Homer, creator; Murray, A. T. (Augustus Taber), 1866-1940, translator
As soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, the strong and mighty Alcinous rose from his couch, and up rose also Zeus-born Odysseus, the sacker of cities. And the strong and mighty Alcinous led the wayto the place of assembly of the Phaeacians, which was builded for them hard by their ships. Thither they came and sat down on the polished stones close by one another; and Pallas Athena went throughout the city, in the likeness of the herald of wise Alcinous, devising a return for great-hearted Odysseus.To each man's side she came, and spoke and said: “Hither now, leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians, come to the place of assembly, that you may learn of the stranger who has newly come to the palace of wise Alcinous after his wanderings over the sea, and in form is like unto the immortals.” So saying she roused the spirit and heart of each man, and speedily the place of assembly and the seats were filled with men that gathered. And many marvelled at the sight of the wise son of Laertes, for wondrous was the grace that Athena shed upon his head and shoulders;and she made him taller and sturdier to behold, that he might be welcomed by all the Phaeacians, and win awe and reverence, and might accomplish the many feats wherein the Phaeacians made trial of Odysseus. Now when they were assembled and met together,Alcinous addressed their assembly and spoke among them: “Hearken to me, leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians, that I may speak what the heart in my breast bids me. This stranger—I know not who he is—has come to my house in his wanderings, whether from men of the east or of the west.He urges that he be sent on his way, and prays for assurance, and let us on our part, as of old we were wont, speed on his sending; for verily no man soever who comes to my house, abides here long in sorrow for lack of sending. Nay come, let us draw a black ship down to the bright seafor her first voyage, and let men choose two and fifty youths from out the people, even those that have heretofore been the best. And when you have all duly lashed the oars to the thole-pins,[*](1) go ashore, and then go your way to my house, and prepare a feast with speed; and I will provide bountifully for all.To the youths this is my command, but do you others, the sceptred kings, come to my fair palace, that we may entertain yon stranger in the halls; and let no man say me nay. And summon hither the divine minstrel, Demodocus; for to him above all others has the god granted skill in song,to give delight in whatever way his spirit prompts him to sing.”
So saying, he led the way, and the sceptred kings followed him, while a herald went for the divine minstrel. And chosen youths, two and fifty, went, as he bade, to the shore of the unresting sea.And when they had come down to the ship and to the sea, they drew the black ship down to the deep water, and placed the mast and sail in the black ship, and fitted the oars in the leathern thole-straps, all in due order, and spread the white sail.Well out in the roadstead they moored the ship, and then went their way to the great palace of the wise Alcinous. Filled were the porticoes and courts and rooms with the men that gathered, for many there were, both young and old. For them Alcinous slaughtered twelve sheep,and eight white-tusked boars, and two oxen of shambling gait. These they flayed and dressed, and made ready a goodly feast. Then the herald drew near, leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all other men, and gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song.For him Pontonous, the herald, set a silver-studded chair in the midst of the banqueters, leaning it against a tall pillar, and he hung the clear-toned lyre from a peg close above his head, and showed him how to reach it with his hands. And beside him he placed a basket and a beautiful table,and a cup of wine, to drink when his heart should bid him. So they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them. But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, the Muse moved the minstrel to sing of the glorious deeds of warriors, from that lay the fame whereof had then reached broad heaven,even the quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles, son of Peleus, how once they strove with furious words at a rich feast of the gods, and Agamemnon, king of men, was glad at heart that the best of the Achaeans were quarrelling; for thus Phoebus Apollo, in giving his response, had told him that it should be,in sacred Pytho, when he passed over the threshold of stone to enquire of the oracle. For then the beginning of woe was rolling upon Trojans and Danaans through the will of great Zeus.
