At the start of the 18th Book of the Odyssey, Odysseus is outside the palace where another beggar named Arnaeus, but called Irus because he acts as a messenger, challenges Odysseus for his pitch. Odysseus threatens Irus, who scoffs because Odysseus looks too old. Antinous, hearing them, summons the other suitors to the imminent fight, for which he provides a prize and the privilege of being the only beggar allowed at the palace. After Odysseus makes sure there will be no cheating or interference, and Telemachus backs up the promises, Odysseus strips to fight. He reveals hefty musculature that frightens Irus. Antinous makes Irus fight. Odysseus knocks him out and carries him to the courtyard where he tells him off.
The suitors are nice to Odysseus and say Irus should be shipped to a legendary, evidently evil king names Echetus. Antinous gives Odysseus a goat sausage. Amphinomus provides loaves and wine. Odysseus warns him of the mischief perpetrated by the suitors and of the imminence of a vengeful returning Odysseus.
Athena inspires Penelope to come in. Penelope wants to have words with her son. Made radiant by Athena, Penelope goes to the hall to berate her son for his part in the fight. Telemachus says she has reason to be angry, but the stranger fared well.
Penelope reminisces about the day Odysseus left for Troy. She says she knows her marriage is coming soon and criticizes the suitors for their unusual and predatory wooing behavior. She says they should bring her gifts.
Antinous says thay won't leave until she picks a mate. Meanwhile, the suitors send their servants to fetch gifts, which Penelope takes to her room.
The suitors dance. The Odysseus-beggar tells the maids to go comfort Penelope, saying he'll tend the torches. The women laugh. Melantho, who is Eurymachus' lover, tells Odysseus where to go. Odysseus says he will report her to Telemachus and scares the women away. He then does as he said he would and tends the fires. Eurymachus makes fun of him. Odysseus rants some more and tells him he's a brutal fool.
Eurymachus grabs a stool, but Odysseus ducks, so the stool hits the wine steward.
Telemachus tells everyone it's time for bed since they've clearly drunk too much. The suitors make a libation, have a last drink, and go to their beds, leaving the beggar with Telemachus.
Read a Public Domain translation of Odyssey Book XVIII.