"Cease your weeping, lest some
one should come outside and see us, and tell those who are within.
When you go in, do so separately, not both together; I will go first,
and do you follow afterwards; Let this moreover be the sign
[sêma] between us; the suitors will all of them
try to prevent me from getting hold of the bow and quiver; do you,
therefore, Eumaios, place it in my hands when you are carrying it
about, and tell the women to close the doors of their apartment. If
they hear any groaning or uproar as of men fighting about the house,
they must not come out; they must keep quiet, and stay where they are
at their work. And I charge you, Philoitios, to make fast the doors
of the outer court, and to bind them securely at once."
When he had thus spoken, he went
back to the house and took the seat that he had left. Presently, his
two servants followed him inside.
At this moment the bow was in the
hands of Eurymakhos, who was warming it by the fire, but even so he
could not string it, and he was greatly grieved. He heaved a deep
sigh and said, "I grieve [akhos] for myself and for us
all; I grieve that I shall have to forgo the marriage, but I do not
care nearly so much about this, for there are plenty of other women
and elsewhere; what I feel most is the fact of our being so
inferior to Odysseus in strength [biê] that we
cannot string his bow. This will disgrace us in the eyes of those who
are yet unborn."
"It shall not be so, Eurymakhos,"
said Antinoos, "and you know it yourself. To-day is the feast of
Apollo throughout all the dêmos; who can string a bow on
such a day as this? Put it on one side - as for the axes they can
stay where they are, for no one is likely to come to the house and
take them away: let the cupbearer go round with his cups, that we may
make our drink-offerings and drop this matter of the bow; we will
tell Melanthios to bring us in some goats tomorrow - the best he has;
we can then offer thigh bones to Apollo the mighty archer, and again
make trial of the bow, so as to bring the contest
[athlos] to an end."