The Odyssey

Book IX


Ulysses discovers himself to the Phæacians, and begins the history of his adventures. He destroys Ismarus, city of the Ciconians; arrives among the Lotophagi; and afterwards at the land of the Cyclops. He is imprisoned by Polypheme in his cave, who devours six of his companions; intoxicates the monster with wine, binds him while he sleeps, and escapes from him.

Then answer, thus, Ulysses wise return’d.
Alcinoüs! King! illustrious above all
Phæacia’s sons, pleasant it is to hear
A bard like this, sweet as the Gods in song.
The world, in my account, no sight affords
More gratifying than a people blest
With cheerfulness and peace, a palace throng’d
With guests in order ranged, list’ning to sounds
Melodious, and the steaming tables spread
With plenteous viands, while the cups, with wine
From brimming beakers fill’d, pass brisk around.
No lovelier sight know I. But thou, it seems,
Thy thoughts hast turn’d to ask me whence my groans
And tears, that I may sorrow still the more.
What first, what next, what last shall I rehearse,
On whom the Gods have show’r’d such various woes?
Learn first my name, that even in this land
Remote I may be known, and that escaped
From all adversity, I may requite
Hereafter, this your hospitable care
At my own home, however distant hence.
I am Ulysses, fear’d in all the earth
For subtlest wisdom, and renown’d to heaven,
The offspring of Laertes; my abode
Is sun-burnt Ithaca; there waving stands
The mountain Neritus his num’rous boughs,
And it is neighbour’d close by clust’ring isles
All populous; thence Samos is beheld,
Dulichium, and Zacynthus forest-clad.
Flat on the Deep she lies, farthest removed
Toward the West, while, situate apart,
Her sister islands face the rising day;
Rugged she is, but fruitful nurse of sons
Magnanimous; nor shall these eyes behold,
Elsewhere, an object dear and sweet as she.
Calypso, beauteous Goddess, in her grot
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused;
Ææan Circe also, skill’d profound
In potent arts, within her palace long
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused;
But never could they warp my constant mind.
So much our parents and our native soil
Attract us most, even although our lot
Be fair and plenteous in a foreign land.
But come—my painful voyage, such as Jove
Gave me from Ilium, I will now relate.
From Troy the winds bore me to Ismarus,
City of the Ciconians; them I slew,
And laid their city waste; whence bringing forth
Much spoil with all their wives, I portion’d it
With equal hand, and each received a share.
Next, I exhorted to immediate flight
My people; but in vain; they madly scorn’d
My sober counsel, and much wine they drank,
And sheep and beeves slew num’rous on the shore.
Meantime, Ciconians to Ciconians call’d,
Their neighbours summoning, a mightier host
And braver, natives of the continent,
Expert, on horses mounted, to maintain
Fierce fight, or if occasion bade, on foot.
Num’rous they came as leaves, or vernal flow’rs
At day-spring. Then, by the decree of Jove,
Misfortune found us. At the ships we stood
Piercing each other with the brazen spear,
And till the morning brighten’d into noon,
Few as we were, we yet withstood them all;
But, when the sun verged westward, then the Greeks
Fell back, and the Ciconian host prevail’d.
Six warlike Greecians from each galley’s crew
Perish’d in that dread field; the rest escaped.
Thus, after loss of many, we pursued
Our course, yet, difficult as was our flight,
Went not till first we had invoked by name
Our friends, whom the Ciconians had destroy’d.
But cloud-assembler Jove assail’d us soon
With a tempestuous North-wind; earth alike
And sea with storms he overhung, and night
Fell fast from heav’n. Their heads deep-plunging oft
Our gallies flew, and rent, and rent again
Our tatter’d sail-cloth crackled in the wind.
We, fearing instant death, within the barks
Our canvas lodg’d, and, toiling strenuous, reach’d
At length the continent. Two nights we lay
Continual there, and two long days, consumed
With toil and grief; but when the beauteous morn
Bright-hair’d, had brought the third day to a close,
(Our masts erected, and white sails unfurl’d)
Again we sat on board; meantime, the winds
Well managed by the steersman, urged us on.
And now, all danger pass’d, I had attain’d
My native shore, but, doubling in my course
Malea, waves and currents and North-winds
Constrain’d me devious to Cythera’s isle.
