So he spoke, and wise Penelope heard him;
and she rebuked the handmaid and spoke, and addressed her:
“Be sure, thou bold and shameless thing, that thy outrageous deed is in no wise hid from me, and with thine own head shalt thou wipe out its stain. Full well didst thou know, for thou hast heard it from my own lips, that I was minded
to question the stranger in my halls concerning my husband; for I am sore distressed.”
With this she spoke also to the housewife Eurynome, and said: “Eurynome, bring hither a chair and a fleece upon it, that the stranger may sit down and tell his tale, and listen to me; for I am fain to ask him of all things.”
So she spoke, and Eurynome speedily brought a polished chair and set it in place, and on it cast a fleece. Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus sat down upon it, and the wise Penelope spoke first, and said:
“Stranger, this question will I myself ask thee first.
Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents?”
Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said: “Lady, no one of mortals upon the boundless earth could find fault with thee, for thy fame goes up to the broad heaven, as does the fame of some blameless king, who with the fear of the gods in his heart,
is lord over many mighty men, upholding justice; and the black earth bears wheat and barley, and the trees are laden with fruit, the flocks bring forth young unceasingly, and the sea yields fish, all from his good leading; and the people prosper under him.
Wherefore question me now in thy house of all things else, but ask not concerning my race and my native land, lest thou fill my heart the more with pains, as I think thereon; for I am a man of many sorrows. Moreover it is not fitting
that I should sit weeping and wailing in another's house, for it is ill to grieve ever without ceasing. I would not that one of thy maidens or thine own self be vexed with me, and say that I swim in tears because my mind is heavy with wine.”
Then wise Penelope answered him: “Stranger, all excellence of mine, both of beauty and of form,
the immortals destroyed on the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios
, and with them went my husband, Odysseus. If he might but come, and watch over this life of mine, greater would be my fame and fairer. But now I am in sorrow, so many woes has some god brought upon me.
For all the princes who hold sway over the islands—Dulichium and Same and wooded Zacynthus—and those who dwell around in clear-seen Ithaca
itself, all these woo me against my will, and lay waste my house. Wherefore I pay no heed to strangers or to suppliants
or in any wise to heralds, whose trade is a public one; but in longing for Odysseus I waste my heart away. So these men urge on my marriage, and I wind a skein of wiles. First some god breathed the thought in my heart to set up a great web in my halls and fall to weaving a robe—
fine of thread was the web and very wide; and I straightway spoke among them:
“‘Young men, my wooers, since goodly Odysseus is dead, be patient, though eager for my marriage, until I finish this robe—I would not that my spinning should come to naught—a shroud for the lord Laertes against the time when
the fell fate of grievous death shall strike him down; lest any one of the Achaean women in the land should be wroth with me, if he were to lie without a shroud, who had won great possessions.’