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comrades sat hidden in the Horse which the
men of Troy had dragged with their own hands
into their place of assembly. All about sat the
people, and three counsels were given. The
first was to cleave the wood, and the second to
drag it to the brow of the hill and cast it down
thence, and the third to leave it as an offering
to the gods ; and the third counsel prevailed,
for it was the doom of the city that it should
perish through the Horse.

Also the minstrel san^ how the chiefs came


forth from the Horse, and went through the
city, wasting it ; and how Ulysses went with
King Menelalis to the house of Dei'phobus,
making a perilous venture, but prevailing by
help of Athene.

Thus did the minstrel sing, and the heart of
Ulysses was melted within him as he listened,
and the tears ran down his cheeks. As a woman
throws herself upon the body of her dear hus-
band, who hath fallen fighting for his country,
and seeing him labouring for breath, for he is
near to his end, waileth aloud, and the foemen,
coming up behind, smite her on her back and


shoulders with their spears, and lead her away
into captivity, and her cheeks are wasted with
tears, even so fell the tears from the eyes of

None of the company, save King Alcinous
only, marked how it fared with him. Then
the King spake, saying: " Hearken, ye princes
of the Phaeacians, and let Demodocus cease
from his singing, for ever since he set his hand
to the harp, this stranger hath not ceased to
weep. Let, therefore, the minstrel cease, and
let us make merry and rejoice as it is fitting to
do. Are we not met together that we may
give gifts to this stranger, and send him to his
home ? Verily, the stranger and the suppliant
are as a brother to any one that is not alto-
gether a fool. And hide not thou, stranger,
from us aught that I shall ask thee. Tell us
by what name they call thee at home, for no
man, be he noble or of mean estate, lacketh a
name; this his parents give him at the first
hour of his birth. Tell us also of thy land and
thy city, that our ships may shape their course
to take thee thither. For these are not as the


ships of other men, that have steersmen and
rudders. They have an understanding of their
own, and know all the cities of men, and they
pass over the deep, covered with cloud, and
have no fear of wreck. But my father was
wont to say that Poseidon bore a grudge
against us because we carry all men safely to
their homes ; and that one day he would smite
a ship of ours as it came home from such an
errand, changing it to a rock that should over-

o o

shadow our city. Let the god do so or forbear
as he will ! But thou, stranger, tell us of thy-
self, whither thou hast \vandered, and what
cities thou hast seen, be they cities of the un-
righteous, or cities of them that are hospitable
to strangers and fear the gods. Tell us, too,

o . o

why thou didst weep at hearing of the tale of
Troy. Hadst thou, perchance, kinsman, or
kinsman by marriage, or friend for a wise

j O

friend is ever as a brother among those that
perished at Troy ? '





THEN Ulysses answered the King, saying:
" What shall I tell thee first, and what last, for
many sorrows have the gods laid upon me ?
First, I will tell my name, that ye may know it,
and that there may be friendship between us,
even when I shall be far away. I am ULYSSES,
SON OF LAERTES. In Ithaca I dwell. Many
islands lie about it, but Ithaca is furthest to the
west, and the others face the sun-rising. Very
ruo^ed is this island of Ithaca, but it is the


mother of brave men ; verily, there is nothing
dearer to a man than his own country. Calypso,
the fair goddess, would have had me abide
with her, to be her husband; so also would


Circe of the many wiles; but they did not pre-
vail, because there is nothing that a man loves


more than his country and his parents. But


now I will tell thee of all the troubles that the
gods laid upon me as I journeyed from Troy.

" The wind that bare me from Troy brought
me to Ismarus, which is a city of the Cicones.
This I sacked, slaying the people that dwelt
therein. Much spoil did we take out of the
city, dividing it among the people, so that each
man had his share. And when we had done
this, I commanded my men that they should
depart with all speed ; but they, in their folly,
would not hear me. For there was much wine
to drink, and sheep and kine to slay ; therefore
they sat on the shore and feasted. Meanwhile
the people of the city fetched others, their kins-
men that dwelt in the mountains, and were
more in number and more valiant than they,
and skilful in all manner of fighting. In the
early morning they assembled themselves to-
gether, thick as the flowers and the leaves that
grow in the springtime, and set the battle in
array. Then we fought with them ; while the
day waxed we prevailed over them, and beat
them back, though they were more in number
than we ; but when the sun was descending in


the heavens, then the Cicones overcame us,
and drave us to our ships. Six from each ship
perished, but the remnant of us escaped from

