John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 4 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 4 of 29)
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Soon did the god vouchsafe large spoil exceeding

3fe twelve ships followed, and for each we won
Nine goats ; but for myself I chose out ten. 200

Thus all day long, till falling of the sun,
We sat there feasting in the hollow glen ;
Cheer'ly I ween the red wine circled then ;
Since of the liquor there remained much more
Sealed safely in the ships ; for when our men 205
Sacked the Ciconian citadel, good store
Of wine in earthen vessels to our fleet they bore.

And on the land of the Cyclopes near

We looked, and saw their smoke, and heard their

Also the bleatings of their flocks we hear, 210

Till the ambrosial Night made all things dumb.
But when the rosy-fingered Dawn was come,
I called my friends, and said : " Stay ye the rest,
While I go forward to explore with some.
Mine own ship's crew, what folk this shore infest, 215
Despiteful, wild, unjust, or of a gentle breast."


Forthwith I march on board, and bid my crew
With me their captain the tall bark ascend,
And the stern-cables vigorously undo.
They to their several tasks with zeal attend ; 220

Then, sitting, to the oars' long sweep they bend,
And smite in unison the billows hoar.
Right quickly to the continent we wend ;
And lo ! a huge deep cave our eyes before,
Shaded about with laurels, very near the shore. 225

And all around the flocks and herds recline,
Parked by a rough-hewn fence of mountain stone.
All overhung with oak and towery pine.
There dwelt the monstrous keeper all alone,
Who in his breast no kindred ties did own, 230

But far apart, ungodly ways pursued ;
Sight not resembling human flesh and bone.
But like a mountain-column, crowned with wood,
Reigning above the hills in awful solitude.

Then of my comrades I the rest command 235

To guard the well-benched ship, remaining there.
But I the while with my twelve bravest land.
And of dark wine an ample goatskin bear,
Which Maron, venerable priest and seer
Of lord Apollo, the divine defence 240

Of Ismarus, because we held him dear.
Son of Euanthes, gave us to take thence.
Whom with his wife and child we saved in reverence.

Deep-foliaged grove his dwelling doth enfold,
Phoebus Apollo's, who there keeps his shrine. 245
Rich gifts he gave me — talents seven of gold
Which curiously was wrought and well did shine,


And bowl of silver, and twelve jars of wine,
Which in his halls lay hidden out of view,
Mellow with age, unmingled, sweet, divine ; 250

Known but to him the priest and other two.
His wife and chief house-dame, of all his retinue.

When they the red wine drank, he filled one cup,
Which when in twenty measures he did pour
Of water, and the scent divine rose up, 255

'T were hard to hold one's cravings any more.
Thereof a goatskin filled I with me bore,
And in a wallet did provision crowd.
For my brave heart at once foreboded sore
How I a man should meet, unpitying, proud, 26O
Lawless and void of right, with giant strength endowed.

Soon to the cave we came, nor him there found,
Who 'mid the pastures with his flocks did stay.
We then the crates admire with cheeses crowned.
And the pens, packed with kids and lambs, survey
Where in his place each kind distinguished lay. 266
Here rest the firstlings, there the middle- born,
And further on the yeanlings. Brimmed with whey
Pails, ranged in ordered rank, the walls adorn —
Wherein his flocks he wont to milk at eve and
morn. 270

With strong persuasion me my friends besought
To steal some cheeses, and return with haste
To the swift ship, and thither having brought
Both kids and fat lambs, from their pens displaced.
Sailing to vanish o'er the watery waste. 275

I, to our loss, would not persuaded be.
Wishing to see him and his cheer to taste,


If chance lie lend me hospitality —
Alas ! to my poor friends no welcome host proved he !

We then for holy offerings kindle flame, 280

Eat of the cheeses, and till eventide

Wait. Then with flocks and herds the Cyclops

Bearing a mighty pile of pinewood dried.
Wherewith his evening meal might be supplied.
Down with a crash he cast it in the cave ; 285

We to the deep recess ran terrified.
Anon his flocks within the walls he drave,
But to the males a place without the courtyard gave.

Forthwith a rock stupendous with his hands
He lifted, and athwart the entrance flung. 290

Firm-rooted o'er the cave's deep mouth it stands.
Not two-and-twenty wagons, four-wheeled, strong.
Ever could move the mighty bulk along.
Then sat he down and milked each teeming ewe
And she-goat, and anon their eager young 295

Under the dams disposed in order due ;
And all the while thick bleatings rang the wide cave

Half the white milk he curdled, and laid up
On crates of woven wicker-work with care ;
And half he set aside in bowl and cup soo

To stand in readiness for use, whene'er
Thirst should invite, and for his evening fare.
Thus he his tasks right busily essayed.
And at the last a red flame kindled there ;
And, while the firelight o'er the cavern played, 305
Us crouching he espied, and speedy question made.


