by , translated by Percy Bysshe Shelley
|Cyclops (play) on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.An Ancient Greek satyr play by Euripides, the only complete satyr play that has survived antiquity. It is a comical burlesque-like play on the same story depicted in book nine of Homer's Odyssey. — Excerpted from|
SILENUS. ULYSSES. CHORUS OF SATYRS. THE CYCLOPS.
SILENUS: O Bacchus, what a world of toil, both now And ere these limbs were overworn with age, Have I endured for thee! First, when thou fled'st The mountain-nymphs who nursed thee, driven afar By the strange madness Juno sent upon thee; Then in the battle of the Sons of Earth, When I stood foot by foot close to thy side, No unpropitious fellow-combatant, And, driving through his shield my winged spear, Slew vast Enceladus. Consider now, Is it a dream of which I speak to thee? By Jove it is not, for you have the trophies! And now I suffer more than all before. For when I heard that Juno had devised A tedious voyage for you, I put to sea With all my children quaint in search of you, And I myself stood on the beaked prow And fixed the naked mast; and all my boys Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain Made white with foam the green and purple sea,-- And so we sought you, king. We were sailing Near Malea, when an eastern wind arose, And drove us to this waste Aetnean rock; The one-eyed children of the Ocean God, The man-destroying Cyclopses, inhabit, On this wild shore, their solitary caves, And one of these, named Polypheme. has caught us To be his slaves; and so, for all delight Of Bacchic sports, sweet dance and melody, We keep this lawless giant's wandering flocks. My sons indeed on far declivities, Young things themselves, tend on the youngling sheep, But I remain to fill the water-casks, Or sweeping the hard floor, or ministering Some impious and abominable meal To the fell Cyclops. I am wearied of it! And now I must scrape up the littered floor With this great iron rake, so to receive My absent master and his evening sheep In a cave neat and clean. Even now I see My children tending the flocks hitherward. Ha! what is this? are your Sicinnian measures Even now the same, as when with dance and song You brought young Bacchus to Althaea's halls?
CHORUS OF SATYRS:
STROPHE: Where has he of race divine Wandered in the winding rocks? Here the air is calm and fine For the father of the flocks;-- Here the grass is soft and sweet, And the river-eddies meet In the trough beside the cave, Bright as in their fountain wave.-- Neither here, nor on the dew Of the lawny uplands feeding? Oh, you come!--a stone at you Will I throw to mend your breeding;-- Get along, you horned thing, Wild, seditious, rambling!
EPODE: An Iacchic melody To the golden Aphrodite Will I lift, as erst did I Seeking her and her delight With the Maenads, whose white feet To the music glance and fleet. Bacchus, O beloved, where, Shaking wide thy yellow hair, Wanderest thou alone, afar? To the one-eyed Cyclops, we, Who by right thy servants are, Minister in misery, In these wretched goat-skins clad, Far from thy delights and thee.
SILENUS: Be silent, sons; command the slaves to drive The gathered flocks into the rock-roofed cave.
CHORUS: Go! But what needs this serious haste, O father? 5
SILENUS: I see a Grecian vessel on the coast, And thence the rowers with some general Approaching to this cave.--About their necks Hang empty vessels, as they wanted food, And water-flasks.--Oh, miserable strangers! Whence come they, that they know not what and who My master is, approaching in ill hour The inhospitable roof of Polypheme, And the Cyclopian jaw-bone, man-destroying? Be silent, Satyrs, while I ask and hear Whence coming, they arrive the Aetnean hill.
ULYSSES: Friends, can you show me some clear water-spring, The remedy of our thirst? Will any one Furnish with food seamen in want of it? Ha! what is this? We seem to be arrived At the blithe court of Bacchus. I observe This sportive band of Satyrs near the caves. First let me greet the elder.--Hail!
SILENUS: Hail thou, O Stranger! tell thy country and thy race.
ULYSSES: The Ithacan Ulysses and the king Of Cephalonia.
