Look How Much I Suffered! Odysseus Minimizes Slavery (And Eumaios’ Life Story)

Odyssey 15.494–485

Then god-born Odysseus responded to him with a speech:
“Eumaios, you have really raised the spirit in my thoughts
By saying each of these things, how much you suffered grief in you heart.
But Zeus has certainly added some good to your trouble
Since you came and have worked much in the home of a mild man,
Who provides food and drink rightly. You live a good life.
But I have come her after wandering through many cities of men”
So they spoke saying these kinds of things
And they stayed awake not much more, only a little.

τὸν δ’ αὖ διογενὴς ᾿Οδυσεὺς ἠμείβετο μύθῳ·
“Εὔμαι’, ἦ μάλα δή μοι ἐνὶ φρεσὶ θυμὸν ὄρινας
ταῦτα ἕκαστα λέγων, ὅσα δὴ πάθες ἄλγεα θυμῷ.
ἀλλ’ ἦ τοι σοὶ μὲν παρὰ καὶ κακῷ ἐσθλὸν ἔθηκε
Ζεύς, ἐπεὶ ἀνδρὸς δώματ’ ἀφίκεο πολλὰ μογήσας
ἠπίου, ὃς δή τοι παρέχει βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε
ἐνδυκέως, ζώεις δ’ ἀγαθὸν βίον· αὐτὰρ ἐγώ γε
πολλὰ βροτῶν ἐπὶ ἄστε’ ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνω.”
ὣς οἱ μὲν τοιαῦτα πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀγόρευον,
καδδραθέτην δ’ οὐ πολλὸν ἐπὶ χρόνον, ἀλλὰ μίνυνθα·

Schol. HQ ad Od. 15.488

Q. “But Zeus did not give you only evil, but good too.
H. He added some good to your misfortune.

ἀλλ’ ἤτοι σοὶ] ἀλλὰ σοὶ μὲν ὁ Ζεὺς οὐ κακὸν μόνον παρέθηκεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀγαθόν. Q. τῇ δυστυχίᾳ σου παρέθηκε τι ἀγαθόν. H.

This is the response Odysseus gives to Eumaios’ story of his enslavement as a child.

Eumaios’ Story: Odyssey, 15.389–484

Then the swineherd, marshal of men, responded:
“Friend, since you have asked me and inquired truly of these things,
Listen now in silence and take some pleasure and drink your wine
While you sit there. These nights are endless. There is time for sleep
And there is time to take pleasure in listening. It is not at all necessary
For you to sleep before it is time. Even a lot of sleep can be a burden.
Let whoever of the rest the heart and spirit moves
Go out and sleep. For as soon as the down shows itself
Let him eat and follow the master’s swine.
As we two drink and dine in this shelter
Let us take pleasure as we recall one another’s terrible pains.
For a man finds pleasure even in pains later on
After he has suffered so very many and survived many too.
I will tell you this because you asked me and inquired.

There is an island called Suriê, if you have heard of it,
Above Ortygia, where the rays of the sun rise.
It is not too filled, but it is a good place
Well stocked with cows, sheep, with much wine and grain too.
Poverty never curses the people there, nor does any other
Hateful sickness fall upon the wretched mortals,
But when the race of humans grow old in the city
Apollo silverbow comes with Artemis
And kills them with his gentle arrows.

There are two cities there and everything is divided between them.
My father used to rule both of them as king
Ktêsios the son of Ormenos, a man equal to the immortal gods.
The ship-famous Phaeacians used to to frequent there
Pirates, bringing countless treasures in their black ships.
There was a Phoenician woman in my father’s house
Beautiful and broad and skilled in wondrous works.
The devious Phoenicians were corrupting her.
First, one of them joined her for sex while she was washing clothes
Near the swift ship—these things mix up the thoughts
For the female sex even when one of them is work-focused.

He then asked her who she was and where she was from
And she immediately told him about the high-roofed home of my father.
“I claim to be from Sidon of much-bronze,
And I am the daughter of Arubas, a wealthy man.
Taphian pirates kidnapped me one day
As I was returned from the country, and they forced me to come here
To the house of this man. And he paid a great price.”

The man who had sex with her in secret responded,
“Would you want to go back home again now with us
So that you might see the high-roofed home of you father and mother
And them too? For they are still there and are reputedly wealthy.”
And the woman then answered him in turn,
“I wish that this would happen, if you would be willing, sailors,
To swear an oath to take me home unharmed.
So she said, and all of them swore an oath as she requested.
And once they swore and completed the oath,
The woman spoke among them again and answered with a plan.

