Eumaios, the swineherd, is probably the best role model in the entire epic. Eumaios is loyal, hard-working and very appreciative of the master whom he believes to be dead, but still longs for his return. Eumaios shows his grief openly and talks about the generosity and kindness of Odysseus, and how he would have given him a pleasant wife, home, and possessions were he alive and well. Eumaios symbolizes loyalty and he tends diligently to his job. He isn’t tolerant of the behavior of the suitors who have invaded and pillage the estate.
Eumaios is also highly considerate in his hospitality to Odysseus, who is presenting himself as a wandering beggar. He invites him into his home for pork and wine, a bed, and gives him a cloak. The cloak could symbolize his trust and friendship and the connection that he feels for this stranger. Not only does the swineherd prove that he is dedicated to his master, Odysseus, but he also displays his humbleness by sleeping outside. His life is committed to taking care of the pigs. He balances the perfect host position by allowing Odysseus to sleep inside and trusting him in there alone. Odysseus will always remember him.
Additionally, he shows respect for Odysseus (as well as Telemakhos) when he says that servants can’t give admirable gifts when they work in fear of their overpowering masters. While Eumaios understands his position in life as a servant, apparently Odysseus treated him well in the past. Odysseus's devotion towards his servants shows that his priorities have involved caring about everybody, not just the wealthy and well known, but the servants as well. After Eumaios' prayer that Odysseus may return, Odysseus feels that he should reveal the scar, proving that he is in indeed he really is, Eumaios is overwhelmed to see his master again and is weeping and kissing him.
The importance of the relationship is multilayered. It shows the honor and loyalty of the servant, the respect for the master, but also that Odysseus has done something to deserve this allegiance. Throughout the book, Odysseus is a warrior, lover, guest, and sometimes, a lack of humility. But back home, he is honored and well thought of and people long for his return, even his servants.
When Odysseus is curious about his father and mother, and later listens to Eumaios’ story of his childhood and ill-fated journey to Ithaca, he consoles the swineherd by saying that Zeus has provided good as well as evil. He shares a warm relationship with the…