Nine days by cruel storms thence was I borne
Athwart the fishy Deep, but on the tenth
Reach’d the Lotophagi, a race sustain’d
On sweetest fruit alone. There quitting ship,
We landed and drew water, and the crews
Beside the vessels took their ev’ning cheer.
When, hasty, we had thus our strength renew’d,
I order’d forth my people to inquire
(Two I selected from the rest, with whom
I join’d an herald, third) what race of men
Might there inhabit. They, departing, mix’d
With the Lotophagi; nor hostile aught
Or savage the Lotophagi devised
Against our friends, but offer’d to their taste
The lotus; of which fruit what man soe’er
Once tasted, no desire felt he to come
With tidings back, or seek his country more,
But rather wish’d to feed on lotus still
With the Lotophagi, and to renounce
All thoughts of home. Them, therefore, I constrain’d
Weeping on board, and dragging each beneath
The benches, bound him there. Then, all in haste,
I urged my people to ascend again
Their hollow barks, lest others also, fed
With fruit of lotus, should forget their home.
They quick embark’d, and on the benches ranged
In order, thresh’d with oars the foamy flood.
Thence, o’er the Deep proceeding sad, we reach’d
The land at length, where, giant-sized[1] and free
From all constraint of law, the Cyclops dwell.
They, trusting to the Gods, plant not, or plough,
But earth unsow’d, untill’d, brings forth for them
All fruits, wheat, barley, and the vinous grape
Large cluster’d, nourish’d by the show’rs of Jove.
No councils they convene, no laws contrive,
But in deep caverns dwell, found on the heads
Of lofty mountains, judging each supreme
His wife and children, heedless of the rest.
In front of the Cyclopean haven lies
A level island, not adjoining close
Their land, nor yet remote, woody and rude.
There, wild goats breed numberless, by no foot
Of man molested; never huntsman there,
Inured to winter’s cold and hunger, roams
The dreary woods, or mountain-tops sublime;
No fleecy flocks dwell there, nor plough is known,
But the unseeded and unfurrow’d soil,
Year after year a wilderness by man
Untrodden, food for blatant goats supplies.
For no ships crimson-prow’d the Cyclops own,
Nor naval artizan is there, whose toil
Might furnish them with oary barks, by which
Subsists all distant commerce, and which bear
Man o’er the Deep to cities far remote
Who might improve the peopled isle, that seems
Not steril in itself, but apt to yield,
In their due season, fruits of ev’ry kind.
For stretch’d beside the hoary ocean lie
Green meadows moist, where vines would never fail;
Light is the land, and they might yearly reap
The tallest crops, so unctuous is the glebe.
Safe is its haven also, where no need
Of cable is or anchor, or to lash
The hawser fast ashore, but pushing in
His bark, the mariner might there abide
Till rising gales should tempt him forth again.
At bottom of the bay runs a clear stream
Issuing from a cove hemm’d all around
With poplars; down into that bay we steer’d
Amid the darkness of the night, some God
Conducting us; for all unseen it lay,
Such gloom involved the fleet, nor shone the moon
From heav’n to light us, veil’d by pitchy clouds.
Hence, none the isle descried, nor any saw
The lofty surge roll’d on the strand, or ere
Our vessels struck the ground; but when they struck,
Then, low’ring all our sails, we disembark’d,
And on the sea-beach slept till dawn appear’d.
Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Look’d rosy forth, we with admiring eyes
The isle survey’d, roaming it wide around.
Meantime, the nymphs, Jove’s daughters, roused the goats
Bred on the mountains, to supply with food
The partners of my toils; then, bringing forth
Bows and long-pointed javelins from the ships,
Divided all into three sep’rate bands
We struck them, and the Gods gave us much prey.
Twelve ships attended me, and ev’ry ship
Nine goats received by lot; myself alone
Selected ten. All day, till set of sun,
We eating sat goat’s flesh, and drinking wine
Delicious, without stint; for dearth was none
Of ruddy wine on board, but much remain’d,
With which my people had their jars supplied
What time we sack’d Ciconian Ismarus.
Thence looking forth toward the neighbour-land
Where dwell the Cyclops, rising smoke we saw,
And voices heard, their own, and of their flocks.
Now sank the sun, and (night o’ershadowing all)
We slept along the shore; but when again
The rosy-finger’d daughter of the dawn
Look’d forth, my crews convened, I thus began.
