But Odysseus went forth from the harbor by the rough path up over the woodland and through the heights to the place where Athena had shewed him that he should find the goodly swineherd, who cared for his substance above all the slaves that goodly Odysseus had gotten. He found him sitting in the fore-hall of his house, where his court was built high in a place of wide outlook, a great and goodly court with an open space around it. This the swineherd had himself built for the swine of his master, that was gone, without the knowledge of his mistress and the old man Laertes.With huge stones had he built it, and set on it a coping of thorn. Without he had driven stakes the whole length, this way and that, huge stakes, set close together, which he had made by splitting an oak to the black core;[*](1) and within the court he had made twelve sties close by one another, as beds for the swine, and in each onewere penned fifty wallowing swine, females for breeding; but the boars slept without. These were far fewer in numbers, for on them the godlike wooers feasted, and lessened them, for the swineherd ever sent in the best of all the fatted hogs,which numbered three hundred and sixty. By these ever slept four dogs, savage as wild beasts, which the swineherd had reared, a leader of men. But he himself was fitting boots about his feet, cutting an ox-hide of good color, while the othershad gone, three of them, one here one there, with the droves of swine; and the fourth he had sent to the city to drive perforce a boar to the insolent wooers, that they might slay it and satisfy their souls with meat. Suddenly then the baying hounds caught sight of Odysseus,and rushed upon him with loud barking, but Odysseus sat down in his cunning, and the staff fell from his hand. Then even in his own farmstead would he have suffered cruel hurt, but the swineherd with swift steps followed after them, and hastened through the gateway, and the hide fell from his hand.He called aloud to the dogs, and drove them this way and that with a shower of stones, and spoke to his master, and said: “Old man, verily the dogs were like to have torn thee to pieces all of a sudden, and on me thou wouldest have shed reproach. Aye, and the gods have given me other griefs and sorrow.It is for a godlike master that I mourn and grieve, as I abide here, and rear fat swine for other men to eat, while he haply in want of food wanders over the land and city of men of strange speech, if indeed he still lives and sees the light of the sun.But come with me, let us go to the hut, old man, that when thou hast satisfied thy heart with food and wine, thou too mayest tell whence thou art, and all the woes thou hast endured.”
So saying, the goodly swineherd led him to the hut, and brought him in, and made him sit, strowing beneath thick brushwood,and thereon spreading the skin of a shaggy wild goat, large and hairy, on which he was himself wont to sleep. And Odysseus was glad that he gave him such welcome, and spoke, and addressed him: “Stranger, may Zeus and the other immortal gods grant thee what most thou desirest, since thou with a ready heart hast given me welcome.” To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Nay, stranger, it were not right for me, even though one meaner than thou were to come, to slight a stranger: for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome from such as we; since this is the lot of slaves,ever in fear when over them as lords their masters hold sway—young masters such as ours. For verily the gods have stayed the return of him who would have loved me with all kindness, and would have given me possessions of my own, a house and a bit of land, and a wife, sought of many wooers, even such things as a kindly master gives to his thrallwho has toiled much for him, and whose labour the god makes to prosper, even as this work of mine prospers, to which I give heed. Therefore would my master have richly rewarded me, if he had grown old here at home: but he perished—as I would all the kindred of Helen had perished in utter ruin, since she loosened the knees of many warriors.For he too went forth to win recompense for Agamemnon to Ilios, famed for its horses, that he might fight with the Trojans.”
