The fighting at fists of Odysseus with Irus. His
admonitions to Amphinomus. Penelope appears before the
wooers, and draws presents from them.

Then up came a common beggar, who was wont to beg through
the town of Ithaca, one that was known among all men for
ravening greed, for his endless eating and drinking, yet he
had no force or might, though he was bulky enough to look
on. Arnaeus was his name, for so had his good mother given
it him at his birth, but all the young men called him Irus,
because he ran on errands, whensoever any might bid him. So
now he came, and would have driven Odysseus from his own
house, and began reviling him, and spake winged words:

'Get thee hence, old man, from the doorway, lest thou be
even haled out soon by the foot. Seest thou not that all
are now giving me the wink, and bidding me drag thee forth?
Nevertheless, I feel shame of the task. Nay get thee up,
lest our quarrel soon pass even to blows.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on him, and
spake saying: 'Sir, neither in deed nor word do I harm
thee, nor do I grudge that any should give to thee, yea
though it were a good handful. But this threshold will hold
us both, and thou hast no need to be jealous for the sake
of other men's goods. Thou seemest to me to be a wanderer,
even as I am, and the gods it is that are like to give us
gain. Only provoke me not overmuch to buffeting, lest thou
anger me, and old though I be I defile thy breast and lips
with blood. Thereby should I have the greater quiet
to-morrow, for methinks that thou shalt never again come to
the hall of Odysseus, son of Laertes'.

Then the beggar Irus spake unto him in anger: 'Lo now, how
trippingly and like an old cinder-wife this glutton speaks,
on whom I will work my evil will, and smite him right and
left, and drive all the teeth from his jaws to the ground,
like the tusks of a swine that spoils the corn. Gird
thyself now, that even these men all may know our mettle in
fight. Nay, how shouldst thou do battle with a younger man
than thou?'

Thus did they whet each the other's rage right manfully
before the lofty doors upon the polished threshold. And the
mighty prince Antinous heard the twain, and sweetly he
laughed out, and spake among the wooers:

'Friends, never before has there been such a thing; such
goodly game has a god brought to this house. The stranger
yonder and Irus are bidding each other to buffets. Quick,
let us match them one against the other.'

Then all at the word leaped up laughing, and gathered round
the ragged beggars, and Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spake
among them saying: 'Hear me, ye lordly wooers, and I will
say somewhat. Here are goats' bellies lying at the fire,
that we laid by at supper-time and filled with fat and
blood. Now whichsoever of the twain wins, and shows himself
the better man, let him stand up and take his choice of
these puddings. And further, he shall always eat at our
feasts, nor will we suffer any other beggar to come among
us and ask for alms.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then
Odysseus of many counsels spake among them craftily:

'Friends, an old man and foredone with travail may in no
wise fight with a younger. But my belly's call is urgent on
me, that evil-worker, to the end that I may be subdued with
stripes. But come now, swear me all of you a strong oath,
so that none, for the sake of shewing a favour to Irus, may
strike me a foul blow with heavy hand and subdue me by
violence to my foe.'

So he spake, and they all swore not to strike him, as he
bade them. Now when they had sworn and done that oath, the
mighty prince Telemachus once more spake among them:

'Stranger, if thy heart and lordly spirit urge thee to rid
thee of this fellow, then fear not any other of the
Achaeans, for whoso strikes thee shall have to fight with
many. Thy host am I, and the princes consent with me,
Antinous and Eurymachus, men of wisdom both.'

So spake he and they all consented thereto. Then Odysseus
girt his rags about his loins, and let his thighs be seen,
goodly and great, and his broad shoulders and breast and
mighty arms were manifest. And Athene came nigh and made
greater the limbs of the shepherd of the people. Then the
wooers were exceedingly amazed, and thus would one speak
looking to his neighbour:

'Right soon will Irus, un-Irused, have a bane of his own
bringing, such a thigh as that old man shows from out his

So they spake, and the mind of Irus was pitifully stirred;
but even so the servants girded him and led him out
perforce in great fear, his flesh trembling on his limbs.
Then Antinous chid him, and spake and hailed him:

'Thou lubber, better for thee that thou wert not now, nor
ever hadst been born, if indeed thou tremblest before this
man, and art so terribly afraid; an old man too he is, and
foredone with the travail that is come upon him. But I will
tell thee plainly, and it shall surely be accomplished. If
this man prevail against thee and prove thy master, I will
cast thee into a black ship, and send thee to the mainland
to Echetus the king, the maimer of all mankind, who will
cut off thy nose and ears with the pitiless steel, and draw
out thy vitals and give them raw to dogs to rend.'