" Then we sailed, stricken with grief for our
dear comrades, yet rejoicing that we had
escaped from destruction. Yet, before we set
sail, we called each man that had fallen in the
battle by his name three times. When we had
sailed a little space, Zeus sent the north wind
against us with a mighty storm, covering with
clouds both land and sea, and the ships were
driven before it. So we lowered the sails, and
rowed the ships to the land with all our might.
For two days we endured much distress and
sorrow, but on the third, when the morning
light appeared, we hoisted the sails and rested.
Then had I come to my own country, but the
north wind and the sea drave me from my
course, so that I was carried past Cythera.
For nine days did the wind carry us before it.

" And on the tenth day we came to the land
where the lotus grows a wondrous fruit, of
which whosoever eats cares not to see country


or wife or children asrain. Now the Lotus-


eaters, for so they called the people of the land,
were a kindly folk, and gave of the fruit to
some of the sailors, not meaning them any
harm, but thinking it to be the best that they
had to give. These, when they had eaten, said
that they would not sail any more over the sea;
which, when I heard, I bade their comrades
bind them and carry them, sadly complaining,
to the ships.

" Then, the wind having abated, we took to
our oars, and rowed for many days till we came
to the country where the' Cyclopes dwell.
Now a mile or so from the shore there was an
island, very fair and fertile, but no man dwells
there or tills the soil, and in the island a har-
bour where a ship may be safe from all winds,
and at the head of the harbour a stream falling


from a rock, and whispering alders all about it.
Into this the ships passed safely, and were
hauled up on the beach, and the crews slept by
them, waiting for the morning.

" When the dawn appeared, then we wan-
dered through the island ; and the Nymphs of


the land started the wild goats that my com-
pany might have food to eat. Thereupon we
took our bows and our spears from the ships,
and shot at the goats ; and the gods gave us
plenty of prey. Twelve ships I had in my
company, and each ship had nine goats for
their share, and my own portion was ten.

" Then all the day we sat and feasted, drink-
ing the sweet wine which we had taken from
the city of the Cicones, and eating the flesh of
the goats ; and as we sat we looked across to
the land of the Cyclops, seeing the smoke and
hearing the voices of the men and of the sheep
and of the goats. And when the sun set and
darkness came over the land, we lay down
upon the seashore and slept.

" The next day I gathered my men together,
and said, ' Abide ye here, dear friends ; I with
my own ship and my own company will go
and make trial of the folk that dwell in yonder
island, whether they are just or unjust/

" So I climbed into my ship, and bade my
company follow me : so we came to the land of
the Cyclops. Close to the shore was a cave,


with laurels round about the mouth. This was
the dwelling of the Cyclops. Alone he dwelt,
a creature without law. Nor was he like to
mortal men, but rather to some wooded peak
of the hills that stands out apart from all the

" Then I bade the rest of my comrades
abide by the ship, and keep it, but I took
twelve men, the bravest that there were in the
crew, and went forth. I had with me a goat-
skin full of the wine, dark red, and sweet, which
the priest of Apollo at Ismarus had given
me. Because we kept him and his wife and
child from harm when we sacked the city,
reverencing the eod, therefore did he give it

o o o

me. Three things did he give me, seven
talents of gold, and a mixing-bowl of silver,
and of wine twelve jars. So precious was it
that none in his house knew of it saving him-


self and his wife and one dame that kept the
house. When they drank of it they mixed
twenty measures of water with one of wine,
and the smell that went up from it was won-
drous sweet. No man could easily refrain


from drinking it. With this wine I filled a
great skin and bore it with me ; also I bare
corn in a wallet, for my heart within me boded
that I should need it.

