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.
Blushd 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 polishd 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 evry 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 wandrer oer 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 filld
With fast-assembling throngs, no few of whom
Had markd Ulysses with admiring eyes.
Then, Pallas oer his head and shoulders broad
Diffusing grace celestial, his whole form
Dilated, and to the statelier height advanced,
That worthier of all revrence 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.
The dictates of my mind, therefore attend.
This guest, unknown to me, hath, wandring, 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
Soeer, who hath resorted to our doors,
Hath long complaind of his detention here.
Hastedraw 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 powrs of song delectable, unmatchd
By any, when his genius once is fired.
He ceasd, and led the way, whom followd 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 repaird,
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, unfurld the shining sail,
And, leaving her in depth of water moord,
All sought the palace of Alcinoüs.
There, soon, the portico, the court, the hall
Were filld with multitudes of young and old,
For whose regale the mighty monarch slew
Two beeves, twelve sheep, and twice four fatted brawns.
They slayd them first, then busily their task
Administring, 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 polishd board
And basket, and a goblet filld with wine
For his own use, and at his own command.
Then, all assaild 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 renownd; it was a song,
In that day, to the highest heavn extolld.
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 Achaias host
Hearing, rejoiced; for when in Pytho erst
He passd 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, ordaind 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 oer 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, pourd libation to the Gods.
But when the Chiefs (for they delighted heard
Those sounds) solicited again the bard,
And he renewd the strain, then covring close
His countnance, as before, Ulysses wept.
Thus, unperceivd by all, the Hero mournd,
Save by Alcinoüs; he alone his tears,
(Beside him seated) markd, and his deep sighs
Oerhearing, the Phæacians thus bespake.
Phæacias Chiefs and Senators, attend!
We have regaled sufficient, and the harp
Heard to satiety, companion sweet
And seasonable of the festive