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CHAPTER XIX. ULYSSES IN HIS HOME ( continued)

After awhile there came a beggar from the city, huge of bulk, mighty to eat and drink, but his strength was not according to his size. The young men called him Irus [Footnote: I'-rus], because he was their messenger, after Iris [Footnote: I'-ris], the messenger of Zeus. He spake to Ulysses:—

“Give place, old man, lest I drag thee forth; the young men even now would have it so, but I think it shame to strike such an one as thee.”

Then said Ulysses, “There is room for thee and for me; get what thou canst, for I do not grudge thee aught, but beware lest thou anger me, lest I harm thee, old though I am.”

But Irus would not hear words of peace, but still challenged him to fight.

And when Antinous saw this he was glad, and said: “This is the goodliest sport that I have seen in this house. These two beggars would fight; let us haste and match them.”

And the saying pleased them; and Antinous spake again: “Hear me, ye suitors of the Queen! We have put aside these paunches of the goats for our supper. Let us agree, then, that whosoever of these two shall prevail, shall have choice of these, that which pleaseth him best, and shall hereafter eat with us, and that no one else shall sit in his place.”

Then said Ulysses: “It is hard for an old man to fight with a young. Yet will I do it. Only do ye swear to me that no one shall strike me a foul blow while I fight with this man.”

Then Telemachus said that this should be so, and they all consented to his words. And after this Ulysses girded himself for the fight. And all that were there saw his thighs, how great and strong they were, and his shoulders, how broad, and his arms, how mighty. And they said one to another, “There will be little of Irus left, so stalwart seems this beggar man.” But as for Irus himself, he would have slunk out of sight, but they that were set to gird him compelled him to come forth.

Then said Antinous: “How is this, thou braggart, that thou fearest this old man, all woebegone as he is?”

So the two came together. And Ulysses thought whether he should strike the fellow and slay him, or fell him to the ground. And this last seemed the better of the two. So when Irus had dealt him his blow, he smote him on the jaw, and brake the bone, so that he fell howling on the ground, and the blood poured from his mouth.

Then all the suitors laughed aloud. But Ulysses dragged the fellow out of the hall, and propped him by the wall of the courtyard, putting a staff in his hand, and saying, “Sit there, and keep dogs and swine from the door, but dare not hereafter to lord it over men, no, not even ov'r strangers and beggars, lest some worse thing befall thee.”

Then Antinous gave Ulysses a great paunch, and Amphinomus gave two loaves, and pledged him in a cup, saying, “Good luck to thee, hereafter, though now thou seemest to have evil fortune!”