So spake goodly Achilles, and went back within the hut and on the richly-wrought chair wherefrom he had risen sate him down by the opposite wall, and he spake unto Priam, saying:“Thy son, old sire, is given back according to thy wish,
and lieth upon a bier; and at break of day thou shalt thyself behold him, as thou bearest him hence; but for this present let us bethink us of supper. For even the fair-haired Niobe bethought her of meat, albeit twelve children perished in her halls, six daughters and six lusty sons.
The sons Apollo slew with shafts from his silver bow, being wroth against Niobe, and the daughters the archer Artemis, for that Niobe had matched her with fair-cheeked Leto, saying that the goddess had borne but twain, while herself was mother to many; wherefore they, for all they were but twain, destroyed them all.
For nine days' space they lay in their blood, nor was there any to bury them, for the son of Cronos turned the folk to stones; howbeit on the tenth day the gods of heaven buried them; and Niobe bethought her of meat, for she was wearied with the shedding of tears. And now somewhere amid the rocks, on the lonely mountains,
on Sipylus, where, men say, are the couching-places of goddesses, even of the nymphs that range swiftly in the dance about Achelous, there, albeit a stone, she broodeth over her woes sent by the gods. But come, let us twain likewise, noble old sire, bethink us of meat; and thereafter shalt thou make lament over thy dear son,
when thou hast borne him into Ilios; mourned shall he be of thee many tears.”
Therewith swift Achilles sprang up, and slew a white-fleeced sheep, and his comrades flayed it and made it ready well and duly, and sliced it cunningly and spitted the morsels, and roasted them carefully and drew all off the spits.
And Automedon took bread and dealt it forth on the table in fair baskets, while Achilles dealt the meat. So they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them. But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, then verily Priam, son of Dardanus, marvelled at Achilles, how tall he was and how comely;
for he was like the gods to look upon. And a son of Dardanus, did Achilles marvel, beholding his goodly aspect and hearkening to his words. But when they had had their fill of gazing one upon the other, then the old man, godlike Priam, was first to speak, saying:
“Show me now my bed with speed, O thou nurtured of Zeus, that lulled at length by sweet sleep we may rest and take our joy; for never yet have mine eyes closed beneath mine eyelids since at thy hands my son lost his life, but ever do I wail and brood over my countless sorrows,
grovelling in the filth in the closed spaces of the court. But now have I tasted of meat, and have let flaming wine pass down my throat; whereas till now had I tasted naught.”