Penelope did not look on any of the wooers, but she went to her son, Telemachus, and spoke to him.
‘Telemachus,’ she said, ’I have heard that a stranger has been ill-treated in this house. How, my child, didst thou permit such a thing to happen?’
Telemachus said, ’My lady mother, thou hast no right to be angered at what took place in this hall.’
So they spoke to one another, mother and son. Now one of the wooers, Eurymachus by name, spoke to Penelope, saying:
’Lady, if any more than we beheld thee in the beauty thou hast now, by so many more wouldst thou have wooers to-morrow.’
‘Speak not so to me, lord Eurymachus,’ said Penelope, ’speak not of my beauty, which departed in the grief I felt when my lord went to the wars of Troy.’
Odysseus stood up, and gazed upon his wife who was standing amongst her wooers. Eurymachus noted him and going to him, said, ’Stranger, wouldst thou be my hireling? If thou wouldst work on my upland farm, I should give thee food and clothes. But I think thou art practised only in shifts and dodges, and that thou wouldst prefer to go begging thy way through the country.’
Odysseus, standing there, said to that proud wooer, ’Lord Eurymachus, if there might be a trial of labour between us two, I know which of us would come out the better man. I would that we two stood together, a scythe in the hands of each, and a good swath of meadow to be mown—then would I match with thee, fasting from dawn until evening’s dark. Or would that we were set ploughing together. Then thou shouldst see who would plough the longest and the best furrow! Or would that we two were in the ways of war! Then shouldst thou see who would be in the front rank of battle. Thou dost think thyself a great man. But if Odysseus should return, that door, wide as it is, would be too narrow for thy flight.’
So angry was Eurymachus at this speech that he would have struck Odysseus if Telemachus had not come amongst the wooers, saying, ’That man must not be struck again in this hall. Sirs, if you have finished feasting, and if the time has come for you, go to your own homes, go in peace I pray you.’
All were astonished that Telemachus should speak so boldly. No one answered him back, for one said to the other, ’What he has said is proper. We have nothing to say against it. To misuse a stranger in the house of Odysseus is a shame. Now let us pour out a libation of wine to the gods, and then let each man go to his home.’
The wine was poured out and the wooers departed. Then Penelope and her handmaidens went to her own chamber and Telemachus was left with his father, Odysseus.