This song the famous minstrel sang; but Odysseus grasped his great purple cloak with his stout hands,and drew it down over his head, and hid his comely face; for he had shame of the Phaeacians as he let fall tears from beneath his eyebrows. Yea, and as often as the divine minstrel ceased his singing, Odysseus would wipe away his tears and draw the cloak from off his head, and taking the two-handled cup would pour libations to the gods.But as often as he began again, and the nobles of the Phaeacians bade him sing, because they took pleasure in his lay, Odysseus would again cover his head and moan. Now from all the rest he concealed the tears that he shed, but Alcinous alone marked him and took heed,for he sat by him, and heard him groaning heavily. And straightway he spoke among the Phaeacians, lovers of the oar: “Hear me, ye leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians, already have we satisfied our hearts with the equal banquet and with the lyre, which is the companion of the rich feast.But now let us go forth, and make trial of all manner of games, that yon stranger may tell his friends, when he returns home, how far we excel other men in boxing and wrestling and leaping and in speed of foot.” So saying, he led the way, and they followed him.From the peg the herald hung the clear-toned lyre, and took Demodocus by the hand, and led him forth from the hall, guiding him by the self-same road by which the others, the nobles of the Phaeacians, had gone to gaze upon the games. They went their way to the place of assembly, and with them went a great throng,past counting; and up rose many noble youths. 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 Tecton; and up rose also Euryalus, the peer of man-destroying Ares, the son of Naubolus, who in comeliness and form was the best of all the Phaeacians after peerless Laodamas; and up rose the three sons of noble Alcinous, Laodamas, and Halius, and godlike Clytoneus.These then first made trial in the foot-race.
A course was marked out for them from the turning point,[*](1) and they all sped swiftly, raising the dust of the plain; but among them noble Clytoneus was far the best at running, and by as far as is the range[*](2) of a team of mules in fallow land,by so far he shot to the front and reached the host, and the others were left behind. Then they made trial of toilsome wrestling, and here in turn Euryalus excelled all the princes. And in leaping Amphialus was best of all, and with the discus again far the best of all was Elatreus,and in boxing Laodamas, the good son of Alcinous. But when the hearts of all had taken pleasure in the contests, Laodamas, the son of Alcinous, spoke among them: “Come, friends, let us ask yon stranger whether he knows and has learned any contests. In build, surely, he is no mean man,in thighs and calves, and in his two arms above, his stout neck, and his great might. In no wise does he lack aught of the strength of youth, but he has been broken by many troubles. For to my mind there is naught worse than the sea to confound a man, be he never so strong.” And Euryalus in turn answered him, and said:“Laodamas, this word of thine is right fitly spoken. Go now thyself and challenge him, and make known thy word.” Now when the good son of Alcinous heard this he came and took his stand in the midst and spoke to Odysseus:“Come, Sir stranger, do thou, too, make trial of the contests, if thou knowest any; and it must be that thou knowest contests, for there is no greater glory for a man so long as he lives than that which he achieves by his own hands and his feet. Nay, come, make trial, and cast away care from thy heart.Thy journey shall no more be long delayed, nay, even now thy ship is launched and the crew is ready.” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Laodamas, why do ye mock me with this challenge? Sorrow is in my mind far more than contests,seeing that in time past I have suffered much and toiled much, and now I sit in the midst of your assembly, longing for my return home, and making my prayer to the king and to all the people.” Then again Euryalus made answer and taunted him to his face: “Nay verily, stranger, for I do not liken thee to a man that is skilledin contests, such as abound among men, but to one who, faring to and fro with his benched ship, is a captain of sailors who are merchantmen, one who is mindful of his freight, and has charge of a home-borne cargo, and the gains of his greed. Thou dost not look like an athlete.”
