So he spoke, and set the bow from him, leaning it against the jointed, polished door,
and hard by he leaned the swift arrow against the fair bow-tip, and then sat down on the seat from which he had risen. But Antinous rebuked him, and spoke, and addressed him: “Leiodes, what a word has escaped the barrier of thy teeth, a dread word and grievous! I am angered to hear it,
if forsooth this bow is to rob princes of spirit and of life, because thou art not able to string it. For, I tell thee, thy honored mother did not bear thee of such strength as to draw a bow and shoot arrows; but others of the lordly wooers will soon string it.”
So he spoke, and called to Melanthius, the goatherd: “Come now, light a fire in the hall, Melanthius; and set by it a great seat with a fleece upon it, and bring forth a great cake of the fat that is within, that we youths may warm the bow, and anoint it with fat,
and so make trial of it, and end the contest.”
So he spoke, and Melanthius straightway rekindled the unwearied fire, and brought and placed by it a great seat with a fleece upon it, and he brought forth a great cake of the fat that was within. Therewith the youths warmed the bow, and made trial of it, but they could not
string it, for they were far lacking in strength.
Now Antinous was still persisting and godlike Eurymachus, leaders of the wooers, who were far the best in valiance; but those other two had gone forth both together from the hall, the neatherd and the swineherd of divine Odysseus;
and after them Odysseus himself went forth from the house. But when they were now outside the gates and the court, he spoke and addressed them with gentle words:
“Neatherd, and thou too swineherd, shall I tell you something or keep it to myself? Nay, my spirit bids me tell it.
What manner of men would you be to defend Odysseus, if he should come from somewhere thus suddenly, and some god should bring him? Would you bear aid to the wooers or to Odysseus? Speak out as your heart and spirit bid you.”
Then the herdsmen of the cattle answered him:
“Father Zeus, oh that thou wouldest fulfil this wish! Grant that that man may come back, and that some god may guide him. Then shouldest thou know what manner of might is mine, and how my hands obey.”
And even in like manner did Eumaeus pray to all the gods that wise Odysseus; might come back to his own home.