As he spoke he went up to
Odysseus and saluted him with his right hand; "Good day to you,
father stranger," said he, "you seem to be very poorly off now, but I
hope you will have better times [olbos] by and by.
Father Zeus, of all gods you are the most malicious. We are your own
children, yet you show us no mercy in all our misery and afflictions.
A sweat came over me when I saw this man, and my eyes filled with
tears, for he reminds me of Odysseus, who I fear is going about in
just such rags as this man's are, if indeed he is still among
the living. If he is already dead and in the house of Hades, then,
alas! for my good master, who made me his stockman when I was quite
young in the dêmos of the Cephallênians, and now
his cattle are countless; no one could have done better with them
than I have, for they have bred like ears of wheat; nevertheless I
have to keep bringing them in for others to eat, who take no heed of
his son though he is in the house, and fear not the wrath of heaven,
but are already eager to divide Odysseus’ property among them
because he has been away so long. I have often thought - only it
would not be right while his son is living - of going off with the
cattle to some foreign dêmos; bad as this would be, it
is still harder to stay here and be ill-treated about other
people's herds. My position is intolerable, and I should long
since have run away and put myself under the protection of some other
chief, only that I believe my poor master will yet return, and send
all these suitors fleeing out of the house."
"Stockman," answered Odysseus,
"you seem to be a very well-disposed person, and I can see that you
are a man of sense. Therefore I will tell you, and will confirm my
words with an oath: by Zeus, the chief of all gods, and by that
hearth of Odysseus to which I am now come, Odysseus shall return
before you leave this place, and if you are so minded you shall see
him killing the suitors who are now masters here."
"If Zeus were to bring this to
pass," replied the stockman, "you should see how I would do my very
utmost to help him."
And in like manner Eumaios prayed
that Odysseus might return home.