Festivals in Honor of Ulysses

A general council of the Phaeacians, in which it is determined to send Ulysses home to Ithaca⁠—A solemn feast⁠—Lay of the Trojan War, sung by Demodocus, the minstrel⁠—Public games⁠—Ulysses conquers in throwing the discus⁠—The amour of Mars and Venus sung by Demodocus⁠—His song of the Trojan horse and the fall of Troy.

When Morn appeared, the rosy-fingered child
Of Dawn, Alcinoüs, mighty and revered,
Rose from his bed. Ulysses, noble chief,
Spoiler of cities, also left his couch.
Alcinoüs, mighty and revered, went forth
Before, and led him to the marketplace
Of the Phaeacians, built beside the fleet,
And there on polished stones they took their seats
Near to each other. Pallas, who now seemed
A herald of the wise Alcinoüs, went
Through all the city, planning how to send
Magnanimous Ulysses to his home,
And came and stood by every chief and said:⁠—

“Leaders and chiefs of the Phaeacians, come
Speedily to the marketplace, and there
Hear of the stranger who from wandering o’er
The deep has come where wise Alcinoüs holds
His court; in aspect he is like the gods.”

She spake, and every mind and heart was moved,
And all the marketplace and all its seats
Were quickly filled with people. Many gazed,
Admiring, on Laertes’ well-graced son;
For on his face and form had Pallas shed
A glory, and had made him seem more tall
And of an ampler bulk, that he might find
Favor with the Phaeacians, and be deemed
Worthy of awe and able to achieve
The many feats which the Phaeacian chiefs,
To try the stranger’s prowess, might propose.

And now when all the summoned had arrived,
Alcinoüs to the full assembly spake:⁠—

“Princes and chiefs of the Phaeacians, hear:
I speak the promptings of my heart. This guest⁠—
I know him not⁠—has come to my abode,
A wanderer⁠—haply from the tribes who dwell
In the far East, or haply from the West⁠—
And asked an escort and safe-conduct home;
And let us make them ready, as our wont
Has ever been. No stranger ever comes
Across my threshold who is suffered long
To pine for his departure. Let us draw
A dark-hulled ship down to the holy sea
On her first voyage. Let us choose her crew
Among the people, two-and-fifty youths
Of our best seamen. Then make fast the oars
Beside the benches, leave them there, and come
Into our palace and partake in haste
A feast which I will liberally spread
For all of you. This I command the youths;
But you, ye sceptred princes, come at once
To my fair palace, that we there may pay
The honors due our guest; let none refuse.
Call also the divine Demodocus,
The bard, on whom a deity bestowed
In ample measure the sweet gift of song,
Delightful when the spirit prompts the lay.”

He spake, and led the way; the sceptred train
Of princes followed him. The herald sought
Meantime the sacred bard. The chosen youths
Fifty-and-two betook them to the marge
Of the unfruitful sea; and when they reached
The ship and beach they drew the dark hull down
To the deep water, put the mast on board
And the ship’s sails, and fitted well the oars
Into the leathern rings, and, having moored
Their barque in the deep water, went with speed
To their wise monarch in his spacious halls.
There portico and court and hall were thronged
With people, young and old in multitude;
And there Alcinoüs sacrificed twelve sheep,
Eight white-toothed swine, and two splayfooted beeves.
And these they flayed, and duly dressed, and made
A noble banquet ready. Then appeared
The herald, leading the sweet singer in,
Him whom the Muse with an exceeding love
Had cherished, and had visited with good
And evil, quenched his eyesight and bestowed
Sweetness of song. Pontonoüs mid the guests
Placed for the bard a silver-studded throne,
Against a lofty column hung his harp
Above his head, and taught him how to find
And take it down. Near him the herald set
A basket and fair table, and a cup
Of wine, that he might drink when he desired;
Then all put forth their hands and shared the feast.

And when their thirst and hunger were allayed,
The Muse inspired the bard to sing the praise
Of heroes; ’twas a song whose fame had reached
To the high heaven, a story of the strife
Between Ulysses and Achilles, son
Of Peleus, wrangling at a solemn feast
Made for the gods. They strove with angry words,
And Agamemnon, king of men, rejoiced
To hear the noblest of the Achaian host
Contending; for all this had been foretold
To him in sacred Pythia by the voice
Of Phoebus, when the monarch to inquire
At the oracle had crossed the rock which formed
Its threshold. Then began the train of woes
Which at the will of sovereign Jupiter
Befell the sons of Ilium and of Greece.