SILENUS: Oh! I know the man, Wordy and shrewd, the son of Sisyphus.
ULYSSES: I am the same, but do not rail upon me.--
SILENUS: Whence sailing do you come to Sicily?
ULYSSES: From Ilion, and from the Trojan toils.
SILENUS: How, touched you not at your paternal shore?
ULYSSES: The strength of tempests bore me here by force.
SILENUS: The self-same accident occurred to me.
ULYSSES: Were you then driven here by stress of weather?
SILENUS: Following the Pirates who had kidnapped Bacchus.
ULYSSES: What land is this, and who inhabit it?--
SILENUS: Aetna, the loftiest peak in Sicily.
ULYSSES: And are there walls, and tower-surrounded towns?
SILENUS: There are not.--These lone rocks are bare of men.
ULYSSES: And who possess the land? the race of beasts?
SILENUS: Cyclops, who live in caverns, not in houses.
ULYSSES: Obeying whom? Or is the state popular?
SILENUS: Shepherds: no one obeys any in aught.
ULYSSES: How live they? do they sow the corn of Ceres?
SILENUS: On milk and cheese, and on the flesh of sheep.
ULYSSES: Have they the Bromian drink from the vine's stream?
SILENUS: Ah! no; they live in an ungracious land.
ULYSSES: And are they just to strangers?--hospitable?
SILENUS: They think the sweetest thing a stranger brings Is his own flesh.
ULYSSES: What! do they eat man's flesh?
SILENUS: No one comes here who is not eaten up.
ULYSSES: The Cyclops now--where is he? Not at home?
SILENUS: Absent on Aetna, hunting with his dogs.
ULYSSES: Know'st thou what thou must do to aid us hence?
SILENUS: I know not: we will help you all we can.
ULYSSES: Provide us food, of which we are in want.
SILENUS: Here is not anything, as I said, but meat.
ULYSSES: But meat is a sweet remedy for hunger.
SILENUS: Cow's milk there is, and store of curdled cheese.
ULYSSES: Bring out:--I would see all before I bargain.
SILENUS: But how much gold will you engage to give?
ULYSSES: I bring no gold, but Bacchic juice.
SILENUS: Oh, joy! Tis long since these dry lips were wet with wine.
ULYSSES: Maron, the son of the God, gave it me.
SILENUS: Whom I have nursed a baby in my arms.
ULYSSES: The son of Bacchus, for your clearer knowledge.
SILENUS: Have you it now?--or is it in the ship?
ULYSSES: Old man, this skin contains it, which you see.
SILENUS: Why, this would hardly be a mouthful for me.
ULYSSES: Nay, twice as much as you can draw from thence.
SILENUS: You speak of a fair fountain, sweet to me.
ULYSSES: Would you first taste of the unmingled wine?
SILENUS: 'Tis just--tasting invites the purchaser.
ULYSSES: Here is the cup, together with the skin.
SILENUS: Pour: that the draught may fillip my remembrance.
SILENUS: Papaiapax! what a sweet smell it has!
ULYSSES: You see it then?--
SILENUS: By Jove, no! but I smell it.
ULYSSES: Taste, that you may not praise it in words only.
SILENUS: Babai! Great Bacchus calls me forth to dance! Joy! joy!
ULYSSES: Did it flow sweetly down your throat?
SILENUS: So that it tingled to my very nails.
ULYSSES: And in addition I will give you gold.
SILENUS: Let gold alone! only unlock the cask.
ULYSSES: Bring out some cheeses now, or a young goat.
SILENUS: That will I do, despising any master. Yes, let me drink one cup, and I will give All that the Cyclops feed upon their mountains.
CHORUS: Ye have taken Troy and laid your hands on Helen?
ULYSSES: And utterly destroyed the race of Priam.