" So we entered the cave, and judged that it
was the dwelling of some rich and skilful shep-
herd. For within there were pens for the
young of the sheep and of the goats, divided
all according to their ao;e, and there were bas-

o o

kets full of cheeses, and full milkpails ranged
along the wall. But the Cyclops himself was
away in the pastures. Then my companions
besought me that I would depart, taking with
me, if I would, a store of cheeses and sundry
of the lambs and of the kids. But I would
not, for I wished to see, after my wont, what
manner of host this strange shepherd might
be, and, if it might be, to take a gift from his
hand, such as is the due of strangers. Verily,
his coming was not to be a joy to my company.
" It was evening when the Cyclops came
home, a mighty giant, very tall of stature, and
when we saw him we fled into the secret
place of the cave in great fear. On his shoul-


der he bore a vast bundle of pine logs for his
fire, and threw them down outside the cave
with a great crash, and drove the flocks within,
and closed the entrance with a huge rock,
which twenty wagons and more could not
bear. Then he milked the ewes and all the
she-goats, and half of the milk he curdled for
cheese, and half he set ready for himself, when
he should sup. Next he kindled a fire with
the pine logs, and the flame lighted up all the
cave, showing to him both me and my comrades.

" ' Who are ye ? ' cried Polyphemus, for that
was the giant's name. ' Are ye traders, or,
haply, pirates ? '

" I shuddered at the dreadful voice and
shape, but bare me bravely, and answered :
4 We are no pirates, mighty sir, but Greeks
sailing back from Troy, and subjects of the
great King Agamemnon, whose fame is spread
from one end of heaven to the other. And we
are come to beg hospitality of thee in the
name of Zeus, who rewards or punishes hosts
and guests, according as they be faithful the
one to the other, or no.'


" ' Nay,' said the giant ; ' it is but idle talk to
tell me of Zeus and the other gods. We
Cyclopes take no account of gods, holding
ourselves to be much better and stronger than
they. But come, tell me where have you left
your ship ? '

" But I saw his thought when he asked


about the ship, how he was minded to break it,
and take from us all hope of flight. Therefore
I answered him craftily :

" ' Ship have we none, for that which was
ours King Poseidon brake, driving it on a
jutting rock on this coast, and we whom thou
seest are all that are escaped from the waves.'

" Polyphemus answered nothing, but with-
out more ado caught up two of the men, as a
man might catch up the whelps of a dog, and
dashed them on the ground, and tare them
limb from limb, and devoured them, with huge
draughts of milk between, leaving not a mor-
sel, not even the very bones. But we that
were left, when we saw the dreadful deed,
could only weep and pray to Zeus for help.
And when the giant had filled his maw with



human flesh and with the milk of the flocks,
he lay down among his sheep and slept.

" Then I questioned much in my heart
whether I should slay the monster as he slept,
for I doubted not that my good sword would
pierce to the giant's heart, mighty as he was.
But my second thought kept me back, for I
remembered that, should I slay him, I and my
comrades would yet perish miserably. For
who should move away the great rock that lay
against the door of the cave ? So we waited
till the morning, with grief in our hearts.
And the monster woke, and milked his flocks,
and afterwards, seizing two men, devoured
them for his meal. Then he went to the
pastures, but put the great rock on the mouth
of the cave, just as a man puts down the lid
upon his quiver.

" All that day I was thinking what I might
best do to save myself and my companions,
and the end of my thinking was this : there
was a mighty pole in the cave, green wood of
an olive tree, big as a ship's mast, which Poly-
phemus purposed to use, when the smoke


should have dried it, as a walking-staff. Of
this I cut off a fathom's length, and my com-
rades sharpened it and hardened it in the fire,
and then hid it away. At evening the giant
came back, and drove his sheep into the cave,
nor left the rams outside, as he had been w r ont to
do before, but shut them in. And having duly
done his shepherd's work, he took, as before, two
of my comrades, and devoured them. And when
he had finished his supper, I came forward,
holding the wine-skin in my hand, and said :

" ' Drink, Cyclops, now that thou hast feasted.
Drink, and see what precious things we had in
our ship. But no one hereafter will come to
thee with such like, if thou dealest with stran-
gers as cruelly as thou hast dealt with us.'

" Then the Cyclops drank, and was mightily
pleased, and said : ' Give me again to drink,
and tell me thy name, stranger, and I will give
thee a saft such as a host should oive. In good

C_7 t_y J

truth this is a rare liquor. We, too, have vines,
but they bear not wine like this, which, indeed,
must be such as the o;ods drink in heaven.'


