So saying, he hurled with strong hand the hoof of an ox,
taking it up from the basket where it lay. But Odysseus avoided it with a quick turn of his head, and in his heart he smiled a right grim and bitter smile; and the ox's hoof struck the well-built wall. Then Telemachus rebuked Ctesippus, and said:
“Ctesippus, verily this thing fell out more to thy soul's profit.
Thou didst not smite the stranger, for he himself avoided thy missile, else surely would I have struck thee through the middle with my sharp spear, and instead of a wedding feast thy father would have been busied with a funeral feast in this land. Wherefore let no man, I warn you, make a show of forwardness in my house; for now I mark and understand all things,
the good and the evil, whereas heretofore I was but a child. But none the less we still endure to see these deeds, while sheep are slaughtered, and wine drunk, and bread consumed, for hard it is for one man to restrain many. Yet come, no longer work me harm of your evil wills.
But if you are minded even now to slay me myself with the sword, even that would I choose, and it would be better far to die than continually to behold these shameful deeds, strangers mishandled and men dragging the handmaidens in shameful fashion through the fair hall.”
So he spoke, and they were all hushed in silence, but at last there spoke among them Agelaus, son of Damastor:
“Friends, no man in answer to what has been fairly spoken would wax wroth and make reply with wrangling words. Abuse not any more the stranger nor any
of the slaves that are in the house of divine Odysseus. But to Telemachus and his mother I would speak a gentle word, if perchance it may find favour in the minds of both. So long as the hearts in your breasts had hope that wise Odysseus would return to his own house,
so long there was no ground for blame that you waited, and restrained the wooers in your halls; for this was the better course, had Odysseus returned and come back to his house. But now this is plain, that he will return no more. Nay then, come, sit by thy mother and tell her this,
namely that she must wed him whosoever is the best man, and who offers the most gifts; to the end that thou mayest enjoy in peace all the heritage of thy fathers, eating and drinking, and that she may keep the house of another.”
Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Nay, by Zeus, Agelaus, and by the woes of my father,
who somewhere far from Ithaca
has perished or is wandering, in no wise do I delay my mother's marriage, but I bid her wed what man she will, and I offer besides gifts past counting. But I am ashamed to drive her forth from the hall against her will by a word of compulsion. May God never bring such a thing to pass.”