, such as is laid
upon the everlasting gods. And they clad her in lovely
raiment, a wonder to see.

This was the song the famous minstrel sang; and Odysseus
listened and was glad at heart, and likewise did the
Phaeacians, of the long oars, those mariners renowned.

Then Alcinous bade Halius and Laodamas dance alone, for
none ever contended with them. So when they had taken in
their hands the goodly ball of purple hue, that cunning
Polybus had wrought for them, the one would bend backwards,
and throw it towards the shadowy clouds; and the other
would leap upward from the earth, and catch it lightly in
his turn, before his feet touched the ground. Now after
they had made trial of throwing the ball straight up, the
twain set to dance upon the bounteous earth, tossing the
ball from hand to hand, and the other youths stood by the
lists and beat time, and a great din uprose.

Then it was that goodly Odysseus spake unto Alcinous: 'My
lord Alcinous, most notable among all the people, thou
didst boast thy dancers to be the best in the world, and
lo, thy words are fulfilled; I wonder as I look on them.'

So spake he, and the mighty king Alcinous rejoiced and
spake at once among the Phaeacians, masters of the oar:

'Hearken ye, captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,
this stranger seems to me a wise man enough. Come then, let
us give him a stranger's gift, as is meet. Behold, there
are twelve glorious princes who rule among this people and
bear sway, and I myself am the thirteenth. Now each man
among you bring a fresh robe and a doublet, and a talent of
fine gold, and let us speedily carry all these gifts
together, that the stranger may take them in his hands, and
go to supper with a glad heart. As for Euryalus, let him
yield amends to the man himself, with soft speech and with
a gift, for his was no gentle saying.'

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and would have
it so. And each one sent forth his henchman to fetch his
gift, and Euryalus answered the king and spake, saying:

'My lord Alcinous, most notable among all the people, I
will make atonement to thy guest according to thy word. I
will give him a hanger all of bronze, with a silver hilt
thereto, and a sheath of fresh-sawn ivory covers it about,
and it shall be to him a thing of price.'

Therewith he puts into his hands the hanger dight with
silver, and uttering his voice spake to him winged words:
'Hail, stranger and father; and if aught grievous hath been
spoken, may the storm-winds soon snatch and bear it away.
But may the gods grant thee to see thy wife and to come to
thine own country, for all too long has thou endured
affliction away from thy friends.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Thou
too, my friend, all hail; and may the gods vouchsafe thee
happiness, and mayst thou never miss this sword which thou
hast given me, thou that with soft speech hast yielded me

He spake and hung about his shoulders the silver-studded
sword. And the sun sank, and the noble gifts were brought
him. Then the proud henchmen bare them to the palace of
Alcinous, and the sons of noble Alcinous took the fair
gifts, and set them by their reverend mother. And the
mighty king Alcinous led the way, and they came in and sat
them down on the high seats. And the mighty Alcinous spake
unto Arete:

'Bring me hither, my lady, a choice coffer, the best thou
hast, and thyself place therein a fresh robe and a doublet,
and heat for our guest a cauldron on the fire, and warm
water, that after the bath the stranger may see all the
gifts duly arrayed which the noble Phaeacians bare hither,
and that he may have joy in the feast, and in hearing the
song of the minstrelsy. Also I will give him a beautiful
golden chalice of mine own, that he may be mindful of me
all the days of his life when he poureth the drink-offering
to Zeus and to the other gods.'

So spake he, and Arete bade her handmaids to set a great
cauldron on the fire with what speed they might. And they
set the cauldron for the filling of the bath on the blazing
fire, and poured water therein, and took faggots and
kindled them beneath. So the fire began to circle round the
belly of the cauldron, and the water waxed hot. Meanwhile
Arete brought forth for her guest the beautiful coffer from
the treasure chamber, and bestowed fair gifts therein,
raiment and gold, which the Phaeacians gave him. And with
her own hands she placed therein a robe and goodly doublet,
and uttering her voice spake to him winged words:

'Do thou now look to the lid, and quickly tie the knot,
lest any man spoil thy goods by the way, when presently
thou fallest on sweet sleep travelling in thy black ship.'

Now when the steadfast goodly Odysseus heard this saying,
forthwith he fixed on the lid, and quickly tied the curious
knot, which the lady Circe on a time had taught him. Then
straightway the housewife bade him go to the bath and bathe
him; and he saw the warm water and was glad, for he was not
wont to be so cared for, from the day that he left the
house of fair-tressed Calypso, but all that while he had
comfort continually as a god.

Now after the maids had bathed him and anointed him with
olive oil, and had cast a fair mantle and a doublet upon
him, he stept forth from the bath, and went to be with the
chiefs at their wine. And Nausicaa, dowered with beauty by
the gods, stood by the pillar of the well-builded roof, and
marvelled at Odysseus, beholding him before her eyes, and
she uttered her voice and spake to him winged words:

'Farewell, stranger, and even in thine own country bethink
thee of me upon a time, for that to me first thou owest the
ransom of life.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying:
'Nausicaa, daughter of great-hearted Alcinous, yea, may
Zeus, the thunderer, the lord of Here, grant me to reach my
home and see the day of my returning; so would I, even
there, do thee worship as to a god, all my days for
evermore, for thou, lady, hast given me my life.'

He spake and sat him in the high seat by king Alcinous. And
now they were serving out the portions and mixing the wine.
Then the henchmen drew nigh leading the sweet minstrel,
Demodocus, that was had in honour of the people. So he set
him in the midst of the feasters, and made him lean against
a tall column. Then to the henchman spake Odysseus of many
counsels, for he had cut off a portion of the chine of a
white-toothed boar, whereon yet more was left, with rich
fat on either side:

'Lo, henchman, take this mess, and hand it to Demodocus,
that he may eat, and I will bid him hail, despite my
sorrow. For minstrels from all men on earth get their meed
of honour and worship; inasmuch as the Muse teacheth them
the paths of song, and loveth the tribe of minstrels.'

