Odysseus and Euryclea

Odysseus and Euryclea

Euryclea recognizes the old Odysseus but Odysseus holds her mouth, ask her not to reveal the secret

Homer Odyssey Book 19

After these words from Odysseus,
the old woman took the shining bowl to wash his feet.    
She poured in plenty of cold water and added 
warmer water to it.  Odysseus then sat down
some distance from the hearth, and quickly turned around
towards the darkness.  For suddenly in his heart
he was afraid that, when she touched him, she might see 
a scar he had, and then the truth would be revealed.
She came up and began to wash her master.
She recognized the scar immediately, a wound
a boar's white tusk had given him many years ago,
when he'd gone to Parnassus, making a visit     
to Autolycus, his mother's splendid father, 
and his sons.  That man could surpass all others
in thievery and swearing.  A god himself, Hermes,
had given him those skills. For him he used to burn
pleasing offerings, thighs of younger goats and lambs.  
So Hermes traveled with him, bringing willing favours.
When he came to the wealthy land of Ithaca, 
Autolycus had met his daughter's new born son,  
and once he'd finished dinner, Eurycleia
set the child upon his knees and spoke to him:     
"Autolycus, you must personally find
your daughter's child a name.  We've been praying
for a long time now to have this child."
So Autolycus then answered her and said:
"My son-in-law and daughter, give the boy
whatever name I say. Since I've come here
as one who's been enraged at many people,
men and women, on this all-nourishing earth,
let him be called Odysseus, a man of rage.*-
As for me, when he's become a full-grown man  
and comes to see his mother's family home
at Parnassus, where I keep my property,
I'll give him some of it and send him off.
He'll be delighted."
                                        It was for that reason,
to get those splendid presents from Autolycus,
that Odysseus had come. Autolycus and his sons
clasped his hand in welcome, greeted him with kindness,
and his mother's mother, Amphithea, hugged him,
kissed him on the head and both his lovely eyes.
Autolycus then called out to his noble sons 
to prepare a meal, and they answered to his call.
Quickly they brought in a male ox, five years old,  
flayed it, and prepared the beast, slicing up the limbs.
They cut these skillfully, pierced the meat with spits,
roasted them with care, and passed around the portions.
Then they dined all day long until the sun went down.
They feasted equally—their hearts were quite content.
But when the sun went down and darkness came,
they lay down to rest and took the gift of sleep. 
But as soon as rose-fingered early Dawn appeared,    
they went off to the hunt, with Autolycus' sons
and dogs, as well.  And lord Odysseus left with them.      
They climbed up steep, tree-covered mount Parnassus,
and quickly reached its windy gullies.  By this time,
Helios had just begun to strike the fields, 
rising from deep streams of gently flowing Ocean.
The beaters reached a clearing.  The dogs went first,
ahead of them, following the tracks.  Behind them,
came Autolycus' sons, with lord Odysseus
in their group, close to the dogs.  He was holding up  
his long-shadowed spear.  Now, right there a huge wild boar
was lying in a tangled thicket—it was so dense
the power of watery winds could not get through,   
none of Helios' rays could pierce it, and the rain
would never penetrate.  There were fallen leaves
in piles around the place.  The sound of rustling feet
from men and dogs, as they pushed on the hunt,
came round the beast, and he charged from the thicket
to confront them—his back was really bristling,
eyes flashing fire—as he stood at bay before them. 
Odysseus rushed in first, his strong hands gripping
the long spear, keen to strike the boar.  But the beast
got the jump on him and struck him above the knee,
charging at him from the side, a long gash in his flesh    
sliced by its tusk, but it didn't reach Odysseus' bone.
But then Odysseus struck the boar, hitting it
on its right shoulder.  The bright point of his spear
went clean through, the boar fell in the dust, squealing,
and its life force flew away. Autolycus' dear sons
attended to the carcass.  They skillfully bound up  
the wound on noble, godlike Odysseus, staunching
with a spell the flow of his dark blood.  And then
they quickly went back to their dear father's home.
When Autolycus and Autolycus' sons 
had fully cured him and given him splendid gifts,     
they soon sent him back in a joyful frame of mind
to his native land in Ithaca.  When he got back,
his father and his honoured mother were delighted,
asked him every detail of how he'd got the wound,
and he told them the truth—how, while he was hunting  
with Autolycus' sons when he'd gone to Parnassus,
a boar's white tusk had gored him.  That was the scar
the old woman was then holding in her hands.
She traced it out and recognized it.  She dropped his foot.
His leg fell in the basin, and the bronze rang out.
It tipped onto its side.  Water spilled out on the ground. 
All at once, joy and sorrow gripped her heart.  Her eyes
filled up with tears, and her full voice was speechless.
She reached up to Odysseus' chin and said:
                                              "It's true, dear child.
You are Odysseus, and I didn't know you,  
not until I'd touched all my master's body."

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