Book I Book II Book III Book IV Book V Book VI Book VII
Book VIII Book IX Book X Book XI Book XII Book XIII Book XIV Book XV Book XVI Book XVII Book XVIII Book XIX Book XX Book XXI Book XXII Book XXIII Book XXIV
A Beggar in the Palace
On the next day Telemachus left for the palace leaving Eumaeus and Odysseus to follow. Telemachus was welcomed by Eurycleia and Penelope, whom he told to pray to the gods to give them a day of reckoning on the suitors. He told Peiraeus not to bring Menelaus’ gifts to the place as he did not want them to fall into the hands of the suitors if he was killed. Together with his guest, Theoclymenus, he then bathed and ate. When Penelope asked him whether he had discovered anything about Odysseus, Telemachus replied that Nestor had not heard anything about him and Menelaus had heard he was being detained by Calypso. Theoclymenus told Penelope he knew from an omen he had seen and told Telemachus about that Odysseus was already on Ithaca plotting revenge on the suitors. The suitors meanwhile finished their discus and javelin throwing, slaughtered some livestock and prepared to feast.
On their way to the city, Eumaeus and Odysseus were insulted by another swineherd, Melanthius, who was taking some goats to the suitors and joining their feast. As they approached the palace Odysseus recognised a dog, Argus, he had bred before leaving which seemed to recognise him but, in his absence, had been mistreated. He died at the very moment he saw Odysseus.
Eumaeus entered the palace first and joined Telemachus at his table. Odysseus followed and sat just inside the door. Telemachus sent Eumaeus with some food for him and after he had eaten it, Athena told Odysseus to go round the suitors begging for food. Melanthius recognised him as the stranger he had met with Eumaeus and Antinous reprimanded Eumaeus for bringing him. Telemachus in turn reprimanded Antinous for refusing to give food to a beggar which was not even his. All the suitors except Antinous gave him some food and so Odysseus reprimanded him, saying when he had been rich he had fed beggars but he had subsequently fallen on hard times after losing his men in Egypt and being taken to Cyprus. Antinous was angered by his words and threw a stool at Odysseus which hit his back but he did not react except to say to the other suitors, who were shocked by Antinous’ behaviour, he wished Antinous dead before his wedding day.
Penelope, when she heard what Antinous had said and done, said she hoped Apollo would strike him down and she asked to speak to the beggar to see if he had any news about Odysseus. As she expressed a wish that Odysseus would return and take revenge on the suitors she heard Telemachus sneezing and interpreted it as an omen that death would come to the suitors. Odysseus told Eumaeus to tell Penelope to wait until sunset before talking to him as he did not want to be attacked by the suitors. Eumaeus then left the palace.