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Odysseus/Ulysses

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Author Topic: Odysseus/Ulysses  (Read 4585 times)
Bianca
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« on: June 23, 2008, 06:01:30 pm »









VI. THE WEB IS FINISHED



In the meanwhile the suitors had gathered again around the feast table and were more boisterous than before. "Come, fair Penelope!" they shouted. "Come and grace our banquet with your presence. The beggar can tell his tale to-morrow, for we shall delay no longer. The moon is full, and your promise must be redeemed. Come! choose a husband from among us. For know you this, that Ulysses, even though he lives, shall never again enter this house."

"Yes, choose! choose!" cried the younger men, as the queen passed slowly to the head of the hall.

"Choose me," said Agelaus, the fop; "for not even Apollo can match me for grace of form and figure."

[174] "Choose me," said rich Leocritus, "and the treasures of land and sea shall be yours."

"Choose me," said Antinous, the insolent; "for you dare not arouse my displeasure, and you shall be mine whether you choose or not."

"Chiefs and princes," said Penelope, in trembling tones, "it is not fit that I should decide this question. Let us leave it to the gods. Behold, there hangs the great bow of Ulysses with which he was wont to do most valiant deeds ere cruel fate called him to Troy. Let each of you try his strength in bending it, and I will choose that one who can shoot an arrow from it the most skillfully."

"Well said!" cried all the suitors, "and we agree to it. Hand us the bow, Telemachus, and let us make the trial."

First Antinous took the bow in his hands, and struggled long to bend it. Then, losing patience, he threw it upon the ground and strode away. "None but a giant can string a bow like that," he said.

Then, one by one, the other suitors made trial of their strength; but all in vain.

"Perhaps the old beggar who has just had his feet washed would like to take a part in this contest," said Agelaus, with a sneer.

Then Ulysses in his beggar's rags rose from his [175] seat and went with halting steps to the head of the hall. He lifted the great bow and looked with fond recollection at its polished back and its long, well-shaped arms, stout as bars of iron. "Methinks," he said, "that in my younger days I once saw a bow like this."

He took the slender bowstring of rawhide in his fingers. With seeming awkwardness he fumbled long with the bow, seeming unable to bend it. "Enough! enough, old man!" cried Antinous, striking him in the face with his hand. "Drop the bow, and stay no longer in the company of your betters."

Suddenly a great change came over Ulysses. Without apparent effort he bent the great bow and strung it. Then, rising to his full height, he shook off his beggar's rags and appeared in his own true likeness, clad in armor from head to foot, and every inch a king.

"O Ulysses! Ulysses!" cried Penelope, falling, fainting into the arms of the old nurse.

The suitors were speechless with amazement. Then in the wildest alarm they turned and tried to escape from the hall. But the arrows of Ulysses were swift and sure, and not one missed its mark. "Now I avenge myself upon those who have eaten up my substance and would destroy my home!" cried the hero.



[176] Twang! went the bow; and Antinous, the insolent, fell headlong upon the threshold of the palace. Twang! went the bow; and Agelaus in his silken robes rolled in the dust. Twang! went the bow; and all the wealth of Leocritus availed him nothing. And thus, one after another, the lawless suitors perished—slain by the wrath of the hero whom they had wronged.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 06:32:25 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.


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