Companions of my course! here rest ye all,
Save my own crew, with whom I will explore
This people, whether wild, they be, unjust,
And to contention giv’n, or well-disposed
To strangers, and a race who fear the Gods.
So speaking, I embark’d, and bade embark
My followers, throwing, quick, the hawsers loose.
They, ent’ring at my word, the benches fill’d
Well-ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood.
Attaining soon that neighbour-land, we found
At its extremity, fast by the sea,
A cavern, lofty, and dark-brow’d above
With laurels; in that cavern slumb’ring lay
Much cattle, sheep and goats, and a broad court
Enclosed it, fenced with stones from quarries hewn,
With spiry firs, and oaks of ample bough.
Here dwelt a giant vast, who far remote
His flocks fed solitary, converse none
Desiring, sullen, savage, and unjust.
Monster, in truth, he was, hideous in form,
Resembling less a man by Ceres’ gift
Sustain’d, than some aspiring mountain-crag
Tufted with wood, and standing all alone.
Enjoining, then, my people to abide
Fast by the ship which they should closely guard,
I went, but not without a goat-skin fill’d
With sable wine which I had erst received
From Maron, offspring of Evanthes, priest
Of Phœbus guardian god of Ismarus,
Because, through rev’rence of him, we had saved
Himself, his wife and children; for he dwelt
Amid the grove umbrageous of his God.
He gave me, therefore, noble gifts; from him
Sev’n talents I received of beaten gold,
A beaker, argent all, and after these
No fewer than twelve jars with wine replete,
Rich, unadult’rate, drink for Gods; nor knew
One servant, male or female, of that wine
In all his house; none knew it, save himself,
His wife, and the intendant of his stores.
Oft as they drank that luscious juice, he slaked
A single cup with twenty from the stream,
And, even then, the beaker breath’d abroad
A scent celestial, which whoever smelt,
Thenceforth no pleasure found it to abstain.
Charged with an ample goat-skin of this wine
I went, and with a wallet well supplied,
But felt a sudden presage in my soul
That, haply, with terrific force endued,
Some savage would appear, strange to the laws
And privileges of the human race.
Few steps convey’d us to his den, but him
We found not; he his flocks pastur’d abroad.
His cavern ent’ring, we with wonder gazed
Around on all; his strainers hung with cheese
Distended wide; with lambs and kids his penns
Close-throng’d we saw, and folded separate
The various charge; the eldest all apart,
Apart the middle-aged, and the new-yean’d
Also apart. His pails and bowls with whey
Swam all, neat vessels into which he milk’d.
Me then my friends first importuned to take
A portion of his cheeses, then to drive
Forth from the sheep-cotes to the rapid bark
His kids and lambs, and plow the brine again.
But me they moved not, happier had they moved!
I wish’d to see him, and to gain, perchance,
Some pledge of hospitality at his hands,
Whose form was such, as should not much bespeak
When he appear’d, our confidence or love.
Then, kindling fire, we offer’d to the Gods,
And of his cheeses eating, patient sat
Till home he trudged from pasture. Charged he came
With dry wood bundled, an enormous load
Fuel by which to sup. Loud crash’d the thorns
Which down he cast before the cavern’s mouth,
To whose interior nooks we trembling flew.
At once he drove into his spacious cave
His batten’d flock, all those which gave him milk,
But all the males, both rams and goats, he left
Abroad, excluded from the cavern-yard.
Upheaving, next, a rocky barrier huge
To his cave’s mouth, he thrust it home. That weight
Not all the oxen from its place had moved
Of twenty and two wains; with such a rock
Immense his den he closed. Then down he sat,
And as he milk’d his ewes and bleating goats
All in their turns, her yeanling gave to each;
Coagulating, then, with brisk dispatch,
The half of his new milk, he thrust the curd
Into his wicker sieves, but stored the rest
In pans and bowls—his customary drink.
His labours thus perform’d, he kindled, last,
His fuel, and discerning us, enquired,
Who are ye, strangers? from what distant shore
Roam ye the waters? traffic ye? or bound
To no one port, wander, as pirates use,
At large the Deep, exposing life themselves,
And enemies of all mankind beside?
He ceased; we, dash’d with terrour, heard the growl
Of his big voice, and view’d his form uncouth,
To whom, though sore appall’d, I thus replied.
Of Greece are we, and, bound from Ilium home,
Have wander’d wide the expanse of ocean, sport
For ev’ry wind, and driven from our course,
Have here arrived; so stood the will of Jove.
