So she spoke, and bade Eumaeus, the goodly swineherd, set for the wooers the bow and the grey iron. And, bursting into tears, Eumaeus took them and laid them down, and in another place the neatherd wept, when he saw the bow of his lord. Then Antinous rebuked them, and spoke, and addressed them:
“Foolish boors, who mind only the things of the day! Wretched pair, why now do you shed tears, and trouble the soul in the breast of the lady, whose heart even as it is lies low in pain, seeing that she has lost her dear husband? Nay, sit and feast in silence,
or else go forth and weep, and leave the bow here behind as a decisive1
contest for the wooers; for not easily, methinks, is this polished bow to be strung. For there is no man among all these here such as Odysseus was, and I myself saw him.
For I remember him, though I was still but a child.”
So he spoke, but the heart in his breast hoped that he would string the bow and shoot an arrow through the iron. Yet verily he was to be the first to taste of an arrow from the hands of noble Odysseus, whom then he,
as he sat in the halls, was dishonoring, and urging on all his comrades.
Then among them spoke the strong and mighty Telemachus: “Lo now, of a truth Zeus, son of Cronos, has made me witless. My dear mother, for all that she is wise, declares that she will follow another lord, forsaking this house;
yet I laugh, and am glad with a witless mind. Come then, ye wooers, since this is shewn to be your prize, a lady, the like of whom is not now in the Achaean land, neither in sacred Pylos
, nor in Argos
, nor in Mycene, nor yet in Ithaca
itself, nor in the dark mainland.
Nay, but of yourselves you know this—what need have I to praise my mother? Come then, put not the matter aside with excuses, nor any more turn away too long from the drawing of the bow, that we may see the issue. Yea, and I would myself make trial of yon bow. If I shall string it and shoot an arrow through the iron,
it will not vex me that my honored mother should leave this house and go along with another, seeing that I should be left here able now to wield the goodly battle-gear of my father.”