And again Homer instructs us as to what we ought to do before a banquet, namely how we ought to allot the first-fruits of the dishes to the gods. At all events Ulysse and his friends, although in the cave of the Cyclops—
Then first a fire we kindle, and prepareAnd Achilles, although the ambassadors were impatient, as they had arrived in the middle of the night, still— [p. 294]
For his return with sacrifice and prayer.1
Himself opposed t' Ulysses full in sightAnd also he introduces the guests as making libations—
Each portion parts, and orders every rite;
The first fat offerings to th' Immortals due,
Amid the greedy flames Patroclus threw.
He said, and all approved; the heralds bringAnd this ceremony Plato also observes in his Banquet. For he says—“Then after they had supped and made libations, they sang pæans to the god with all customary honours.” And Xenophon speaks in very nearly the same terms. But in Epicurus there is no mention of any libation to the gods, or of any offering of first-fruits. But as Simonides says of an immodest woman—
The cleansing water from the living spring,
The youths with wine the sacred goblets crown'd,
And large libations drench'd the sand around.
The rite perform'd, the chiefs their thirst allay,
Then from the royal tent they take their way.2
And oftentimes she eats unhallow'd victims.