To these words the Spartan listened with intense eagerness; he had them read over to him twice, then repeated them from memory, thanked Phryxus, and placed the roll within the folds of his garment.
The Delphian then took part in the general conversation, but Aristomachus repeated the words of the Oracle unceasingly to himself in a low voice, endeavoring to impress them on his memory, and to interpret their obscure import.
The doors of the supper-room now flew open. Two lovely, fair-haired boys, holding myrtle-wreaths, stood on each side of the entrance, and in the middle of the room was a large, low, brilliantly polished table, surrounded by inviting purple cushions.
[It was most probably usual for each guest to have his own little table; but we read even in Homer of large tables on which the meals were served up. In the time of Homer people sat at table, but the recumbent position became universal in later times.]
Rich nosegays adorned this table, and on it were placed large joints of roast meat, glasses and dishes of various shapes filled with dates, figs, pomegranates, melons and grapes, little silver beehives containing honey, and plates of embossed copper, on which lay delicate cheese from the island of Trinakria. In the midst was a silver table-ornament, something similar to an altar, from which arose fragrant clouds of incense.
At the extreme end of the table stood the glittering silver cup in which the wine was to be mixed.
[The Greeks were not accustomed to drink unmingled wine. Zaleukus forbade to all citizens the pure juice of the grape under penalty of death, and Solon under very severe penalties, unless required as medicine. The usual mixture was composed of three-fifths water to two-fifths wine.]
This was of beautiful AEginetan workmanship, its crooked handles representing two giants, who appeared ready to sink under the weight of the bowl which they sustained.
Like the altar, it was enwreathed with flowers, and a garland of roses or myrtle had been twined around the goblet of each guest.
The entire floor was strewed with rose-leaves, and the room lighted by many lamps which were hung against the smooth, white, stucco walls.
No sooner were the guests reclining on their cushions, than the fair-haired boys reappeared, wound garlands of ivy and myrtle around the heads and shoulders of the revellers, and washed their feet in silver basins. The Sybarite, though already scented with all the perfumes of Arabia, would not rest until he was completely enveloped in roses and myrtle, and continued to occupy the two boys even after the carver had removed the first joints from the table in order to cut them up; but as soon as the first course, tunny-fish with mustard-sauce, had been served, he forgot all subordinate matters, and became absorbed in the enjoyment of the delicious viands.