So sang renowned Demodocus. Meanwhile
Ulysses took into his brawny hands
An ample veil of purple, drawing it
Around his head to hide his noble face,
Ashamed that the Phaeacians should behold
The tears that flowed so freely from his lids.
But when the sacred bard had ceased his song,
He wiped the tears away and laid the veil
Aside, and took a double beaker filled
With wine, and poured libations to the gods.
Yet when again the minstrel sang, and all
The chiefs of the Phaeacian people, charmed
To hear his music, bade the strain proceed,
Again Ulysses hid his face and wept.
No other eye beheld the tears he shed.
Alcinoüs only watched him, and perceived
His grief, and heard the sighs he drew, and spake
To the Phaeacians, lovers of the sea:⁠—

“Now that we all, to our content, have shared
The feast and heard the harp, whose notes so well
Suit with a liberal banquet, let us forth
And try our skill in games, that this our guest,
Returning to his country, may relate
How in the boxing and the wrestling match,
In leaping and in running, we excel.”

He spake, and went before; they followed him.
Then did the herald hang the clear-toned harp
Again on high, and taking by the hand
Demodocus, he led him from the place,
Guiding him in the way which just before
The princes of Phaeacia trod to see
The public games. Into the marketplace
They went; a vast innumerable crowd
Pressed after. Then did many a valiant youth
Arise⁠—Acroneus and Ocyalus,
Elatreus, Nauteus, Prymneus, after whom
Upstood Anchialus, and by his side
Eretmeus, Ponteus, Proreus, Thoön, rose;
Anabasineüs and Amphialus,
A son of Polyneius, Tecton’s son;
Then rose the son of Naubolus, like Mars
In warlike port, Euryalus by name,
And goodliest both in feature and in form
Of all Phaeacia’s sons save one alone,
Laodamas the faultless. Next three sons
Of King Alcinoüs rose: Laodamas,
Halius, and Clytoneius, like a god
In aspect. Some of these began the games,
Contending in the race. For them a course
Was marked from goal to goal. They darted forth
At once and swiftly, raising, as they ran,
The dust along the plain. The swiftest there
Was Clytoneius in the race. As far
As mules, in furrowing the fallow ground,
Gain on the steers, he ran before the rest,
And reached the crowd, and left them all behind.
Others in wrestling strove laboriously⁠—
And here Euryalus excelled them all;
But in the leap Amphialus was first;
Elatreus flung the quoit with firmest hand;
And in the boxer’s art Laodamas,
The monarch’s valiant son, was conqueror.

This when the admiring multitude had seen,
Thus spake the monarch’s son, Laodamas:⁠—

“And now, my friends, inquire we of our guest
If he has learned and practised feats like these.
For he is not ill-made in legs and thighs
And in both arms, in firmly planted neck
And strong-built frame; nor does he seem to lack
A certain youthful vigor, though impaired
By many hardships⁠—for I know of naught
That more severely tries the strongest man,
And breaks him down, than perils of the sea.”

Euryalus replied: “Laodamas,
Well hast thou said, and rightly: go thou now
And speak to him thyself, and challenge him.”

The son of King Alcinoüs, as he heard,
Came forward, and bespake Ulysses thus:⁠—

“Thou also, guest and father, try these feats,
If thou perchance wert trained to them. I think
Thou must be skilled in games, since there is not
A greater glory for a man while yet
He lives on earth than what he hath wrought out,
By strenuous effort, with his feet and hands.
Try, then, thy skill, and give no place to grief.
Not long will thy departure be delayed;
Thy barque is launched; the crew are ready here.”

Ulysses, the sagacious, answered thus:⁠—
“Why press me, O Laodamas! to try
These feats, when all my thoughts are of my woes,
And not of games? I, who have borne so much
Of pain and toil, sit pining for my home
In your assembly, supplicating here
Your king and all the people of your land.”

