In Homer they eat sitting down; but some think that a separate table was set before each of the feasters. At all events, they say a polished table was set before Mentes when he came to Telemachus, arriving after tables were already laid for the feast. However, this is not very clearly proved, for Minerva may have taken her food at Telemachus's table. But all along the banqueting-room full tables were laid out, as is even now the custom among many nations of the barbarians,
Laden with all dainty dishes,as Anacreon says. And then when the guests have departed, the handmaidens
Bore off the feast, and clear'd the lofty hall,[p. 19] The feast which he mentions as taking place in the palace of Menelaus is of a peculiar character; for there he represents the guests as conversing during the banquet and then they wash their hands and return to the board, ad proceed to supper after having indulged their grief. But the line in the last book of the Iliad, which is usually read,
Removed the goblets and the tables all.
He eat and drank, while still the table stood,should be read,
He eat and drank still, while the table stood,or else there would be blame implied for what Achilles was doing at the moment; for how could it be decent that a table should be laid before Achilles, as before a party of revellers, down the whole length of a banqueting-room? Bread, then, was placed on the table in baskets, and the rest of the meal consisted wholly of roast meat. But Homer never speaks of broth, Antiphanes says,
He never boil'd the legs or haunches,
But roasted brains and roasted paunches,
As did his sires of old.