“Be quiet now. Don’t let anyone address me with words
Should any one of your companions happen to meet me
In the street or near the stream so that no one might go to the house
And speak to the old man who might suspect something and bind me
In strong bonds. But plan for this destruction yourselves.
Keep this plan in your thoughts and earn the pay for your travels.
But whenever the ship is indeed full of its material,
Let a message come to me swiftly in the house.
And I will bring gold, as much as is ready-to-hand,
And I will add another passage-fee which I may wish to give.
For I care for the child of this nobleman in his home.
This child is clever indeed, and he is always following me outside.
I would bring him to the ship because he will earn for you
A great price when you take him to some foreign people.”

So she spoke and then left to the beautiful home.
They remained there among us for the rest of the year
As they sold the martial in their cavernous ship.
But when the hollow ship was packed up to leave,
They sent a messenger who informed the woman.
A very clever man came to the house of my father
Bringing a golden necklace worked out with amber bits.
The slave-women in the hall and my mistress mother went
To touch the necklace with their hands and see it with their eyes
As they discussed the price. He nodded to her in silence.
And once he nodded he returned to the hollow ship.
And she took my hand and led me from the house outside.
In the front part of the house she found cups and platters
From the men who dine there and attend my father.
They went to the council place and the opinion of the people,
So she quickly hid three tankards under her bosom
And left. And I followed without a care in my mind.
The sun set and all the roads were in shadows.
We went to the famous harbor in a hurry,
And there was the salt-swift ship of the Phoenician men.
They disembarked then and went sailing over the watery ways,
After they put the two of us on board. And Zeus sent a favorable wind.

We were sailing for six nights and days.
But when Kronos’ son Zeus brought the seventh day
Artemis the archer killed that woman
And she thudded into the cargo hold like a diving sea gull.
And they threw her out to be food for the seals and fish.
But I remained still, filled with pain in my heart.
The wind and the water carried them to Ithaca
Where Laertes purchased me among his possessions.
Thus I saw this land here with my own eyes.”

τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε συβώτης, ὄρχαμος ἀνδρῶν·
“ξεῖν’, ἐπεὶ ἂρ δὴ ταῦτά μ’ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς,
σιγῇ νῦν ξυνίει καὶ τέρπεο πῖνέ τε οἶνον,
ἥμενος. αἵδε δὲ νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι· ἔστι μὲν εὕδειν,
ἔστι δὲ τερπομένοισιν ἀκουέμεν· οὐδέ τί σε χρή,
πρὶν ὥρη, καταλέχθαι· ἀνίη καὶ πολὺς ὕπνος.
τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ὅτινα κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀνώγει,
εὑδέτω ἐξελθών· ἅμα δ’ ἠόϊ φαινομένηφι
δειπνήσας ἅμ’ ὕεσσιν ἀνακτορίῃσιν ἑπέσθω.
νῶϊ δ’ ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε
κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι
μνωομένω· μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,
ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ’ ἐπαληθῇ.
τοῦτο δέ τοι ἐρέω, ὅ μ’ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς.
νῆσός τις Συρίη κικλήσκεται, εἴ που ἀκούεις,
᾿Ορτυγίης καθύπερθεν, ὅθι τροπαὶ ἠελίοιο,
οὔ τι περιπληθὴς λίην τόσον, ἀλλ’ ἀγαθὴ μέν,
εὔβοος εὔμηλος, οἰνοπληθὴς πολύπυρος.
πείνη δ’ οὔ ποτε δῆμον ἐσέρχεται, οὐδέ τις ἄλλη
νοῦσος ἐπὶ στυγερὴ πέλεται δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε γηράσκωσι πόλιν κάτα φῦλ’ ἀνθρώπων,
ἐλθὼν ἀργυρότοξος ᾿Απόλλων ᾿Αρτέμιδι ξύν,
οἷσ’ ἀγανοῖσι βέλεσσιν ἐποιχόμενος κατέπεφνεν.
ἔνθα δύω πόλιες, δίχα δέ σφισι πάντα δέδασται·
τῇσιν δ’ ἀμφοτέρῃσι πατὴρ ἐμὸς ἐμβασίλευε,
Κτήσιος ᾿Ορμενίδης, ἐπιείκελος ἀθανάτοισιν.
ἔνθα δὲ Φοίνικες ναυσικλυτοὶ ἤλυθον ἄνδρες,
τρῶκται, μυρί’ ἄγοντες ἀθύρματα νηῒ μελαίνῃ.
ἔσκε δὲ πατρὸς ἐμοῖο γυνὴ Φοίνισσ’ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ,
καλή τε μεγάλη τε καὶ ἀγλαὰ ἔργα ἰδυῖα·
τὴν δ’ ἄρα Φοίνικες πολυπαίπαλοι ἠπερόπευον.
πλυνούσῃ τις πρῶτα μίγη κοίλῃ παρὰ νηῒ
εὐνῇ καὶ φιλότητι, τά τε φρένας ἠπεροπεύει
θηλυτέρῃσι γυναιξί, καὶ ἥ κ’ εὐεργὸς ἔῃσιν.
εἰρώτα δὴ ἔπειτα, τίς εἴη καὶ πόθεν ἔλθοι·
ἡ δὲ μάλ’ αὐτίκα πατρὸς ἐπέφραδεν ὑψερεφὲς δῶ·
‘ἐκ μὲν Σιδῶνος πολυχάλκου εὔχομαι εἶναι,
κούρη δ’ εἴμ’ ᾿Αρύβαντος ἐγὼ ῥυδὸν ἀφνειοῖο·
ἀλλά μ’ ἀνήρπαξαν Τάφιοι ληΐστορες ἄνδρες
ἀγρόθεν ἐρχομένην, πέρασαν δέ με δεῦρ’ ἀγαγόντες
τοῦδ’ ἀνδρὸς πρὸς δώμαθ’· ὁ δ’ ἄξιον ὦνον ἔδωκε.’
τὴν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπεν ἀνήρ, ὃς μίσγετο λάθρῃ·
‘ἦ ῥά κε νῦν πάλιν αὖτις ἅμ’ ἡμῖν οἴκαδ’ ἕποιο,
ὄφρα ἴδῃ πατρὸς καὶ μητέρος ὑψερεφὲς δῶ
αὐτούς τ’; ἦ γὰρ ἔτ’ εἰσὶ καὶ ἀφνειοὶ καλέονται.’
τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε γυνὴ καὶ ἀμείβετο μύθῳ·
‘εἴη κεν καὶ τοῦτ’, εἴ μοι ἐθέλοιτέ γε, ναῦται,
ὅρκῳ πιστωθῆναι ἀπήμονά μ’ οἴκαδ’ ἀπάξειν.’
ὣς ἔφαθ’, οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἐπώμνυον, ὡς ἐκέλευεν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ’ ὄμοσάν τε τελεύτησάν τε τὸν ὅρκον,
τοῖς δ’ αὖτις μετέειπε γυνὴ καὶ ἀμείβετο μύθῳ·
‘σιγῇ νῦν· μή τίς με προσαυδάτω ἐπέεσσιν
ὑμετέρων ἑτάρων ξυμβλήμενος ἢ ἐν ἀγυιῇ
ἤ που ἐπὶ κρήνῃ· μή τις ποτὶ δῶμα γέροντι
ἐλθὼν ἐξείπῃ, ὁ δ’ ὀϊσάμενος καταδήσῃ
δεσμῷ ἐν ἀργαλέῳ, ὑμῖν δ’ ἐπιφράσσετ’ ὄλεθρον.
ἀλλ’ ἔχετ’ ἐν φρεσὶ μῦθον, ἐπείγετε δ’ ὦνον ὁδαίων.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε κεν δὴ νηῦς πλείη βιότοιο γένηται,
ἀγγελίη μοι ἔπειτα θοῶς πρὸς δώμαθ’ ἱκέσθω·
οἴσω γὰρ καὶ χρυσόν, ὅτις χ’ ὑποχείριος ἔλθῃ.
καὶ δέ κεν ἄλλ’ ἐπίβαθρον ἐγὼν ἐθέλουσά γε δοίην·
παῖδα γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἐῆος ἐνὶ μεγάροισ’ ἀτιτάλλω,
κερδαλέον δὴ τοῖον, ἅμα τροχόωντα θύραζε·
τόν κεν ἄγοιμ’ ἐπὶ νηός, ὁ δ’ ὕμιν μυρίον ὦνον
ἄλφοι, ὅπῃ περάσητε κατ’ ἀλλοθρόους ἀνθρώπους.’
ἡ μὲν ἄρ’ ὣς εἰποῦσ’ ἀπέβη πρὸς δώματα καλά·
οἱ δ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἅπαντα παρ’ ἡμῖν αὖθι μένοντες
ἐν νηῒ γλαφυρῇ βίοτον πολὺν ἐμπολόωντο.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ κοίλη νηῦς ἤχθετο τοῖσι νέεσθαι,
καὶ τότ’ ἄρ’ ἄγγελον ἧκαν, ὃς ἀγγείλειε γυναικί.
ἤλυθ’ ἀνὴρ πολύϊδρις ἐμοῦ πρὸς δώματα πατρὸς
χρύσεον ὅρμον ἔχων, μετὰ δ’ ἠλέκτροισιν ἔερτο.
τὸν μὲν ἄρ’ ἐν μεγάρῳ δμῳαὶ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ
χερσίν τ’ ἀμφαφόωντο καὶ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶντο,
ὦνον ὑπισχόμεναι· ὁ δὲ τῇ κατένευσε σιωπῇ.
ἦ τοι ὁ καννεύσας κοίλην ἐπὶ νῆα βεβήκει,
ἡ δ’ ἐμὲ χειρὸς ἑλοῦσα δόμων ἐξῆγε θύραζε.
εὗρε δ’ ἐνὶ προδόμῳ ἠμὲν δέπα ἠδὲ τραπέζας
ἀνδρῶν δαιτυμόνων, οἵ μευ πατέρ’ ἀμφεπένοντο.
οἱ μὲν ἄρ’ ἐς θῶκον πρόμολον δήμοιό τε φῆμιν,
ἡ δ’ αἶψα τρί’ ἄλεισα κατακρύψασ’ ὑπὸ κόλπῳ
ἔκφερεν· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἑπόμην ἀεσιφροσύνῃσι.
δύσετό τ’ ἠέλιος σκιόωντό τε πᾶσαι ἀγυιαί·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἐς λιμένα κλυτὸν ἤλθομεν ὦκα κιόντες,
ἔνθ’ ἄρα Φοινίκων ἀνδρῶν ἦν ὠκύαλος νηῦς.
οἱ μὲν ἔπειτ’ ἀναβάντες ἐπέπλεον ὑγρὰ κέλευθα,
νὼ ἀναβησάμενοι· ἐπὶ δὲ Ζεὺς οὖρον ἴαλλεν.
ἑξῆμαρ μὲν ὁμῶς πλέομεν νύκτας τε καὶ ἦμαρ·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ ἕβδομον ἦμαρ ἐπὶ Ζεὺς θῆκε Κρονίων,
τὴν μὲν ἔπειτα γυναῖκα βάλ’ ῎Αρτεμις ἰοχέαιρα,
ἄντλῳ δ’ ἐνδούπησε πεσοῦσ’ ὡς εἰναλίη κήξ.
καὶ τὴν μὲν φώκῃσι καὶ ἰχθύσι κύρμα γενέσθαι
ἔκβαλον· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ λιπόμην ἀκαχήμενος ἦτορ.
τοὺς δ’ ᾿Ιθάκῃ ἐπέλασσε φέρων ἄνεμός τε καὶ ὕδωρ,
ἔνθα με Λαέρτης πρίατο κτεάτεσσιν ἑοῖσιν.
οὕτω τήνδε τε γαῖαν ἐγὼν ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσι.”

