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The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

The Coming Storm, Book XX

Outside the palace, heralds marched through the streets, leading animals marked for sacrifice on Apollo’s sacred day.  Inside the palace, the suitors continued their feasting, and Athena, wishing to increase the ire of the man of sorrows, inspired the suitors to continue their insults against him.  Ctesippus, one of the suitors, pretended to honor Odysseus saying:  “Look here, I’ll give him a proper guest-gift too,/ a prize he can hand the crone who bathes his feet/ or a tip for another slave who haunts the halls/ of our great king Odysseus!” (XX 330-333).  And with that, Ctesippus hurled an ox-hoof at Odysseus, disguised as a beggar.  Odysseus dodged the hoof, and Telemachus immediately turned on Ctesippus, saying: Ctesippus, you can thank your lucky stars you missed our guest-he ducked your blow, by god! Else I would have planted my sharp spear in your bowels- your father would have been busy with your funeral, not your wedding here.  Enough. Don’t let me see more offenses in my house, not from anyone!  (XX 340-346) Agelaus rose up and told the rest of the suitors to stop insulting the stranger, and listen to the well spoken words of Telemachus.  Yet, even as he spoke, his words scorned both Telemachus and Penelope:  But now it’s as clear as day-the man [Odysseus] will come no more So go, Telemachus, sit with your mother, coax her to wed the best man here, the one who offers most, so you can have and hold your father’s estate, eating and drinking here, your mind at peace while mother plays the wife in another’s house. (XX 370-375) Telemachus, playing along, indicated that he would allow his mother to wed the most likely suitor, but that he would not banish her from his house.  Athena, still wishing to stir up Odysseus’ anger, made the suitors laugh hysterically at the words of the Prince.  Amidst the laughter, the seer Theoclymenus spoke up, warning the suitors of their impending fate:  Oh, I can see it now- the disaster closing in on you all!  There’s no escaping it, no way out-not for a single one of your suitors, wild reckless fools, plotting outrage here, the halls of Odysseus, great and strong as a god!  (XX 410-414) The suitors, unimpressed, continued to mock Telemachus, saying that his guests were a beggar and a charlatan who acted as a prophet.  Penelope, too, listened to the taunts of the suitors and waited for the gathering storm.  Theoclymenus