Oh, ye gods, hear my cry before I go down in the dust, for though I am guilty, I would not take all of my wrongs against the house of Laertes with me down to Hades.
I was a suitor in Ithaca, one who for years has abused the hospitality of Penelope, wife to great Odysseus. We thought him dead who had not come home for tens years since great Troy fell. When Penelope relented, bringing out Odysseus’ bow and the twelve axes, I hoped I might perchance prevail, or at least to revel at the wedding. Oh, I did not foresee the blood now spilt around me. Telemachus, so oft a butt of our abuse, could not string the bow, or at least did not. Leodes failed, and right he was to say that many would die by that bow. Antinous, loudest in our number, could not bend it. Eurymachus failed when his turn came, and I, and all the others. Antinous said the test should wait, till we could sacrifice to Apollo for the archer god’s strength.
Then the beggar spoke, the wretch at the foot of the table, whom we had barely tolerated in our midst. How we laughed at his request. Old and decrepit as he looked, it seemed a fine jest. I raised my cup in toast to the nonsense. And heard the clang of the arrow on the far steps.
Then Antinous fell, an arrow through his throat, and as we reeled, we saw the beggar revealed. Great Odysseus. Oh, gods, I knew then that our wrongs were brought back upon us. Eurymachus tried to speak soft words, but naught would soothe him. Telemachus stepped beside him, armed, and his arrows flew. Apollo does not launch shafts more deadly. Our profligacy, offending all as we wasted his wealth, now came home as one by one we fell. Melanthius found weapons in the storeroom, to no avail. Surely Athena sided with the wily king to strike us down.
An arrow pierces my side. I watch as Leodes, priest among the profligates, dies at Odysseus’ hand. But better to die quick than like trapped Melanthius, or the women who helped us. Death and disgrace are theirs. Better that this shaft drains my life blood than to face what waits them. I am rightly slain, oh gods, a guest who abused the hospitality of his host, a shame to the Achaeans. But know that I feel my shame as I go down. Oh gods, hear me as I die.
Lattimore, Richmond A. (1967). The Odyssey of Homer. New York, New York: Harper & Row.