Thus he spake, and the henchman bare the mess, and set it
upon the knees of the lord Demodocus, and he took it, and
was glad at heart. Then they stretched forth their hands
upon the good cheer set before them. Now after they had put
from them the desire of meat and drink, then Odysseus of
many counsels spake to Demodocus, saying:

'Demodocus, I praise thee far above all mortal men, whether
it be the Muse, the daughter of Zeus, that taught thee, or
even Apollo, for right duly dost thou chant the faring of
the Achaeans, even all that they wrought and suffered, and
all their travail, as if, methinks, thou hadst been
present, or heard the tale from another. Come now, change
thy strain, and sing of the fashioning of the horse of
wood, which Epeius made by the aid of Athene, even the
guileful thing, that goodly Odysseus led up into the
citadel, when he had laden it with the men who wasted
Ilios. If thou wilt indeed rehearse me this aright, so will
I be thy witness among all men, how the god of his grace
hath given thee the gift of wondrous song.'

So spake he, and the minstrel, being stirred by the god,
began and showed forth his minstrelsy. He took up the tale
where it tells how the Argives of the one part set fire to
their huts, and went aboard their decked ships and sailed
away, while those others, the fellowship of renowned
Odysseus, were now seated in the assembly-place of the
Trojans, all hidden in the horse, for the Trojans
themselves had dragged him to the citadel. So the horse
stood there, while seated all around him the people spake
many things confusedly and three ways their counsel looked;
either to cleave the hollow timber with the pitiless spear,
or to drag it to the brow of the hill, and hurl it from the
rocks, or to leave it as a mighty offering to appease the
gods. And on this wise it was to be at the last. For the
doom was on them to perish when their city should have
closed upon the great horse of wood, wherein sat all the
bravest of the Argives, bearing to the Trojans death and
destiny. And he sang how the sons of the Achaeans poured
forth from the horse, and left the hollow lair, and sacked
the burg. And he sang how and where each man wasted the
town, and of Odysseus, how he went like Ares to the house
of Deiphobus with godlike Menelaus. It was there, he said,
that Odysseus adventured the most grievous battle, and in
the end prevailed, by grace of great-hearted Athene.

This was the song that the famous minstrel sang. But the
heart of Odysseus melted, and the tear wet his cheeks
beneath the eyelids. And as a woman throws herself wailing
about her dear lord, who hath fallen before his city and
the host, warding from his town and his children the
pitiless day; and she beholds him dying and drawing
difficult breath, and embracing his body wails aloud, while
the foemen behind smite her with spears on back and
shoulders and lead her up into bondage, to bear labour and
trouble, and with the most pitiful grief her cheeks are
wasted; even so pitifully fell the tears beneath the brows
of Odysseus. Now none of all the company marked him
weeping; but Alcinous alone noted it, and was ware thereof,
as he sat nigh him and heard him groaning heavily. And
presently he spake among the Phaeacians, masters of the

'Hearken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,
and now let Demodocus hold his hand from the loud lyre, for
this song of his is nowise pleasing alike to all. From the
time that we began to sup, and that the divine minstrel was
moved to sing, ever since hath yonder stranger never ceased
from woeful lamentation: sore grief, methinks, hath
encompassed his heart. Nay, but let the minstrel cease,
that we may all alike make merry, hosts and guest, since it
is far meeter so. For all these things are ready for the
sake of the honourable stranger, even the convoy and the
loving gifts which we give him out of our love. In a
brother's place stand the stranger and the suppliant, to
him whose wits have even a little range, wherefore do thou
too hide not now with crafty purpose aught whereof I ask
thee; it were more meet for thee to tell it out. Say, what
is the name whereby they called thee at home, even thy
father and thy mother, and others thy townsmen and the
dwellers round about? For there is none of all mankind
nameless, neither the mean man nor yet the noble, from the
first hour of his birth, but parents bestow a name on every
man so soon as he is born. Tell me too of thy land, thy
township, and thy city, that our ships may conceive of
their course to bring thee thither. For the Phaeacians have
no pilots nor any rudders after the manner of other ships,
but their barques themselves understand the thoughts and
intents of men; they know the cities and fat fields of
every people, and most swiftly they traverse the gulf of
the salt sea, shrouded in mist and cloud, and never do they
go in fear of wreck or ruin. Howbeit I heard upon a time
this word thus spoken by my father Nausithous, who was wont
to say that Poseidon was jealous of us for that we give
safe escort to all men. He said that the god would some day
smite a well-wrought ship of the Phaeacians as she came
home from a convoy over the misty deep, and would
overshadow our city with a great mountain. Thus that
ancient one would speak, and thus the god may bring it
about, or leave it undone, according to the good pleasure
of his will. But come now, declare me this and plainly tell
it all; whither wast thou borne wandering, and to what
shores of men thou camest; tell me of the people and of
their fair-lying cities, of those whoso are hard and wild
and unjust, and of those likewise who are hospitable and of
a god-fearing mind. Declare, too, wherefore thou dost weep
and mourn in spirit at the tale of the faring of the Argive
Danaans and the lay of Ilios. All this the gods have
fashioned, and have woven the skein of death for men, that
there might be a song in the ears even of the folk of
aftertime. Hadst thou even a kinsman by marriage that fell
before Ilios, a true man, a daughter's husband or wife's
father, such as are nearest us after those of our own stock
and blood? Or else, may be, some loving friend, a good man
and true; for a friend with an understanding heart is no
whit worse than a brother.'