SILENUS: The wanton wretch! she was bewitched to see The many-coloured anklets and the chain Of woven gold which girt the neck of Paris, And so she left that good man Menelaus. There should be no more women in the world But such as are reserved for me alone.-- See, here are sheep, and here are goats, Ulysses, Here are unsparing cheeses of pressed milk; Take them; depart with what good speed ye may; First leaving my reward, the Bacchic dew Of joy-inspiring grapes.
ULYSSES: Ah me! Alas! What shall we do? the Cyclops is at hand! Old man, we perish! whither can we fly?
SILENUS: Hide yourselves quick within that hollow rock.
ULYSSES: 'Twere perilous to fly into the net.
SILENUS: The cavern has recesses numberless; Hide yourselves quick.
ULYSSES: That will I never do! The mighty Troy would be indeed disgraced If I should fly one man. How many times Have I withstood, with shield immovable. Ten thousand Phrygians!--if I needs must die, Yet will I die with glory;--if I live, The praise which I have gained will yet remain.
SILENUS: What, ho! assistance, comrades, haste, assistance!
[THE CYCLOPS, SILENUS, ULYSSES; CHORUS.]
CYCLOPS: What is this tumult? Bacchus is not here, Nor tympanies nor brazen castanets. How are my young lambs in the cavern? Milking Their dams or playing by their sides? And is The new cheese pressed into the bulrush baskets? Speak! I'll beat some of you till you rain tears-- Look up, not downwards when I speak to you.
SILENUS: See! I now gape at Jupiter himself; I stare upon Orion and the stars.
CYCLOPS: Well, is the dinner fitly cooked and laid?
SILENUS: All ready, if your throat is ready too.
CYCLOPS: Are the bowls full of milk besides?
SILENUS: O'er-brimming; So you may drink a tunful if you will.
CYCLOPS: Is it ewe's milk or cow's milk, or both mixed?--
SILENUS: Both, either; only pray don't swallow me.
CYCLOPS: By no means.-- ... What is this crowd I see beside the stalls? Outlaws or thieves? for near my cavern-home I see my young lambs coupled two by two With willow bands; mixed with my cheeses lie Their implements; and this old fellow here Has his bald head broken with stripes.
SILENUS: Ah me! I have been beaten till I burn with fever.
CYCLOPS: By whom? Who laid his fist upon your head?
SILENUS: Those men, because I would not suffer them To steal your goods.
CYCLOPS: Did not the rascals know I am a God, sprung from the race of Heaven?
SILENUS: I told them so, but they bore off your things, And ate the cheese in spite of all I said, And carried out the lambs--and said, moreover, They'd pin you down with a three-cubit collar, And pull your vitals out through your one eye, Furrow your back with stripes, then, binding you, Throw you as ballast into the ship's hold, And then deliver you, a slave, to move Enormous rocks, or found a vestibule.
CYCLOPS: In truth? Nay, haste, and place in order quickly The cooking-knives, and heap upon the hearth, And kindle it, a great faggot of wood.-- As soon as they are slaughtered, they shall fill My belly, broiling warm from the live coals, Or boiled and seethed within the bubbling caldron. I am quite sick of the wild mountain game; Of stags and lions I have gorged enough, And I grow hungry for the flesh of men.
SILENUS: Nay, master, something new is very pleasant After one thing forever, and of late Very few strangers have approached our cave.
ULYSSES: Hear, Cyclops, a plain tale on the other side. We, wanting to buy food, came from our ship Into the neighbourhood of your cave, and here This old Silenus gave us in exchange These lambs for wine, the which he took and drank, And all by mutual compact, without force. There is no word of truth in what he says, For slyly he was selling all your store.
SILENUS: I? May you perish, wretch--
ULYSSES: If I speak false!
SILENUS: Cyclops, I swear by Neptune who begot thee, By mighty Triton and by Nereus old, Calypso and the glaucous Ocean Nymphs, The sacred waves and all the race of fishes-- Be these the witnesses, my dear sweet master, My darling little Cyclops, that I never Gave any of your stores to these false strangers;-- If I speak false may those whom most I love, My children, perish wretchedly!