Some scholia for this passage:

On the quiet death of Eumaios’ homeland

Schol. H. ad Od. 14.411

“For this is a quick and painless death.”

ἀγανοῖς] πραέσιν· ὁ γὰρ αἰφνίδιος θάνατος ἀνώδυνος ἐστί. H.

On the slave woman’s corruption

Schol. H ad Od. 15.421 ex

“For bed and sex makes the thoughts wander completely.”

ἠπεροπεύει] ἡ γὰρ εὐνὴ καὶ φιλότης πάντως τὰς φρένας πλανᾷ. H.

There is also concern about how Eumaios could know these stories when he was only a small child. We find the suggestion that the sailors told Laertes as part of the selling of the child and he told Eumaios.

Schol, BHQ ad Od. 15.417 ex

“Perhaps the Phoenicians told these things to Laertes because they wanted to argue that [Eumaios] was worth a lot. For it is not possible that an infant would know the truth of how he was abducted.”

ταῦτα δὲ οἱ Φοίνικες ἴσως Λαέρτῃ διηγήσαντο πολλοῦ ἄξιον αὐτὸν
ὑποφαίνοντες, Λαέρτης δὲ Εὐμαίῳ διηγήσατο. οὐ γὰρ οἷόν τε εἰδέναι
τὸ ἀληθὲς νήπιον ἡρπασμένον. B.H.Q.

Schol. V ad Od. 15.484

“He probably heard this from Laertes who was informed by the Phaeacians”

οὕτω τήνδε γαῖαν ἐγὼν ἴδον] εἰκὸς αὐτὸν ἀκηκοέναι παρὰ
τοῦ Λαέρτου, ᾧ διηγήσαντο οἱ Φοίνικες. V.

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