In Homer's Odyssey, how did Eumaeus come to the island of Ithaca?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of my favorite characters in Homer's Odyssey is the swineherd Eumaeus, a poor but loyal servant to the title character. At Odyssey 15.403-492, he tells the story of how he came to live on Ithaca.

Originally, Eumaeus was son of the king of an island called Syrie. There, when he was very young, he was cared for by a servant woman who, having been seduced by Phoenician traders, abducted him and took him aboard a Phoenician ship. The servant woman died during the subsequent voyage and young Eumaeus was left alone.

At some point, the Phoenicians landed on Ithaca and sold Eumaeus to Laertes:

Then the wind and waves carried them here to Ithaca, where Laertes' wealth purchased me. That’s how I came to set eyes on this land. (A.S. Kline translation)


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The Odyssey

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