It was then that she came to Telemachus in Sparta and counselled him to leave the house of Menelaus and Helen; and it has been told how he went with Peisistratus, the son of Nestor, and came to his own ship. His ship was hailed by a man who was flying from those who would slay him, and this man Telemachus took aboard. The stranger’s name was Theoclymenus, and he was a sooth-sayer and a second-sighted man.
And Telemachus, returning to Ithaka, was in peril of his life. The wooers of his mother had discovered that he had gone from Ithaka in a ship. Two of the wooers, Antinous and Eurymachus, were greatly angered at the daring act of the youth. ‘He has gone to Sparta for help,’ Antinous said, ’and if he finds that there are those who will help him we will not be able to stand against his pride. He will make us suffer for what we have wasted in his house. But let us too act. I will take a ship with twenty men, and lie in wait for him in a strait between Ithaka and Samos, and put an end to his search for his father.’
Thereupon Antinous took twenty men to a ship, and fixing mast and sails they went over the sea. There is a little isle between Ithaka and Samos—Asteris it is called—and in the harbour of that isle he and his men lay in wait for Telemachus.
Near the place where Odysseus had landed there lived an old man who was a faithful servant in his house. Eumaeus was his name, and he was a swineherd. He had made for himself a dwelling in the wildest part of the island, and had built a wall round it, and had made for the swine pens in the courtyard—twelve pens, and in each pen there were fifty swine. Old Eumaeus lived in this place tending the swine with three young men to help him. The swine-pens were guarded by four dogs that were as fierce as the beasts of the forest.
As he came near the dogs dashed at him, yelping and snapping; and Odysseus might have suffered foul hurt if the swineherd had not run out of the courtyard and driven the fierce dogs away. Seeing before him one who looked an ancient beggar, Eumaeus said, ’Old man, it is well that my dogs did not tear thee, for they might have brought upon me the shame of thy death. I have grief and pains enough, the gods know, without such a happening. Here I sit, mourning for my noble master, and fattening hogs for others to eat, while he, mayhap, is wandering in hunger through some friendless city. But come in, old man. I have bread and wine to give thee.’
The swineherd led the seeming beggar into the courtyard, and he let him sit down on a heap of brushwood, and spread for him a shaggy goat-skin. Odysseus was glad of his servant’s welcome, and he said, ’May Zeus and all the other gods grant thee thy heart’s dearest wish for the welcome that thou hast given to me.’
Said Eumaeus the swineherd, ’A good man looks on all strangers and beggars as being from Zeus himself. And my heart’s dearest wish is that my master Odysseus should return. Ah, if Odysseus were here, he would give me something which I could hold as mine own—a piece of ground to till, and a wife to comfort me. But my master will not return, and we thralls must go in fear when young lords come to rule it over them.’