The Odyssey Questions and Answers
by Homer

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Who says the following and why? "Great renown she wins for herself no doubt great loss to you in treasure."

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The quotation comes from Book II of the Odyssey. Fortified with the able assistance of the goddess Athena, Telemachus has plucked up the courage to call an assembly which he then proceeds to address. Telemachus eloquently sets out his case against the suitors paying court to his mother, Penelope. He ends his speech with a passionate plea to the suitors to leave him and his family alone. Telemachus then smashes the speaker's scepter and dissolves into tears, eliciting great pity from the assembled throng.

All except the insolent Antinous, that is. The unofficial leader of the suitors responds with mocking contempt to Telemachus's plea. It's not the suitors' fault, says Antinous, that they've taken up residence in the royal palace of Ithaca; it's Penelope, that "queen of cunning" who's to blame. She's the one who's been leading all the suitors on, shamelessly toying with their affections while weaving her shroud as a delaying tactic. And so long as Penelope keeps on trying to stall the suitors, they'll stay right where they are, eating Odysseus out of house and home. Antinous goes on to say that, although Penelope may have gained a high reputation for cunning, it's her craftiness in stonewalling the suitors that's ultimately responsible for their devouring Telemachus's worldly goods and wealth. They'll leave, but only when Penelope chooses a husband from among them:

Great renown she wins for herself, no doubt, great loss for you in treasure. We’ll not go back to our old estates or leave for other parts, not till she weds the Argive man she fancies. (Fagles's translation)

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