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

The King Returns, Book XXII

Now stripping back his rags Odysseus master of craft and battle vaulted onto the great threshold, gripping his bow and quiver bristling arrows, and pured his flashing shafts before him, loose at his feet, and thundered out, now, at last! ‘Look-your crucial test is finished, now, at last! But another target’s left that no one’s hit before- we’ll see if I can hit it-Apollo give me glory!’ (XXII 1- 7) And the man of exploits aimed his first arrow at the ring-leader, Antinous, who raised his wine cup to his lips.  Odysseus’ aim was true, and Antinous was pierced through the throat as he drank, as the cup dropped from his hands and the man’s blood flowed freely.  The suitors, fearful now, burst into an uproar and scanned the palace, hastily looking to find weapons in order to defend themselves.  Unable to find weapons, they wheeled on Odysseus and called down threats upon his head.  Still shocked, they could not believe that the stranger killed Antinous on purpose-it must have been an accident. Odysseus, controlling his rage no more, called out to them: You dogs! you never imagined I’d return from Troy- so cocksure that you bled my house to death, ravished my serving-women-wooed my wife behind my back while I was still alive! No fear of the gods who rule the skies up there, no fear that men’s revenge might arrive someday- now all your necks are in the noose-your doom is sealed!  (XXII 36-42) Slaughter of the suitors Finally, the truth dawned on the suitors and they blanched in terror at their imminent death.  Eurymachus, thinking quickly, sought to diffuse the great man’s anger, telling him that Antinous was the leader, and that his death was enough vengeance.  Eurymachus vowed that the suitors would pay Odysseus back in full.  Odysseus, unswayed by Eurymachus, vowed to be avenged, and counseled them to fight or flee.  Eurymachus, undaunted, called on the suitors to fight back and achieve some sort of dignity by fighting.  So Eurymachus, girding himself up for a fight, charged the man of combat.  Odysseus strung his bow and shot an arrow through the man’s breast, lodging the arrow in the man’s liver.  Down went Eurymachus’ sword, down went the idler, crashing into a nearby table and spilling food and drink haphazardly across the floor.  As he hit the ground, the life drained from him as the wine poured from its cup.