Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered him: “Eurymachus, this shall not be so, and thou of thyself too knowest it. For to-day throughout the land is the feast of the god1
—a holy feast. Who then would bend a bow? Nay, quietly
set it by; and as for the axes—what if we should let them all stand as they are? No man, methinks, will come to the hall of Odysseus, son of Laertes, and carry them off. Nay, come, let the bearer pour drops for libation into the cups, that we may pour libations, and lay aside the curved bow.
And in the morning bid Melanthius, the goatherd, to bring she-goats, far the best in all the herds, that we may lay thigh-pieces on the altar of Apollo, the famed archer; and so make trial of the bow, and end the contest.”
So spoke Antinous, and his word was pleasing to them.
Then the heralds poured water over their hands, and youths filled the bowls brim full of drink, and served out to all, pouring first drops for libation into the cups. But when they had poured libations, and had drunk to their heart's content, then with crafty mind Odysseus of many wiles spoke among them:
“Hear me, wooers of the glorious queen, that I may say what the heart in my breast bids me. To Eurymachus most of all do I make my prayer, and to godlike Antinous, since this word also of his was spoken aright, namely that for the present you cease to try the bow, and leave the issue with the gods;
and in the morning the god will give the victory to whomsoever he will. But come, give me the polished bow, that in your midst I may prove my hands and strength, whether I have yet might such as was of old in my supple limbs, or whether by now my wanderings and lack of food have destroyed it.”
So he spoke, and they all waxed exceeding wroth, fearing lest he might string the polished bow. And Antinous rebuked him, and spoke and addressed him:
“Ah, wretched stranger, thou hast no wit, no, not a trace. Art thou not content
that thou feastest undisturbed in our proud company, and lackest naught of the banquet, but hearest our words and our speech, while no other that is a stranger and beggar hears our words? It is wine that wounds thee, honey-sweet wine, which works harm to others too, if one takes it in great gulps, and drinks beyond measure.
It was wine that made foolish even the centaur, glorious Eurytion, in the hall of greathearted Peirithous, when he went to the Lapithae: and when his heart had been made foolish with wine, in his madness he wrought evil in the house of Peirithous. Then grief seized the heroes,
and they leapt up and dragged him forth through the gateway, when they had shorn off his ears and his nostrils with the pitiless bronze, and he, made foolish in heart, went his way, bearing with him the curse of his sin in the folly of his heart. From hence the feud arose between the centaurs and mankind; but it was for himself first that he found evil, being heavy with wine.
Even so do I declare great harm for thee, if thou shalt string the bow, for thou shalt meet with no kindness at the hands of anyone in our land, but we will send thee straightway in a black ship to king Echetus, the maimer of all men, from whose hands thou shalt in no wise escape alive. Nay, then, be still,
and drink thy wine, and do not strive with men younger than thou.”