So he spake, and yet greater trembling gat hold of the
limbs of Irus, and they led him into the ring, and the
twain put up their hands. Then the steadfast goodly
Odysseus mused in himself whether he should smite him in
such wise that his life should leave his body, even there
where he fell, or whether he should strike him lightly, and
stretch him on the earth. And as he thought thereon, this
seemed to him the better way, to strike lightly, that the
Achaeans might not take note of him, who he was. Then the
twain put up their hands, and Irus struck at the right
shoulder, but the other smote him on his neck beneath the
ear, and crushed in the bones, and straightway the red
blood gushed up through his mouth, and with a moan he fell
in the dust, and drave together his teeth as he kicked the
ground. But the proud wooers threw up their hands, and died
outright for laughter. Then Odysseus seized him by the
foot, and dragged him forth through the doorway, till he
came to the courtyard and the gates of the gallery, and he
set him down and rested him against the courtyard wall, and
put his staff in his hands, and uttering his voice spake to
him winged words:

'Sit thou there now, and scare off swine and dogs, and let
not such an one as thou be lord over strangers and beggars,
pitiful as thou art, lest haply some worse thing befal

Thus he spake, and cast about his shoulders his mean scrip
all tattered, and the cord therewith to hang it, and he gat
him back to the threshold, and sat him down there again.
Now the wooers went within laughing sweetly, and greeted
him, saying:

'May Zeus, stranger, and all the other deathless gods give
thee thy dearest wish, even all thy heart's desire, seeing
that thou hast made that insatiate one to cease from his
begging in the land! Soon will we take him over to the
mainland, to Echetus the king, the maimer of all mankind.'

So they spake, and goodly Odysseus rejoiced in the omen of
the words. And Antinous set by him the great pudding,
stuffed with fat and blood, and Amphinomus took up two
loaves from the basket, and set them by him and pledged him
in a golden cup, and spake saying:

'Father and stranger, hail! may happiness be thine in the
time to come; but as now, thou art fast holden in many

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying:
'Amphinomus, verily thou seemest to me a prudent man
enough; for such too was the father of whom thou art
sprung, for I have heard the fair fame of him, how that
Nisus of Dulichium was a good man and a rich, and his son
they say thou art, and thou seemest a man of understanding.
Wherefore I will tell thee, and do thou mark and listen to
me. Nought feebler doth the earth nurture than man, of all
the creatures that breathe and move upon the face of the
earth. Lo, he thinks that he shall never suffer evil in
time to come, while the gods give him happiness, and his
limbs move lightly. But when again the blessed gods have
wrought for him sorrow, even so he bears it, as he must,
with a steadfast heart. For the spirit of men upon the
earth is even as their day, that comes upon them from the
father of gods and men. Yea, and I too once was like to
have been prosperous among men, but many an infatuate deed
I did, giving place to mine own hardihood and strength, and
trusting to my father and my brethren. Wherefore let no man
for ever be lawless any more, but keep quietly the gifts of
the gods, whatsoever they may give. Such infatuate deeds do
I see the wooers devising, as they waste the wealth, and
hold in no regard the wife of a man, who, methinks, will
not much longer be far from his friends and his own land;
nay he is very near. But for thee, may some god withdraw
thee hence to thy home, and mayst thou not meet him in the
day when he returns to his own dear country! For not
without blood, as I deem, will they be sundered, the wooers
and Odysseus, when once he shall have come beneath his own

Thus he spake, and poured an offering and then drank of the
honey-sweet wine, and again set the cup in the hands of the
arrayer of the people. But the other went back through the
hall, sad at heart and bowing his head; for verily his soul
boded evil. Yet even so he avoided not his fate, for Athene
had bound him likewise to be slain outright at the hands
and by the spear of Telemachus. So he sat down again on the
high seat whence he had arisen.

Now the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, put it into the heart of
the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, to show herself to
the wooers, that she might make their heart all flutter
with hope, and that she might win yet more worship from her
lord and her son than heretofore. To she laughed an idle
laugh, and spake to the nurse, and hailed her, saying:

'Eurynome, my heart yearns, though before I had no such
desire, to show myself to the wooers, hateful as they are.
I would also say a word to my son, that will be for his
weal, namely, that he should not for ever consort with the
proud wooers, who speak friendly with their lips, but
imagine evil in the latter end.'

