So she spoke among her handmaids, sitting in her chamber, while goodly Odysseus was at meat. Then she called to her the goodly swineherd, and said:
“Go, goodly Eumaeus, and bid the stranger come hither, that I may give him greeting, and ask him
if haply he has heard of Odysseus of the steadfast heart, or has seen him with his eyes. He seems like one that has wandered far.”
To her, then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “I would, O queen, that the Achaeans would keep silence, for he speaks such words as would charm thy very soul.
Three nights I had him by me, and three days I kept him in my hut, for to me first he came when he fled by stealth from a ship, but he had not yet ended the tale of his sufferings. Even as when a man gazes upon a minstrel who sings to mortals songs of longing that the gods have taught him,
and their desire to hear him has no end, whensoever he sings, even so he charmed me as he sat in my hall. He says that he is an ancestral friend of Odysseus, and that he dwells in Crete
, where is the race of Minos. From thence has he now come on this journey hither, ever suffering woes
as he wanders on and on. And he insists that he has heard tidings of Odysseus, near at hand in the rich land of the Thesprotians and yet alive; and he is bringing many treasures to his home.”
Then wise Penelope answered him: “Go, call him hither, that he may himself tell me to my face.
But as for these men, let them make sport as they sit in the doorway or here in the house, since their hearts are merry. For their own possessions lie untouched in their homes, bread and sweet wine, and on these do their servants feed. But themselves throng our house day after day,
slaying our oxen, and sheep, and fat goats, and keep revel and drink the flaming wine recklessly, and havoc is made of all this wealth, for there is no man here such as Odysseus was to keep ruin from the house. But if Odysseus should come and return to his native land,
straightway would he with his son take vengeance on these men for their violent deeds.”
So she spoke, and Telemachus sneezed loudly, and all the room round about echoed wondrously. And Penelope laughed, and straightway spoke to Eumaeus winged words:
“Go, pray, call the stranger here before me.
Dost thou not note that my son has sneezed at all my words. Therefore shall utter death fall upon the wooers one and all, nor shall one of them escape death and the fates. And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart. If I find that he speaks all things truly,
I will clothe him in a cloak and tunic, fair raiment.”
So she spoke, and the swineherd went when he had heard this saying; and coming up to Odysseus he spoke to him winged words:
“Sir stranger, wise Penelope calls for thee, the mother of Telemachus, and her heart
bids her make enquiry about her husband, though she has suffered many woes. And if she finds that thou speakest all things truly, she will clothe thee in a cloak and tunic, which thou needest most of all. As for thy food, thou shalt beg it through the land, and feed thy belly, and whoso will shall give it thee.”