Odyssey 8: 256-350
256] On this a servant
hurried off to bring the lyre from the king's house, and the nine men who had
been chosen as stewards stood forward. It was their business to manage
everything connected with the sports, so they made the ground smooth and marked
a wide space for the dancers [khoros]. Presently the servant came back with
Demodokos’ lyre, and he took his place in the midst of them, whereon the best
young dancers [khoros] in the town
began to foot and trip it so nimbly that Odysseus
was delighted with the merry twinkling of their feet.
 Meanwhile the bard began to sing the
loves of Ares
and how they first began their intrigue in the house of Hephaistos.
many presents, and defiled lord Hephaistos’
marriage bed, so the sun, who saw what they were about, told Hephaistos.
was very angry when he heard such dreadful news, so he went to his smithy
brooding mischief, got his great anvil into its place, and began to forge some
chains which none could either unloose or break, so that they might stay there
in that place. When he had finished his snare he went into his bedroom and
festooned the bed-posts all over with chains like cobwebs; he also let many hang
down from the great beam of the ceiling. Not even a god could see them, so fine
and subtle were they. As soon as he had spread the chains all over the bed, he
made as though he were setting out for the fair state of Lemnos,
which of all places in the world was the one he was most fond of. But Ares
kept no blind look out, and as soon as he saw him start, hurried off to his
house, burning with love for Aphrodite.
 Now Aphrodite
was just come in from a visit to her father Zeus,
and was about sitting down when Ares
came inside the house, and said as he took her hand in his own, "Let us go to
the couch of Hephaistos:
he is not at home, but is gone off to Lemnos
among the Sintians, whose speech is
barbarous."295] She was not unwilling, so they went to the
couch to take their rest, whereon they were caught in the toils which cunning Hephaistos
had spread for them, and could neither get up nor stir hand or foot, but found
too late that they were in a trap. Then Hephaistos
came up to them, for he had turned back before reaching Lemnos,
when his scout the sun told him what was going on. He was in a furious passion,
and stood in the vestibule making a dreadful noise as he shouted to all the
 "Father Zeus,"
he cried, "and all you other blessed gods who live for ever, come here and see
the ridiculous and disgraceful sight that I will show you. Zeus’
is always dishonoring me because I am lame. She is in love with Ares,
who is handsome and clean built, whereas I am a cripple - but my parents are
responsible [aitioi] for that, not
I; they ought never to have begotten me. Come and see the pair together asleep
on my bed. It makes me furious to look at them. They are very fond of one
another, but I do not think they will lie there longer than they can help, nor
do I think that they will sleep much; there, however, they shall stay till her
father has repaid me the sum I gave him for his baggage of a daughter, who is
fair but not honest."
 On this the gods gathered to the house
came, and Hermes
the bringer of luck, and lord Apollo,
but the goddesses stayed at home all of them for shame. Then the givers of all
good things stood in the doorway, and the blessed gods roared with
inextinguishable laughter, as they saw how cunning Hephaistos
had been, whereon one would turn towards his neighbor saying:
 "Ill deeds do not bring aretê, and the weak confound the strong. See
how limping Hephaistos,
lame as he is, has caught Ares
who is the fleetest god in heaven; and now Ares
will be cast in heavy damages."
333] Thus did they converse, but lord Apollo
said to Hermes,
giver of good things, you would not care how strong the chains were, would you,
if you could sleep with Aphrodite?"
 "King Apollo,"
"I only wish I might get the chance, though there were three times as many
chains - and you might look on, all of you, gods and goddesses, but I would
sleep with her if I could."
 The immortal gods burst out laughing as
they heard him, but Poseidon
took it all seriously, and kept on imploring Hephaistos
to set Ares
free again. "Let him go," he cried, "and I will undertake, as you require, that
he shall pay you all the damages that are held reasonable among the immortal
 "Do not," replied Hephaistos,
"ask me to do this; a bad man's bond is bad security; what remedy could I
enforce against you if Ares
should go away and leave his debts behind him along with his chains?"
Dr. Gabriel Danzig
Department of Classics
Bar Ilan University