Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Stranger, since indeed thou dost ask and question me of this, our house once bade fair to be rich and honorable, so long as that man was still among his people. But now the gods have willed otherwise in their evil devising,
seeing that they have caused him to pass from sight as they have no other man. For I should not so grieve for his death, if he had been slain among his comrades in the land of the Trojans, or had died in the arms of his friends, when he had wound up the skein of war. Then would the whole host of the Achaeans have made him a tomb,
and for his son, too, he would have won great glory in days to come. But as it is, the spirits of the storm1
have swept him away and left no tidings: he is gone out of sight, out of hearing, and for me he has left anguish and weeping; nor do I in any wise mourn and wail for him alone, seeing that the gods have brought upon me other sore troubles.
For all the princes who hold sway over the islands—Dulichium and Same and wooded Zacynthus—and those who lord it over rocky Ithaca
, all these woo my mother and lay waste my house. And she neither refuses the hateful marriage,
nor is she able to make an end; but they with feasting consume my substance: ere long they will bring me, too, to ruin.”
Then, stirred to anger, Pallas Athena spoke to him:“Out on it! Thou hast of a truth sore need of Odysseus that is gone, that he might put forth his hands upon the shameless wooers.
Would that he might come now and take his stand at the outer gate of the house, with helmet and shield and two spears, such a man as he was when I first saw him in our house drinking and making merry, on his way back from Ephyre, from the house of Ilus, son of Mermerus.
For thither, too, went Odysseus in his swift ship in search of a deadly drug, that he might have wherewith to smear his bronze-tipped arrows; yet Ilus gave it not to him, for he stood in awe of the gods that are forever; but my father gave it, for he held him strangely dear.
Would, I say, that in such strength Odysseus might come amongst the wooers; then should they all find swift destruction and bitterness in their wooing. Yet these things verily lie on the knees of the gods, whether he shall return and wreak vengeance in his halls, or whether he shall not; but for thyself, I bid thee take thought
how thou mayest thrust forth the wooers from the hall. Come now, give ear, and hearken to my words. On the morrow call to an assembly the Achaean lords, and speak out thy word to all, and let the gods be thy witnesses. As for the wooers, bid them scatter, each to his own;
and for thy mother, if her heart bids her marry, let her go back to the hall of her mighty father, and there they will prepare a wedding feast, and make ready the gifts2
full many—aye, all that should follow after a well-loved daughter. And to thyself will I give wise counsel, if thou wilt hearken.