So she spoke, and the much-enduring goodly Odysseus was glad,
rejoicing that he saw a true friend in the lists. Then with a lighter heart he spoke among the Phaeacians:
“Reach this now, young men; and presently, methinks, I will send another after it, as far or even further. Of the rest, if any man's heart and spirit bid him,
let him come hither and make trial—for ye have greatly angered me—be it in boxing or in wrestling, aye, or in running, I care not; let any one come of all the Phaeacians, save Laodamas alone. For he is my host, and who would quarrel with one that entertains him? Foolish is that man and worthless,
who challenges to a contest the host who receives him in a strange land; he does but mar his own fortunes. But of all the rest I refuse none, and make light of none, but am fain to know them, and make trial of them man to man. For in all things I am no weakling, even in all the contests that are practised among men.
Well do I know how to handle the polished bow, and ever would I be the first to shoot and smite my man in the throng of the foe, even though many comrades stood by me and were shooting at the men. Only Philoctetes excelled me with the bow
in the land of the Trojans, when we Achaeans shot. But of all others I declare that I am best by far, of all mortals that are now upon the earth and eat bread. Yet with men of former days I will not seek to vie, with Heracles or with Eurytus of Oechalia
who strove even with the immortals in archery. Wherefore great Eurytus died soon, nor did old age come upon him in his halls, for Apollo waxed wroth and slew him, because he had challenged him to a contest with the bow. And with the spear I throw farther than any other man can shoot with an arrow.
In the foot race alone I fear that someone of the Phaeacians may out strip me, for cruelly have I been broken amid the many waves, since there was in my ship no lasting store of provisions; therefore my limbs are loosened.”
So he spoke and they were all hushed in silence;
but Alcinous alone answered him and said:
“Stranger, since not ungraciously dost thou speak thus in our midst, but art minded to shew forth the prowess which waits upon thee, in anger that yonder man came up to thee in the lists and taunted thee in a way in which no mortal would make light of thy prowess,
who knew in his heart how to speak fitly; come, now, hearken to my words, that thou mayest tell to another hero, when in thy halls thou art feasting with thy wife and children, and rememberest our skill, what feats
Zeus has vouchsafed to us from our fathers' days even until now. For we are not faultless boxers or wrestlers, but in the foot race we run swiftly, and we are the best seamen; and ever to us is the banquet dear, and the lyre, and the dance, and changes of raiment, and warm baths, and the couch.