Book 8

The phæacíans consult on the subject of Ulysses. Preparation is made for his departure. Antinoüs entertains them at his table. Games follow the entertainment. Demodocus the bard sings, first the loves of Mars and Venus, then the introduction of the wooden horse into Troy. Ulysses, much affected by his song, is questioned by Alcinoüs, whence, and who he is, and what is the cause of his sorrow.

   But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Blush’d in the East, then from his bed arose
The sacred might of the Phæacian King.
Then uprose also, city-waster Chief,
Ulysses, whom the King Alcinoüs
Led forth to council at the ships convened.
There, side by side, on polish’d stones they sat
Frequent; meantime, Minerva in the form
Of King Alcinoüs’ herald ranged the town,
With purpose to accelerate the return
Of brave Ulysses to his native home,
And thus to ev’ry Chief the Goddess spake.
Phæacian Chiefs and Senators, away!
Haste all to council on the stranger held,
Who hath of late beneath Alcinoüs’ roof
Our King arrived, a wand’rer o’er the Deep,
But, in his form, majestic as a God.
So saying, she roused the people, and at once
The seats of all the senate-court were fill’d
With fast-assembling throngs, no few of whom
Had mark’d Ulysses with admiring eyes.
Then, Pallas o’er his head and shoulders broad
Diffusing grace celestial, his whole form
Dilated, and to the statelier height advanced,
That worthier of all rev’rence he might seem
To the Phæacians, and might many a feat
Atchieve, with which they should assay his force.
When, therefore, the assembly now was full,
Alcinoüs, them addressing, thus began.

   Phæacian Chiefs and Senators! I speak
The dictates of my mind, therefore attend.
This guest, unknown to me, hath, wand’ring, found
My palace, either from the East arrived,
Or from some nation on our western side.
Safe conduct home he asks, and our consent
Here wishes ratified, whose quick return
Be it our part, as usual, to promote;
For at no time the stranger, from what coast
Soe’er, who hath resorted to our doors,
Hath long complain’d of his detention here.
Haste—draw ye down into the sacred Deep
A vessel of prime speed, and, from among
The people, fifty and two youths select,
Approved the best; then, lashing fast the oars,
Leave her, that at my palace ye may make
Short feast, for which myself will all provide.
Thus I enjoin the crew; but as for those
Of sceptred rank, I bid them all alike
To my own board, that here we may regale
The stranger nobly, and let none refuse.
Call, too, Demodocus, the bard divine,
To share my banquet, whom the Gods have blest
With pow’rs of song delectable, unmatch’d
By any, when his genius once is fired.
He ceas’d, and led the way, whom follow’d all
The sceptred senators, while to the house
An herald hasted of the bard divine.
Then, fifty mariners and two, from all
The rest selected, to the coast repair’d,
And, from her station on the sea-bank, launched
The galley down into the sacred Deep.
They placed the canvas and the mast on board,
Arranged the oars, unfurl’d the shining sail,
And, leaving her in depth of water moor’d,
All sought the palace of Alcinoüs.
There, soon, the portico, the court, the hall
Were fill’d with multitudes of young and old,
For whose regale the mighty monarch slew
Two beeves, twelve sheep, and twice four fatted brawns.
They slay’d them first, then busily their task
Administ’ring, prepared the joyous feast.
And now the herald came, leading with care
The tuneful bard; dear to the muse was he,
Who yet appointed him both good and ill;
Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine.
For him, Pontonoüs in the midst disposed
An argent-studded throne, thrusting it close
To a tall column, where he hung his lyre
Above his head, and taught him where it hung.
He set before him, next, a polish’d board
And basket, and a goblet fill’d with wine
For his own use, and at his own command.
Then, all assail’d at once the ready feast,
And when nor hunger more nor thirst they felt,
Then came the muse, and roused the bard to sing
Exploits of men renown’d; it was a song,
In that day, to the highest heav’n extoll’d.
He sang of a dispute kindled between
The son of Peleus, and Laertes’ son,
Both seated at a feast held to the Gods.
That contest Agamemnon, King of men,
Between the noblest of Achaia’s host
Hearing, rejoiced; for when in Pytho erst
He pass’d the marble threshold to consult
The oracle of Apollo, such dispute
The voice divine had to his ear announced;
For then it was that, first, the storm of war
Came rolling on, ordain’d long time to afflict
Troy and the Greecians, by the will of Jove.
So sang the bard illustrious; then his robe
Of purple dye with both hands o’er his head
Ulysses drew, behind its ample folds
Veiling his face, through fear to be observed
By the Phæacians weeping at the song;
And ever as the bard harmonious ceased,
He wiped his tears, and, drawing from his brows
The mantle, pour’d libation to the Gods.
But when the Chiefs (for they delighted heard
Those sounds) solicited again the bard,
And he renew’d the strain, then cov’ring close
His count’nance, as before, Ulysses wept.
Thus, unperceiv’d by all, the Hero mourn’d,
Save by Alcinoüs; he alone his tears,
(Beside him seated) mark’d, and his deep sighs
O’erhearing, the Phæacians thus bespake.
Phæacia’s Chiefs and Senators, attend!
We have regaled sufficient, and the harp
Heard to satiety, companion sweet
And seasonable of the festive

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.