We boast ourselves of Agamemnon’s train,
The son of Atreus, at this hour the Chief
Beyond all others under heav’n renown’d,
So great a city he hath sack’d and slain
Such num’rous foes; but since we reach, at last,
Thy knees, we beg such hospitable fare,
Or other gift, as guests are wont to obtain.
Illustrious lord! respect the Gods, and us
Thy suitors; suppliants are the care of Jove
The hospitable; he their wrongs resents
And where the stranger sojourns, there is he.
I ceas’d, when answer thus he, fierce, return’d.
Friend! either thou art fool, or hast arrived
Indeed from far, who bidd’st me fear the Gods
Lest they be wroth. The Cyclops little heeds
Jove Ægis-arm’d, or all the Pow’rs of heav’n.
Our race is mightier far; nor shall myself,
Through fear of Jove’s hostility, abstain
From thee or thine, unless my choice be such.
But tell me now. Where touch’d thy gallant bark
Our country, on thy first arrival here?
Remote or nigh? for I would learn the truth.
So spake he, tempting me; but, artful, thus
I answer’d, penetrating his intent.
My vessel, Neptune, Shaker of the shores,
At yonder utmost promontory dash’d
In pieces, hurling her against the rocks
With winds that blew right thither from the sea,
And I, with these alone, escaped alive.
So I, to whom, relentless, answer none
He deign’d, but, with his arms extended, sprang
Toward my people, of whom seizing two
At once, like whelps against his cavern-floor
He dash’d them, and their brains spread on the ground.
These, piece-meal hewn, for supper he prepared,
And, like a mountain-lion, neither flesh
Nor entrails left, nor yet their marrowy bones.
We, viewing that tremendous sight, upraised
Our hands to Jove, all hope and courage lost.
When thus the Cyclops had with human flesh
Fill’d his capacious belly, and had quaff’d
Much undiluted milk, among his flocks
Out-stretch’d immense, he press’d his cavern-floor.
Me, then, my courage prompted to approach
The monster with my sword drawn from the sheath,
And to transfix him where the vitals wrap
The liver; but maturer thoughts forbad.
For so, we also had incurred a death
Tremendous, wanting pow’r to thrust aside
The rocky mass that closed his cavern-mouth
By force of hand alone. Thus many a sigh
Heaving, we watch’d the dawn. But when, at length,
Aurora, day-spring’s daughter rosy-palm’d
Look’d forth, then, kindling fire, his flocks he milk’d
In order, and her yeanling kid or lamb
Thrust under each. When thus he had perform’d
His wonted task, two seizing, as before,
He slew them for his next obscene regale.
His dinner ended, from the cave he drove
His fatted flocks abroad, moving with ease
That pond’rous barrier, and replacing it
As he had only closed a quiver’s lid.
Then, hissing them along, he drove his flocks
Toward the mountain, and me left, the while,
Deep ruminating how I best might take
Vengeance, and by the aid of Pallas win
Deathless renown. This counsel pleas’d me most.
Beside the sheep-cote lay a massy club
Hewn by the Cyclops from an olive stock,
Green, but which dried, should serve him for a staff.
To us consid’ring it, that staff appear’d
Tall as the mast of a huge trading bark,
Impell’d by twenty rowers o’er the Deep.
Such seem’d its length to us, and such its bulk.
Part amputating, (an whole fathom’s length)
I gave my men that portion, with command
To shave it smooth. They smooth’d it, and myself,
Shaping its blunt extremity to a point,
Season’d it in the fire; then cov’ring close
The weapon, hid it under litter’d straw,
For much lay scatter’d on the cavern-floor.
And now I bade my people cast the lot
Who of us all should take the pointed brand,
And grind it in his eye when next he slept.
The lots were cast, and four were chosen, those
Whom most I wish’d, and I was chosen fifth.
At even-tide he came, his fleecy flocks
Pasturing homeward, and compell’d them all
Into his cavern, leaving none abroad,
Either through some surmise, or so inclined
By influence, haply, of the Gods themselves.
The huge rock pull’d into its place again
At the cave’s mouth, he, sitting, milk’d his sheep
And goats in order, and her kid or lamb
Thrust under each; thus, all his work dispatch’d,
Two more he seiz’d, and to his supper fell.
