So spoke Telemachus, but among the wooers Pallas Athena roused unquenchable laughter, and turned their wits awry. And now they laughed with alien lips, and all bedabbled with blood was the flesh they ate,1
and their eyes were filled with tears and their spirits set on wailing.
Then among them spoke godlike Theoclymenus:
“Ah, wretched men, what evil is this that you suffer? Shrouded in night are your heads and your faces and your knees beneath you; kindled is the sound of wailing, bathed in tears are your cheeks, and sprinkled with blood are the walls and the fair rafters.
And full of ghosts is the porch and full the court, of ghosts that hasten down to Erebus beneath the darkness, and the sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist hovers over all.”
So he spoke, but they all laughed merrily at him. And among them Eurymachus, son of Polybus, was the first to speak:
“Mad is the stranger that has newly come from abroad. Quick, ye youths, convey him forth out of doors to go his way to the place of assembly, since here he finds it like night.”
Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: “Eurymachus, in no wise do I bid thee give me guides for my way.
I have eyes and ears and my two feet, and a mind in my breast that is in no wise meanly fashioned. With these will I go forth out of doors, for I mark evil coming upon you which not one of the wooers may escape or avoid, of all you who in the house of godlike Odysseus
insult men and devise wicked folly.”
So saying, he went forth from the stately halls and came to Piraeus, who received him with a ready heart. But all the wooers, looking at one another, sought to provoke Telemachus by laughing at his guests.
And thus would one of the proud youths speak:
“Telemachus, no man is more unlucky in his guests than thou, seeing that thou keepest such a filthy vagabond as this man here, always wanting bread and wine, and skilled neither in the works of peace nor those of war, but a mere burden of the earth.
And this other fellow again stood up to prophesy. Nay, if thou wouldst hearken to me it would be better far: let us fling these strangers on board a benched ship, and send them to the Sicilians, whence they would bring2
thee in a fitting price.”
So spake the wooers, but he paid no heed to their words.
Nay, in silence he watched his father, ever waiting until he should put forth his hands upon the shameless wooers.
But the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, had set her beautiful chair over against them, and heard the words of each man in the hall.
For they had made ready their meal in the midst of their laughing, a sweet meal, and one to satisfy the heart, for they had slain many beasts. But never could meal have been more graceless than a supper such as a goddess and a mighty man were soon to set before them. For unprovoked they were contriving deeds of shame.