Odysseus at Laertes
Early in the morning, armed with shiny armor, shields and spears, Odysseus, Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philotius went to Laertes. Penelope was ordered by Odysseus not to leave the palace anywhere, as he knew that the news of the death of the suitors would quickly spread through the city. Wrapped in a thick cloud, Odysseus and his companions quickly passed the city and went out into the field. Soon they came to the house of Laertes, where he lived with his slaves and an old maid. Odysseus sent his companions into the house and told them to prepare a meal, and he went into the garden to look for Laertes. Odysseus found his elderly father at work. He was digging up a young tree. All of Laertes' clothes were patched, he had sandals on his feet, his head was covered with a hat made of worn goatskin, and mittens were worn on his hands. When Odysseus saw his father, he wept. He felt sorry for the old man when he saw him dressed like a beggar. Odysseus hesitated as to what he should do - whether to open up to his father right away or first hide who he was and see if his father would recognize him.
Finally, Odysseus decided to do this: he went up to his father and, pretending that he did not know him, began to talk to him as if he were a simple worker, and asked him who owned the garden and what the owner's name was. Odysseus told a fictional story about himself, posing as a foreigner, and added:
- Once I received Odysseus as a guest in my house, I gave him rich gifts. Now I have come to take advantage of his hospitality. Tell me, have I really arrived on the island of Ithaca?
A large tear rolled down from the eyes of Elder Laertes, and he replied:
- A foreigner! You are indeed on Ithaca, but you will not meet Odysseus here. His house was taken over by evil people. Odysseus must have died. I'm his father. But tell me, who are you!? Where did you come from?
Odysseus again called himself by an assumed name and again started talking about Odysseus, saying that five years had passed since the day he hosted Odysseus. Hearing this, Laertes was saddened. He took the earth with both hands, sprinkled it on his head and groaned loudly from unbearable grief. Odysseus could no longer look at his father's grief. He rushed to him, took him in his arms and exclaimed:
- Father! I am your Odyssey! By the will of the gods, I returned to Ithaca! Don't cry anymore! I have already taken revenge on the suitors who ruined my house!
Laertes did not immediately believe, he demanded proof that his son was really standing before him. Then Odysseus showed him the scar from the wound on his leg and listed all the fruit trees that Laertes had given him as a child. The old man wept with joy, hugged Odysseus and exclaimed:
- Oh, great father Zeus! There are still gods on the bright Olympus, if the villains have redeemed their guilt with death! But I'm afraid that all the inhabitants of Ithaca will come here to avenge the death of their relatives.But Odysseus calmed his father and led him into the house, where the meal was already ready. There Laertes washed and dressed in clean new clothes, and the goddess Athena made him more cheerful and younger. Everyone cheerfully sat down to a meal. At this time, the old slave Dolius returned with his sons. When he entered the house, he stopped in amazement, seeing a guest at a meal, and suddenly recognized Odysseus in him. He rushed to him and began to kiss Odysseus' hands and feet, calling upon him with joy the blessing of the gods. The meal in the house of Elder Laertes was cheerful.