Then the housewife, Eurynome, spake to her saying: 'Yea my
child, all this thou hast spoken as is meet. Go then, and
declare thy word to thy son and hide it not, but first wash
thee and anoint thy face, and go not as thou art with thy
cheeks all stained with tears. Go, for it is little good to
sorrow always, and never cease. And lo, thy son is now of
an age to hear thee, he whom thou hast above all things
prayed the gods that thou mightest see with a beard upon
his chin.'

Then wise Penelope answered her, saying: 'Eurynome, speak
not thus comfortably to me, for all thy love, bidding me to
wash and be anointed with ointment. For the gods that keep
Olympus destroyed my bloom, since the day that he departed
in the hollow ships. But bid Autonoe and Hippodameia come
to me, to stand by my side in the halls. Alone I will not
go among men, for I am ashamed.'

So she spake, and the old woman passed through the chamber
to tell the maidens, and hasten their coming.

Thereon the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, had another thought.
She shed a sweet slumber over the daughter of Icarius, who
sank back in sleep, and all her joints were loosened as she
lay in the chair, and the fair goddess the while was giving
her gifts immortal, that all the Achaeans might marvel at
her. Her fair face first she steeped with beauty
imperishable, such as that wherewith the crowned Cytherea
is anointed, when she goes to the lovely dances of the
Graces. And she made her taller and greater to behold, and
made her whiter than new-sawn ivory. Now when she had
wrought thus, that fair goddess departed, and the
white-armed handmaidens came forth from the chamber and
drew nigh with a sound of voices. Then sweet sleep left
hold of Penelope, and she rubbed her cheeks with her hands,
and said:

'Surely soft slumber wrapped me round, most wretched though
I be. Oh! that pure Artemis would give me so soft a death
even now, that I might no more waste my life in sorrow of
heart, and longing for the manifold excellence of my dear
lord, for that he was foremost of the Achaeans.'

With this word she went down from the shining upper
chamber, not alone, for two handmaidens likewise bare her
company. But when the fair lady had now come to the wooers,
she stood by the pillar of the well-builded roof, holding
her glistening tire before her face, and on either side of
her stood a faithful handmaid. And straightway the knees of
the wooers were loosened, and their hearts were enchanted
with love, and each one uttered a prayer that he might be
her bed-fellow. But she spake to Telemachus, her dear son:

'Telemachus, thy mind and thy thoughts are no longer stable
as they were. While thou wast still a child, thou hadst a
yet quicker and more crafty wit, but now that thou art
great of growth, and art come to the measure of manhood,
and a stranger looking to thy stature and thy beauty might
say that thou must be some rich man's son, thy mind and thy
thoughts are no longer right as of old. For lo, what manner
of deed has been done in these halls, in that thou hast
suffered thy guest to be thus shamefully dealt with. How
would it be now, if the stranger sitting thus in our house,
were to come to some harm all through this evil handling?
Shame and disgrace would be thine henceforth among men.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her: 'Mother mine, as to this
matter I count it no blame that thou art angered. Yet have
I knowledge and understanding of each thing, of the good
and of the evil; but heretofore I was a child. Howbeit I
cannot devise all things according to wisdom, for these men
in their evil counsel drive me from my wits, on this side
and on that, and there is none to aid me. Howsoever this
battle between Irus and the stranger did not fall out as
the wooers would have had it, but the stranger proved the
better man. Would to Father Zeus and Athene and Apollo,
that the wooers in our halls were even now thus vanquished,
and wagging their heads, some in the court, and some within
the house, and that the limbs of each man were loosened in
such fashion as Irus yonder sits now, by the courtyard
gates wagging his head, like a drunken man, and cannot
stand upright on his feet, nor yet get him home to his own
place, seeing that his limbs are loosened!'

Thus they spake one to another. But Eurymachus spake to
Penelope, saying:

'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, if all the Achaeans in
Iasian Argos could behold thee, even a greater press of
wooers would feast in your halls from to-morrow's dawn,
since thou dost surpass all women in beauty and stature,
and within in wisdom of mind.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Eurymachus, surely my
excellence, both of face and form, the gods destroyed in
the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios, and with them
went my lord Odysseus. If but he might come and watch over
this my life, greater thus would be my fame and fairer! But
now am I in sorrow; such a host of ills some god has sent
against me. Ah, well do I remember, when he set forth and
left his own country, how he took me by the right hand at
the wrist and spake, saying:

'"Lady, methinks that all the goodly-greaved Achaeans will
not win a safe return from Troy; for the Trojans too, they
say, are good men at arms, as spearsmen, and bowmen, and
drivers of fleet horses, such as ever most swiftly
determine the great strife of equal battle. Wherefore I
know not if the gods will suffer me to return, or whether I
shall be cut off there in Troy; so do thou have a care for
all these things. Be mindful of my father and my mother in
the halls, even as now thou art, or yet more than now,
while I am far away. But when thou seest thy son a bearded
man, marry whom thou wilt and leave thine own house."