CHORUS: There stop! I saw him giving these things to the strangers. If I speak false, then may my father perish, But do not thou wrong hospitality.
CYCLOPS: You lie! I swear that he is juster far Than Rhadamanthus--I trust more in him. But let me ask, whence have ye sailed, O strangers? Who are you? And what city nourished ye?
ULYSSES: Our race is Ithacan--having destroyed The town of Troy, the tempests of the sea Have driven us on thy land, O Polypheme.
CYCLOPS: What, have ye shared in the unenvied spoil Of the false Helen, near Scamander's stream?
ULYSSES: The same, having endured a woful toil.
CYCLOPS: Oh, basest expedition! sailed ye not From Greece to Phrygia for one woman's sake?
ULYSSES: 'Twas the Gods' work--no mortal was in fault. But, O great Offspring of the Ocean-King, We pray thee and admonish thee with freedom, That thou dost spare thy friends who visit thee, And place no impious food within thy jaws. For in the depths of Greece we have upreared Temples to thy great Father, which are all His homes. The sacred bay of Taenarus Remains inviolate, and each dim recess Scooped high on the Malean promontory, And aery Sunium's silver-veined crag, Which divine Pallas keeps unprofaned ever, The Gerastian asylums, and whate'er Within wide Greece our enterprise has kept From Phrygian contumely; and in which You have a common care, for you inhabit The skirts of Grecian land, under the roots Of Aetna and its crags, spotted with fire. Turn then to converse under human laws, Receive us shipwrecked suppliants, and provide Food, clothes, and fire, and hospitable gifts; Nor fixing upon oxen-piercing spits Our limbs, so fill your belly and your jaws. Priam's wide land has widowed Greece enough; And weapon-winged murder leaped together Enough of dead, and wives are husbandless, And ancient women and gray fathers wail Their childless age;--if you should roast the rest-- And 'tis a bitter feast that you prepare-- Where then would any turn? Yet be persuaded; Forgo the lust of your jaw-bone; prefer Pious humanity to wicked will: Many have bought too dear their evil joys.
SILENUS: Let me advise you, do not spare a morsel Of all his flesh. If you should eat his tongue You would become most eloquent, O Cyclops.
CYCLOPS: Wealth, my good fellow, is the wise man's God, All other things are a pretence and boast. What are my father's ocean promontories, The sacred rocks whereon he dwells, to me? Stranger, I laugh to scorn Jove's thunderbolt, I know not that his strength is more than mine. As to the rest I care not.--When he pours Rain from above, I have a close pavilion Under this rock, in which I lie supine, Feasting on a roast calf or some wild beast, And drinking pans of milk, and gloriously Emulating the thunder of high Heaven. And when the Thracian wind pours down the snow, I wrap my body in the skins of beasts, Kindle a fire, and bid the snow whirl on. The earth, by force, whether it will or no, Bringing forth grass, fattens my flocks and herds, Which, to what other God but to myself And this great belly, first of deities, Should I be bound to sacrifice? I well know The wise man's only Jupiter is this, To eat and drink during his little day, And give himself no care. And as for those Who complicate with laws the life of man, I freely give them tears for their reward. I will not cheat my soul of its delight, Or hesitate in dining upon you:-- And that I may be quit of all demands, These are my hospitable gifts;--fierce fire And yon ancestral caldron, which o'er-bubbling Shall finely cook your miserable flesh. Creep in!--
ULYSSES: Ai! ai! I have escaped the Trojan toils, I have escaped the sea, and now I fall Under the cruel grasp of one impious man. O Pallas, Mistress, Goddess, sprung from Jove, Now, now, assist me! Mightier toils than Troy Are these;--I totter on the chasms of peril;-- And thou who inhabitest the thrones Of the bright stars, look, hospitable Jove, Upon this outrage of thy deity, Otherwise be considered as no God!