So saying, he quickly bound up his tunic with his belt, and went to the sties, where the tribes of swine were penned. Choosing two from thence, he brought them in and slew them both,and singed, and cut them up, and spitted them. Then, when he had roasted all, he brought and set it before Odysseus, hot upon the spits, and sprinkled over it white barley meal. Then in a bowl of ivy wood he mixed honey-sweet wine, and himself sat down over against Odysseus, and bade him to his food, and said: “Eat now, stranger, such food as slaves have to offer, meat of young pigs; the fatted hogs the wooers eat, who reck not in their hearts of the wrath of the gods, nor have any pity. Verily the blessed gods love not reckless deeds, but they honor justice and the righteous deeds of men.Even cruel foemen that set foot on the land of others, and Zeus gives them booty, and they fill their ships and depart for home—even on the hearts of these falls great fear of the wrath of the gods. But these men here, look you, know somewhat, and have heard some voice of a godregarding my master's pitiful death, seeing that they will not woo righteously, nor go back to their own, but at their ease they waste our substance in insolent wise, and there is no sparing. For every day and night that comes from Zeus they sacrifice not one victim nor two alone,and they draw forth wine, and waste it in insolent wise. Verily his substance was great past telling, so much has no lord either on the dark mainland or in Ithaca itself; nay, not twenty men together have wealth so great. Lo, I will tell thee the tale thereof;twelve herds of kine has he on the mainland; as many flocks of sheep; as many droves of swine; as many packed herds of goats do herdsmen, both foreigners and of his own people, pasture. And here too graze roving herds of goats on the borders of the island, eleven in all, and over them trusty men keep watch.And each man of these ever drives up day by day one of his flock for the wooers, even that one of the fatted goats which seems to him the best. But as for me, I guard and keep these swine, and choose out with care and send them the best of the boars.”
So he spoke, but Odysseus eagerly[*](1) ate flesh and drank wine,greedily, in silence, and was sowing the seeds of evil for the wooers. But when he had dined, and satisfied his soul with food, then the swineherd filled the bowl from which he was himself wont to drink, and gave it him brim full of wine, and he took it, and was glad at heart; and he spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Friend, who was it who bought thee with his wealth, a man so very rich and mighty, as thou tellest? Thou saidest that he died to win recompense for Agamemnon; tell me, if haply I may know him, being such an one. For Zeus, I ween, and the other immortal gods knowwhether I have seen him, and could bring tidings; for I have wandered far.” Then the swineherd, a leader of men, answered him: “Old man, no wanderer that came and brought tidings of him could persuade his wife and his dear son; nay, at random, when they have need of entertainment, do vagabondslie, and are not minded to speak the truth. Whosoever in his wanderings comes to the land of Ithaca, goes to my mistress and tells a deceitful tale. And she, receiving him kindly, gives him entertainment, and questions him of all things, and the tears fall from her eyelids, while she weeps,as is the way of a woman, when her husband dies afar. And readily wouldest thou too, old man, fashion a story, if one would give thee a cloak and a tunic for raiment. But as for him, ere now dogs and swift birds are like to have torn the flesh from his bones, and his spirit has left him;or in the sea fishes have eaten him, and his bones lie there on the shore, wrapped in deep sand. Thus has he perished yonder, and to his friends grief is appointed for days to come, to all, but most of all to me. For never again shall I find a master so kind, how far soever I go,not though I come again to the house of my father and mother, where at the first I was born, and they reared me themselves. Yet it is not for them that I henceforth mourn so much, eager though I am to behold them with my eyes and to be in my native land; nay, it is longing for Odysseus, who is gone, that seizes me.His name, stranger, absent though he is, I speak with awe, for greatly did he love me and care for me at heart; but I call him my lord beloved, for all he is not here.”
Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus answered him: “Friend, since thou dost utterly make denial, and declarestthat he will never come again, and thy heart is ever unbelieving, therefore will I tell thee, not at random but with an oath, that Odysseus shall return. And let me have a reward for bearing good tidings, as soon as he shall come, and reach his home; clothe me in a cloak and tunic, goodly raiment.But ere that, how sore soever my need, I will accept naught; for hateful in my eyes as the gates of Hades is that man, who, yielding to stress of poverty, tells a deceitful tale. Now be my witness Zeus, above all gods, and this hospitable board, and the hearth of noble Odysseus to which I am come,that verily all these things shall be brought to pass even as I tell thee. In the course of this self-same day[*](1) Odysseus shall come hither, as the old moon wanes, and the new appears. He shall return, and take vengeance on all those who here dishonor his wife and his glorious son.” To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Old man, neither shall I, meseems, pay thee this reward for bearing good tidings, nor shall Odysseus ever come to his home. Nay, drink in peace, and let us turn our thoughts to other things, and do not thou recall this to my mind; for verily the heart in my breastis grieved whenever any one makes mention of my good master. But as for thy oath, we will let it be; yet I would that Odysseus might come, even as I desire, I, and Penelope, and the old man Laertes, and godlike Telemachus. But now it is for his son that I grieve unceasingly,even for Telemachus, whom Odysseus begot. When the gods had made him grow like a sapling, and I thought that he would be among men no whit worse than his dear father, glorious in form and comeliness, then some one of the immortals marred the wise spirit within him, or haply some man, and he wentto sacred Pylos after tidings of his father. For him now the lordly wooers lie in wait on his homeward way, that the race of godlike Arceisius may perish out of Ithaca, and leave no name. But verily we will let him be; he may be taken, or he may escape, and the son of Cronos stretch forth his hand to guard him.But come, do thou, old man, tell me of thine own sorrows, and declare me this truly, that I may know full well. Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents? On what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did sailors bring thee to Ithaca? Who did they declare themselves to be?For nowise, methinks, didst thou come hither on foot.”
Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Then verily I will frankly tell thee all. Would that now we two might have food and sweet wine for the while,to feast on in quiet here in thy hut, and that others might go about their work; easily then might I tell on for a full year, and yet in no wise finish the tale of the woes of my spirit—even all the toils that I have endured by the will of the gods. “From broad Crete I declare that I am come by lineage,the son of a wealthy man. And many other sons too were born and bred in his halls, true sons of a lawful wife; but the mother that bore me was bought, a concubine. Yet Castor, son of Hylax, of whom I declare that I am sprung, honored me even as his true-born sons.He was at that time honored as a god among the Cretans in the land for his good estate, and his wealth, and his glorious sons. But the fates of death bore him away to the house of Hades, and his proud sons divided among them his substance, and cast lots therefor.To me they gave a very small portion, and allotted a dwelling. But I took unto me a wife from a house that had wide possessions, winning her by my valor; for I was no weakling, nor a coward in fight. Now all that strength is gone; yet even so, in seeing the stubble, methinksthou mayest judge what the grain was; for verily troubles in full measure encompass me. But then Ares and Athena gave me courage, and strength that breaks the ranks of men; and whenever I picked the best warriors for an ambush, sowing the seeds of evil for the foe, never did my proud spirit forbode death,but ever far the first did I leap forth, and slay with my spear whosoever of the foe gave way in flight before me.[*](1) Such a man was I in war, but labour in the field was never to my liking, nor the care of a household, which rears goodly children, but oared ships were ever dear to me,and wars, and polished spears, and arrows,—grievous things, whereat others are wont to shudder. But those things, I ween, were dear to me, which a god put in my heart; for different men take joy in different works. For before the sons of the Achaeans set foot on the land of Troy,I had nine times led warriors and swift-faring ships against foreign folk, and great spoil had ever fallen to my hands. Of this I would choose what pleased my mind, and much I afterwards obtained by lot. Thus my house straightway grew rich, and thereafter I became one feared and honored among the Cretans.
“But when Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, devised that hateful journey which loosened the knees of many a warrior, then they bade me and glorious Idomeneus to lead the ships to Ilios, nor was there any way to refuse, for the voice of the people pressed hard upon us.There for nine years we sons of the Achaeans warred, and in the tenth we sacked the city of Priam, and set out for home in our ships, and a god scattered the Achaeans. But for me, wretched man that I was, Zeus, the counsellor, devised evil. For a month only I remained, taking joy in my children,my wedded wife, and my wealth; and then to Egypt did my spirit bid me voyage with my godlike comrades, when I had fitted out my ships with care. Nine ships I fitted out, and the host gathered speedily. Then for six days my trusty comradesfeasted, and I gave them many victims, that they might sacrifice to the gods, and prepare a feast for themselves; and on the seventh we embarked and set sail from broad Crete, with the North Wind blowing fresh and fair, and ran on easily as if down stream. Noharm came to any of my ships, but free from scathe and from disease we sat, and the wind and the helmsman guided the ships. “On the fifth day we came to fair-flowing Aegyptus, and in the river Aegyptus I moored my curved ships. Then verily I bade my trusty comradesto remain there by the ships, and to guard the ships, and I sent out scouts to go to places of outlook. But my comrades, yielding to wantonness, and led on by their own might, straightway set about wasting the fair fields of the men of Egypt; and they carried off the women and little children,and slew the men; and the cry came quickly to the city. Then, hearing the shouting, the people came forth at break of day, and the whole plain was filled with footmen, and chariots and the flashing of bronze. But Zeus who hurls the thunderbolt cast an evil panic upon my comrades, and none had the courageto hold his ground and face the foe; for evil surrounded us on every side. So then they slew many of us with the sharp bronze, and others they led up to their city alive, to work for them perforce. But in my heart Zeus himself put this thought—I would that I had rather died and met my fatethere in Egypt, for still was sorrow to give me welcome. Straightway I put off from my head my well-wrought helmet, and the shield from off my shoulders, and let the spear fall from my hand, and went toward the chariot horses of the king. I clasped, and kissed his knees, and he delivered me, and took pity on me,and, setting me in his chariot, took me weeping to his home. Verily full many rushed upon me with their ashen spears, eager to slay me, for they were exceeding angry. But he warded them off, and had regard for the wrath of Zeus, the stranger's god, who above all others hath indignation at evil deeds.
“There then I stayed seven years, and much wealth did I gather among the Egyptians, for all men gave me gifts. But when the eighth circling year was come, then there came a man of Phoenicia, well versed in guile, a greedy knave, who had already wrought much evil among men.He prevailed upon me by his cunning, and took me with him, until we reached Phoenicia, where lay his house and his possessions. There I remained with him for a full year. But when at length the months and the days were being brought to fulfillment, as the year rolled round and the seasons came on,he set me on a seafaring ship bound for Libya, having given lying counsel to the end that I should convey a cargo with him, but in truth that, when there, he might sell me and get a vast price. So I went with him on board the ship, suspecting his guile, yet perforce. And she ran before the North Wind, blowing fresh and fair,on a mid-sea course to the windward of Crete, and Zeus devised destruction for the men. But when we had left Crete, and no other land appeared, but only sky and sea,then verily the son of Cronos set a black cloud above the hollow ship, and the sea grew dark beneath it. Therewith Zeus thundered, and hurled his bolt upon the ship, and she quivered from stem to stern, smitten by the bolt of Zeus, and was filled with sulphurous smoke, and all the crew fell from out the ship. Like sea-crows they were borne on the waves about the black ship, and the god took from them their returning.But as for me, Zeus himself when my heart was compassed with woe, put into my hands the tossing[*](1) mast of the dark-prowed ship, that I might again escape destruction. Around this I clung, and was borne by the direful winds. For nine days I was borne, but on the tenth black nightthe great rolling wave brought me to the land of the Thesprotians. There the king of the Thesprotians, lord Pheidon, took me in, and asked no ransom, for his dear son came upon me, overcome as I was with cold and weariness, and raised me by the hand, and led me until he came to his father's palace;and he clothed me in a cloak and tunic, as raiment.
“There I learned of Odysseus, for the king said that he had entertained him, and given him welcome on his way to his native land. And he showed me all the treasure that Odysseus had gathered, bronze, and gold, and iron, wrought with toil;verily unto the tenth generation would it feed his children after him, so great was the wealth that lay stored for him in the halls of the king. But Odysseus, he said, had gone to Dodona, to hear the will of Zeus from the high-crested oak of the god, even how he might return to the rich land of Ithaca after so long an absence, whether openly or in secret. And moreover he swore in my own presence, as he poured libations in his house, that the ship was launched, and the men ready, who were to convey him to his dear native land. But me he sent forth first, for a shipof the Thesprotians chanced to be setting out for Dulichium, rich in wheat. Thither he bade them to convey me with kindly care, to king Acastus. But an evil counsel regarding me found favour in their hearts, that I might even yet be brought into utter misery. When the sea-faring ship had sailed far from the land,they presently sought to bring about for me the day of slavery. They stripped me of my garments, my cloak and tunic, and clothed me in other raiment, a vile ragged cloak and tunic, even the tattered garments which thou seest before thine eyes; and at evening they reached the tilled fields of clear-seen Ithaca.Then with a twisted rope they bound me fast in the benched ship, and themselves went ashore, and made haste to take their supper by the shore of the sea. But as for me, the gods themselves undid my bonds full easily, and, wrapping the tattered cloak about my head,I slid down the smooth lading-plank,[*](1) and brought my breast to the sea, and then struck out with both hands, and swam, and very soon was out of the water, and away from them. Then I went up to a place where there was a thicket of leafy wood, and lay there crouching.And they went hither and thither with loud cries; but as there seemed to be no profit in going further in their search, they went back again on board their hollow ship. And the gods themselves hid me easily, and led me, and brought me to the farmstead of a wise man; for still haply it is my lot to live.”
To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Ah, wretched stranger, verily thou hast stirred my heart deeply in telling all the tale of thy sufferings and thy wanderings. But in this, methinks, thou hast not spoken aright, nor shalt thou persuade me with thy tale about Odysseus. Why shouldst thou, who art in such plightlie to no purpose? Nay, of myself I know well regarding the return of my master, that he was utterly hated of all the gods, in that they did not slay him among the Trojans, or in the arms of his friends, when he had wound up the skein of war. Then would the whole host of the Achaeans have made him a tomb,and for his son too he would have won great glory in days to come. But as it is the spirits of the storm have swept him away, and left no tidings. I, for my part, dwell aloof with the swine, nor do I go to the city, unless haply wise Penelope bids me thither, when tidings come to her from anywhere.Then men sit around him that comes, and question him closely, both those that grieve for their lord, that has long been gone, and those who rejoice, as they devour his substance without atonement. But I care not to ask or enquire, since the time when an Aetolian beguiled me with his story,one that had killed a man, and after wandering over the wide earth came to my house, and I gave him kindly welcome. He said that he had seen Odysseus among the Cretans at the house of Idomeneus, mending his ships which storms had shattered. And he said that he would come either by summer or by harvest-time,bringing much treasure along with his godlike comrades. Thou too, old man of many sorrows, since a god has brought thee to me, seek not to win my favour by lies, nor in any wise to cajole me. It is not for this that I shall shew thee respect or kindness, but from fear of Zeus, the stranger's god, and from pity for thyself.” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Verily thou hast in thy bosom a heart that is slow to believe, seeing that in such wise, even with an oath, I won thee not, neither persuade thee. But come now, let us make a covenant, and the gods who hold Olympus shall be witnesses for us both in time to come.If thy master returns to this house, clothe me in a cloak and tunic, as raiment, and send me on my way to Dulichium, where I desire to be. But if thy master does not come as I say, set the slaves upon me, and fling me down from a great cliff,that another beggar may beware of deceiving.”
And the goodly swineherd answered him, and said: “Aye, stranger, so should I indeed win fair fame and prosperity among men both now and hereafter, if I, who brought thee to my hut and gave thee entertainment,should then slay thee, and take away thy dear life. With a ready heart thereafter should I pray to Zeus, son of Cronos. But it is now time for supper, and may my comrades soon be here, that we may make ready a savoury supper in the hut.” Thus they spoke to one another,and the swine and the swineherds drew near. The sows they shut up to sleep in their wonted sties, and a wondrous noise arose from them, as they were penned. Then the goodly swineherd called to his comrades saying: “Bring forth the best of the boars, that I may slaughter him for the strangerwho comes from afar, and we too shall have some profit therefrom, who have long borne toil and suffering for the sake of the white-tusked swine, while others devour our labour without atonement.” So saying, he split wood with the pitiless bronze, and the others brought in a fatted boar of five years old,and set him by the hearth. Nor did the swineherd forget the immortals, for he had an understanding heart, but as a first offering he cast into the fire bristles from the head of the white-tusked boar, and made prayer to all the gods that wise Odysseus might return to his own house.Then he raised himself up, and smote the boar with a billet of oak, which he had left when splitting the wood, and the boar's life left him. And the others cut the boar's throat, and signed him, and quickly cut him up, and the swineherd took as first offerings bits of raw flesh from all the limbs, and laid them in the rich fat. These he cast into the fire, when he had sprinkled them with barley meal,but the rest they cut up and spitted, and roasted it carefully, and drew it all off the spits, and cast it in a heap on platters. Then the swineherd stood up to carve, for well did his heart know what was fair, and he cut up the mess and divided it into seven portions.One with a prayer he set aside for the nymphs and for Hermes, son of Maia, and the rest he distributed to each. And Odysseus he honored with the long chine of the white-tusked boar, and made glad the heart of his master; and Odysseus of many wiles spoke to him, and said: “Eumaeus, mayest thou be as dear to father Zeus as thou art to me, since thou honourest me with a good portion, albeit I am in such plight.” To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Eat, unhappy stranger, and have joy of such fare as is here. It is the god that will give one thing and withhold another,even as seems good to his heart; for he can do all things.”