I then, approaching to him, thus address’d
The Cyclops, holding in my hands a cup
Of ivy-wood, well-charg’d with ruddy wine.
Lo, Cyclops! this is wine. Take this and drink
After thy meal of man’s flesh. Taste and learn
What precious liquor our lost vessel bore.
I brought it hither, purposing to make
Libation to thee, if to pity inclined
Thou would’st dismiss us home. But, ah, thy rage
Is insupportable! thou cruel one!
Who, thinkest thou, of all mankind, henceforth
Will visit thee, guilty of such excess?
I ceas’d. He took and drank, and hugely pleas’d[2]
With that delicious bev’rage, thus enquir’d.
Give me again, and spare not. Tell me, too,
Thy name, incontinent, that I may make
Requital, gratifying also thee
With somewhat to thy taste. We Cyclops own
A bounteous soil, which yields us also wine
From clusters large, nourish’d by show’rs from Jove;
But this—this is from above—a stream
Of nectar and ambrosia, all divine!
He ended, and received a second draught,
Like measure. Thrice I bore it to his hand,
And, foolish, thrice he drank. But when the fumes
Began to play around the Cyclops’ brain,
With show of amity I thus replied.
Cyclops! thou hast my noble name enquired,
Which I will tell thee. Give me, in return,
The promised boon, some hospitable pledge.
My name is Outis,[3] Outis I am call’d
At home, abroad; wherever I am known.
So I; to whom he, savage, thus replied.
Outis, when I have eaten all his friends,
Shall be my last regale. Be that thy boon.
He spake, and, downward sway’d, fell resupine,
With his huge neck aslant. All-conqu’ring sleep
Soon seized him. From his gullet gush’d the wine
With human morsels mingled, many a blast
Sonorous issuing from his glutted maw.
Then, thrusting far the spike of olive-wood
Into the embers glowing on the hearth,
I heated it, and cheer’d my friends, the while,
Lest any should, through fear, shrink from his part.
But when that stake of olive-wood, though green,
Should soon have flamed, for it was glowing hot,
I bore it to his side. Then all my aids
Around me gather’d, and the Gods infused
Heroic fortitude into our hearts.
They, seizing the hot stake rasp’d to a point,
Bored his eye with it, and myself, advanced
To a superior stand, twirled it about.
As when a shipwright with his wimble bores
Tough oaken timber, placed on either side
Below, his fellow-artists strain the thong
Alternate, and the restless iron spins,
So, grasping hard the stake pointed with fire,
We twirl’d it in his eye; the bubbling blood
Boil’d round about the brand; his pupil sent
A scalding vapour forth that sing’d his brow,
And all his eye-roots crackled in the flame.
As when the smith an hatchet or large axe
Temp’ring with skill, plunges the hissing blade
Deep in cold water, (whence the strength of steel)
So hiss’d his eye around the olive-wood.
The howling monster with his outcry fill’d
The hollow rock, and I, with all my aids,
Fled terrified. He, plucking forth the spike
From his burnt socket, mad with anguish, cast
The implement all bloody far away.
Then, bellowing, he sounded forth the name
Of ev’ry Cyclops dwelling in the caves
Around him, on the wind-swept mountain-tops;
They, at his cry flocking from ev’ry part,
Circled his den, and of his ail enquired.
What grievous hurt hath caused thee, Polypheme!
Thus yelling to alarm the peaceful ear
Of night, and break our slumbers? Fear’st thou lest
Some mortal man drive off thy flocks? or fear’st
Thyself to die by cunning or by force?
Them answer’d, then, Polypheme from his cave.
Oh, friends! I die! and Outis gives the blow.
To whom with accents wing’d his friends without.
If no man[4] harm thee, but thou art alone,
And sickness feel’st, it is the stroke of Jove,
And thou must bear it; yet invoke for aid
Thy father Neptune, Sovereign of the floods.
So saying, they went, and in my heart I laugh’d
That by the fiction only of a name,
Slight stratagem! I had deceived them all.
Then groan’d the Cyclops wrung with pain and grief,
And, fumbling, with stretch’d hands, removed the rock
From his cave’s mouth, which done, he sat him down
Spreading his arms athwart the pass, to stop
Our egress with his flocks abroad; so dull,
It seems, he held me, and so ill-advised.
I, pondering what means might fittest prove
To save from instant death, (if save I might)
My people and myself, to ev’ry shift
Inclined, and various counsels framed, as one
Who strove for life, conscious of woe at hand.
