Saying this, Ctesippus took up the foot of a slaughtered ox and flung it full at Odysseus. Odysseus drew back, and the ox’s foot struck the wall. Then did Odysseus smile grimly upon the wooers.
Said Telemachus, ’Verily, Ctesippus, the cast turned out happily for thyself. For if thou shouldst have struck my guest, there would have been a funeral feast instead of a wedding banquet in thy father’s house. Assuredly I should have driven my spear through thee.’
All the wooers were silent when Telemachus spoke these bold words. But soon they fell laughing at something one of their number said. The guest from Telemachus’ ship, Theoclymenus, was there, and he started up and went to leave the hall.
‘Why dost thou go, my guest?’ said Telemachus.
‘I see the walls and the beams of the roof sprinkled with blood,’ said Theoclymenus, the second-sighted man. ’I hear the voice of wailing. I see cheeks wet with tears. The men before me have shrouds upon them. The courtyard is filled with ghosts.’
So Theoclymenus spoke, and all the wooers laughed at the second-sighted man, for he stumbled about the hall as if it were in darkness. Then said one of the wooers, ’Lead that man out of the house, for surely he cannot tell day from night.’
‘I will go from the place,’ said Theoclymenus. ’I see death approaching. Not one of all the company before me will be able to avoid it.’
So saying, the second-sighted man went out of the hall. The wooers looking at each other laughed again, and one of them said:
’Telemachus has no luck in his guests. One is a dirty beggar, who thinks of nothing but what he can put from his hand into his mouth, and the other wants to stand up here and play the seer.’ So the wooers spake in mockery, but neither Telemachus nor Odysseus paid heed to their words, for their minds were bent upon the time when they should take vengeance upon them.
In the treasure-chamber of the house Odysseus’ great bow was kept. That bow had been given to him by a hero named Iphitus long ago. Odysseus had not taken it with him when he went to the wars of Troy.
To the treasure-chamber Penelope went. She carried in her hand the great key that opened the doors—a key all of bronze with a handle of ivory. Now as she thrust the key into the locks, the doors groaned as a bull groans. She went within, and saw the great bow upon its peg. She took it down and laid it upon her knees, and thought long upon the man who had bent it.
Beside the bow was its quiver full of bronze-weighted arrows. The servant took the quiver and Penelope took the bow, and they went from the treasure-chamber and into the hall where the wooers were.
When she came in she spoke to the company and said: ’Lords of Ithaka and of the islands around: You have come here, each desiring that I should wed him. Now the time has come for me to make my choice of a man from amongst you. Here is how I shall make choice.’