This counsel the peers with one consent approved; and wine and meat being set before Ulysses, he ate and drank, and gave the gods thanks who had stirred up the royal bounty of Alcinous to aid him in that extremity. But not as yet did he reveal to the king and queen who he was, or whence he had come; only in brief terms he related his being cast upon their shores, his sleep in the woods, and his meeting with the princess Nausicaa: whose generosity, mingled with discretion filled her parents with delight, as Ulysses in eloquent phrases adorned and commended her virtues. But Alcinous, humanely considering that the troubles which his guest had undergone required rest, as well as refreshment by food, dismissed him early in the evening to his chamber; where in a magnificent apartment Ulysses found a smoother bed, but not a sounder repose, than he had enjoyed the night before, sleeping upon leaves which he had scraped together in his necessity.
The songs of Demodocus.—The convoy home.—The mariners transformed to stone.—The young shepherd.
When it was day-light, Alcinous caused it to be proclaimed by the heralds about the town, that there was come to the palace a stranger, shipwrecked on their coast, that in mien and person resembled a god: and inviting all the chief people of the city to come and do honour to the stranger.
The palace was quickly filled with guests, old and young, for whose cheer, and to grace Ulysses more, Alcinous made a kingly feast with banquetings and music. Then Ulysses being seated at a table next the king and queen, in all men’s view; after they had feasted, Alcinous ordered Demodocus, the court-singer, to be called to sing some song of the deeds of heroes, to charm the ear of his guest. Demodocus came and reached his harp, where it hung between two pillars of silver: and then the blind singer, to whom, in recompense of his lost sight, the muses had given an inward discernment, a soul and a voice to excite the hearts of men and gods to delight, began in grave and solemn strains to sing the glories of men highliest famed. He chose a poem, whose subject was, The stern Strife stirred up between Ulysses and great Achilles, as at a banquet sacred to the gods in dreadful language they expressed their difference; while Agamemnon sat rejoiced in soul to hear those Grecians jar: for the oracle in Pytho had told him, that the period of their wars in Troy should then be, when the kings of Greece, anxious to arrive at the wished conclusion, should fall to strife, and contend which must end the war, force or stratagem.