*' Strangers, who are ye ? from wliat strand un-
Sail ye the watery ways ? After some star
Of purpose, or on random courses blown
Range ye like pirates, whom no perils bar, 310

Who risk their own lives other men to mar ? "
So made he question and our dear heart brake.
Scared at the dread voice searching near and far,
The rough rude accent, and the monstrous make.
Natheless, though sore cast down, I thus responding
spake : 315

" We sons of Argos, while from Troy we keep
Straight homeward, driven by many storms astray.
Over the wide abysses of the deep.
Chance on another course, a different way.
Haply such doom upon us Zeus doth lay. 320

Also of Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
Soldiers we are, and his command obey
Whose name rings loudest underneath the sun,
City so vast he sacked, such people hath undone.



" So in our wanderings to thy knees we come
If thou the boon of hospitality
Would'st furnish to our wants, or render some
Of those sweet offices which none deny
To strangers. Thou at least the gods on high
Respect, most noble one ! for theirs are we.
Who now poor suppliants on thy help rely ;
Chiefly revere our guardian Zeus, for he
Avenofer of all such is ever wont to be ! "

So did I speak : he ruthlessly replied :

" O fool, or new from some outlandish place, 335



Who by the fear of gods hast me defied !
What then is Zeus to the Cyclopian race,
Matched with whose strength the blessed gods are

Save that I choose to spare your heads, I trow
Zeus will not much avail you in this case. 340

But tell me where your good ship ye bestow,
At the land's end or near, that I the truth may know."

Thus spake he, urging trial of our state,
Nor caught me, in experience manifold
Well versed. With crafty words I answered
straight : 345

" Mighty Poseidon, who the earth doth hold,
Near the far limits which your land enfold.
On the sharp rocks our vessel did impel.
Thither a great wind from the deep us rolled.
I with these comrades from the yawning hell 350
Of waters have alone escaped, the tale to tell."

He nought replied, but of my comrades twain
Seized, and like dog-whelps on the cavern-floor
Dashed them : the wet ground steamed with blood

and brain.
Straight in his ravin limb from limb he tore 355

Fierce as a lion, and left nothing o'er ;
Flesh, entrails, marrowy bones of men just killed.
Gorging. To Zeus our hands, bemoaning sore.
We raised in horror, while his maw he filled.
And human meat devoured, and milk in rivers

swilled. 36f

After his meal he lay down with the sheep.
I, at the first, was minded to go near


And in his liver slake my drawn sword deep ;
But soon another mind made me forbear ;
For so should we have gained destruction sheer, 365
Since never from the doorway could we move
With all our strength the stone which he set there.
We all night long with groans our anguish prove,
Till rosy-fingered Dawn shone forth in heaven above.

At dawn a fire he kindled in the cave, 370

And milked the famous flocks in order due^
And to each mother her young suckling gave.
But when the morning tasks were all gone through.
He, of my wretched comrades seizing two,
Gorged breakfast as became his savage taste, 375
And with the fat flocks from the cave withdrew.
Moved he the stone, and set it back with haste,
Lightly as on some quiver he the lid replaced ;

Then toward the mountain turned with noise ; but I
Sat brooding on revenge, and made my prayer 380
To Pallas, and resolved this scheme to try :
For a huge club beside the sheepfold there,
Green olive-wood, lay drying in his lair.
Cut for a staff to serve him out of doors.
Which we admiring to the mast compare sss

Of some wide merchantman with twenty oars,
Which the divine abysses of the deep explores.

Therefrom I severed as it were an ell,^
And bade my comrades make it smooth and round.
Then to a tapering spire I shaped it well, m

And the green timber in the flame embrowned
For hardness ; and, where dung did most abound,

^ For ell, the Greek sa,js fathom.


Deep in the cave the pointed stake concealed.
Anon my comrades cast their lots all round,
Which should with me the fiery weapon wield, 395
And twirl it in his eye while sleep his huge strength

Then were four chosen — even the very same
Whom I myself should have picked out to be
My comrades in the work — and me they name
The fifth, their captain. In the evening he 400

Came, shepherding his flocks in due degree,
Home from the hills, and all his fleecy rout
Into the wide cave urged imperiously.
Nor left one loiterer in the space without, 404

Whether from God so minded, or his own dark doubt.^

Soon with the great stone he blocked up the cave,
And milked the bleating flocks in order due.
And to each mother her young suckling gave.
But when the evening tasks were all gone through,
He of my wretched comrades seizing two 4io

Straight on the horrible repast did sup.
Then I myself near to the Cyclops drew.
And, holding in my hands an ivy cup
Brimmed with the dark-red wine, took courage and
spake up :

" Cyclops, take wine, and drink after thy meal 415

Consumed, of human flesh, that thou mayest know

The kind of liquor wherein we sailors deal.

