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They also availed themselves at their banquets of the services of minstrels and dancers; as the suitors did, and in the palace of Menelaus
A band amid the joyous circle sings
High airs at tempered to the vocal strings;
While, warbling to the varied strain, advance
Two sprightly youths to form the bounding dance.1
And though Homer uses μολπὴ, warbling, here, he is really speaking only of the exercise of the dance. But the race of bards in those days was modest and orderly, cultivating a disposition like that of philosophers. And accordingly Agamemnon leaves his bard as a guardian and counsellor to Clytæmnestra: who, first of all, going through all the virtues of women, endeavoured to inspire her with an ambition of excelling in virtuous and ladylike habits; and, after that, by supplying her with agreeable occupation, sought to prevent her inclinations from going astray after evil thoughts: so that Aegisthus could not seduce the woman till he had murdered the bard on a desert island. And the same is the character of that bard who sings under compulsion before the suitors; who bitterly reproached them for laying plots against Penelope. We find too that using one general [p. 23] term, Homer calls all bards objects of veneration among men.
Therefore the holy Muse their honour guards
In every land, and loves the race of bards.2
And Demodocus the bard of the Phœacians sins of the intrigue between Mars and Venus; not because he approves of such behaviour, but for the purpose of dissuading his hearers from the indulgence of such passions, knowing that they have been brought up in a luxurious way, and therefore relating to them tales not inconsistent with their own manners, for the purpose of pointing out to them the evil of then, and persuading them to avoid such conduct. And Phemius sings to the suitors, in compliance with their desire, the tale of the return of the Greeks from Troy; and the sirens sing to Ulysses what they think will be most agreeable to him, saying what they think most akin to his own ambition and extensive learning. We know, say they,
Whate'er beneath the sun's bright journey lies,
Oh stay and learn new wisdom from the wise.3

1 Odyss. iv. 18.

2 Odyss. vii. 481.

3 Ib. xii. 191.

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