Study Guide

The Odyssey Book 14

By Homer

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Book 14

  • When Odysseus arrives at the swineherd's home in the forest, he is nearly attacked by the dogs.
  • Luckily, swineherd Eumaios shows up just in time and welcomes him into his hut and offers him what little food and comfort he has.
  • While serving his guest, Eumaios talks all about the history of the land—King Odysseus' leaving to fight in Troy, the suitors' uncouth takeover of Odysseus' home, Penelope's staunch loyalty despite her suffering, and Telemachos' helplessness against the suitors.
  • So, basically, nothing new.
  • Still disguised as a beggar, Odysseus tries to tell Eumaios that Odysseus is not dead and will come back.
  • The swineherd kind of rolls his eyes, and changes the subject.
  • Odysseus makes up an elaborate story about being a commoner from Crete, who coincidentally has suffered many of the same trials that Odysseus did.
  • In his made-up story, he that he's heard Odysseus had just left an island when the beggar arrived. Odysseus is going to head home just as soon as he consults an oracle.
  • Eumaios isn't convinced but it's pretty clear that the beggar's story has planted a seed of hope.
  • He brings the beggar more food, making a big deal about treating his guest as Odysseus would've wished. Beggar Odysseus is touched.
  • After dinner, Odysseus wants to beg for a cloak so he can sleep, but tells a witty story instead.
  • Ah, but this is the kind of story that carries a subtle message, in this case, "Give me a cloak please."
  • Eumaios, who is one sharp swineherd, gets the message and gives the beggar a fine heavy cloak. He tells him to stay at the hut until Telemachos returns and can give him passage wherever he wishes.

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