CHORUS (ALONE): For your gaping gulf and your gullet wide, The ravin is ready on every side, The limbs of the strangers are cooked and done; There is boiled meat, and roast meat, and meat from the coal, You may chop it, and tear it, and gnash it for fun, An hairy goat's-skin contains the whole. Let me but escape, and ferry me o'er The stream of your wrath to a safer shore. The Cyclops Aetnean is cruel and bold, He murders the strangers That sit on his hearth, And dreads no avengers To rise from the earth. He roasts the men before they are cold, He snatches them broiling from the coal, And from the caldron pulls them whole, And minces their flesh and gnaws their bone With his cursed teeth, till all be gone. Farewell, foul pavilion: Farewell, rites of dread! The Cyclops vermilion, With slaughter uncloying, Now feasts on the dead, In the flesh of strangers joying!
ULYSSES: O Jupiter! I saw within the cave Horrible things; deeds to be feigned in words, But not to be believed as being done.
CHORUS: What! sawest thou the impious Polypheme Feasting upon your loved companions now?
ULYSSES: Selecting two, the plumpest of the crowd, He grasped them in his hands.--
CHORUS: Unhappy man!
ULYSSES: Soon as we came into this craggy place, Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth The knotty limbs of an enormous oak, Three waggon-loads at least, and then he strewed Upon the ground, beside the red firelight, His couch of pine-leaves; and he milked the cows, And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much As would contain ten amphorae, and bound it With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws Of axes for Aetnean slaughterings. And when this God-abandoned Cook of Hell Had made all ready, he seized two of us And killed them in a kind of measured manner; For he flung one against the brazen rivets Of the huge caldron, and seized the other By the foot's tendon, and knocked out his brains Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone: Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking-knife And put him down to roast. The other's limbs He chopped into the caldron to be boiled. And I, with the tears raining from my eyes, Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him; The rest, in the recesses of the cave, Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear. When he was filled with my companions' flesh, He threw himself upon the ground and sent A loathsome exhalation from his maw. Then a divine thought came to me. I filled The cup of Maron, and I offered him To taste, and said:--'Child of the Ocean God, Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce, The exultation and the joy of Bacchus.' He, satiated with his unnatural food, Received it, and at one draught drank it off, And taking my hand, praised me:--'Thou hast given A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest.' And I, perceiving that it pleased him, filled Another cup, well knowing that the wine Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge. And the charm fascinated him, and I Plied him cup after cup, until the drink Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen A hideous discord--and the cavern rung. I have stolen out, so that if you will You may achieve my safety and your own. But say, do you desire, or not, to fly This uncompanionable man, and dwell As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs Within the fanes of your beloved God? Your father there within agrees to it, But he is weak and overcome with wine, And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup, He claps his wings and crows in doting joy. You who are young escape with me, and find Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he To this rude Cyclops.
CHORUS: Oh my dearest friend, That I could see that day, and leave for ever The impious Cyclops.
ULYSSES: Listen then what a punishment I have For this fell monster, how secure a flight From your hard servitude.
CHORUS: O sweeter far Than is the music of an Asian lyre Would be the news of Polypheme destroyed.
ULYSSES: Delighted with the Bacchic drink he goes To call his brother Cyclops--who inhabit A village upon Aetna not far off.
CHORUS: I understand, catching him when alone You think by some measure to dispatch him, Or thrust him from the precipice.
ULYSSES: Oh no; Nothing of that kind; my device is subtle.
CHORUS: How then? I heard of old that thou wert wise.
ULYSSES: I will dissuade him from this plan, by saying It were unwise to give the Cyclopses This precious drink, which if enjoyed alone Would make life sweeter for a longer time. When, vanquished by the Bacchic power, he sleeps, There is a trunk of olive wood within, Whose point having made sharp with this good sword I will conceal in fire, and when I see It is alight, will fix it, burning yet, Within the socket of the Cyclops' eye And melt it out with fire--as when a man Turns by its handle a great auger round, Fitting the framework of a ship with beams, So will I, in the Cyclops' fiery eye Turn round the brand and dry the pupil up.
