The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
When morning came Alcinous called an assembly of the Phæacians, and Minerva went about urging every one to come
and see the wonderful stranger. She also gave Ulysses a more imposing presence that he might impress the people favourably. When the Phæacians were assembled Alcinous said:—
28 "I do not know who this stranger is, nor where he comes from; but he wants us to send him to his own home, and no guest of mine was ever yet able to complain that I did not send him home quickly enough. Let us therefore fit out a new ship with a crew of fifty-two men, and send him. The crew shall come to my house and I will find them in food which they can cook for themselves. The aldermen and councillors shall be feasted inside the house. I can take no denial, and we will have Demodocus to sing to us."
46 The ship and crew were immediately found, and the sailors with all the male part of the population swarmed to the house of Alcinous till the yards and barns and buildings were crowded. The king provided them with twelve sheep, eight pigs and two bullocks, which they killed and cooked.
62 The leading men of the town went inside the inner courtyard; Pontonous, the major domo, conducted the blind bard Demodocus to a seat which he set near one of the bearing-posts that supported the roof of the cloisters, hung his lyre on a peg over his head, and shewed him how to feel for it with his hands. He also set a table close by him with refreshments on it, to which he Could help himself whenever he liked.
72 As soon as the guests had done eating Demodocus began to sing the quarrel between Ulysses and Achilles before Troy, a lay which at the time was famous. This so affected Ulysses that he kept on weeping as long as the bard sang, and though he was able to conceal his tears from the company generally, Alcinous perceived his distress and proposed that they should all now adjourn to the athletic sports—which were to consist mainly of boxing, wrestling, jumping, and foot racing.
105 Demodocus, therefore, hung the lyre on its peg and was led out to the place where the sports were to be held. The whole town flocked to see them. Clytoneüs won the foot race, Euryalus took the prize for wrestling, Amphialus was the best jumper, Elatreus the best disc-thrower, and Alcinous’ son Laodamas the best boxer.
Laodamas and Euryalus then proposed that Ulysses should 131 enter himself for one of the prizes. Ulysses replied that he was a stranger and a suppliant; moreover, he had lately gone through great hardships, and would rather be excused.
Euryalus on this insulted Ulysses, and said that he supposed 158 he was some grasping merchant who thought of nothing but his freights. "You have none of the look," said he, "of an athlete about you."
Ulysses was furious, and told Euryalus that he was a good-looking 164 young fool. He then took up a disc far heavier than those which the Phæacians were in the habit of throwing. * The disc made a hurtling sound as it passed through the air, and easily surpassed any throw that had been made yet. Thus encouraged he made another long and very angry speech, in which he said he would compete with any Phæacian in any contest they chose to name, except in running, for he was still so much pulled down that he thought they might beat him here. "Also," he said, "I will not compete in anything with Laodamas. He is my host's son, and it is a most unwise thing for a guest to challenge any member of his host's family. A man must be an idiot to think of such a thing."
"Sir," said Alcinous, "I understand that you are displeased 236 at some remarks that have fallen from one of our athletes, who has thrown doubt upon your prowess in a way that no gentleman would do. I hear that you have also given us a general challenge. I should explain that we are not famous for our skill in boxing or wrestling, but are singularly fleet runners and bold mariners. We are also much given to song and dance, and we like warm baths and frequent changes of linen. So now come forward some of you who are the nimblest dancers, and show the stranger how much we surpass other nations in all graceful accomplishments. Let some one also bring Demodocus's lyre from my house where he has left it."
256 The lyre was immediately brought, the dancers began to dance, and Ulysses admired the merry twinkling of their feet.
266 While they were dancing Demodocus sang the intrigue between Mars and Venus in the house of Vulcan, and told how Vulcan took the pair prisoners. All the gods came to see 324 them; but the goddesses were modest and would not come.
373 Alcinous then made Halius and Laodamas have a game at ball, after which Ulysses expressed the utmost admiration of their skill. Charmed with the compliment Ulysses had paid his sons, the king said that the twelve aldermen (with himself, which would make thirteen) must at once give Ulysses a shirt and cloak and a talent of gold, so that he might eat his supper with a light heart. As for Euryalus, he must not only make a present, but apologise as well, for he had been rude.
398 Euryalus admitted his fault, and gave Ulysses his sword with its scabbard, which was of new ivory. He said Ulysses would find it worth a great deal of money to him.
412 Ulysses thanked him, wished him all manner of good fortune, and said he hoped Euryalus would not feel the want of the sword which he had just given him along with his apology.
417 Night was now falling, they therefore adjourned to the house of Alcinous. Here the presents began to arrive, whereon the king desired Arēte to find Ulysses a chest in which to stow them, and to put a shirt and clean cloak in it as his own contribution; he also declared his intention of giving him a gold cup. * Meanwhile, he said that Ulysses had better have a warm bath.
433 The bath was made ready. Arēte packed all the gold and presents which the Phæacian aldermen had sent, as also the shirt and tunic from Alcinous. Arēte told Ulysses to see to the fastening, lest some one should rob him while he was 445 asleep on the ship; Ulysses therefore fastened the lid on to
the chest with a knot which Circe had taught him. He then went into the bath room—very gladly, for he had not had a bath since he left Calypso, who as long as he was with her had taken as good care of him as though he had been a god.
As he came from the bath room Nausicaa was standing by 457 one of the bearing-posts that supported the roof of the cloisters and bade him farewell, reminding him at the same time that it was she who had been the saving of him—a fact which Ulysses in a few words gracefully acknowledged.
He then took his seat at table, and after dinner, at his 469 request, Demodocus sang the Sack of Troy and the Sally of the Achæans from the Wooden Horse. This again so affected him that he could not restrain his tears, which, however, Alcinous again alone perceived.
The king, therefore, made a speech in which he said that 536 the stranger ought to tell them his name. He must have one, for people always gave their children names as soon as they were born. He need not be uneasy about his escort. All he had to do was to say where he wanted to go, and the Phæacian ships were so clever that they would take him there of their own accord. Nevertheless he remembered hearing his father Nausithous say, that one day Neptune would be angry with the Phæacians for giving people escorts so readily, and had said he would wreck one of their ships as it was returning, and would also bury their city under a high mountain.
39:* It is a little odd that this disc should have been brought, considering that none such were used by the Phæacians. We must suppose that Minerva put it in along with the others, and then shed a thick darkness over it, which prevented the attendants from noticing it.
40:* Alcinous never seems to have got beyond saying that he was going to give the cup; he never gives it, nor yet the talent—the familiar an ὣσ εἰπὼν ἐν χερσὶ τίθει κ.τ.λ. is noticeably absent. He found the chest, and he took a great deal of pains about stowing the presents in the ship that was to take Ulysses to Ithaca (see xiii. 18, &c.), but here his contributions seem to have ended.