" Then I gave him the cup again, and he









drank. Thrice I gave it to him, and thrice he
drank, not knowing what it was, and how it
would work within his brain.

" Then I spake to him : ' Thou didst ask my
name, Cyclops. My name is No Man. And
now that thou knowest my name, thou shouldest
give me thy gift.'

" And he said : My gift shall be that I will
eat thee last of all thy company.'

" And as he spake, he fell back in a drunken
sleep. Then I bade my comrades be of good
courage, for the time was come when they
should be delivered. And they thrust the
stake of olive wood into the fire till it was
ready, green as it was, to burst into flame,
and they thrust it into the monster's eye ; for
he had but one eye, and that in the midst of
his forehead, with the eyebrow below it. And
I, standing above, leant with all my force upon
the stake, and turned it about, as a man bores
the timber of a ship with a drill. And the
burning wood hissed in the eye, just as the
red-hot iron hisses in the water when a man
seeks .to temper steel for a sword.


" Then the giant leapt up, and tore away the
stake, and cried aloud, so that all the Cyclopes
who dwelt on the mountain-side heard him and
came about his cave, asking him : ' What aileth
thee, Polyphemus, that thou makest this uproar
in the peaceful night, driving away sleep ? Is
any one robbing thee of thy sheep, or seeking
to slay thee by craft or force ? '

" And the giant answered, ' No Man slays
me by craft;


" ' Nay, but/ they said, ' if no man does thee
wrong, we cannot help thee. The sickness
which great Zeus may send, who can avoid ?
Pray to our father, Poseidon, for help.'

"So they spake, and I laughed in my heart
when I saw how I had beguiled them by the
name that I had given.

" But the Cyclops rolled away the great
stone from the door of the cave, and sat in the
midst, stretching out his hands, to feel whether
perchance the men within the cave would seek
to LTO out amonsr the sheep.

O O -l

" Lon^ did I think how I and my comrades

O -I

should best escape. At last I lighted upon a


device that seemed better than all the rest, and
much I thanked Zeus for that this once the
giant had driven the rams with the other sheep
into the cave. For, these being great and
strong, I fastened my comrades under the
bellies of the beasts, tying them with osier
twigs, of which the giant made his bed. One
ram I took, and fastened a man beneath it,
and two others I set, one on either side. So I
did with the six, for but six were left out of the
twelve who had ventured with me from the
ship. And there was one mighty ram, far
larger than all the others, and to this I clung,
grasping the fleece tight with both my hands.
So we all waited for the morning. And when
the morning came, the rams rushed forth to
the pasture; but the giant sat in the door and
felt the back of each as it went by, nor thought
to try what might be underneath. Last of all
went the great ram. And the Cyclops knew
him as he passed, and said :

" ' How is this, thou, who art the leader of
the flock ? Thou art not wont thus to la^


behind. Thou hast always been the first to


run to the pastures and streams in the morn-
ing, and the first to come back to the fold
when evening fell ; and now thou art last of
all. Perhaps thou art troubled about thy mas-
ter's eye, which some wretch No Man, they
call him has destroyed, having first mastered
me with wine. He has not escaped, I ween.
I would that thou couldest speak, and tell me
where he is lurking. Of a truth, I would dash
out his brains upon the ground, and avenge me
of this No Man.'

" So speaking, he let the ram pass out of the
cave. But when we were now out of reach of
the giant, I loosed my hold of the ram, and
then unbound my comrades. And we has-
tened to our ship, not forgetting to drive the
sheep before us, and often looking back till we
came to the seashore. Right glad were those
that had abode by the ship to see us. Nor did
they lament for those that had died, though
we were fain to do so, for I forbade, fearing
lest the noise of their weeping should betray
us to the giant, where we were. Then we all
climbed into the ship, and sitting well in order


on the benches smote the sea with our oars,
laying to right lustily, that we might the sooner
get away from the accursed land. And when
we had rowed a hundred yards or so, so that
a man's voice could yet be heard by one who
stood upon the shore, I stood up in the ship
and shouted :

"'He was no coward, O Cyclops, whose
comrades thou didst so foully slay in thy den.
Justly art thou punished, monster, that devour-
est thy guests in thy dwelling. May the gods
make thee suffer yet worse things than these ! '

" Then the Cyclops in his wrath brake off
the top of a great hill, a mighty rock, and

hurled it where he had heard the voice. Right
in front of the ship's bow it fell, and a great
wave rose as it sank, and washed the ship
back to the shore. But I seized a long pole
with both hands, and pushed the ship from
the land, and bade my comrades ply their
oars, nodding with my head, for I would not
speak, lest the Cyclops should know where
we were. Then they rowed with all their
might and main.