CHORUS: Joy! I am mad with joy at your device.
ULYSSES: And then with you, my friends, and the old man, We'll load the hollow depth of our black ship, And row with double strokes from this dread shore.
CHORUS: May I, as in libations to a God, Share in the blinding him with the red brand? I would have some communion in his death.
ULYSSES: Doubtless: the brand is a great brand to hold.
CHORUS: Oh! I would lift an hundred waggon-loads, If like a wasp's nest I could scoop the eye out Of the detested Cyclops.
ULYSSES: Silence now! Ye know the close device--and when I call, Look ye obey the masters of the craft. I will not save myself and leave behind My comrades in the cave: I might escape, Having got clear from that obscure recess, But 'twere unjust to leave in jeopardy The dear companions who sailed here with me.
CHORUS: Come! who is first, that with his hand Will urge down the burning brand Through the lids, and quench and pierce The Cyclops' eye so fiery fierce?
SEMICHORUS 1 [SONG WITHIN]: Listen! listen! he is coming, A most hideous discord humming. Drunken, museless, awkward, yelling, Far along his rocky dwelling; Let us with some comic spell Teach the yet unteachable. By all means he must be blinded, If my counsel be but minded.
SEMICHORUS 2: Happy thou made odorous With the dew which sweet grapes weep, To the village hastening thus, Seek the vines that soothe to sleep; Having first embraced thy friend, Thou in luxury without end, With the strings of yellow hair, Of thy voluptuous leman fair, Shalt sit playing on a bed!-- Speak! what door is opened?
CYCLOPS: Ha! ha! ha! I'm full of wine, Heavy with the joy divine, With the young feast oversated; Like a merchant's vessel freighted To the water's edge, my crop Is laden to the gullet's top. The fresh meadow grass of spring Tempts me forth thus wandering To my brothers on the mountains, Who shall share the wine's sweet fountains. Bring the cask, O stranger, bring!
CHORUS: One with eyes the fairest Cometh from his dwelling; Some one loves thee, rarest Bright beyond my telling. In thy grace thou shinest Like some nymph divinest In her caverns dewy:-- All delights pursue thee, Soon pied flowers, sweet-breathing, Shall thy head be wreathing.
ULYSSES: Listen, O Cyclops, for I am well skilled In Bacchus, whom I gave thee of to drink.
CYCLOPS: What sort of God is Bacchus then accounted?
ULYSSES: The greatest among men for joy of life.
CYCLOPS: I gulped him down with very great delight.
ULYSSES: This is a God who never injures men.
CYCLOPS: How does the God like living in a skin?
ULYSSES: He is content wherever he is put.
CYCLOPS: Gods should not have their body in a skin.
ULYSSES: If he gives joy, what is his skin to you?
CYCLOPS: I hate the skin, but love the wine within.
ULYSSES: Stay here now: drink, and make your spirit glad.
CYCLOPS: Should I not share this liquor with my brothers?
ULYSSES: Keep it yourself, and be more honoured so.
CYCLOPS: I were more useful, giving to my friends.
ULYSSES: But village mirth breeds contests, broils, and blows.
CYCLOPS: When I am drunk none shall lay hands on me.--
ULYSSES: A drunken man is better within doors.
CYCLOPS: He is a fool, who drinking, loves not mirth.
ULYSSES: But he is wise, who drunk, remains at home.
CYCLOPS: What shall I do, Silenus? Shall I stay?
SILENUS: Stay--for what need have you of pot companions?
CYCLOPS: Indeed this place is closely carpeted With flowers and grass.
SILENUS: And in the sun-warm noon 'Tis sweet to drink. Lie down beside me now, Placing your mighty sides upon the ground.
CYCLOPS: What do you put the cup behind me for?
SILENUS: That no one here may touch it.