Then with an angry glance from beneath his brows Odysseus of many wiles answered him: “Stranger, thou hast not spoken well; thou art as one blind with folly. So true is it that the gods do not give gracious gifts to all alike, not form nor mind nor eloquence. For one man is inferior in comeliness,but the god sets a crown[*](1) of beauty upon his words, and men look upon him with delight, and he speaks on unfalteringly with sweet modesty, and is conspicuous among the gathered people, and as he goes through the city men gaze upon him as upon a god. Another again is in comeliness like the immortals,but no crown of grace is set about his words. So, in thy case, thy comeliness is preeminent, nor could a god himself mend it, but in mind thou art stunted. Thou hast stirred the spirit in my breast by speaking thus unmannerly. I am not unskilled in sportsas thou pratest, nay, methinks I was among the first so long as I trusted in my youth and in my hands. But now I am bound by suffering and pains; for much have I endured in passing through wars of men and the grievous waves. But even so, though I have suffered much, I will make trial of the contests,for thy word has stung me to the heart, and thou hast provoked me with thy speech.” He spoke, and, leaping up with his cloak about him as it was, seized a discus larger than the rest and thick, no little heavier than those with which the Phaeacians were wont to contend one with another. This with a whirl he sent from his stout hand,and the stone hummed as it flew; and down they crouched to the earth, the Phaeacians of the long oars, men famed for their ships, beneath the rush of the stone. Past the marks of all it flew, speeding lightly from his hand, and Athena, in the likeness of a man, set the mark, and she spoke and addressed him: “Even a blind man, stranger, could distinguish this mark, groping for it with his hands, for it is in nowise confused with the throng of the others, but is far the first. Be thou of good cheer for this bout at least: no one of the Phaeacians will reach this, or cast beyond it.”
So she spoke, and the much-enduring goodly Odysseus was glad,rejoicing that he saw a true friend in the lists. Then with a lighter heart he spoke among the Phaeacians: “Reach this now, young men; and presently, methinks, I will send another after it, as far or even further. Of the rest, if any man's heart and spirit bid him,let him come hither and make trial—for ye have greatly angered me—be it in boxing or in wrestling, aye, or in running, I care not; let any one come of all the Phaeacians, save Laodamas alone. For he is my host, and who would quarrel with one that entertains him? Foolish is that man and worthless,who challenges to a contest the host who receives him in a strange land; he does but mar his own fortunes. But of all the rest I refuse none, and make light of none, but am fain to know them, and make trial of them man to man. For in all things I am no weakling, even in all the contests that are practised among men.Well do I know how to handle the polished bow, and ever would I be the first to shoot and smite my man in the throng of the foe, even though many comrades stood by me and were shooting at the men. Only Philoctetes excelled me with the bowin the land of the Trojans, when we Achaeans shot. But of all others I declare that I am best by far, of all mortals that are now upon the earth and eat bread. Yet with men of former days I will not seek to vie, with Heracles or with Eurytus of Oechalia,who strove even with the immortals in archery. Wherefore great Eurytus died soon, nor did old age come upon him in his halls, for Apollo waxed wroth and slew him, because he had challenged him to a contest with the bow. And with the spear I throw farther than any other man can shoot with an arrow.In the foot race alone I fear that someone of the Phaeacians may out strip me, for cruelly have I been broken amid the many waves, since there was in my ship no lasting store of provisions; therefore my limbs are loosened.” So he spoke and they were all hushed in silence;but Alcinous alone answered him and said: “Stranger, since not ungraciously dost thou speak thus in our midst, but art minded to shew forth the prowess which waits upon thee, in anger that yonder man came up to thee in the lists and taunted thee in a way in which no mortal would make light of thy prowess,who knew in his heart how to speak fitly; come, now, hearken to my words, that thou mayest tell to another hero, when in thy halls thou art feasting with thy wife and children, and rememberest our skill, what featsZeus has vouchsafed to us from our fathers' days even until now. For we are not faultless boxers or wrestlers, but in the foot race we run swiftly, and we are the best seamen; and ever to us is the banquet dear, and the lyre, and the dance, and changes of raiment, and warm baths, and the couch.