This a drink-offering have I brought, that so

Thou mightest pity me and let me go

Safe homeward. Thou alas ! with fury extreme 420

^ I. e. for Odysseus' sake, or a mere presentiment of ill.


Art raving, and thy fierceness doth outgrow
All bounds of reason. How then dost thou dream
Others will seek thy place, who dost so ruthless seem ? "

He then received and drank and loudly cried
Rejoicing : " Give me, give me more, and tell 425

Thy name, that some good boon I may provide.
True, the rich earth where the Cyclopes dwell,
Fed by the rain of Zeus, in wine doth well, —
But this is nectar, pure ambrosia's soul."
So spake he. Thrice I gave the fatal spell ; 430

Thrice in his foolishness he quaffed the whole.
Then said I, while his brain with the curling fumes
did roll :

" Cyclops, thou askest me my name renowned —
Now will I make it known ; nor thou withhold
That boon whereto thy solemn troth is bound — 435
Hear then ; My name is Noman. From of old
My father, mother, these my comrades bold,
Give me this title." So I spake, and he
Answered at once with mind of ruthless mould :
" This shall fit largess unto Noman be — 440

Last, after all thy peers, I promise to eat thee."

Therewith his head fell and he lay supine.
Tamed by the stroke of all-subduing sleep ;
And the vast neck heaved, while rejected wine
And morsels of men's flesh in spasms did leap 445
Forth from his throat. Then did I rise, and deep
In the live embers hid the pointed stake.
Urging my comrades a good heart to keep.
Soon the green olive-wood the fire did bake ;
Then all aglow with sparkles I the red brand take. 450


flound me my comrades wait. The gods inbreathe
Fierce ardor. In his eye we thrust the brand,
I twirling from above and they beneath.
As when a shipwright at his work doth stand
Boring ship-timber, and on either hand 455

His fellows, kneeling at their toil below,
Whirl the swift auger with a leathern band
For ever ; — we the weapon keep whirling so,
While round the fiery point red blood doth bubbling

And from the burning eyeball the fierce steam 460
Singed all his brows, and the deep roots of sight
Crackled with fire. As when in the cold stream
Some smith the axe untempered, fiery-white,
Dips hissing ; for thence comes the iron's might ;
So did his eye hiss, and he roared again. 465

Loudly the vault rebellowed. We in flight
Kushed diverse. He the stake wrenched forth

Soaked in the crimson gore, and hurled it mad with

pain ;

Then, bursting forth into a mighty yell.
Called the Cyclopes, who in cave and lair 470

'Mid the deep glens and windy hill-tops dwell.
They, trooping to the shriek from far and near,
Ask from without what ails him : " In what fear
Or trouble, Polyphemus, dost thou cry
Through night ambrosial, and our slumbers scare ? 475
Thee of thy flocks doth mortal violently
Despoil, or strive to kill by strength or treachery ? '*

And frenzied Polyphemus from the cave

This answer in his pain with shrieks out-threw :


" Never by strength, my friends, or courage brave ! 48o
Noman by treachery doth me subdue."
Whereto his fellows winged words renew :
" Good sooth ! if no man work thee injury,
But in thy lone resort this sickness grew,
The hand of Zeus is not to be put by — 485

Go, then, in filial prayer to king Poseidon ^ cry."

So they retiring ; and I laughed in heart,
To find the shrewd illusion working well.
But the dread Cyclops over every part
Groped eyeless with wild hands, in anguish fell, 490
Rolled back the massive mouthstone from the cell,
And in the door sat waving everywhere
His sightless arms, to capture or repel
Any forth venturing with his flocks to fare —
Dreaming to deal with one of all good prudence bare.

Seeking deliverance 'mid these dangers rife, 496

So deadly-near the mighty evil pressed.
All thoughts I weave as one that weaves for life,
All kinds of scheming in my spirit test ;
And this of various counsels seemed the best. 500
Fat rams there were, with goodly fleeces dight
Of violet-tinted wool. These breast to breast
I silent link with osiers twisted tight.
Whereon the ill-minded Cyclops used to sleep at night.

