The Odyssey eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about The Odyssey.

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, “If these Achaeans, Madam, would only keep quiet, you would be charmed with the history of his adventures.  I had him three days and three nights with me in my hut, which was the first place he reached after running away from his ship, and he has not yet completed the story of his misfortunes.  If he had been the most heaven-taught minstrel in the whole world, on whose lips all hearers hang entranced, I could not have been more charmed as I sat in my hut and listened to him.  He says there is an old friendship between his house and that of Ulysses, and that he comes from Crete where the descendants of Minos live, after having been driven hither and thither by every kind of misfortune; he also declares that he has heard of Ulysses as being alive and near at hand among the Thesprotians, and that he is bringing great wealth home with him.”

“Call him here, then,” said Penelope, “that I too may hear his story.  As for the suitors, let them take their pleasure indoors or out as they will, for they have nothing to fret about.  Their corn and wine remain unwasted in their houses with none but servants to consume them, while they keep hanging about our house day after day sacrificing our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their banquets, and never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of wine they drink.  No estate can stand such recklessness, for we have now no Ulysses to protect us.  If he were to come again, he and his son would soon have their revenge.”

As she spoke Telemachus sneezed so loudly that the whole house resounded with it.  Penelope laughed when she heard this, and said to Eumaeus, “Go and call the stranger; did you not hear how my son sneezed just as I was speaking?  This can only mean that all the suitors are going to be killed, and that not one of them shall escape.  Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart:  if I am satisfied that the stranger is speaking the truth I shall give him a shirt and cloak of good wear.”

When Eumaeus heard this he went straight to Ulysses and said, “Father stranger, my mistress Penelope, mother of Telemachus, has sent for you; she is in great grief, but she wishes to hear anything you can tell her about her husband, and if she is satisfied that you are speaking the truth, she will give you a shirt and cloak, which are the very things that you are most in want of.  As for bread, you can get enough of that to fill your belly, by begging about the town, and letting those give that will.”

“I will tell Penelope,” answered Ulysses, “nothing but what is strictly true.  I know all about her husband, and have been partner with him in affliction, but I am afraid of passing through this crowd of cruel suitors, for their pride and insolence reach heaven.  Just now, moreover, as I was going about the house without doing any harm, a man gave me a blow that hurt me very much, but neither Telemachus nor any one else defended me.  Tell Penelope, therefore, to be patient and wait till sundown.  Let her give me a seat close up to the fire, for my clothes are worn very thin—­you know they are, for you have seen them ever since I first asked you to help me—­she can then ask me about the return of her husband.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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