odysseus is returning from being gone from ithica for 20 yrs
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Odysseus wants to remain disguised. When he first meets Melanthios at the fountain, he isn't recognized, and Melanthios kicks him. Later, he pretends to know nothing of him and treats him as a stranger, helping Odysseus in his quest against Penelope's suitors. Melanthios would never have disrespected his master or shown disloyalty had he known it was Odysseus.