The Assembly of the Ithacans presupposes a political habit of gathering into the town-meeting and consulting upon common interests. This usage is common to the Aryan race, and from it spring parliaments, congresses, and other cognate institutions, together with oratory before the People. A wonderful development has come of this little germ, which we see here still alive in Ithaca, though it has been almost choked by the unhappy condition of things. Not since Ulysses left has there been any such Assembly, says the first speaker, an old man drawing upon his memory, not for twenty years; surely a sign of smothered institutional life. The first thing which Telemachus in his new career does is to call the Assembly, and start this institutional life into activity again. Whereof we feel the fresh throb in the words of the aged speaker, who calls him "Blessed."
Now the oratory begins, as it must begin in such a place. The golden gift of eloquence is highly prized by Homer, and by the Homeric People; prophetic it is, one always thinks of the great Attic orators. The speakers are distinctly marked in character by their speeches; but the Assembly itself seems to remain dumb; it was evidently divided into two parties; one well-disposed to the House of Ulysses, the other to the Suitors. The corruption of the time has plainly entered the soul of the People, and thorough must be the cleansing by the Gods. Two kinds of speakers we notice also, on the same lines, supporting each side; thus the discord of Ithaca is now to be reflected in its oratory. Three sets of orators speak on each side, placing before us the different phases of the case; these we shall mark off for the thought and for the eye of the reader.