Then Melanthius, the goatherd, answered him: “Lo now, how the cur talks, his mind full of mischief. Him will I some day
take on a black, benched ship far from Ithaca
, that he may bring me in much wealth. Would that Apollo, of the silver bow, might smite Telemachus to-day in the halls, or that he might be slain by the wooers, as surely as for Odysseus in a far land the day of return has been lost.”
So saying, he left them there, as they walked slowly on,
but himself strode forward and right swiftly came to the palace of the king. Straightway he entered in and sat down among the wooers over against Eurymachus, for he loved him best of all. Then by him those that served set a portion of meat, and the grave housewife brought and set before him bread,
for him to eat. And Odysseus and the goodly swineherd halted as they drew nigh, and about them rang the sound of the hollow lyre, for Phemius was striking the chords to sing before the wooers. Then Odysseus clasped the swineherd by the hand, and said:
“Eumaeus, surely this is the beautiful house of Odysseus.
Easily might it be known, though seen among many. There is building upon building, and the court is built with wall and coping, and the double gates are well-fenced; no man may scorn it. And I mark that in the house itself many
men are feasting: for the savour of meat arises from it, and therewith resounds the voice of the lyre, which the gods have made the companion of the feast.”
To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Easily hast thou marked it, for in all things thou art ready of wit. But come, let us take thought how these things shall be.
Either do thou go first into the stately palace, and enter the company of the wooers, and I will remain behind here, or, if thou wilt, remain thou here and I will go before thee. But do not thou linger long, lest some man see thee without and pelt thee or smite thee. Of this I bid thee take thought.”
Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus answered him: “I see, I give heed: this thou biddest one with understanding. But go thou before, and I will remain behind here; for no whit unused am I to blows and peltings. Staunch is my heart, for much evil have I suffered
amid the waves and in war; let this too be added to what has gone before. But a ravening belly may no man hide, an accursed plague that brings many evils upon men. Because of it are the benched ships also made ready, that bear evil to foemen over the unresting sea.”