The Odyssey eBook

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

The killing of the suitors—­the maids who have misconducted themselves are made to cleanse the cloisters and are then hanged.

Then Ulysses tore off his rags, and sprang on to the broad pavement with his bow and his quiver full of arrows.  He shed the arrows on to the ground at his feet and said, “The mighty contest is at an end.  I will now see whether Apollo will vouchsafe it to me to hit another mark which no man has yet hit.”

On this he aimed a deadly arrow at Antinous, who was about to take up a two-handled gold cup to drink his wine and already had it in his hands.  He had no thought of death—­who amongst all the revellers would think that one man, however brave, would stand alone among so many and kill him?  The arrow struck Antinous in the throat, and the point went clean through his neck, so that he fell over and the cup dropped from his hand, while a thick stream of blood gushed from his nostrils.  He kicked the table from him and upset the things on it, so that the bread and roasted meats were all soiled as they fell over on to the ground. {166} The suitors were in an uproar when they saw that a man had been hit; they sprang in dismay one and all of them from their seats and looked everywhere towards the walls, but there was neither shield nor spear, and they rebuked Ulysses very angrily.  “Stranger,” said they, “you shall pay for shooting people in this way:  you shall see no other contest; you are a doomed man; he whom you have slain was the foremost youth in Ithaca, and the vultures shall devour you for having killed him.”

Thus they spoke, for they thought that he had killed Antinous by mistake, and did not perceive that death was hanging over the head of every one of them.  But Ulysses glared at them and said: 

“Dogs, did you think that I should not come back from Troy?  You have wasted my substance, {167} have forced my women servants to lie with you, and have wooed my wife while I was still living.  You have feared neither God nor man, and now you shall die.”

They turned pale with fear as he spoke, and every man looked round about to see whither he might fly for safety, but Eurymachus alone spoke.

“If you are Ulysses,” said he, “then what you have said is just.  We have done much wrong on your lands and in your house.  But Antinous who was the head and front of the offending lies low already.  It was all his doing.  It was not that he wanted to marry Penelope; he did not so much care about that; what he wanted was something quite different, and Jove has not vouchsafed it to him; he wanted to kill your son and to be chief man in Ithaca.  Now, therefore, that he has met the death which was his due, spare the lives of your people.  We will make everything good among ourselves, and pay you in full for all that we have eaten and drunk.  Each one of us shall pay you a fine worth twenty oxen, and we will keep on giving you gold and bronze till your heart is softened.  Until we have done this no one can complain of your being enraged against us.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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