But come now, all ye that are the best dancers of the Phaeacians, make sport, that the stranger may tell his friends on reaching home how far we surpass others in seamanship and in fleetness of foot, and in the dance and in song. And let one go straightwayand fetch for Demodocus the clear-toned lyre which lies somewhere in our halls.” So spoke Alcinous the godlike, and the herald rose to fetch the hollow lyre from the palace of the king. Then stood up masters of the lists, nine in all, men chosen from out the people, who in their gatherings were wont to order all things aright.They levelled a place for the dance, and marked out a fair wide ring, and the herald came near, bearing the clear-toned lyre for Demodocus. He then moved into the midst, and around him stood boys in the first bloom of youth, well skilled in the dance, and they smote the goodly dancing floor with their feet. And Odysseusgazed at the twinklings of their feet and marvelled in spirit. But the minstrel struck the chords in prelude to his sweet lay and sang of the love of Ares and Aphrodite of the fair crown, how first they lay together in the house of Hephaestus secretly; and Ares gave her many gifts, and shamed the bedof the lord Hephaestus. But straightway one came to him with tidings, even Helius, who had marked them as they lay together in love. And when Hephaestus heard the grievous tale, he went his way to his smithy, pondering evil in the deep of his heart, and set on the anvil block the great anvil and forged bondswhich might not be broken or loosed, that the lovers[*](1) might bide fast where they were. But when he had fashioned the snare in his wrath against Ares, he went to his chamber where lay his bed, and everywhere round about the bed-posts he spread the bonds, and many too were hung from above, from the roof-beams,fine as spiders' webs, so that no one even of the blessed gods could see them, so exceeding craftily were they fashioned. But when he had spread all his snare about the couch, he made as though he would go to Lemnos, that well-built citadel, which is in his eyes far the dearest of all lands.And no blind watch did Ares of the golden rein keep, when he saw Hephaestus, famed for his handicraft, departing, but he went his way to the house of famous Hephaestus, eager for the love of Cytherea of the fair crown. Now she had but newly come from the presence of her father, the mighty son of Cronos,and had sat her down. And Ares came into the house and clasped her hand and spoke and addressed her: “Come, love, let us to bed and take our joy, couched together. For Hephaestus is no longer here in the land, but has now gone, I ween, to Lemnos, to visit the Sintians of savage speech.”
So he spoke, and a welcome thing it seemed to her to lie with him. So they two went to the couch, and lay them down to sleep, and about them clung the cunning bonds of the wise Hephaestus, nor could they in any wise stir their limbs or raise them up. Then at length they learned that there was no more escaping.And near to them came the famous god of the two strong arms,[*](1) having turned back before he reached the land of Lemnos; for Helius had kept watch for him and had brought him word. So he went to his house with a heavy heart, and stood at the gateway, and fierce anger seized him.And terribly he cried out and called to all the gods: “Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods that are forever, come hither that ye may see a laughable matter and a monstrous,[*](1) even how Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, scorns me for that I am lame and loves destructive Aresbecause he is comely and strong of limb, whereas I was born misshapen. Yet for this is none other to blame but my two parents—would they had never begotten me! But ye shall see where these two have gone up into my bed and sleep together in love; and I am troubled at the sight.Yet, methinks, they will not wish to lie longer thus, no, not for a moment, how loving soever they are. Soon shall both lose their desire to sleep; but the snare and the bonds shall hold them until her father pays back to me all the gifts of wooing that I gave him for the sake of his shameless girl;for his daughter is fair but bridles not her passion.”[*](2) So he spoke and the gods gathered to the house of the brazen floor.[*](3) Poseidon came, the earth-enfolder, and the helper Hermes came, and the lord Apollo, the archer god.[*](4) Now the goddesses abode for shame each in her own house,but the gods, the givers of good things, stood in the gateway; and unquenchable laughter arose among the blessed gods as they saw the craft of wise Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor: “Ill deeds thrive not. The slow catches the swift;even as now Hephaestus, slow though he is, has out-stripped Ares for all that he is the swiftest of the gods who hold Olympus. Lame though he is, he has caught him by craft, wherefore Ares owes the fine of the adulterer.” Thus they spoke to one another. But to Hermes the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, said: “Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger, giver of good things, wouldst thou in sooth be willing, even though ensnared with strong bonds, to lie on a couch by the side of golden Aphrodite?” Then the messenger, Argeiphontes, answered him:“Would that this might befall, lord Apollo, thou archer god—that thrice as many bonds inextricable might clasp me about and ye gods, aye, and all the goddesses too might be looking on, but that I might sleep by the side of golden Aphrodite.”
