At her last words Telemachus shook with a lusty sneeze
like a thunderclap resounding up and down the halls.
The queen was seized with laughter, calling out
to Eumaeus winged words: "Quickly, go!
Bring me this stranger now, face-to-face!
You hear how my son sealed all I said with a sneeze?
So let death come down with grim finality on these suitors--
one and all--not a single man escape his sudden doom! (17: 602-609, bolding is mine)
To an American ear, there is nothing peculiar about the above passage. But having been born in Russia, I was struck by the idea that a sneeze (jokingly) symbolizes an affirmation of whatever was said immediately before the oral eruption: Penelope speaks, Telemachus sneezes, and Penelope then laughs at this prophetic confirmation of her speech.
This folk custom is found in exactly the same form in modern Russian culture! Frequently when I sneeze, my mom will say "Pravda!" ("Truth!") as though to verify whatever point is being made in the conversation. I always thought this was a quirk of Russian culture (as far as I am aware, no such "idiom" exists in American lingo) but apparently it dates back to at least Homeric times. It is a nice thought that such jokes can eke out a cultural existence through millennia, but better judgment would say that the sneeze of affirmation is an eccentric cultural coincidence.