Then spake Euryalus with chiding words:⁠—
“Stranger, I well perceive thou canst not boast,
As many others can, of skill in games;
But thou art one of those who dwell in ships
With many benches, rulers o’er a crew
Of sailors⁠—a mere trader looking out
For freight, and watching o’er the wares that form
The cargo. Thou hast doubtless gathered wealth
By rapine, and art surely no athlete.”

Ulysses, the sagacious, frowned and said:⁠—
“Stranger, thou speakest not becomingly,
But like a man who recks not what he says.
The gods bestow not equally on all
The gifts that men desire⁠—the grace of form,
The mind, the eloquence. One man to sight
Is undistinguished, but on him the gods
Bestow the power of words. All look on him
Gladly; he knows whereof he speaks; his speech
Is mild and modest; he is eminent
In all assemblies, and, whene’er he walks
The city, men regard him as a god.
Another in the form he wears is like
The immortals, yet has he no power to speak
Becoming words. So thou hast comely looks⁠—
A god would not have shaped thee otherwise
Than we behold thee⁠—yet thy wit is small,
And thy unmannerly words have angered me
Even to the heart. Not quite unskilled am I
In games, as thou dost idly talk, and once,
When I could trust my youth and my strong arms,
I think that in these contests I was deemed
Among the first. But I am now pressed down
With toil and sorrow; much have I endured
In wars with heroes and on stormy seas.
Yet even thus, a sufferer as I am,
Will I essay these feats; for sharp have been
Thy words, and they provoke me to the proof.”

He spake, and rising with his mantle on
He seized a broader, thicker, heavier quoit,
By no small odds, than the Phaeacians used,
And swinging it around with vigorous arm
He sent it forth; it sounded as it went;
And the Phaeacians, skilful with the oar
And sail, bent low as o’er them, from his hand,
Flew the swift stone beyond the other marks.
And Pallas, in a human form, set up
A mark where it descended, and exclaimed:⁠—

“Stranger! a blind man, groping here, could find
Thy mark full easily, since it is not
Among the many, but beyond them all.
Then fear thou nothing in this game at least;
For no Phaeacian here can throw the quoit
As far as thou, much less exceed thy cast.”

She spake; Ulysses the great sufferer
Heard, and rejoiced to know he had a friend
In that great circle. With a lighter heart
Thus said the chief to the Phaeacian crowd:⁠—

“Follow that cast, young men, and I will send
Another stone, at once, as far, perchance,
Or further still. If there are others yet
Who feel the wish, let them come forward here⁠—
For much your words have chafed me⁠—let them try
With me the boxing or the wrestling match,
Or footrace; there is naught that I refuse⁠—
Any of the Phaeacians. I except
Laodamas; he is my host, and who
Would enter such a contest with a friend?
A senseless, worthless man is he who seeks
A strife like this with one who shelters him
In a strange land; he mars the welcome given.
As for the rest, there is no rival here
Whom I reject or scorn; for I would know
Their prowess, and would try my own with theirs
Before you all. At any of the games
Practised among mankind I am not ill,
Whatever they may be. The polished bow
I well know how to handle. I should be
The first to strike a foe by arrows sent
Among a hostile squadron, though there stood
A crowd of fellow-warriors by my side
And also aimed their shafts. The only one
Whose skill in archery excelled my own,
When we Achaians drew the bow at Troy,
Was Philoctetes; to all other men
On earth that live by bread I hold myself
Superior. Yet I claim no rivalry
With men of ancient times⁠—with Hercules
And Eurytus the Oechalian, who defied
The immortals to a contest with the bow.
Therefore was mighty Eurytus cut off.
Apollo, angry to be challenged, slew
The hero. I can hurl a spear beyond
Where others send an arrow. All my fear
Is for my feet, so weakened have I been
Among the stormy waves with want of food
At sea, and thus my limbs have lost their strength.”

He ended here, and all the assembly sat
In silence; King Alcinoüs only spake:⁠—

“Stranger, since thou dost speak without offence,
And but to assert the prowess of thine arm,
Indignant that amid the public games
This man should rail at thee, and since thy wish
Is only that all others who can speak
Becomingly may not in time to come
Dispraise that prowess, now, then, heed my words,
And speak of them within thy palace halls
To other heroes when thou banquetest
Beside thy wife and children, and dost think
Of things that we excel in⁠—arts which Jove
Gives us, transmitted from our ancestors.
In boxing and in wrestling small renown
Have we, but we are swift of foot; we guide
Our galleys bravely o’er the deep; we take
Delight in feasts; we love the harp, the dance,
And change of raiment, the warm bath and bed.
Rise, then, Phaeacian masters of the dance,
And tread your measures, that our guest may tell
His friends at home how greatly we surpass
All other men in seamanship, the race,
The dance, the art of song. Go, one of you,
And bring Demodocus his clear-toned harp,
That somewhere in our palace has been left.”

