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So saying, he led the way, and the sceptred kings followed him, while a herald went for the divine minstrel. And chosen youths, two and fifty, went, as he bade, to the shore of the unresting sea. [50] And when they had come down to the ship and to the sea, they drew the black ship down to the deep water, and placed the mast and sail in the black ship, and fitted the oars in the leathern thole-straps, all in due order, and spread the white sail. [55] Well out in the roadstead they moored the ship, and then went their way to the great palace of the wise Alcinous. Filled were the porticoes and courts and rooms with the men that gathered, for many there were, both young and old. For them Alcinous slaughtered twelve sheep, [60] and eight white-tusked boars, and two oxen of shambling gait. These they flayed and dressed, and made ready a goodly feast. Then the herald drew near, leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all other men, and gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song. [65] For him Pontonous, the herald, set a silver-studded chair in the midst of the banqueters, leaning it against a tall pillar, and he hung the clear-toned lyre from a peg close above his head, and showed him how to reach it with his hands. And beside him he placed a basket and a beautiful table, [70] and a cup of wine, to drink when his heart should bid him. 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, the Muse moved the minstrel to sing of the glorious deeds of warriors, from that lay the fame whereof had then reached broad heaven, [75] even the quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles, son of Peleus, how once they strove with furious words at a rich feast of the gods, and Agamemnon, king of men, was glad at heart that the best of the Achaeans were quarrelling; for thus Phoebus Apollo, in giving his response, had told him that it should be, [80] in sacred Pytho, when he passed over the threshold of stone to enquire of the oracle. For then the beginning of woe was rolling upon Trojans and Danaans through the will of great Zeus.

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