‘Already,’ said Telemachus, ’your gaze and your speech make me feel equal to the task of dealing with them.’
‘I think,’ said the stranger, ’that Odysseus, your father, has not perished from the earth. He may yet win home through labors and perils. But you should seek for tidings of him. Harken to me now and I shall tell you what to do.
’To-morrow summon a council of all the chief men of the land of Ithaka, and stand up in that council and declare that the time has come for the wooers who waste your substance to scatter, each man to his own home. And after the council has been held I would have you voyage to find out tidings of your father, whether he still lives and where he might be. Go to Pylos first, to the home of Nestor, that old King who was with your father in the war of Troy. Beg Nestor to give you whatever tidings he has of Odysseus. And from Pylos go to Sparta, to the home of Menelaus and Helen, and beg tidings of your father from them too. And if you get news of his being alive, return: It will be easy for you then to endure for another year the wasting of your substance by those wooers. But if you learn that your father, the renowned Odysseus, is indeed dead and gone, then come back, and in your own country raise a great funeral mound to his memory, and over it pay all funeral rites. Then let your mother choose a good man to be her husband and let her marry him, knowing for a certainty that Odysseus will never come back to his own house. After that something will remain for you to do: You will have to punish those wooers who destroy the goods your father gathered and who insult his house by their presence. And when all these things have been done, you, Telemachus, will be free to seek out your own fortune: you will rise to fame, for I mark that you are handsome and strong and most likely to be a wise and valiant man. But now I must fare on my journey.’
The stranger rose up from where he sat and went with Telemachus from the hall and through the court and to the outer gate. Telemachus said: ’What you have told me I shall not forget. I know you have spoken out of a wise and a friendly heart, and as a father to his son.’
The stranger clasped his hands and went through the gate. And then, as he looked after him Telemachus saw the stranger change in his form. He became first as a woman, tall, with fair hair and a spear of bronze in her hand. And then the form of a woman changed too. It changed into a great sea-eagle that on wide wings rose up and flew high through the air. Telemachus knew then that his visitor was an immortal and no other than the goddess Athene who had been his father’s friend.
When Telemachus went back to the hall those who were feasting there had put the wine-cups from them and were calling out for Phemius, the minstrel, to come and sing some tale to delight them. And as he went amongst them one of the wooers said to another, ’The guest who was with him has told Telemachus something that has changed his bearing. Never before did I see him hold himself so proudly. Mayhap he has spoken to him of the return of his father, the renowned Odysseus.’