Thus spake the godlike king. The herald rose
To bring the sweet harp from the royal house.
Then the nine umpires also rose, who ruled
The games; they smoothed the floor, and made the ring
Of gazers wider. Next the herald came,
And brought Demodocus the clear-toned harp.
The minstrel went into the midst, and there
Gathered the graceful dancers; they were youths
In life’s first bloom. With even steps they smote
The sacred floor. Ulysses, gazing, saw
The twinkle of their feet and was amazed.
The minstrel struck the chords and gracefully
Began the lay: he sang the loves of Mars
And Venus of the glittering crown, who first
Had met each other stealthily beneath
The roof of Vulcan. Mars with many gifts
Won her, and wronged her spouse, the King of Fire;
But from the Sun, who saw their guilt, there came
A messenger to Vulcan. When he heard
The unwelcome tidings, planning his revenge,
He hastened to his smithy, where he forged
Chains that no power might loosen or might break,
Made to hold fast forever. When the snare
In all its parts was finished, he repaired,
Angry with Mars, to where the marriage-bed
Stood in his chamber. To the posts he tied
The encircling chains on every side, and made
Fast to the ceiling many, like the threads
Spun by the spider, which no eye could see,
Not even of the gods, so artfully
He wrought them. Then, as soon as he had wrapped
The snare about the bed, he feigned to go
To Lemnos nobly built, most dear to him
Of all the lands. But Mars, the god who holds
The shining reins, had kept no careless watch,
And when he saw the great artificer
Depart he went with speed to Vulcan’s house,
Drawn thither by the love of her who wears
The glittering crown. There Cytherea sat,
Arrived that moment from a visit paid.
Entering, he took her by the hand and said:⁠—

“Come, my beloved, let us to the couch.
Vulcan is here no longer; he is gone,
And is among the Sintians, men who speak
A barbarous tongue, in Lemnos far away.”

He spake, and she approved his words, and both
Lay down upon the bed, when suddenly
The network, wrought by Vulcan’s skilful hand,
Caught them, and clasped them round, nor could they lift
Or move a limb, and saw that no escape
Was possible. And now approached the King
Of Fire, returning ere he reached the isle
Of Lemnos, for the Sun in his behalf
Kept watch and told him all. He hastened home
In bitterness of heart, but when he reached
The threshold stopped. A fury without bounds
Possessed him, and he shouted terribly,
And called aloud on all the gods of heaven:⁠—

“O Father Jove, and all ye blessed ones,
And deathless! Come, for here is what will move
Your laughter, yet is not to be endured.
Jove’s daughter, Venus, thus dishonors me,
Lame as I am, and loves the butcher Mars;
For he is well to look at, and is sound
Of foot, while I am weakly⁠—but for this
Are none but my two parents to be blamed,
Who never should have given me birth. Behold
Where lie embraced the lovers in my bed⁠—
A hateful sight. Yet they will hardly take
Even a short slumber there, though side by side,
Enamored as they are; nor will they both
Be drowsy very soon. The net and chains
Will hold them till her father shall restore
All the large gifts which, on our marriage-day,
I gave him to possess the impudent minx
His daughter, who is fair, indeed, but false.”

He spake, and to the brazen palace flocked
The gods; there Neptune came, who shakes the earth;
There came beneficent Hermes; there too came
Apollo, archer-god; the goddesses,
Through womanly reserve, remained at home.
Meantime the gods, the givers of all good,
Stood in the entrance; and as they beheld
The cunning snare of Vulcan, there arose
Infinite laughter from the blessed ones,
And one of them bespake his neighbor thus:⁠—

“Wrong prospers not; the slow o’ertakes the swift.
Vulcan the slow has trapped the fleetest god
Upon Olympus, Mars; though lame himself,
His net has taken the adulterer,
Who now must pay the forfeit of his crime.”

