"Dear to the Muse, Who yet appointed him both good and ill, Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine."
He took for his theme the wooden horse, by means of which the Greeks found entrance into Troy. Apollo inspired him, and he sang so feelingly of the terrors and the exploits of that eventful time that all were delighted, but Ulysses was moved to tears. Observing which, Alcinous, when the song was done, demanded of him why at the mention of troy his sorrows awaked. Had he lost there a father or brother, or any dear friend? Ulysses in reply announced himself by his true name, and at their request, recounted the adventures which had befallen him since his departure from Troy. This narrative raised the sympathy and admiration of the Phaeacians for their guest to the highest pitch. The king proposed that each chief should present him with a gift, himself setting the example. They obeyed, and vied with one another in loading the illustrious stranger with costly gifts.
The next day Ulysses set sail in the Phaeacian vessel, and in a short time arrived safe at Ithaca, his own island. When the vessel touched the strand he was asleep. The mariners, without waking him, carried him on shore, and landed with him the chest containing his presents, and then sailed away.
But Neptune was displeased at the conduct of the Phaeacians in thus rescuing Ulysses from his hands. In revenge, on the return of the vessel to port, he transformed it into a rock, right opposite the mouth of the harbor.
Homer's description of the ships of the Phaeacians has been thought to look like an anticipation of the wonders of modern steam navigation. Alcinous says to Ulysses,
"Say from what city, from what regions tossed, And what inhabitants those regions boast? So shalt thou quickly reach the realm assigned, In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind; No helm secures their course, no pilot guides; Like man intelligent they plough the tides, Conscious of every coast and every bay That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray." Odyssey, Book VIII
Lord Carlisle, in his Diary in the Turkish and Greek Waters, thus speaks of Corfu, which he considers to be the ancient Phaeacian island:
"The sites explain the Odyssey. The temple of the sea-god could not have been more fitly placed, upon a grassy platform of the most elastic turf, on the brow of a crag commanding harbor, and channel, and ocean. Just at the entrance of the inner harbor there is a picturesque rock with a small convent perched atop it, which by one legend is the transformed pinnace of Ulysses.