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[280] Then his father answered him, weeping: “Stranger, verily thou art come to the country of which thou dost ask, but wanton and reckless men now possess it. And all in vain didst thou bestow those gifts, the countless gifts thou gavest. For if thou hadst found him yet alive in the land of Ithaca, [285] then would he have sent thee on thy way with ample requital of gifts and good entertainment; for that is the due of him who begins the kindness But come, tell me this, and declare it truly. How many years have passed since thou didst entertain that guest, that hapless guest, my son—as sure as ever such a man there was— [290] my ill-starred son, whom far from his friends and his native land haply the fishes have devoured in the deep, or on the shore he has become the spoil of beasts and birds? Nor did his mother deck him for burial and weep over him, nor his father, we who gave him birth, no, nor did his wife, wooed with many gifts,1 constant Penelope, [295] bewail her own husband upon the bier, as was meet, when she had closed his eyes in death; though that is the due of the dead. And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well. Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents? Where is the swift ship moored that brought thee hither [300] with thy godlike comrades? Or didst thou come as a passenger on another's ship, and did they depart when they had set thee on shore?” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Then verily will I frankly tell thee all. I come from Alybas, where I have a glorious house, [305] and I am the son of Apheidas, son of lord Polypemon, and my own name is Eperitus. But a god drove me wandering from Sicania to come hither against my will and my ship lies yonder off the tilled land away from the city. But as for Odysseus, it is now the fifth year [310] since he went thence, and departed from my country. Hapless man! Yet he had birds of good omen, when he set out, birds upon the right. So I was glad of them, as I sent him on his way, and he went gladly forth, and our hearts hoped that we should yet meet as host and guest and give one another glorious gifts.” [315] So he spoke, and a dark cloud of grief enwrapped Laertes, and with both his hands he took the dark dust and strewed it over his grey head with ceaseless groaning. Then the heart of Odysseus was stirred, and up through his nostrils2 shot a keen pang, as he beheld his dear father. [320] And he sprang toward him, and clasped him in his arms, and kissed him, saying: “Lo, father, I here before thee, my very self, am that man of whom thou dost ask; I am come in the twentieth year to my native land. But cease from grief and tearful lamenting, for I will tell thee all, though great is the need of haste. [325] The wooers have I slain in our halls, and have taken vengeance on their grievous insolence and their evil deeds.”

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