'Even so did he speak, and now all these things have an
end. The night shall come when a hateful marriage shall
find me out, me most luckless, whose good hap Zeus has
taken away. But furthermore this sore trouble has come on
my heart and soul; for this was not the manner of wooers in
time past. Whoso wish to woo a good lady and the daughter
of a rich man, and vie one with another, themselves bring
with them oxen of their own and goodly flocks, a banquet
for the friends of the bride, and they give the lady
splendid gifts, but do not devour another's livelihood
without atonement.'

Thus she spake, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced
because she drew from them gifts, and beguiled their souls
with soothing words, while her heart was set on other

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered her again:
'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, the gifts which any of
the Achaeans may choose to bring hither, do thou take; for
it were ill to withhold a gift. But we for our part will
neither go to our lands nor otherwhere, before thou art
wedded to the best man of the Achaeans.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well, and
each man sent a henchman to bring his gifts. For Antinous
his henchman bare a broidered robe, great and very fair,
wherein were golden brooches, twelve in all, fitted with
well bent clasps. And the henchman straightway bare
Eurymachus a golden chain of curious work, strung with
amber beads, shining like the sun. And his squires bare for
Eurydamas a pair of ear-rings, with three drops well
wrought, and much grace shone from them. And out of the
house of Peisander the prince, the son of Polyctor, the
squire brought a necklet, a very lovely jewel. And likewise
the Achaeans brought each one some other beautiful gift.

Then the fair lady went aloft to her upper chamber, and her
attendant maidens bare for her the lovely gifts, while the
wooers turned to dancing and the delight of song, and
therein took their pleasure, and awaited the coming of
eventide. And dark evening came on them at their pastime.
Anon they set up three braziers in the halls, to give them
light, and on these they laid firewood all around, faggots
seasoned long since and sere, and new split with the axe.
And midway by the braziers they placed torches, and the
maids of Odysseus, of the hardy heart, held up the lights
in turn. Then the prince Odysseus of many counsels himself
spake among them saying:

'Ye maidens of Odysseus, the lord so long afar, get ye into
the chambers where the honoured queen abides, and twist the
yarn at her side, and gladden her heart as ye sit in the
chamber, or card the wools with your hands; but I will
minister light to all these that are here. For even if they
are minded to wait the throned Dawn, they shall not outstay
me, so long enduring am I.'

So he spake, but they laughed and looked one at the other.
And the fair Melantho chid him shamefully, Melantho that
Dolius begat, but Penelope reared, and entreated her
tenderly as she had been her own child, and gave her
playthings to her heart's desire. Yet, for all that, sorrow
for Penelope touched not her heart, but she loved
Eurymachus and was his paramour. Now she chid Odysseus with
railing words:

'Wretched guest, surely thou art some brain-struck man,
seeing that thou dost not choose to go and sleep at a
smithy, or at some place of common resort, but here thou
pratest much and boldly among many lords and hast no fear
at heart. Verily wine has got about thy wits, or perchance
thou art always of this mind, and so thou dost babble idly.
Art thou beside thyself for joy, because thou hast beaten
the beggar Irus? Take heed lest a better man than Irus rise
up presently against thee, to lay his mighty hands about
thy head and bedabble thee with blood, and send thee hence
from the house.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on her, and
said: 'Yea, straight will I go yonder and tell Telemachus
hereof, thou shameless thing, for this thy speech, that
forthwith he may cut thee limb from limb.'

So he spake, and with his saying scared away the women, who
fled through the hall, and the knees of each were loosened
for fear, for they deemed that his words were true. But
Odysseus took his stand by the burning braziers, tending
the lights, and gazed on all the men: but far other matters
he pondered in his heart, things not to be unfulfilled.