So talked they with each other. Then the son
Of Jove, Apollo, thus to Hermes said:⁠—

“Hermes, thou son and messenger of Jove,
And bountiful of gifts, couldst thou endure,
Fettered with such strong chains as these, to lie
Upon a couch with Venus at thy side?”

The herald-god, the Argus-queller, thus
Made answer: “Nay, I would that it were so,
O archer-king, Apollo; I could bear
Chains thrice as many, and of infinite strength,
And all the gods and all the goddesses
Might come to look upon me, I would keep
My place with golden Venus at my side.”

He spake, and all the immortals laughed to hear.
Neptune alone laughed not, but earnestly
Prayed Vulcan, the renowned artificer,
To set Mars free, and spake these winged words:⁠—

“Release thy prisoner. What thou dost require
I promise here⁠—that he shall make to thee
Due recompense in presence of the gods.”

Illustrious Vulcan answered: “Do not lay,
Earthshaking Neptune, this command on me,
Since little is the worth of pledges given
For worthless debtors. How could I demand
My right from thee among the assembled gods,
If Mars, set free, escape from debt and chains?”

Again the god who shakes the earth replied:⁠—
“Vulcan, though Mars deny the forfeit due,
And take to flight, it shall be paid by me.”

Again illustrious Vulcan said: “Thy word
I ought not and I seek not to decline.”

He spake, and then the might of Vulcan loosed
The net, and, freed from those strong fetters, both
The prisoners sprang away. Mars flew to Thrace,
And laughter-loving Venus to the isle
Of Cyprus, where at Paphos stand her grove
And perfumed altar. Here the Graces gave
The bath, anointed with ambrosial oil
Her limbs⁠—such oil as to the eternal gods
Lends a fresh beauty, and arrayed her last
In graceful robes, a marvel to behold.

So sang the famous bard, while inly pleased
Ulysses heard, and pleased were all the rest,
Phaeacia’s sons, expert with oar and sail.

Alcinoüs called his sons Laodamas
And Halius forth, and bade them dance alone,
For none of all the others equalled them.
Then taking a fair purple ball, the work
Of skilful Polybus, and, bending back,
One flung it toward the shadowy clouds on high,
The other springing upward easily
Grasped it before he touched the ground again.
And when they thus had tossed the ball awhile,
They danced upon the nourishing earth, and oft
Changed places with each other, while the youths,
That stood within the circle filled the air
With their applauses; mighty was the din.
Then great Ulysses to Alcinoüs said:⁠—
“O King Alcinoüs! mightiest of the race
For whom thou hast engaged that they excel
All others in the dance, what thou hast said
Is amply proved. I look and am amazed.”

Well pleased Alcinoüs the mighty heard,
And thus to his seafaring people spake:⁠—

“Leaders and chiefs of the Phaeacians, hear!
Wise seems the stranger. Haste we to bestow
Gifts that may well beseem his liberal hests.
Twelve honored princes in our land bear sway,
The thirteenth prince am I. Let each one bring
A well-bleached cloak, a tunic, and beside
Of precious gold a talent. Let them all
Be brought at once, that, having seen them here,
Our guest may with a cheerful heart partake
The evening meal. And let Euryalus,
Who spake but now so unbecomingly,
Appease him both with words and with a gift.”

He spake; they all approved, and each one sent
His herald with a charge to bring the gifts,
And thus Euryalus addressed the king:⁠—

“O King Alcinoüs, mightiest of our race,
I will obey thee, and will seek to appease
Our guest. This sword of brass will I bestow,
With hilt of silver, and an ivory sheath
New wrought, which he may deem a gift of price.”

He spake, and gave the silver-studded sword
Into his hand, and spake these winged words:⁠—

“Stranger and father, hail! If any word
That hath been uttered gave offence, may storms
Sweep it away forever. May the gods
Give thee to see thy wife again, and reach
Thy native land, where all thy sufferings
And this long absence from thy friends shall end!”

Ulysses, the sagacious, thus replied:⁠—
“Hail also, friend! and may the gods confer
On thee all happiness, and may the time
Never arrive when thou shalt miss the sword
Placed in my hands with reconciling word!”