CYCLOPS: Thievish One! You want to drink;--here place it in the midst. And thou, O stranger, tell how art thou called?
ULYSSES: My name is Nobody. What favour now Shall I receive to praise you at your hands?
CYCLOPS: I'll feast on you the last of your companions.
ULYSSES: You grant your guest a fair reward, O Cyclops.
CYCLOPS: Ha! what is this? Stealing the wine, you rogue!
SILENUS: It was this stranger kissing me because I looked so beautiful.
CYCLOPS: You shall repent For kissing the coy wine that loves you not.
SILENUS: By Jupiter! you said that I am fair.
CYCLOPS: Pour out, and only give me the cup full.
SILENUS: How is it mixed? let me observe.
CYCLOPS: Curse you! Give it me so.
SILENUS: Not till I see you wear That coronal, and taste the cup to you.
CYCLOPS: Thou wily traitor!
SILENUS: But the wine is sweet. Ay, you will roar if you are caught in drinking.
CYCLOPS: See now, my lip is clean and all my beard.
SILENUS: Now put your elbow right and drink again. As you see me drink--...
CYCLOPS: How now?
SILENUS: Ye Gods, what a delicious gulp!
CYCLOPS: Guest, take it;--you pour out the wine for me.
ULYSSES: The wine is well accustomed to my hand.
CYCLOPS: Pour out the wine!
ULYSSES: I pour; only be silent.
CYCLOPS: Silence is a hard task to him who drinks.
ULYSSES: Take it and drink it off; leave not a dreg. Oh that the drinker died with his own draught!
CYCLOPS: Papai! the vine must be a sapient plant.
ULYSSES: If you drink much after a mighty feast, Moistening your thirsty maw, you will sleep well; If you leave aught, Bacchus will dry you up.
CYCLOPS: Ho! ho! I can scarce rise. What pure delight! The heavens and earth appear to whirl about Confusedly. I see the throne of Jove And the clear congregation of the Gods. Now if the Graces tempted me to kiss I would not--for the loveliest of them all I would not leave this Ganymede.
SILENUS: Polypheme, I am the Ganymede of Jupiter.
CYCLOPS: By Jove, you are; I bore you off from Dardanus.
[ULYSSES AND THE CHORUS.]
ULYSSES: Come, boys of Bacchus, children of high race, This man within is folded up in sleep, And soon will vomit flesh from his fell maw; The brand under the shed thrusts out its smoke, No preparation needs, but to burn out The monster's eye;--but bear yourselves like men.
CHORUS: We will have courage like the adamant rock, All things are ready for you here; go in, Before our father shall perceive the noise.
ULYSSES: Vulcan, Aetnean king! burn out with fire The shining eye of this thy neighbouring monster! And thou, O Sleep, nursling of gloomy Night, Descend unmixed on this God-hated beast, And suffer not Ulysses and his comrades, Returning from their famous Trojan toils, To perish by this man, who cares not either For God or mortal; or I needs must think That Chance is a supreme divinity, And things divine are subject to her power.
CHORUS: Soon a crab the throat will seize Of him who feeds upon his guest, Fire will burn his lamp-like eyes In revenge of such a feast! A great oak stump now is lying In the ashes yet undying. Come, Maron, come! Raging let him fix the doom, Let him tear the eyelid up Of the Cyclops--that his cup May be evil! Oh! I long to dance and revel With sweet Bromian, long desired, In loved ivy wreaths attired; Leaving this abandoned home-- Will the moment ever come?
ULYSSES: Be silent, ye wild things! Nay, hold your peace, And keep your lips quite close; dare not to breathe, Or spit, or e'en wink, lest ye wake the monster, Until his eye be tortured out with fire.
CHORUS: Nay, we are silent, and we chaw the air.
ULYSSES: Come now, and lend a hand to the great stake Within--it is delightfully red hot.
CHORUS: You then command who first should seize the stake To burn the Cyclops' eye, that all may share In the great enterprise.