So he spoke and laughter arose among the immortal gods. Yet Poseidon laughed not, but ever besoughtHephaestus, the famous craftsman, to set Ares free; and he spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Loose him, and I promise, as thou biddest me, that he shall himself pay thee all that is right in the presence of the immortal gods.” Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him:“Ask not this of me, Poseidon, thou earth-enfolder. A sorry thing to be sure of is the surety for a sorry knave. How could I put thee in bonds among the immortal gods, if Ares should avoid both the debt and the bonds and depart?” Then again Poseidon, the earth-shaker, answered him:“Hephaestus, even if Ares shall avoid the debt and flee away, I will myself pay thee this.” Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him: “It may not be that I should say thee nay, nor were it seemly.” So saying the mighty Hephaestus loosed the bondsand the two, when they were freed from that bond so strong, sprang up straightway. And Ares departed to Thrace, but she, the laughter-loving Aphrodite, went to Cyprus, to Paphos, where is her demesne and fragrant altar. There the Graces bathed her and anointed her withimmortal oil, such as gleams[*](1) upon the gods that are forever. And they clothed her in lovely raiment, a wonder to behold. This song the famous minstrel sang; and Odysseus was glad at heart as he listened, and so too were the Phaeacians of the long oars, men famed for their ships. Then Alcinous bade Halius and Laodamas dance alone, for no one could vie with them. And when they had taken in their hands the beautiful ball of purple, which wise Polybus had made for them, the onewould lean backward and toss it toward the shadowy clouds, and the other would leap up from the earth and skilfully catch it before his feet touched the ground again. But when they had tried their skill in throwing the ball straight up, the two fell to dancing on the bounteous earth, ever tossing the ball to and fro, and the other youthsstood in the lists and beat time, and thereat a great din arose. Then to Alcinous spoke goodly Odysseus: “Lord Alcinous, renowned above all men,[*](2) thou didst boast that thy dancers were the best, and lo, thy words are made good; amazement holds me as I look on them.”
So he spoke, and the strong and mighty Alcinous was glad; and straightway he spoke among the Phaeacians, lovers of the oar: “Hear me, leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians. This stranger verily seems to me a man of understanding. Come then, let us give him a gift of friendship, as is fitting;for twelve glorious kings bear sway in our land as rulers, and I myself am the thirteenth. Now do you, each of the twelve, bring a newly washed cloak and tunic, and a talent of precious gold, and let us straightway bring all together,that the stranger with our gifts in his hands may go to his supper glad at heart. And let Euryalus make amends to the stranger himself with words and with a gift, for the word that he spoke was in no wise seemly.” So he spoke, and they all praised his words and bade that so it should be, and sent forth every man a herald to fetch the gifts.And Euryalus in turn made answer, and said: “Lord Alcinous, renowned above all men, I will indeed make amends to the stranger, as thou biddest me. I will give him this sword, all of bronze, whereon is a hilt of silver, and a scabbard of new-sawn ivoryis wrought about it; and it shall be to him a thing of great worth.” So saying, he put into his hands the silver-studded sword, and spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Hail, Sir stranger; but if any word has been spoken that was harsh, may the storm-winds straightway snatch it and bear it away.And for thyself, may the gods grant thee to see thy wife, and to come to thy native land, for long time hast thou been suffering woes far from thy friends.” And Odysseus of many wiles answered him: “All hail to thee, too, friend; and may the gods grant thee happiness, and mayest thou never hereafter missthis sword which thou hast given me, making amends with gentle speech.” He spoke, and about his shoulders hung the silver-studded sword. And the sun set, and the glorious gifts were brought him. These the lordly heralds bore to the palace of Alcinous, and the sons of peerless Alcinoustook the beautiful gifts and set them before their honored mother. And the strong and mighty Alcinous led the way, and they came in and sat down on the high seats. Then to Arete spoke the mighty Alcinous: “Bring hither, wife, a goodly chest, the best thou hast,and thyself place in it a newly-washed cloak and tunic; and do ye heat for the stranger a cauldron on the fire, and warm water, that when he has bathed and has seen well bestowed all the gifts which the noble Phaeacians have brought hither, he may take pleasure in the feast, and in hearing the strains of the song.And I will give him this beautiful cup of mine, wrought of gold, that he may remember me all his days as he pours libations in his halls to Zeus and to the other gods.”