He spake, and slung the silver-studded sword
Upon his shoulders. Now the sun went down,
And the rich presents were already brought.
The noble heralds came and carried them
Into the palace of Alcinoüs, where
His blameless sons received and ranged them all
In fair array before the queenly dame
Their mother. Meantime had the mighty king
Alcinoüs to his palace led the way,
Where they who followed took the lofty seats,
And thus Alcinoüs to Aretè said:⁠—

“Bring now a coffer hither, fairly shaped,
The best we have, and lay a well-bleached cloak
And tunic in it; set upon the fire
A brazen cauldron for our guest, to warm
The water of his bath, that having bathed
And viewed the gifts which the Phaeacian chiefs
Have brought him, ranged in order, he may sit
Delighted at the banquet and enjoy
The music. I will give this beautiful cup
Of gold, that he, in memory of me,
May daily in his palace pour to Jove
Libations, and to all the other gods.”
He spake; Aretè bade her maidens haste
To place an ample tripod on the fire.
Forthwith upon the blazing fire they set
A laver with three feet, and in it poured
Water, and heaped fresh fuel on the flames.
The flames crept up the vessel’s swelling sides,
And warmed the water. Meantime from her room
Aretè brought a beautiful chest, in which
She laid the presents destined for her guest⁠—
Garments and gold which the Phaeacians gave⁠—
And laid the cloak and tunic with the rest,
And thus in winged words addressed the chief:⁠—

“Look to the lid thyself, and cast a cord
Around it, lest, upon thy voyage home,
Thou suffer loss, when haply thou shalt take
A pleasant slumber in the dark-hulled ship.”

Ulysses, the sagacious, heard, and straight
He fitted to its place the lid, and wound
And knotted artfully around the chest
A cord, as queenly Circè long before
Had taught him. Then to call him to the bath
The housewife of the palace came. He saw
Gladly the steaming laver, for not oft
Had he been cared for thus, since he had left
The dwelling of the nymph with amber hair,
Calypso, though attended while with her
As if he were a god. Now when the maids
Had seen him bathed, and had anointed him
With oil, and put his sumptuous mantle on,
And tunic, forth he issued from the bath,
And came to those who sat before their wine.
Nausicaä, goddess-like in beauty, stood
Beside a pillar of that noble roof,
And looking on Ulysses as he passed,
Admired, and said to him in winged words:⁠—

“Stranger, farewell, and in thy native land
Remember thou hast owed thy life to me.”

Ulysses, the sagacious, answering said:⁠—
“Nausicaä, daughter of the large-souled king
Alcinoüs! so may Jove, the Thunderer,
Husband of Juno, grant that I behold
My home, returning safe, as I will make
To thee as to a goddess day by day
My prayer; for, lady, thou hast saved my life.”

He spake, and near Alcinoüs took his place
Upon a throne. And now they served the feast
To each, and mingled wine. A herald led
Thither the gentle bard Demodocus,
Whom all the people honored. Him they placed
Amidst the assembly, where he leaned against
A lofty column. Sage Ulysses then
Carved from the broad loin of a white-tusked boar
A part, where yet a mass of flesh remained
Bordered with fat, and to the herald said:⁠—

“Bear this, O herald, to Demodocus,
That he may eat. Him, even in my grief,
Will I embrace, for worthily the bards
Are honored and revered o’er all the earth
By every race of men. The Muse herself
Hath taught them song; she loves the minstrel tribe.”

He spake; the herald laid the flesh before
Demodocus the hero, who received
The gift well pleased. Then all the guests put forth
Their hands and shared the viands on the board;
And when their thirst and hunger were allayed,
Thus to the minstrel sage Ulysses spake:⁠—

“Demodocus, above all other men
I give thee praise, for either has the Muse,
Jove’s daughter, or Apollo, visited
And taught thee. Truly hast thou sung the fate
Of the Achaian warriors⁠—what they did
And suffered⁠—all their labors as if thou
Hadst been among them, or hadst heard the tale
From an eyewitness. Now, I pray, proceed,
And sing the invention of the wooden horse
Made by Epeius with Minerva’s aid,
And by the chief Ulysses artfully
Conveyed into the Trojan citadel,
With armed warriors in its womb to lay
The city waste. And I, if thou relate
The story rightly, will at once declare
To all that largely hath some bounteous god
Bestowed on thee the holy gift of song.”

