Then he spoke, addressing first the old man:
“Old man, not far off, as thou shalt soon learn thyself, is that man who has called the host together—even I; for on me above all others has sorrow come. I have neither heard any tidings of the army's return, which I might tell you plainly, seeing that I had first learned of it myself, nor is there any other public matter on which I am to speak and address you.
Nay, it is mine own need, for that evil has fallen upon my house in two-fold wise. First, I have lost my noble sire who was once king among you here, and was gentle as a father; and now there is come an evil yet greater far, which will presently altogether destroy my house and ruin all my livelihood.
My mother have wooers beset against her will, the sons of those men who are here the noblest. They shrink from going to the house of her father, Icarius, that he may himself exact the bride-gifts for his daughter, and give her to whom he will, even to him who meets his favour,
but thronging our house day after day they slay our oxen and sheep and fat goats, and keep revel, and drink the sparkling wine recklessly; and havoc is made of all this wealth. For there is no man here, such as Odysseus was, to ward off ruin from the house.
As for me, I am no-wise such as he to ward it off. Nay verily, even if I try I shall be found a weakling and one knowing naught of valor. Yet truly I would defend myself, if I had but the power; for now deeds past all enduring have been wrought, and past all that is seemly has my house been destroyed. Take shame upon yourselves,
and have regard to your neighbors who dwell roundabout, and fear the wrath of the gods, lest haply they turn against you in anger at your evil deeds.1
I pray you by Olympian Zeus, and by Themis who looses and gathers the assemblies of men,
forbear, my friends,2
and leave me alone to pine in bitter grief—unless indeed my father, goodly Odysseus, despitefully wrought the well-greaved Achaeans woe, in requital whereof ye work me woe despitefully by urging these men on. For me it were better
that ye should yourselves eat up my treasures and my flocks. If ye were to devour them, recompense would haply be made some day; for just so long should we go up and down the city, pressing our suit and asking back our goods, until all was given back. But now past cure are the woes ye put upon my heart.”
Thus he spoke in wrath, and dashed the staff down upon the ground, bursting into tears; and pity fell upon all the people. Then all the others kept silent, and no man had the heart to answer Telemachus with angry words.