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no one seems to be bringing any provisions of his own? And the guests-how
atrociously they are behaving; what riot they make over the whole house; it is enough
to disgust any respectable person who comes near them.” “Sir,” said Telemachus, “as
regards your question, so long as my father was here it was well with us and with the
house, but the gods in their displeasure have willed it otherwise, and have hidden him
away more closely than mortal man was ever yet hidden. I could have borne it better
even though he were dead, if he had fallen with his men before Troy, or had died with
friends around him when the days of his fighting were done; for then the Achaeans
would have built a mound over his ashes, and I should myself have been heir to his
renown; but now the storm-winds have spirited him away we know not wither; he is
gone without leaving so much as a trace behind him, and I inherit nothing but dismay.
Nor does the matter end simply with grief for the loss of my father; heaven has laid
sorrows upon me of yet another kind; for the chiefs from all our islands, Dulichium,
Same, and the woodland island of Zacynthus, as also all the principal men of Ithaca
itself, are eating up my house under the pretext of paying their court to my mother,
who will neither point blank say that she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an
end; so they are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so also with
myself.” “Is that so?” exclaimed Minerva, “then you do indeed want Ulysses home
again. Give him his helmet, shield, and a couple lances, and if he is the man he was
when I first knew him in our house, drinking and making merry, he would soon lay his
hands about these rascally suitors, were he to stand once more upon his own threshold.
He was then coming from Ephyra, where he had been to beg poison for his arrows
from Ilus, son of Mermerus. Ilus feared the ever-living gods and would not give him
any, but my father let him have some, for he was very fond of him. If Ulysses is the
man he then was these suitors will have a short shrift and a sorry wedding.

“But there! It rests with heaven to determine whether he is to return, and take his
revenge in his own house or no; I would, however, urge you to set about trying to get
rid of these suitors at once. Take my advice, call the Achaean heroes in assembly to-
morrow -lay your case before them, and call heaven to bear you witness. Bid the suitors
take themselves off, each to his own place, and if your mother’s mind is set on
marrying again, let her go back to her father, who will find her a husband and provide
her with all the marriage gifts that so dear a daughter may expect. As for yourself, let
me prevail upon you to take the best ship you can get, with a crew of twenty men, and
go in quest of your father who has so long been missing. Some one may tell you
something, or (and people often hear things in this way) some heaven-sent message
may direct you. First go to Pylos and ask Nestor; thence go on to Sparta and visit
Menelaus, for he got home last of all the Achaeans; if you hear that your father is alive
and on his way home, you can put up with the waste these suitors will make for yet
another twelve months.

If on the other hand you hear of his death, come home at once, celebrate his funeral
rites with all due pomp, build a barrow to his memory, and make your mother marry
again. Then, having done all this, think it well over in your mind how, by fair means or
foul, you may kill these suitors in your own house. You are too old to plead infancy any
longer; have you not heard how people are singing Orestes’ praises for having killed
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