To me, thus meditating, this appear’d
The likeliest course. The rams well-thriven were,
Thick-fleeced, full-sized, with wool of sable hue.
These, silently, with osier twigs on which
The Cyclops, hideous monster, slept, I bound,
Three in one leash; the intermediate rams
Bore each a man, whom the exterior two
Preserved, concealing him on either side.
Thus each was borne by three, and I, at last,
The curl’d back seizing of a ram, (for one
I had reserv’d far stateliest of them all)
Slipp’d underneath his belly, and both hands
Enfolding fast in his exub’rant fleece,
Clung ceaseless to him as I lay supine.
We, thus disposed, waited with many a sigh
The sacred dawn; but when, at length, aris’n,
Aurora, day-spring’s daughter rosy-palm’d
Again appear’d, the males of all his flocks
Rush’d forth to pasture, and, meantime, unmilk’d,
The wethers bleated, by the load distress’d
Of udders overcharged. Their master, rack’d
With pain intolerable, handled yet
The backs of all, inquisitive, as they stood,
But, gross of intellect, suspicion none
Conceiv’d of men beneath their bodies bound.
And now (none left beside) the ram approach’d
With his own wool burthen’d, and with myself,
Whom many a fear molested. Polypheme
The giant stroak’d him as he sat, and said,
My darling ram! why latest of the flock
Com’st thou, whom never, heretofore, my sheep
Could leave behind, but stalking at their head,
Thou first was wont to crop the tender grass,
First to arrive at the clear stream, and first
With ready will to seek my sheep-cote here
At evening; but, thy practice chang’d, thou com’st,
Now last of all. Feel’st thou regret, my ram!
Of thy poor master’s eye, by a vile wretch
Bored out, who overcame me first with wine,
And by a crew of vagabonds accurs’d,
Followers of Outis, whose escape from death
Shall not be made to-day? Ah! that thy heart
Were as my own, and that distinct as I
Thou could’st articulate, so should’st thou tell,
Where hidden, he eludes my furious wrath.
Then, dash’d against the floor his spatter’d brain
Should fly, and I should lighter feel my harm
From Outis, wretch base-named and nothing-worth.
So saying, he left him to pursue the flock.
When, thus drawn forth, we had, at length, escaped
Few paces from the cavern and the court,
First, quitting my own ram, I loos’d my friends,
Then, turning seaward many a thriven ewe
Sharp-hoof’d, we drove them swiftly to the ship.
Thrice welcome to our faithful friends we came
From death escaped, but much they mourn’d the dead.
I suffer’d not their tears, but silent shook
My brows, by signs commanding them to lift
The sheep on board, and instant plow the main.
They, quick embarking, on the benches sat
Well ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood;
But distant now such length as a loud voice
May reach, I hail’d with taunts the Cyclops’ ear.
Cyclops! when thou devouredst in thy cave
With brutal force my followers, thou devour’dst
The followers of no timid Chief, or base,
Vengeance was sure to recompense that deed
Atrocious. Monster! who wast not afraid
To eat the guest shelter’d beneath thy roof!
Therefore the Gods have well requited thee.
I ended; he, exasp’rate, raged the more,
And rending from its hold a mountain-top,
Hurl’d it toward us; at our vessel’s stern
Down came the mass, nigh sweeping in its fall
The rudder’s head. The ocean at the plunge
Of that huge rock, high on its refluent flood
Heav’d, irresistible, the ship to land.
I seizing, quick, our longest pole on board,
Back thrust her from the coast and by a nod
In silence given, bade my companions ply
Strenuous their oars, that so we might escape.
each obey’d, and when, the flood
Cleaving, we twice that distance had obtain’d,[6]
Again I hail’d the Cyclops; but my friends
Earnest dissuaded me on ev’ry side.
Ah, rash Ulysses! why with taunts provoke
The savage more, who hath this moment hurl’d
A weapon, such as heav’d the ship again
To land, where death seem’d certain to us all?
For had he heard a cry, or but the voice
Of one man speaking, he had all our heads
With some sharp rock, and all our timbers crush’d
Together, such vast force is in his arm.
So they, but my courageous heart remain’d
Unmoved, and thus again, incensed, I spake.
