Always in Fear: The Justice (?) of Servants

Homer, Odyssey 14. 55-72

“Then you answered him in address, swineherd Eumaios

“It is not right for me, not even if someone worse than you should come,
To dishonor a guest. For all guests and beggars come
From Zeus and our gift to them is small and dear.
This is the justice of servants
Of those who are always afraid, when their masters rule over them,
Young men. For the gods have kept him from his homeland
The one who would have cared for me rightly and given me possessions,
A house, some land, and a much-wooed wife—
The kinds of things a good-spirited master gives to his servant
Who works hard for him and then a god increases his labor.
So for me my labor—to which I attend—always produces.
This is why my lord would have repaid me if he grew old here.
But he died. I wish the entire race of Helen had perished
Since it brought many men to their knees.
For he too went for the sake of Agamemnon’s honor
To well-horsed Troy so that he might fight the Trojans”

τὸν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφης, Εὔμαιε συβῶτα·
“ξεῖν’, οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ’, οὐδ’ εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
γίνεται ἡμετέρη· ἡ γὰρ δμώων δίκη ἐστίν,
αἰεὶ δειδιότων, ὅτ’ ἐπικρατέωσιν ἄνακτες
οἱ νέοι. ἦ γὰρ τοῦ γε θεοὶ κατὰ νόστον ἔδησαν,
ὅς κεν ἔμ’ ἐνδυκέως ἐφίλει καὶ κτῆσιν ὄπασσεν,
οἷά τε ᾧ οἰκῆϊ ἄναξ εὔθυμος ἔδωκεν,
οἶκόν τε κλῆρόν τε πολυμνήστην τε γυναῖκα,
ὅς οἱ πολλὰ κάμῃσι, θεὸς δ’ ἐπὶ ἔργον ἀέξῃ,
ὡς καὶ ἐμοὶ τόδε ἔργον ἀέξεται, ᾧ ἐπιμίμνω.
τῶ κέ με πόλλ’ ὤνησεν ἄναξ, εἰ αὐτόθ’ ἐγήρα·
ἀλλ’ ὄλεθ’. ὡς ὤφελλ’ ῾Ελένης ἀπὸ φῦλον ὀλέσθαι
πρόχνυ, ἐπεὶ πολλῶν ἀνδρῶν ὑπὸ γούνατ’ ἔλυσε·
καὶ γὰρ κεῖνος ἔβη ᾿Αγαμέμνονος εἵνεκα τιμῆς
῎Ιλιον εἰς εὔπωλον, ἵνα Τρώεσσι μάχοιτο.”
ὣς εἰπὼν ζωστῆρι θοῶς συνέεργε χιτῶνα,

Schol. HQ ad Od. 14.68

“How would the father of Penelope, Ikarios, the Laconian be in race? Or what would it mean that Penelope is a cousin of Helen? For master-loving Eumaios would not curse Telemachus and Penelope in wishing that the race of Helen be destroyed…”

πῶς ἂν ὁ Πηνελόπης πατὴρ ᾿Ικάριος Λάκων εἴη τὸ γένος; ἢ πῶς ἂν ἡ Πηνελόπη τῆς ῾Ελένης ὑπάρχοι ἀνεψιά; οὐ γὰρ ἂν ὁ φιλοδεσπότης Εὔμαιος Τηλεμάχῳ καὶ Πηνελόπῃ κατηρᾶτο βουλόμενος διεφθάρθαι τὸ τῆς ῾Ελένης γένος. H.Q.

For Ikarios and Tyndareus as brothers, see these details.


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