Projectile Commenting

The servants were barely able to open the doors to their knocking when the suitors burst in for their mid-morning repast. Their eyes were red and crusty from drinking the night before, but the call of their stomachs woke them, leading them back to the castle.

Eurymakhos first noticed Odysseus laying in the corner and loudly exclaimed, to most of the suitors pained winces, "It looks like the stray dog is still here!" He found a thigh bone not yet swept away from the day before and threw it at her, striking Odysseus in the back. "Here's something to gnaw on." A number of the suitors laughed. Antinoos found a shoulder bone and threw it with even more force, aiming at Odysseus' head. She managed to deflect the projectile with her arm. "This is good sport, Eurymakhos," said Antinoos, "Anyone else want to give it a go?"

A few of the suitors who had already seated themselves at the tables picked up the bread rolls and threw those. Others just groaned and held their heads thinking only of their first cup of coffee.

Theoklymenos who witnessed this rude behaviour stood up indignant, "What sort of ill-mannered twerps are you that you should treat a harmless old woman and guest of the house with such contempt? I am a prophet by trade and I would recommend you watch your p's and q's. Zeus be my witness, I have had clear signs that Odysseus is here already. She no doubt knows what shenanigans you have been up to and will see to your comeuppance."

Telemakhe seated next to Theoklymenos nearly choked at his pronouncement. How could he know? Had he given anything away? The suitors did not take the pronouncement seriously. They laughed more.

"Ooo, the soothsayer seeks to scare us," chuckled Antinoos. "Would you like to say that again to my face, Mr. Prophet?" He stared with a dark hard gaze at Theoklymenos.

Telemakhe quickly touched Theoklymenos arm and shook her head for him to leave it, as much as she would like to see Antinoos given what for. It was all she could do herself not to rush forward with sword in hand and let them know swift and bloody what she thought of their actions toward her mother.

Philoitios thankfully entered just then with the day's cattle for feasting, distracting everyone from their blackening humours. Telemakhe rose to direct Theoklymenos to follow him to the kitchen. Philoitios spoke to her, "I hate bringing such good cattle in here for the likes of them." He sniffed and looked in the direction of the suitors.

"Just don't say that any louder. You've already diverted a near violent disaster," said Telemakhe.

When the food began to appear Penelopos emerged from his studio. From the top of the staircase he began his announcement.

"I have decided that waiting any longer to bestow my dear Telemakhe upon one of you is only robbing her family of their inheritance. After all you have commandeered this house, drunk of its wine, eaten of its meat, with no more excuse for yourselves except to marry my daughter and take what is hers as her husband."

Penelopos thrust forward in one hand the tall stout bow that was Odysseus' hunting bow, left for better days when she would return. Over a shoulder he had slung the quiver of long lethal arrows, fletched to fly with utmost speed at their mark. Behind him stood servants carrying baskets holding twelve axeheads.

"I propose a contest," said Penelopos, "Whoever can bend and string this bow, then send an arrow flying through these axe-helve sockets, twelve in a line, I will award Telemakhe's hand in marriage. I will then leave this place, this life, and find some patron to take me in." Penelopos indicated to the servants to begin setting the game up. With baskets hardly swaying from the immense weight, they trotted down to the hall. To Eumaios Penelopos gave bow and string. "Who wishes to try first?"





Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps