Book 16

Telemachus dispatches Eumæus to the city to inform Penelope of his safe return from Pylus; during his absence, Ulysses makes himself known to his son. The suitors, having watched for Telemachus in vain, arrive again at Ithaca.

   It was the hour of dawn, when in the cot
Kindling fresh fire, Ulysses and his friend
Noble Eumæus dress’d their morning fare,
And sent the herdsmen with the swine abroad.
Seeing Telemachus, the watchful dogs
Bark’d not, but fawn’d around him. At that sight,
And at the sound of feet which now approach’d,
Ulysses in wing’d accents thus remark’d.

   Eumæus! certain, either friend of thine
Is nigh at hand, or one whom well thou know’st;
Thy dogs bark not, but fawn on his approach
Obsequious, and the sound of feet I hear.

   Scarce had he ceased, when his own son himself
Stood in the vestibule. Upsprang at once
Eumæus wonder- struck, and from his hand
Let fall the cups with which he was employ’d
Mingling rich wine; to his young Lord he ran,
His forehead kiss’d, kiss’d his bright-beaming eyes
And both his hands, weeping profuse the while,
As when a father folds in his embrace
Arrived from foreign lands in the tenth year
His darling son, the offspring of his age,
His only one, for whom he long hath mourn’d,
So kiss’d the noble peasant o’er and o’er
Godlike Telemachus, as from death escaped,
And in wing’d accents plaintive thus began.

   Light of my eyes, thou com’st; it is thyself,
Sweetest Telemachus! I had no hope
To see thee more, once told that o’er the Deep
Thou hadst departed for the Pylian coast.
Enter, my precious son; that I may sooth
My soul with sight of thee from far arrived,
For seldom thou thy feeders and thy farm
Visitest, in the city custom’d much
To make abode, that thou may’st witness there
The manners of those hungry suitors proud.

   To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.
It will be so. There is great need, my friend!
But here, for thy sake, have I now arrived,
That I may look on thee, and from thy lips
Learn if my mother still reside at home,
Or have become spouse of some other Chief,
Leaving untenanted Ulysses’ bed
To be by noisome spiders webb’d around.

   To whom the master swine-herd in return.
Not so, she, patient still as ever, dwells
Beneath thy roof, but all her cheerless days
Despairing wastes, and all her nights in tears.

   So saying, Eumæus at his hand received
His brazen lance, and o’er the step of stone
Enter’d Telemachus, to whom his sire
Relinquish’d, soon as he appear’d, his seat,
But him Telemachus forbidding, said—

   Guest, keep thy seat; our cottage will afford
Some other, which Eumæus will provide.

   He ceased, and he, returning at the word,
Reposed again; then good Eumæus spread
Green twigs beneath, which, cover’d with a fleece,
Supplied Ulysses’ offspring with a seat.
He, next, disposed his dishes on the board
With relicts charged of yesterday; with bread,
Alert, he heap’d the baskets; with rich wine
His ivy cup replenish’d; and a seat
Took opposite to his illustrious Lord
Ulysses. They toward the plenteous feast
Stretch’d forth their hands, (and hunger now and thirst
Both satisfied) Telemachus, his speech
Addressing to their gen’rous host, began.

   Whence is this guest, my father? How convey’d
Came he to Ithaca? What country boast
The mariners with whom he here arrived?
For, that on foot he found us not, is sure.

   To whom Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
I will with truth answer thee, O my son!
He boasts him sprung from ancestry renown’d
In spacious Crete, and hath the cities seen
Of various lands, by fate ordain’d to roam.
Ev’n now, from a Thesprotian ship escaped,
He reach’d my cottage—but he is thy own;
I yield him to thee; treat him as thou wilt;
He is thy suppliant, and depends on thee.

   Then thus, Telemachus, discrete, replied.
Thy words, Eumæus, pain my very soul.
For what security can I afford
To any in my house? myself am young,
Nor yet of strength sufficient to repel
An offer’d insult, and my mother’s mind
In doubtful balance hangs, if, still with me
An inmate, she shall manage my concerns,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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