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[365] Meanwhile the Sicilian handmaid bathed great-hearted Laertes in his house, and anointed him with oil, and about him cast a fair cloak. But Athena drew near, and made greater the limbs of the shepherd of the people, and made him taller than before and mightier to behold. [370] Then he came forth from the bath, and his dear son marvelled at him, seeing him in presence like unto the immortal gods. And he spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Father, surely some one of the gods that are forever has made thee goodlier to behold in comeliness and in stature.” [375] Then wise Laertes answered him: “I would, O father Zeus, and Athena, and Apollo, that in such strength as when I took Nericus, the well built citadel on the shore of the mainland, when I was lord of the Cephallenians, even in such strength I had stood by thy side yesterday in our house [380] with my armour about my shoulders, and had beaten back the wooers. So should I have loosened the knees of many of them in the halls, and thy heart would have been made glad within thee.” So they spoke to one another. But when the others had ceased from their labour, and had made ready the meal, [385] they sat down in order on the chairs and high seats. Then they were about to set hands to their food, when the old man Dolius drew near, and with him the old man's sons, wearied from their work in the fields, for their mother, the old Sicilian woman, had gone forth and called them, she who [390] saw to their food, and tended the old man with kindly care, now that old age had laid hold of him. And they, when they saw Odysseus, and marked him in their minds, stood in the halls lost in wonder. But Odysseus addressed them with gentle words, and said: “Old man, sit down to dinner, and do ye wholly forget your wonder, [395] for long have we waited in the halls, though eager to set hands to the food, ever expecting your coming.” So he spoke, and Dolius ran straight toward him with both hands outstretched, and he clasped the hand of Odysseus and kissed it on the wrist, and spoke, and addressed him with winged words: [400] “Dear master, since thou hast come back to us, who sorely longed for thee, but had no more thought to see thee, and the gods themselves have brought thee—hail to thee, and all welcome, and may the gods grant thee happiness. And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well. Does wise Penelope yet know surely [405] that thou hast come back hither, or shall we send her a messenger?” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Old man, she knows already; why shouldst thou be busied with this?” So he spoke, and the other sat down again on the polished chair. And even in like manner the sons of Dolius gathered around glorious Odysseus [410] and greeted him in speech, and clasped his hands. Then they sat down in order beside Dolius, their father.

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