By threes I linked them, and each middle one 505
Carried a man : one walked on either side :
Such was our plan the monster's rage to shun ;
And thus three rams for each man we provide.
But I, choosing a beast than all beside

* Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon and a nymph.


Fairer, in length more large and strength of spine, su
Under his belly in the woolly hide
Clinging with both hands resolute recline ;
And thus, groaning in soul, we wait the Dawn divine.

But with the rosy-fingered Morn troop thence
The fat rams toward their pastures eagerly, sis

While bleat the unmilked ewes with udders tense,
Distressful. So their lord, while each went by.
Feeling their backs with many a bitter sigh,
Dreamed not that we clung bound beneath the

Last came the great ram, trailing heavily 52«

Me and his wool, with cumbrous weight oppressed.
Him mighty PolyjDhemus handling thus addressed :

" Ah ! mine own fondling, why dost linger now
So late ? — far other wast thou known of old.
With lordly steps the flowery pastures thou 525

First ever seekest, and the waters cold,
First too at eve returnest to the fold. —
Now last of all — dost thou thy master's eye
Bewail, whose dear orb, when I sank controlled
With wine, this Noman vile with infamy, 530

Backed by his rascal crew, hath darkened treacher-
ously ?

" Whom let not vaunt himself escaped this debt,

Nor think me quenched and poor and powerless ;

Vengeance may chance to overtake him yet.

O hadst thou mind like mine, and couldst address 535

Thy master, and the secret lair confess

Wherein my wrath he shuns, then should his brain

Dashed on the earth with hideous stamp impress


Pavement and wall, appeasing the fell pain
Which from this Noman - traitor nothing - worth I
drain ! " 540

Thus spake he, and the great ram from his doors
Dismissed. A little outward from the cave
Borne with the flock we passed, and left his floors
Blood-stained behind, escaping a dire grave.
First mine own bands I loosened, and then gave 545
My friends their freedom : but the slow fat sheep,
Lengthily winding, to the ships we drave.
Joy stirred within our comrades strong and deep,
Glad of our help from doom, though forced the slain
to weep.

Natheless their lamentations I made cease, 550

And with bent brows gave signal not to wail ;
But with all haste the flock so fine of fleece
Bade them on shipboard set, and forward sail.
So they the canvas open to the gale
And with timed oarage smite the foamy mere. 555
Soon from such distance as the voice might hail
A landsman, and by shouting make him hear,
I to the Cyclops shrilled with scorn and cutting jeer :

" Cyclops, you thought to eat a poor man's friends
Here in your cavern by sheer brutal might. seo

Go to : rough vengeance on thy crime attends ;
Since, in thy soul not reverencing the right,
Thy guests thou hast devoured in foul despite.
Even on thine own hearth. Therefore Zeus at last
And all the gods thine evil deeds requite." 565

So did I blow wind on his anger's blast.
He a hill -peak tore off, and the huge fragment cast


Just o'er the blue-prowed ship. As the mass fell,
Heaved in a stormy tumult the great main,
Bearing us landward on the refluent swell. 570

I a long barge-pole seize and strive and strain
To work our vessel toward the deep again,
Still beckoning to my crew to ply the oar ;
Who stoop to the strong toil and pull right fain
To twice the former distance from the shore. 575

Then stood I forth to hail the Cyclops yet once

Me then my friends with .dear dissuasions tire
On all sides, one and other. " Desperate one !
Why wilt thou to a wild man's wrath add fire ?
Hardly but now did we destruction shun, 580

So nigh that hurling had our bark undone.
Yea, let a movement of the mouth but show
Where through the billows from his rage we run.
And he with heads will strew the dark sea-flow.
And break our timbered decks — so mightily doth he

throw." 585

So spake they, but so speaking could not turn
My breast large-hearted ; and again I sent
Accents of wrath, his inmost soul to burn :
" Cyclops, if mortal man hereafter, bent
To know the story of this strange event, 590

Should of thy hideous blindness make demand,
Asking whence came this dire disfigurement,
Name thou Laertes-born Odysseus' hand,
Waster of walls, who dwells in Ithaca's rough land."

Then did he groaning in these words reply : &y6

" Gods I the old oracles upon me break —


That warning of the antique prophecy
Which Telemus Eurymides once spake —
Skilled seer, who on our hills did auguries take,
And waxed in years amid Cyclopian race. eoo

Of all these things did he foreshadowings make,
And well proclaimed my pitiable case,
And how this lightless brow Odysseus should deface.

