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"Amphimedon," it said, "what has happened to all you choice [krînô] young men - all of an age too - that you are come down here under the ground? One could select [krînô] no finer body of men from any city. Did Poseidon raise his winds and waves against you when you were at sea, or did your enemies make an end of you on the mainland when you were cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or while fighting in defense of their wives and city? Answer my question, for I have been your guest. Do you not remember how I came to your house with Menelaos, to persuade Odysseus to join us with his ships against Troy? It was a whole month ere we could resume our voyage, for we had hard work to persuade Odysseus to come with us."

And the ghost [psukhê] of Amphimedon answered, "Agamemnon, son of Atreus, king of men, I remember everything that you have said, and will tell you fully and accurately about the way in which our end was brought about. Odysseus had been long gone, and we were courting his wife, who did not say point blank that she would not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end, for she meant to compass our destruction: this, then, was the trick she played us. She set up a great tambour frame in her room and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework. ‘Sweethearts,’ said she, ‘Odysseus is indeed dead, still, do not press me to marry again immediately; wait - for I would not have my skill in needlework perish unrecorded - till I have completed a shroud for the hero Laertes, against the time when death shall take him. He is very rich, and the women of the dêmos will talk if he is laid out without a shroud.’ This is what she said, and we assented; whereupon we could see her working upon her great web all day long, but at night she would unpick the stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in this way for three years without our finding it out, but as time [hôra] wore on and she was now in her fourth year, and the waning of moons and many days had been accomplished, one of her maids who knew what she was doing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work, so she had to finish it whether she would or not; and when she showed us the robe she had made, after she had had it washed, its splendor was as that of the sun or moon.

"Then some malicious daimôn conveyed Odysseus to the upland farm where his swineherd lives. Thither presently came also his son, returning from a voyage to Pylos, and the two came to the town when they had hatched their plot for our destruction. Telemakhos came first, and then after him, accompanied by the swineherd, came Odysseus, clad in rags and leaning on a staff as though he were some miserable old beggar. He came so unexpectedly that none of us knew him, not even the older ones among us, and we reviled him and threw things at him. He endured both being struck and insulted without a word, though he was in his own house; but when the will [noos] of Aegis-bearing Zeus inspired him, he and Telemakhos took the armor and hid it in an inner chamber, bolting the doors behind them. Then he cunningly made his wife offer his bow and a quantity of iron to be contended for by us ill-fated suitors; and this was the beginning of our end, for not one of us could string the bow - nor nearly do so. When it was about to reach the hands of Odysseus, we all of us shouted out that it should not be given him, no matter what he might say, but Telemakhos insisted on his having it. When he had got it in his hands he strung it with ease and sent his arrow through the iron. Then he stood on the floor of the room and poured his arrows on the ground, glaring fiercely about him. First he killed Antinoos, and then, aiming straight before him, he let fly his deadly darts and they fell thick on one another. It was plain that some one of the gods was helping them, for they fell upon us with might and main throughout the cloisters, and there was a hideous sound of groaning as our brains were being battered in, and the ground seethed with our blood. This, Agamemnon, is how we came by our end, and our bodies are lying still un-cared for in the house of Odysseus, for our friends at home do not yet know what has happened, so that they cannot lay us out and wash the black blood from our wounds, making moan over us according to the offices due to the departed."

"Happy Odysseus, son of Laertes," replied the ghost [psukhê] of Agamemnon, "you are indeed blessed [olbios] in the possession of a wife endowed with such rare excellence [aretê] of understanding, and so faithful to her wedded lord as Penelope the daughter of Ikarios. The kleos, therefore, of her excellence [aretê] shall never die, and the immortals shall compose a song that shall be welcome to all humankind in honor of the constancy of Penelope. How far otherwise was the wickedness of the daughter of Tyndareus who killed her lawful husband; her song shall be hateful among men, for she has brought disgrace on all womankind even on the good ones."

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    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 24.339
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