So he spoke, and Arete bade her handmaids to set a great cauldron on the fire with all speed.And they set on the blazing fire the cauldron for filling the bath, and poured in water, and took billets of wood and kindled them beneath it. Then the fire played about the belly of the cauldron, and the water grew warm; but meanwhile Arete brought forth for the stranger a beautiful chest from the treasure chamber, and placed in it the goodly gifts,the raiment and the gold, which the Phaeacians gave. And therein she herself placed a cloak and a fair tunic; and she spoke and addressed Odysseus with winged words: “Look now thyself to the lid, and quickly cast a cord upon it, lest some one despoil thee of thy goods on the way, when later on[*](1) thou art lying in sweet sleep, as thou farest in the black ship.” Now when the much-enduring goodly Odysseus heard these words, he straightway fitted on the lid, and quickly cast a cord upon it—a cunning knot, which queenly Circe once had taught him. Then forthwith the housewife bade himgo to the bath and bathe; and his heart was glad when he saw the warm bath, for he had not been wont to have such tendance from the time that he left the house of faired-haired Calypso, but until then he had tendance continually as a god. Now when the handmaids had bathed him and anointed him with oil,and had cast about him a fair cloak and a tunic, he came forth from the bath, and went to join the men at their wine. And Nausicaa, gifted with beauty by the gods, stood by the door-post of the well-built hall, and she marvelled at Odysseus, as her eyes beheld him,and she spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Farewell, stranger, and hereafter even in thy own native land mayest thou remember me, for to me first thou owest the price of thy life.” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her:“Nausicaa, daughter of great-hearted Alcinous,so may Zeus grant, the loud-thundering lord of Here, that I may reach my home and see the day of my returning. Then will I even there pray to thee as to a god all my days, for thou, maiden, hast given me life.”
He spoke, and sat down on a chair beside king Alcinous.And now they were serving out portions and mixing the wine. Then the herald came near, leading the good minstrel, Demodocus, held in honor by the people, and seated him in the midst of the banqueters, leaning his chair against a high pillar. Then to the herald said Odysseus of many wiles,cutting off a portion of the chine of a white-tusked boar, whereof yet more was left, and there was rich fat on either side: “Herald, take and give this portion to Demodocus, that he may eat, and I will greet him, despite my grief. For among all men that are upon the earth minstrelswin honor and reverence, for that the Muse has taught them the paths of song, and loves the tribe of minstrels.” So he spoke, and the herald bore the portion and placed it in the hands of the lord Demodocus, and he took it and was glad at heart. So they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them.But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, then to Demodocus said Odysseus of many wiles: “Demodocus, verily above all mortal men do I praise thee, whether it was the Muse, the daughter of Zeus, that taught thee, or Apollo; for well and truly dost thou sing of the fate of the Achaeans,all that they wrought and suffered, and all the toils they endured, as though haply thou hadst thyself been present, or hadst heard the tale from another. But come now, change thy theme, and sing of the building of the horse of wood, which Epeius made with Athena's help, the horse which once Odysseus led up into the citadel as a thing of guile,when he had filled it with the men who sacked Ilios. If thou dost indeed tell me this tale aright, I will declare to all mankind that the god has of a ready heart granted thee the gift of divine song.” So he spoke, and the minstrel, moved by the god, began, and let his song be heard,taking up the tale where the Argives had embarked on their benched ships and were sailing away, after casting fire on their huts, while those others led by glorious Odysseus were now sitting in the place of assembly of the Trojans, hidden in the horse; for the Trojans had themselves dragged it to the citadel.So there it stood, while the people talked long as they sat about it, and could form no resolve. Nay, in three ways did counsel find favour in their minds: either to cleave the hollow timber with the pitiless bronze, or to drag it to the height and cast it down the rocks, or to let it stand as a great offering to propitiate the gods,even as in the end it was to be brought to pass; for it was their fate to perish when their city should enclose the great horse of wood, wherein were sitting all the best of the Argives, bearing to the Trojans death and fate. And he sang how the sons of the Achaeanspoured forth from the horse and, leaving their hollow ambush, sacked the city. Of the others he sang how in divers ways they wasted the lofty city, but of Odysseus, how he went like Ares to the house of Deiphobus together with godlike Menelaus. There it was, he said, that Odysseus braved the most terrible fightand in the end conquered by the aid of great-hearted Athena.