He spake; the poet felt the inspiring god,
And sang, beginning where the Argives hurled
Firebrands among their tents, and sailed away
In their good galleys, save the band that sat
Beside renowned Ulysses in the horse,
Concealed from sight, amid the Trojan crowd,
Who now had drawn it to the citadel.
So there it stood, while, sitting round it, talked
The men of Troy, and wist not what to do.
By turns three counsels pleased them⁠—to hew down
The hollow trunk with the remorseless steel;
Or drag it to a height, and cast it thence
Headlong among the rocks; or, lastly, leave
The enormous image standing and unharmed,
An offering to appease the gods. And this
At last was done; for so had fate decreed
That they should be destroyed whene’er their town
Should hold within its walls the horse of wood,
In which the mightiest of the Argives came
Among the sons of Troy to smite and slay.
Then sang the bard how, issuing from the womb
Of that deceitful horse, the sons of Greece
Laid Ilium waste; how each in different ways
Ravaged the town, while, terrible as Mars,
Ulysses, joined with Menelaus, sought
The palace of Deiphobus, and there
Maintained a desperate battle, till the aid
Of mighty Pallas made the victory his.

So sang renowned Demodocus; the strain
Melted to tears Ulysses, from whose lids
They dropped and wet his cheeks. As when a wife
Weeps her beloved husband, slain before
His town and people, fighting to defend
Them and his own dear babes from deadly harm,
She sees him gasp and die, and at the sight
She falls with piercing cries upon his corpse,
Meantime the victors beat her on the back
And shoulders with their spears, and bear her off
To toil and grieve in slavery, where her cheeks
In that long bitter sorrow lose their bloom;
So from the eyelids of Ulysses fell
The tears, yet fell unnoticed by them all
Save that Alcinoüs, sitting at his side,
Saw them, and heard his heavy sighs, and thus
Bespake his people, masters of the oar:⁠—

“Princes and chiefs of the Phaeacian race,
Give ear. Let now Demodocus lay by
His clear-toned harp. The matter of his song
Delights not all alike. Since first we sat
At meat, and since our noble bard began
His lay, our guest has never ceased to grieve;
Some mighty sorrow weighs upon his heart.
Now let the bard refrain, that we may all
Enjoy the banquet, both our guest and we
Who welcome him, for it is fitting thus.
And now are all things for our worthy guest
Made ready, both the escort and these gifts,
The pledges of our kind regard. A guest,
A suppliant, is a brother, even to him
Who bears a heart not easy to be moved.
No longer, then, keep back with studied art
What I shall ask; ’twere better far to speak
With freedom. Tell the name thy mother gave,
Thy father, and all those who dwell within,
And round thy city. For no living man
Is nameless from the time that he is born.
Humble or high in station, at their birth
The parents give them names. Declare thy land,
Thy people, and thy city, that our ships
May learn, and bear thee to the place; for here
In our Phaeacian ships no pilots are,
Nor rudders, as in ships of other lands.
Ours know the thoughts and the intents of men.
To them all cities and all fertile coasts
Inhabited by men are known; they cross
The great sea scudding fast, involved in mist
And darkness, with no fear of perishing
Or meeting harm. I heard Nausithoüs,
My father, say that Neptune was displeased
With us for safely bearing to their homes
So many men, and that he would destroy
In after time some good Phaeacian ship,
Returning from a convoy, in the waves
Of the dark sea, and leave her planted there,
A mountain huge and high, before our town.
So did the aged chieftain prophesy;
The god, as best may please him, will fulfil
My father’s words, or leave them unfulfilled.
Now tell me truly whither thou hast roamed,
And what the tribes of men that thou hast seen;
Tell which of them are savage, rude, unjust,
And which are hospitable and revere
The blessed gods. Declare why thou didst weep
And sigh when hearing what unhappy fate
Befell the Argive and Achaian host
And town of Troy. The gods decreed it; they
Ordain destruction to the sons of men,
A theme of song thereafter. Hadst thou not
Some valiant kinsman who was slain at Troy?
A son-in-law? the father of thy wife?
Nearest of all are they to us, save those
Of our own blood. Or haply might it be
Some bosom-friend, one eminently graced
With all that wins our love; for not less dear
Than if he were a brother should we hold
The wise and gentle man who is our friend.”