Now remember all those years that Odysseus was gone.
Left behind Penelope and his little baby son.
Who now was grown, a fine young man whose name was Telemachus,
Old enough to drive a cart and drink the juice of Bacchus.
But when the men who lived in town thought Odi he was dead.
They hung around his house to lure his wife straight to their bed.
These surly suitors came each day, made merry in his house.
Ate his food and drank his wine and slaughtered all his cows.
To hold them off, Pen she said to each Tom, Dick and Harry,
“First I must weave this fine cloth before I choose to marry.”
She worked her loom every day, a proud and beauteous sight,
Then secretly undid her work in the darkness of the night.
The suitors grew suspicious and discovered her sly trick.
Antinous, the head man, called for a meeting quick.
He summoned Telemachus, said his Mama must decide,
And told him in no uncertain terms, “For sure, your Daddy died.”
Tele summoned up his courage and gave a might shout.
“You lawless, evil suitors, now you must get out!”
The suitors laughed and taunted him, “We’d like to see you try,
To throw us out, you puny runt, now go bake us a pie.”
Encouraged by Athena, Tele left to get some aid.
He sailed to Menelaus while Antinous planned a raid.
“When he comes back, we’ll ambush him and get rid of this punk,
Then tell his Mom he hit a rock and drowned when his ship sunk.”
So that was the situation, in that ancient Greek nation,
When, instead of celebration, the ‘Dys found ruination.
Suitors hassling his wife and threatenin’ his son’s life,
Instead of peace and happiness, everywhere was strife.
But Athena was on hand, to carry out a plan.
She worked some plastic surgery, made Odi an old man.
And sent him to a swineherd, whose name was Eumaus,
Who killed a pig and roasted it and gave Odi some juice.
Now Euma worked for Odi in those former days of old,
But thought he was a stranger and so all the news he told,
Of the suitors and the weaving, that whole sad story,
Of the plot to kill off Odi’s son and steal his father’s glory.
Then Odi told a story, he spun a crafty fable,
Of how he’d seen Odysseus, still tall and strong and able.
Heading back to Ithaca in nine days or in ten,
To claim his wife, his home, his son and kill those surly men.
Eumaues shook his head and said, “I hope that this is true.
But I’ve heard so many lies, I think that this is too.”
Meanwhile in Sparta, Athena did warn Tele
“If you dock your boat in the normal place, they’ll stab you in the belly.
Land further south and get you to the keeper of the swine.
If you follow my directions, it all should turn out fine.”
So Tele arrived at breakfast, met his Dad dressed as a geezer,
Picking a splinter from his foot with a giant rusty tweezer.
Odi kept his cool, tried not to blow his cover,
Asked the news of all his friends, his father and his mother.
“My grandma passed to Hades while waiting for her son,
My grandfather is grieving, no one’s sure where he has gone.”
Then Tele sent the swineherd to tell his Mom he’s safely back
Odysseus saw Athena waving just outside the shack.
He excused himself and went outside while Tele ate his crepe,
Athena then turned Odi back to his former handsome shape.
Odi stepped back in the shack, set Tele’s heart a flutter
“Son, I have returned, now come embrace your father.”
Their tears flowed freely, then they spoke of how to oust the looters,
They plotted their revenge against those dirty rotten suitors.
First Athena turned him back into his old and dirty state
And Tele went back home and in the hall that was so great,
Collecting all the weapons with their shiny points a gleanin’
And offered the excuse that he was taking them for cleaning.
Then hid some in a special place where he and Dad could find them
And wrote a note ‘case he forgot, so it would remind him.
Now Odi walked into his home as a beggar with a bowl
And begged from all the suitors a biscuit or a roll.
Antinous refused him, taunted, “Hit the road, Jack!”
Then snatched a stool and threw it, striking Odi on his back.
Late that night Penelope called the beggar to her room.
“Come tell me all you’ve heard while I work on my loom.”
The beggar (who was Odi) said her husband would come soon
And then their home would ring again with a lively merry tune.
“Oh, beggar, these are mad dreams which fade and don’t come true,
I’ll have to choose a husband and I know what I’ll do.
He must shoot a great arrow through a standing row of axes
And show that he can cook a fish and figure out my taxes.
Whoever could do all these things, whoever passed the test,
Well, that’s the one I’ll marry, then get rid of all these pests.
Now nurse, please take this beggar and wash well both his feet.”
The nurse was an old nanny who had suckled Odi on her teat.
When she lifted up his foot, she recognized a scar.
And gave to him a look that said, “I know who you are.”
Odysseus winked at her and gestured not to tell.
She nodded that she’d do her best to keep it from Penel.
Don’t dis the ‘Dys,’ he did what he could,
To sail his men home safely and get back to his hood.
Now he’s finally home, but the end is rather gory.
But finally it will bring us to the climax of this story!
The next day dawned, it was the time, the contest was at hand.
The suitors came and gathered from each corner of the land.
Penelope appeared with a great and might bow
“Whoever can string this and their true talent show,
By shooting this great arrow through 12 axes in a row,
Can stay and be my husband and the rest of you must go.”
One by one they tried and one by one they failed.
No one once came close to her husband who had sailed
Away so many years ago to fight in that great war
And now dressed as a beggarman stepped once more through the door.
And asked if he could try his hand and string the might bow.
The suitors jeered and laughed at him, “Sure! Give it a go!”
He strung it with great ease and fit an arrow to it.
Sent it flying through the axes, all 12 it went through it.
He strung another great arrow and shot Antinous.
“Who is laughing now?” he roared. “Behold Odysseus!!”
The suitors quaked and trembled and pleaded for their lives.
“We’ll pay for all we ate and drank, plus taxes, gifts and tithes!”
Telemachus and Eaumuaus and another servant too
Rushed to the hidden weapons and some more men they slew.
Athena jumped into the fray, for Odi was outnumbered
And every time the suitors fought, their efforts were encumbered.
At the end of the great battle, all who ate of Odi’s bread,
All who courted his fine wife now lay there very dead.
Now before the battle started, Penelope had gone.
The swineherd went to fetch her, with him came her son.
“Your husband has returned, come behold him in his glory.”
But when she saw the beggarman, cried, “Why tell me this cruel story?”
So Odi bathed and dressed himself and Athena turned him younger,
And stood before Penelope, who eyed him with great hunger.
But though she longed to hug him, she thought it would be best,
To make sure that he was her man and give him one more text.
“If you truly are my husband,” Penelope she said,
“Then go inside and bring out here our king-sized marriage bed.”
“That I cannot do,” he said, “That can never be.
For I built that bed with one post a living olive tree.”
They then embraced and freely vented copious flowing tears,
For all the suffering they had endured for twenty grief-filled years.
If Homer had been kind and truly been a friend,
He’d take this opportunity to bring this to an end.
But no, he was voracious, that man was so loquacious,
And hella bodacious, really not so gracious,
“Cause the story kept on going, Odi finds his Dad
The Ithacans find the suitors and that makes them mad.
There’s a few more fights a comin’, the violence doesn’t halt.
And then something about wandering to a land that has no salt.
But this here Homer’s tired, I gotta take a nap,
So I declare, right here and now, I’m finished with this rap!
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