This song the famous minstrel sang. But the heart of Odysseus was melted and tears wet his cheeks beneath his eyelids. And as a woman wails and flings herself about her dear husband, who has fallen in front of his city and his people,seeking toward off from his city and his children the pitiless day; and as she beholds him dying and gasping for breath, she clings to him and shrieks aloud, while the foe behind her smite her back and shoulders with their spears, and lead her away to captivity to bear toil and woe,while with most pitiful grief her cheeks are wasted: even so did Odysseus let fall pitiful tears from beneath his brows. Now from all the rest he concealed the tears that he shed, but Alcinous alone marked him and took heed,for he sat by him and heard him groaning heavily. And straightway he spoke among the Phaeacians, lovers of the oar: “Hear me, leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians, and let Demodocus now check his clear-toned lyre, for in no wise to all alike does he give pleasure with this song. Ever since we began to sup and the divine minstrel was moved to sing,from that time yon stranger has never ceased from sorrowful lamentation; surely, methinks, grief has encompassed his heart. Nay, let the minstrel cease, that we may all make merry, hosts and guest alike, since it is better thus. Lo, for the sake of the honored stranger all these things have been made ready,his sending and the gifts of friendship which we give him of our love. Dear as a brother is the stranger and the suppliant to a man whose wits have never so short a range. Therefore do not thou longer hide with crafty thought whatever I shall ask thee;to speak out plainly is the better course.
Tell me the name by which they were wont to call thee in thy home, even thy mother and thy father and other folk besides, thy townsmen and the dwellers round about. For there is no one of all mankind who is nameless, be he base man or noble, when once he has been born, but parents bestow names on all when they give them birth.And tell me thy country, thy people, and thy city, that our ships may convey thee thither, discerning the course by their wits. For the Phaeacians have no pilots, nor steering-oars such as other ships have, but their ships of themselves understand the thoughts and minds of men,and they know the cities and rich fields of all peoples, and most swiftly do they cross over the gulf of the sea, hidden in mist and cloud, nor ever have they fear of harm or ruin. Yet this story I once heard thus told by my fatherNausithous, who was wont to say that Poseidon was wroth with us because we give safe convoy to all men. He said that someday, as a well-built ship of the Phaeacians was returning from a convoy over the misty deep, Poseidon would smite her and would fling a great mountain about our city.[*](1)So that old man spoke, and these things the god will haply bring to pass, or will leave unfulfilled, as may be his good pleasure. But come, now, tell me this and declare it truly: whither thou hast wandered and to what countries of men thou hast come; tell me of the people and of their well-built cities,both of those who are cruel and wild and unjust, and of those who love strangers and fear the gods in their thoughts. And tell me why thou dost weep and wail in spirit as thou hearest the doom of the Argive Danaans and of Ilios. This the gods wrought, and spun the skein of ruinfor men, that there might be a song for those yet to be born. Did some kinsman of thine fall before Ilios, some good, true man, thy daughter's husband or thy wife's father, such as are nearest to one after one's own kin and blood? Or was it haply some comrade dear to thy heart,some good, true man? For no whit worse than a brother is a comrade who has an understanding heart.”