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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about The Odyssey.

Ulysses frowned on him and said, “My friend, I do you no manner of harm; people give you a great deal, but I am not jealous.  There is room enough in this doorway for the pair of us, and you need not grudge me things that are not yours to give.  You seem to be just such another tramp as myself, but perhaps the gods will give us better luck by and by.  Do not, however, talk too much about fighting or you will incense me, and old though I am, I shall cover your mouth and chest with blood.  I shall have more peace tomorrow if I do, for you will not come to the house of Ulysses any more.”

Irus was very angry and answered, “You filthy glutton, you run on trippingly like an old fish-fag.  I have a good mind to lay both hands about you, and knock your teeth out of your head like so many boar’s tusks.  Get ready, therefore, and let these people here stand by and look on.  You will never be able to fight one who is so much younger than yourself.”

Thus roundly did they rate one another on the smooth pavement in front of the doorway, {149} and when Antinous saw what was going on he laughed heartily and said to the others, “This is the finest sport that you ever saw; heaven never yet sent anything like it into this house.  The stranger and Irus have quarreled and are going to fight, let us set them on to do so at once.”

The suitors all came up laughing, and gathered round the two ragged tramps.  “Listen to me,” said Antinous, “there are some goats’ paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat, and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to be the better man shall have his pick of the lot; he shall be free of our table and we will not allow any other beggar about the house at all.”

The others all agreed, but Ulysses, to throw them off the scent, said, “Sirs, an old man like myself, worn out with suffering, cannot hold his own against a young one; but my irrepressible belly urges me on, though I know it can only end in my getting a drubbing.  You must swear, however that none of you will give me a foul blow to favour Irus and secure him the victory.”

They swore as he told them, and when they had completed their oath Telemachus put in a word and said, “Stranger, if you have a mind to settle with this fellow, you need not be afraid of any one here.  Whoever strikes you will have to fight more than one.  I am host, and the other chiefs, Antinous and Eurymachus, both of them men of understanding, are of the same mind as I am.”

Every one assented, and Ulysses girded his old rags about his loins, thus baring his stalwart thighs, his broad chest and shoulders, and his mighty arms; but Minerva came up to him and made his limbs even stronger still.  The suitors were beyond measure astonished, and one would turn towards his neighbour saying, “The stranger has brought such a thigh out of his old rags that there will soon be nothing left of Irus.”

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