Now when the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus saw him, worn with old age and laden with great grief at heart, he stood still beneath a tall pear tree, and shed tears.
Then he debated in mind and heart whether to kiss and embrace his father, and tell him all, how he had returned and come to his native land, or whether he should first question him, and prove him in each thing. And, as he pondered, this seemed to him the better course,
to prove him first with mocking words. So with this in mind the goodly Odysseus went straight toward him. He verily was holding his head down, digging about a plant, and his glorious son came up to him, and addressed him, saying:
“Old man, no lack of skill hast thou to tend
a garden; nay, thy care is good, and there is naught whatsoever, either plant or fig tree, or vine, nay, or olive, or pear, or garden-plot in all the field that lacks care. But another thing will I tell thee, and do thou not lay up wrath thereat in thy heart: thou thyself enjoyest no good care, but
thou bearest woeful old age, and therewith art foul and unkempt, and clad in mean raiment. Surely it is not because of sloth on thy part that thy master cares not for thee, nor dost thou seem in any wise like a slave to look upon either in form or in stature; for thou art like a king, even like one who, when he has bathed and eaten,
should sleep soft; for this is the way of old men. But come, tell me this, and declare it truly. Whose slave art thou, and whose orchard dost thou tend? And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well, whether this is indeed Ithaca
, to which we are now come, as
a man yonder told me, who met me but now on my way hither. In no wise over sound of wit was he, for he deigned not to tell me of each thing, nor to listen to my word, when I questioned him about a friend of mine, whether haply he still lives, or is now dead and in the house of Hades.
For I will tell thee, and do thou give heed and hearken. I once entertained in my dear native land a man that came to our house, and never did any man beside of strangers that dwell afar come to my house a more welcome guest. He declared that by lineage he came from Ithaca
, and said
that his own father was Laertes, son of Arceisius. So I took him to the house and gave him entertainment with kindly welcome of the rich store that was within, and I gave him gifts of friendship, such as are meet. Of well-wrought gold
I gave him seven talents, and a mixing-bowl all of silver, embossed with flowers, and twelve cloaks of single fold, and as many coverlets, and as many fair mantles, and as many tunics besides, and furthermore women, skilled in goodly handiwork, four comely women, whom he himself was minded to choose.”