The People Don’t Like Us Anymore

Often overlooked is the assembly among the suitors in book 16 of the Odyssey. They hold an assembly of only suitors and contemplate both the consequences of the actions they have already taken and possible solutions.

Odyssey, 16.363–393

They gathered in the assembly together
but they did not allow anyone, a youth or an elder, to join them.
Then Antinoos spoke among them, Eupeithes’ son.

“Wretches, how the gods rescued this man from wickedness!
Our lookouts were sitting every day on the sandy mounts,
always taking turns. And as the sun set
we never slept a night on the shore, but we were sailing on the sea, awaiting dawn in our fast ship, preparing an ambush for Telemachus,
so we might capture him and kill him.
Thus some god has led him home.
Let us here consider a ruinous end for Telemachus,
that he may not flee us. For I do not think
that our acts will come to good while he is alive.
For he is smart in plans and thought on his own,
and the people are no longer completely showing us favor.

Come, before he gathers the Achaians in assembly.
For I do not think that he will delay at all,
but he will be angry and he will rise
and speak among everyone because we were weaving sheer murder for him
and we did not catch him.
They will not praise it when they hear these evil deeds,
but they will accomplish something terrible and drive us from our land,
and we will go to another’s country.
But let us grab him and kill him outside of the city,
in the country or on the road.
We can have his livelihood ourselves and his possessions,
once we divide them up among ourselves into portions.
We can let his mother have her home along with whoever marries her.
If this speech is displeasing to you,
and you want him to live and to have his paternal possessions,
let us not consume his heart-pleasing possessions anymore as we gather here, but let each man from his own home seek bridegifts and woo her.
Then she may marry the man who gives the most and comes fated to her.”

So he spoke, and they all sat there in silence.

Image result for Ancient Greek assembly
Antinoos is no Demosthenes.

αὐτοὶ δ’ εἰς ἀγορὴν κίον ἁθρόοι, οὐδέ τιν’ ἄλλον
εἴων οὔτε νέων μεταΐζειν οὔτε γερόντων.
τοῖσιν δ’ ᾿Αντίνοος μετέφη, Εὐπείθεος υἱός·
“ὢ πόποι, ὡς τόνδ’ ἄνδρα θεοὶ κακότητος ἔλυσαν.
ἤματα μὲν σκοποὶ ἷζον ἐπ’ ἄκριας ἠνεμοέσσας
αἰὲν ἐπασσύτεροι· ἅμα δ’ ἠελίῳ καταδύντι
οὔ ποτ’ ἐπ’ ἠπείρου νύκτ’ ἄσαμεν, ἀλλ’ ἐνὶ πόντῳ
νηῒ θοῇ πλείοντες ἐμίμνομεν ᾿Ηῶ δῖαν,
Τηλέμαχον λοχόωντες, ἵνα φθείσωμεν ἑλόντες
αὐτόν· τὸν δ’ ἄρα τεῖος ἀπήγαγεν οἴκαδε δαίμων.
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἐνθάδε οἱ φραζώμεθα λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον
Τηλεμάχῳ, μηδ’ ἧμας ὑπεκφύγοι· οὐ γὰρ ὀΐω
τούτου γε ζώοντος ἀνύσσεσθαι τάδε ἔργα.
αὐτὸς μὲν γὰρ ἐπιστήμων βουλῇ τε νόῳ τε,
λαοὶ δ’ οὐκέτι πάμπαν ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ἦρα φέρουσιν.
ἀλλ’ ἄγετε, πρὶν κεῖνον ὁμηγυρίσασθαι ᾿Αχαιοὺς
εἰς ἀγορήν· —οὐ γάρ τι μεθησέμεναί μιν ὀΐω,
ἀλλ’ ἀπομηνίσει, ἐρέει δ’ ἐν πᾶσιν ἀναστάς,
οὕνεκά οἱ φόνον αἰπὺν ἐράπτομεν οὐδ’ ἐκίχημεν·
οἱ δ’ οὐκ αἰνήσουσιν ἀκούοντες κακὰ ἔργα·
μή τι κακὸν ῥέξωσι καὶ ἥμεας ἐξελάσωσι
γαίης ἡμετέρης, ἄλλων δ’ ἀφικώμεθα δῆμον.
ἀλλὰ φθέωμεν ἑλόντες ἐπ’ ἀγροῦ νόσφι πόληος
ἢ ἐν ὁδῷ· βίοτον δ’ αὐτοὶ καὶ κτήματ’ ἔχωμεν,
δασσάμενοι κατὰ μοῖραν ἐφ’ ἡμέας, οἰκία δ’ αὖτε
κείνου μητέρι δοῖμεν ἔχειν ἠδ’ ὅς τις ὀπυίοι.
εἰ δ’ ὕμιν ὅδε μῦθος ἀφανδάνει, ἀλλὰ βόλεσθε
αὐτόν τε ζώειν καὶ ἔχειν πατρώϊα πάντα,
μή οἱ χρήματ’ ἔπειτα ἅλις θυμηδέ’ ἔδωμεν
ἐνθάδ’ ἀγειρόμενοι, ἀλλ’ ἐκ μεγάροιο ἕκαστος
μνάσθω ἐέδνοισιν διζήμενος· ἡ δέ κ’ ἔπειτα
γήμαιθ’ ὅς κε πλεῖστα πόροι καὶ μόρσιμος ἔλθοι.”
ὣς ἔφαθ’, οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἀκὴν ἐγένοντο σιωπῇ.

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