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The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, [1922], at

Book XIV


Ulysses followed a steep path that led from the harbour through the forest and over the top of the mountain, till he reached the hut of Eumæus, who was the most thrifty servant he had, and had built a number of fine yards and pigstyes during his master's absence.

5 Ulysses found him sitting at the door of his hut, which had been built high up in a place that could been seen from far; he had his four fierce dogs about him, and was cutting himself out a pair of sandal shoes.

29 The dogs flew at Ulysses, and it was all Eumæus could do to check them; "They were like," said he, "to have made an

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end of you, which would have got me into a scrape, and I am in sorrow enough already through the loss, which I deplore without ceasing, of the best of masters. But come in, have something to eat, and then tell me your story."

On this he brought him inside, threw some brushwood on 48 the floor, and spread a goat's skin over it for Ulysses to lie on. "I cannot do much for you," he said; "servants go in fear when they have young lords over them, as I now have, for my good old master went to Troy with Agamemnon and I shall never see him again."

He then went out and killed two sucking pigs, singed them, 72 cut them up, put the pieces of meat on skewers to roast on the embers, and brought them smoking hot, skewers and all, to Ulysses, who floured them. "Eat," said the swineherd, "a dish of servant's pork; the fuller grown meat has to go down to the suitors." He then explained how rich Ulysses was.

"And who, pray," said Ulysses, "was this noble master of 115 yours? You say that he fell at Troy, and in that case I might be able to give you news of him."

"That," answered Eumæus, "may not be: people are 121 always coming and flattering my poor mistress with false hopes, but they are all liars. My master Ulysses is dead and gone, and I shall never see another like him. I cannot bear even to mention his name."

"My friend," replied Ulysses, "do not be too hard of belief. 148 I swear by this hearth to which I am now come, that Ulysses will return before the present month is over. If he comes you shall give me a shirt and cloak, but I will take nothing till then."

"My friend," said Eumæus, "say not another word. You 165 will never get your shirt and cloak. Now, moreover, I am as anxious about his son Telemachus as I have been about Ulysses himself; for he is gone to Pylos, and the suitors are lying in wait for him on his return. Let us, however, say no more about him now; tell me, rather, about yourself, who you are and how you came here."

Then Ulysses told him a long lying story about his adventures 191 in Crete: how he was compelled to go to Troy in joint

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command with Idomeneus over the Cretan forces; how he made a descent on Egypt, got taken prisoner, acquired wealth, and afterwards was inveigled into going to Libya; how on the voyage thither, after leaving Crete, the ship was wrecked and he was cast on the coast of Thesprotia. "Here it was," he continued, "that I heard of Ulysses from King Pheidon, who was expecting him back daily from Dodona, where he had been to consult the oracle; he told me Ulysses was to return to Ithaca immediately, but there was a ship bound for Dulichium, and the king sent me on board it before Ulysses returned from Dodona. The sailors on this ship resolved to sell me as a slave, and bound me; but they landed on the coast of Ithaca, where I gave them the slip, and found my way to your hut."

360 "Poor man," answered the swineherd, "but you will never get me to believe about Ulysses. Why should you tell me such lies? I have heard these stories too often, and will never believe them again."

390 Ulysses tried still further to convince him, but it was no use, and presently the under swineherds came back with the pigs that had been out feeding, and Eumæus told them to kill the best pig they had, and get supper ready, which they accordingly did. He was a good man and mindful of his duties to the gods, so when the pig was killed he threw some of its bristles into the fire and prayed heaven for the return of Ulysses. Then they supped and went to bed.

457 Now it was a wild rough night, and after they had lain down, Ulysses, fearing that he might be cold, told another lying story of an adventure he had had at Troy in company with Ulysses, by means of which Eumæus was induced to cover him over with a spare cloak of his own. Then the swineherd went out to pass the night with the pigs—and Ulysses was pleased at seeing how well he looked after his property, though he believed his master to be absent. First he slung his sword over his shoulders, and put on a thick cloak to keep out the wind; he also took the skin of a well-fed goat, and a javelin in case of attack from men or dogs. Thus equipped he went to his rest where the pigs were camped under an overhanging rock that sheltered them from the North Wind.

Next: Book XV. Telemachus Returns