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At last, however, Odysseus said, "Wife, we have not yet reached the end of our trials [athloi]. I have an unknown amount of toil [ponos] still to undergo. It is long and difficult, but I must go through with it, for thus the shade [psukhê] of Teiresias prophesied concerning me, on the day when I went down into Hades to ask about my return [nostos] and that of my companions. But now let us go to bed, that we may lie down and enjoy the blessed boon of sleep."

"You shall go to bed as soon as you please," replied Penelope, "now that the gods have sent you home to your own good house and to your country. But as heaven has put it in your mind to speak of it, tell me about the task [athlos] that lies before you. I shall have to hear about it later, so it is better that I should be told at once."

"My dear," answered Odysseus, "why should you press me to tell you? Still, I will not conceal it from you, though you will not like it. I do not like it myself, for Teiresias bade me travel far and wide, carrying an oar, till I came to a country where the people have never heard of the sea, and do not even mix salt with their food. They know nothing about ships, nor oars that are as the wings of a ship. He gave me this certain token [sêma] which I will not hide from you. He said that a wayfarer should meet me and ask me whether it was a winnowing shovel that I had on my shoulder. On this, I was to fix my oar in the ground and sacrifice a ram, a bull, and a boar to Poseidon; after which I was to go home and offer hecatombs to all the gods in heaven, one after the other. As for myself, he said that death should come to me from the sea, and that my life should ebb away very gently when I was full of years and peace of mind, and my people should be prosperous [olbios]. All this, he said, should surely come to pass."

And Penelope said, "If the gods are going to grant you a happier time in your old age, you may hope then to have some respite from misfortune."

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