" But always I some great and beauteous man
Expected, one in awful strength arrayed, eos

So to assail me as the legend ran.
Now one unworthy by unworthy aid
Doth blind me helpless, and with wine waylaid,
And ail-too strengthless doth surpass the strong.
But come, Odysseus, let respect be paid eio

To thee my guest, and thou shalt sail ere long,
By the Earth-shaker wafted, free from scathe and

" His child am I, my sire he boasts to be,
Who if he will, none else of mortal seed
Or of the blest, can heal my wound." Thus he : as
But I made answer : " Now in very deed
I would to heaven this right arm might succeed
So surely in thy death, as I am sure
That no Poseidon even, at thy need.
Thee of thine eyelessness hath power to cure. 62a
Know well thy fatal hurt for ever shall endure."

Then to the king Poseidon he made prayer,
Lifting his hand up to the starry sky :
" Hear now, great monarch of the raven hair ;
Holder of earth, Poseidon, hear my cry, 625

If thou my father art indeed, and I


Thy child ! Or ever he the way fulfil,
Make thou Laertes-born Odysseus die,
Waster of walls ! or should the high Fates will
That friends and home he see, then lone and late and

ill 630

" Let him return on board a foreign ^ ship.
And in his house find evil ! " Thus he prayed
With hand uplifted and indignant lip ;
And the dark-haired one heeded what he said.
He then his hand upon a great stone laid, 6S5

Larger by far than that he hurled before.
And the huge mass in booming flight obeyed
The measureless impulse, and right onward bore.
There 'twixt the blue»prowed bark descending and the

Just short of ruin ; and the foaming wave wo

Whitened in boiling eddies where it fell.
And rolling toward the isle our vessel drave,
Tossed on the mane of that tumultuous swell.
There found we all our fleet defended well.
And comrades sorrow-laden on the sand, 645

Hoping if yet, past hope, the seas impel
Their long-lost friends to the forsaken strand —
Grated our keel ashore ; we hurrying leap on land.

Straight from the hollow bark our prize we share.
That none might portionless come off. To me eso
The ram for my great guerdon then and there
My well-greaved comrades gave in courtesy ;
Which I to Zeus, supreme in majesty.
Killed on the shore, and burned the thighs with fire :
^ The Greek says another's ship, i. e. let his own be lost.


But to mine offering little heed gave lie ; ess

Since deep within his heart the cloud-wrapt Sire ^
Against both friends and fleet sat musing deathf ul ire.

So till the sun fell did we drink and eat,
And all night long beside the billows lay,
Till blushed the hills 'neath morning's rosy feet ; 660
Then did I bid my friends, with break of day,
Loosen the hawsers, and each bark array ;
Who take the benches and the whitening main
Cleave with the sounding oars, and sail away.
So from the isle we part, not void of pain, ees

Right glad of our own lives, but grieving for the slain.

* Zeus (Jove), the " father of both gods and men."


Milton says that it is the function of the poet " to in-
breed and cherish in a great people the seeds of virtue and
public civility." On this ground, if on no other, Tyrtaeus
deserves the title of poet. He was general of the Spartans
during the Second Messenian war, in the seventh century
before Christ, and by his patriotic verses aroused in his fel-
low citizens increased courage and spirit in battle, and a
larger devotion to the State in peace. His songs were long
sung about the Spartan camp fires.


How glorious fall the valiant, sword in hand,

In front of battle for their native land !

But oh ! what ills await the wretch that yields,

A recreant outcast from his country's fields !

The mother whom he loves shall quit her home, 5

An aged father at his side shall roam ;

His little ones shall weeping with him go,

And a young wife participate his woe ;

While scorned and scowled upon by every face,

They pine for food, and beg from place to place. lo

Stain of his breed ! dishonoring manhood's form,
All ills shall cleave to him : affliction's storm
Shall blind him wandering in the vale of years.
Till, lost to all but ignominious fears,


He sliall not blush to leave a recreant's name, is

And children, like himself, inured to shame.

But we will combat for our fathers' land.

And we will drain the life-blood where we stand,

To save our children. — Fight ye side by side,

And serried close, ye men of youthful pride, 20

Disdaining fear, and deeming light the cost

Of life itself in glorious battle lost.

Leave not our sires to stem the unequal fight.

Whose limbs are nerved no more with buoyant might ;

Nor, lagging backward, let the younger breast 25

Permit the man of age (a sight unblest)

To welter in the combat's foremost thrust.

His hoary head dishevelled in the dust,

And venerable bosom bleeding bare.

But youth's fair form, though fallen, is ever fair, 30

And beautiful in death the boy appears.

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 4 of 29)