Now Athene would in no wise suffer the lordly wooers to
abstain from biting scorn, that the pain might sink yet the
deeper into the heart of Odysseus, son of Laertes. So
Eurymachus, son of Polybus, began to speak among them,
girding at Odysseus, and so made mirth for his friends:

'Hear me ye wooers of the queen renowned, that I may say
that which my spirit within me bids me. Not without the
gods' will has this man come to the house of Odysseus;
methinks at least that the torchlight flares forth from {*}
that head of his, for there are no hairs on it, nay never
so thin.'

{* Accepting the conjecture [Greek] = [Greek] for the MSS.

He spake and withal addressed Odysseus, waster of cities:
'Stranger, wouldest thou indeed be my hireling, if I would
take thee for my man, at an upland farm, and thy wages
shall be assured thee, and there shalt thou gather stones
for walls and plant tall trees? There would I provide thee
bread continual, and clothe thee with raiment, and give
thee shoes for thy feet. Howbeit, since thou art practised
only in evil, thou wilt not care to go to the labours of
the field, but wilt choose rather to go louting through the
land, that thou mayst have wherewithal to feed thine
insatiate belly.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him and said:
'Eurymachus, would that there might be a trial of labour
between us twain, in the season of spring, when the long
days begin! In the deep grass might it be, and I should
have a crooked scythe, and thou another like it, that we
might try each the other in the matter of labour, fasting
till late eventide, and grass there should be in plenty. Or
would again, that there were oxen to drive, the best there
may be, large and tawny, both well filled with fodder, of
equal age and force to bear the yoke and of strength
untiring! And it should be a field of four ploughgates, and
the clod should yield before the ploughshare. Then
shouldest thou see me, whether or no I would cut a clean
furrow unbroken before me. Or would that this very day
Cronion might waken war whence he would, and that I had a
shield and two spears, and a helmet all of bronze, close
fitting on my temples! Then shouldest thou see me mingling
in the forefront of the battle, nor speak and taunt me with
this my belly. Nay, thou art exceeding wanton and thy heart
is hard, and thou thinkest thyself some great one and
mighty, because thou consortest with few men and feeble.
Ah, if Odysseus might but return and come to his own
country, right soon would yonder doors full wide as they
are, prove all too strait for thee in thy flight through
the doorway!'

Thus he spake, and Eurymachus waxed yet the more wroth at
heart, and looking fiercely on him spake to him winged

'Ah, wretch that thou art, right soon will I work thee
mischief, so boldly thou pratest among many lords, and hast
no fear at heart. Verily wine has got about thy wits, or
perchance thou art always of this mind, and so thou dost
babble idly. Art thou beside thyself for joy, because thou
hast beaten the beggar Irus?'

Therewith he caught up a footstool, but Odysseus sat him
down at the knees of Amphinomus of Dulichium, in dread of
Eurymachus. And Eurymachus cast and smote the cup-bearer on
the right hand, and the ladle cup dropped to the ground
with a clang, while the young man groaned and fell
backwards in the dust. Then the wooers clamoured through
the shadowy halls, and thus one would say looking to his

'Would that our wandering guest had perished otherwhere, or
ever he came hither; so should he never have made all this
tumult in our midst! But now we are all at strife about
beggars, and there will be no more joy of the good feast,
for worse things have their way.'

Then the mighty prince Telemachus spake among them:

'Sirs, ye are mad; now doth your mood betray that ye have
eaten and drunken; some one of the gods is surely moving
you. Nay, now that ye have feasted well, go home and lay
you to rest, since your spirit so bids; for as for me, I
drive no man hence.'

Thus he spake, and they all bit their lips and marvelled at
Telemachus, in that he spake boldly. Then Amphinomus made
harangue, and spake among them, Amphinomus, the famous son
of Nisus the prince, the son of Aretias:

'Friends, when a righteous word has been spoken, none
surely would rebuke another with hard speech and be angry.
Misuse ye not this stranger, neither any of the thralls
that are in the house of godlike Odysseus. But come, let
the wine-bearer pour for libation into each cup in turn,
that after the drink-offering we may get us home to bed.
But the stranger let us leave in the halls of Odysseus for
a charge to Telemachus: for to his home has he come.'

Thus he spake, and his word was well-pleasing to them all.
Then the lord Mulius mixed for them the bowl, the henchman
out of Dulichium, who was squire of Amphinomus. And he
stood by all and served it to them in their turn; and they
poured forth before the blessed gods, and drank the
honey-sweet wine. Now when they had poured forth and had
drunken to their hearts' content, they departed to lie
down, each one to his own house.