" And when we had gotten twice as far as


before, I made as if I would speak again ; but
my comrades sought to hinder me, saying:
' Nay, my lord, anger not the giant any more.
Surely we thought before we were lost, when
he threw the great rock, and washed our ship
back to the shore. And if he hear thee now,
he may crush our ship and us, for the man
throws a mighty bolt, and throws it far.'

" But I would not be persuaded, but stood
up and said : ' Hear, Cyclops ! If any man ask
who blinded thee, say that it was the warrior
Ulysses, son of Laertes, dwelling in Ithaca.'

" And the Cyclops answered with a groan :
' Of a truth, the old oracles are fulfilled ; for
long ago there came to this land one Telemus,
a prophet, and dwelt among us even to old
age. This man foretold to me that one
Ulysses would rob me of my sight. But I
looked for a great man and a strong, who
should subdue me by force, and now a weak-
ling has done the deed, having cheated me
with wine. But come thou hither, Ulysses,
and I will be a host indeed to thee. Or, at


least, may Poseidon give thee such a voyage
to thy home as I would wish thee to have.
For know that Poseidon is my sire. May be
that he may heal me of my grievous wound.'

" And I said, ' Would to God I could send
thee down to the abode of the dead, where
thou wouldest be past all healing, even from
Poseidon's self.'

" Then the Cyclops lifted up his hands to
Poseidon and prayed : ' Hear me, Poseidon, if
I am indeed thy son and thou my father.
May this Ulysses never reach his home ! or,
if the Fates have ordered that he should reach
it, may he come alone, all his comrades lost,
and come to find sore trouble in his house ! '

" And as he ended, he hurled another mighty
rock, which almost lighted on the rudder's end,
yet missed it as by a hair's breadth. And the
wave that it raised was so great that it bare
us to the other shore.

" So we came to the island of the wild goats,
where we found our comrades, who, indeed,
had waited long for us in sore fear lest we had
perished. Then I divided amongst my com-


pany all the sheep which we had taken from
the Cyclops. And all, with one consent, gave
me for my share the great ram which had
carried me out of the cave, and I sacrificed it
to Zeus. And all that day we feasted right
merrily on the flesh of sheep and on sweet
wine, and when the night was come, we lay
down upon the shore and slept.




" THE next morning we set sail, and came,
after a while, to the island where dwelleth
/Eolus. A floating island it is, and it hath
about it an unbroken wall of bronze, and the
cliff runs up sheer from the sea. Twelve chil-
dren hath ^Eolus, six sons and six daughters,
and they dwell with him and feast with him and
their mother day by day. For a whole month
did the King entertain me in right friendly
fashion, and I told him in order the whole
story of the things that had been done at Troy.

" Afterwards I told him of my journey, and
asked help of him. This he denied not, but
gave me the skin of an ox nine years old, in
which he had bound all the winds that were
contrary to me, for Zeus hath made him
keeper of the winds, that he may rouse them


or put them to rest as he will. This wallet of
ox-hide he bound fast to the deck of the ship
with a thong of silver, that not a wind might
escape from it. But he let a gentle west wind
blow, that it might carry me and my comrades
to our home. For nine days it blew, and now
we were near to Ithaca, our country, so that
we saw the men that tended the beacon-lights,
for it was now near to the dawn on the tenth

" But now, by an ill chance, I fell asleep,
being wholly wearied out, for I had held the
helm for nine days, nor trusted it to any of my
comrades. And while I slept my comrades,
who had cast eyes of envy on the great ox-
hide, said one to another :

" ' Strange it is how men love and honour


this Ulysses whithersoever he goes. And now
he comes back from Troy with much spoil, but
we with empty hands. Let us see what it is
that ^Eolus hath sfiven him, for doubtless in


this ox-hide is much silver and old.

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchThe story of the Odyssey → online text (page 5 of 15)