SEMICHORUS 1: We are too far; We cannot at this distance from the door Thrust fire into his eye.
SEMICHORUS 2: And we just now Have become lame! cannot move hand or foot.
CHORUS: The same thing has occurred to us,--our ankles Are sprained with standing here, I know not how.
ULYSSES: What, sprained with standing still?
CHORUS: And there is dust Or ashes in our eyes, I know not whence.
ULYSSES: Cowardly dogs! ye will not aid me then?
CHORUS: With pitying my own back and my back-bone, And with not wishing all my teeth knocked out, This cowardice comes of itself--but stay, I know a famous Orphic incantation To make the brand stick of its own accord Into the skull of this one-eyed son of Earth.
ULYSSES: Of old I knew ye thus by nature; now I know ye better.--I will use the aid Of my own comrades. Yet though weak of hand Speak cheerfully, that so ye may awaken The courage of my friends with your blithe words.
CHORUS: This I will do with peril of my life, And blind you with my exhortations, Cyclops. Hasten and thrust, And parch up to dust, The eye of the beast Who feeds on his guest. Burn and blind The Aetnean hind! Scoop and draw, But beware lest he claw Your limbs near his maw.
CYCLOPS: Ah me! my eyesight is parched up to cinders.
CHORUS: What a sweet paean! sing me that again!
CYCLOPS: Ah me! indeed, what woe has fallen upon me! But, wretched nothings, think ye not to flee Out of this rock; I, standing at the outlet, Will bar the way and catch you as you pass.
CHORUS: What are you roaring out, Cyclops?
CYCLOPS: I perish!
CHORUS: For you are wicked.
CYCLOPS: And besides miserable.
CHORUS: What, did you fall into the fire when drunk?
CYCLOPS: 'Twas Nobody destroyed me.
CHORUS: Why then no one Can be to blame.
CYCLOPS: I say 'twas Nobody Who blinded me.
CHORUS: Why then you are not blind.
CYCLOPS: I wish you were as blind as I am.
CHORUS: Nay, It cannot be that no one made you blind.
CYCLOPS: You jeer me; where, I ask, is Nobody?
CHORUS: Nowhere, O Cyclops.
CYCLOPS: It was that stranger ruined me:--the wretch First gave me wine and then burned out my eye, For wine is strong and hard to struggle with. Have they escaped, or are they yet within?
CHORUS: They stand under the darkness of the rock And cling to it.
CYCLOPS: At my right hand or left?
CHORUS: Close on your right.
CHORUS: Near the rock itself. You have them.
CYCLOPS: Oh, misfortune on misfortune! I've cracked my skull.
CHORUS: Now they escape you--there.
CYCLOPS: Not there, although you say so.
CHORUS: Not on that side.
CYCLOPS: Where then?
CHORUS: They creep about you on your left.
CYCLOPS: Ah! I am mocked! They jeer me in my ills.
CHORUS: Not there! he is a little there beyond you.
CYCLOPS: Detested wretch! where are you?
ULYSSES: Far from you I keep with care this body of Ulysses.
CYCLOPS: What do you say? You proffer a new name.
ULYSSES: My father named me so; and I have taken A full revenge for your unnatural feast; I should have done ill to have burned down Troy And not revenged the murder of my comrades.
CYCLOPS: Ai! ai! the ancient oracle is accomplished; It said that I should have my eyesight blinded By your coming from Troy, yet it foretold That you should pay the penalty for this By wandering long over the homeless sea.
ULYSSES: I bid thee weep--consider what I say; I go towards the shore to drive my ship To mine own land, o'er the Sicilian wave.
CYCLOPS: Not so, if, whelming you with this huge stone, I can crush you and all your men together; I will descend upon the shore, though blind, Groping my way adown the steep ravine.
CHORUS: And we, the shipmates of Ulysses now, Will serve our Bacchus all our happy lives.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.