Cyclops! should any mortal man inquire
To whom thy shameful loss of sight thou ow’st,
Say, to Ulysses, city-waster Chief,
Laertes’ son, native of Ithaca.
I ceas’d, and with a groan thus he replied.
Ah me! an antient oracle I feel
Accomplish’d. Here abode a prophet erst,
A man of noblest form, and in his art
Unrivall’d, Telemus Eurymedes.
He, prophesying to the Cyclops-race,
Grew old among us, and presaged my loss
Of sight, in future, by Ulysses’ hand.
I therefore watch’d for the arrival here,
Always, of some great Chief, for stature, bulk
And beauty prais’d, and cloath’d with wond’rous might.
But now—a dwarf, a thing impalpable,
A shadow, overcame me first by wine,
Then quench’d my sight. Come hither, O my guest!
Return, Ulysses! hospitable cheer
Awaits thee, and my pray’rs I will prefer
To glorious Neptune for thy prosp’rous course;
For I am Neptune’s offspring, and the God
Is proud to be my Sire; he, if he please,
And he alone can heal me; none beside
Of Pow’rs immortal, or of men below.
He spake, to whom I answer thus return’d.
I would that of thy life and soul amerced,
I could as sure dismiss thee down to Hell,
As none shall heal thine eye—not even He.
So I; then pray’d the Cyclops to his Sire
With hands uprais’d towards the starry heav’n.
Hear, Earth-encircler Neptune, azure-hair’d!
If I indeed am thine, and if thou boast
Thyself my father, grant that never more
Ulysses, leveller of hostile tow’rs,
Laertes’ son, of Ithaca the fair,
Behold his native home! but if his fate
Decree him yet to see his friends, his house,
His native country, let him deep distress’d
Return and late, all his companions lost,
Indebted for a ship to foreign aid,
And let affliction meet him at his door.
He spake, and Ocean’s sov’reign heard his pray’r.
Then lifting from the shore a stone of size
Far more enormous, o’er his head he whirl’d
The rock, and his immeasurable force
Exerting all, dismiss’d it. Close behind
The ship, nor distant from the rudder’s head,
Down came the mass. The ocean at the plunge
Of such a weight, high on its refluent flood
Tumultuous, heaved the bark well nigh to land.
But when we reach’d the isle where we had left
Our num’rous barks, and where my people sat
Watching with ceaseless sorrow our return,
We thrust our vessel to the sandy shore,
Then disembark’d, and of the Cyclops’ sheep
Gave equal share to all. To me alone
My fellow-voyagers the ram consign’d
In distribution, my peculiar meed.
Him, therefore, to cloud-girt Saturnian Jove
I offer’d on the shore, burning his thighs
In sacrifice; but Jove my hallow’d rites
Reck’d not, destruction purposing to all
My barks, and all my followers o’er the Deep.
Thus, feasting largely, on the shore we sat
Till even-tide, and quaffing gen’rous wine;
But when day fail’d, and night o’ershadow’d all,
Then, on the shore we slept; and when again
Aurora rosy daughter of the Dawn,
Look’d forth, my people, anxious, I enjoin’d
To climb their barks, and cast the hawsers loose.
They all obedient, took their seats on board
Well-ranged, and thresh’d with oars the foamy flood.
Thus, ’scaping narrowly, we roam’d the Deep
With aching hearts and with diminish’d crews.

  1. So the Scholium interprets in this place, the word ὑπερθιαλος.
  2. Λινως
  3. Clarke, who has preserved this name in his marginal version, contends strenuously, and with great reason, that Outis ought not to be translated, and in a passage which he quotes from the Acta eruditorum, we see much fault found with Giphanius and other interpreters of Homer for having translated it. It is certian that in Homer the word is declined not as ουτις-τινος which signifies no man, but as ουτις-τιδος making ουτιν in the accusative, consequently as a proper name. It is sufficient that the ambiguity was such as to deceive the friends of the Cyclops. Outis is said by some (perhaps absurdly) to have been a name given to Ulysses on account of his having larger ears than common.
  4. Outis, as a name could only denote him who bore it; but as a noun, it signifies no man, which accounts sufficiently for the ludicrous mistake of his brethren.
  5. προπεσοντες ———Olli certamine summo Procumbunt. Virgil
  6. The seeming incongruity of this line with line 560, is reconciled by supposing that Ulysses exerted his voice, naturally loud, in an extraordinary manner on this second occasion. See Clarke.


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