BOOK XVIII – THE SUITORS TORMENT ODYSSEUS
The suitors indulge in leisurely pursuits in the courtyard and another
beggar, Irus, who has become a favorite of the suitors arrives at the palace.
He is a large man for a beggar and immediately begins to bully
Odysseus, to the amusement of the suitors. Irus threatens to kill Odysseus, for there is only room for one beggar in Ithaca.
Antinous comes up with the suggestion that the two beggars should have a
boxing match, and the winner will receive awards.
When Odysseus disrobes, they are amazed at his muscular body, and
suddenly Irus is not so keen to fight with this stranger.
In the fight, Odysseus breaks the bully’s jaw and the suitors give Odysseus
prizes, and then they return for another feast in the hall.
One of the suitors, Amphinomous, has been particularly kind to Odysseus, and
Odysseus tries to warn him to leave, but the young man pays no attention.
Penelope addresses the suitors and she appears to them as a vision of
beauty. Her appearance has been enhanced by Athena.
She chastises the suitors for continuing to exhaust the resources of
her husband’s estate. Some of the suitors have a twinge of conscience and they send for gifts to be brought to the Queen from their homes or ships.
Odysseus is concerned to see that some of the maidservants have become
mistresses of the suitors and he is disappointed at their lack of loyalty.
With newfound confidence, Telemachus orders the suitors to leave the hall
due to their unruly behavior, and the suitors comply.