Euripides - 430 BC
Silenus (old servant of the Cyclops) Chorus of Satyrs)
(SCENE:-Before the great cave of the CYCLOPS at the foot of Mount
Aetna. SILENUS enters. He has a rake with him, with which he cleans up
the ground in front of the cave as he soliloquizes.)
O BROMIUS, unnumbered are the toils I bear because of thee, no
less now than when I was young and hale; first, when thou wert
driven mad by Hera and didst leave the mountain nymphs, thy nurses;
next, when in battle with earth-born spearmen I stood beside thee on
the right as squire, and slew Enceladus, smiting him full in the
middle of his targe with my spear. Come, though, let me see; must I
confess 'twas all a dream? No, by Zeus! since I really showed his
spoils to the Bacchic god. And now am I enduring to the full a toil
still worse than those. For when Hera sent forth a race of Tyrrhene
pirates against thee, that thou mightest be smuggled far away, I, as
soon as the news reached me, sailed in quest of thee with my children;
and, taking the helm myself, I stood on the end of the stern and
steered our trim craft; and my sons, sitting at the oars, made the
grey billows froth and foam as they sought thee, my liege, But just as
we had come nigh Malea in our course, an east wind blew upon the
ship and drove us hither to the rock of Aetna, where in lonely caverns
dwell the one-eyed children of ocean's god, the murdering Cyclopes.
Captured by one of them we are slaves in his house; Polyphemus they
call him whom we serve; and instead of Bacchic revelry we are
herding a godless Cyclops's flocks; and so it is my children,
striplings as they are, tend the young thereof on the edge of the
downs; while my appointed task is to stay here and fill the troughs
and sweep out the cave, or wait upon the ungodly Cyclops at his
impious feasts. His orders now compel obedience; I have to scrape
out his house with the rake you see, so as to receive the Cyclops,
my absent master, and his sheep in clean caverns.
But already I see my children driving their browsing flocks
What means this? is the beat of feet in the Sicinnis dance the
same to you now as when ye attended the Bacchic god in his revelries
and made your way with dainty steps to the music of lyres to the halls
(The CHORUS OF SATYRS enters, driving a flock of goats and sheep.
Servants follow them.)
Offspring of well-bred sires and dams, pray whither wilt thou be
gone from me to the rocks? Hast thou not here a gentle breeze, and
grass to browse, and water from the eddying stream set near the cave
in troughs? and are not thy young ones bleating for thee? Pst! pst!
wilt thou not browse here, here on the dewy slope? Ho! ho ere long
will I cast a stone at thee. Away, away! O horned one, to the
fold-keeper of the Cyclops, the country-ranging shepherd.
Loosen thy bursting udder; welcome to thy teats the kids, whom
thou leavest in the lambkins' pens. Those little bleating kids, asleep
the livelong day, miss thee; wilt then leave at last the rich grass
pastures on the peaks of Aetna and enter the fold?...
Here we have no Bromian god; no dances here, or Bacchantes
thyrsus-bearing; no roll of drums, or drops of sparkling wine by
gurgling founts; nor is it now with Nymphs in Nysa I sing a song of
Bacchus, Bacchus! to the queen of love, in quest of whom I once sped
on with Bacchantes, white of foot. Dear friend, dear Bacchic god,
whither art roaming alone, waving thy auburn locks, while I, thy
minister, do service to the one-eyed Cyclops, a slave and wanderer
I, clad in this wretched goat-skin dress, severed from thy love?
Hush, children! and bid our servants fold the flocks in the
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to Servants)
Away! (To SILENUS) But prithee, why such haste, father?
I see the hull of a ship from Hellas at the shore, and men, that
wield the oar, on their way to this cave with some chieftain. About
their necks they carry empty vessels and pitchers for water; they
are in want of food. Luckless strangers! who can they be? They know
not what manner of man our master Polyphemus is, to have set foot here
in his cheerless abode and come to the jaws of the cannibal Cyclops in
an evil hour. But hold ye your peace, that we may inquire whence
they come to the peak of Sicilian Aetna.
(ODYSSEUS and his companions enter. They carry baskets for
provisions and water jars.)
Pray tell us, sirs, of some river-spring whence we might draw a
draught to slake our thirst, or of someone willing to sell victuals to
mariners in need.
Why, what is this? We seem to have chanced upon a city of the
Bromian god; here by the caves I see a group of Satyrs. To the
eldest first I bid "All hail!
All hail, sir! tell me who thou art, and name thy country.
Odysseus of Ithaca, king of the Cephallenians' land.
I know him for a prating knave, one of Sisyphus' shrewd offspring.
I am the man; abuse me not.
Whence hast thou sailed hither to Sicily?
From Ilium and the toils of Troy.
How was that? didst thou not know the passage to thy native land?
Tempestuous winds drove me hither against my will.
God wot! thou art in the same plight as I am.
Why, wert thou too drifted hither against thy will?
I was, as I pursued the pirates who carried Bromius off.
What land is this and who are its inhabitants?
This is mount Aetna, the highest point in Sicily.
But where are the city-walls and ramparts?
There are none; the headlands, sir, are void of men.
Who then possess the land? the race of wild creatures?
The Cyclopes, who have caves, not roofed houses.
Obedient unto whom? or is the power in the people's hands?
They are rovers; no man obeys another in anything.
Do they sow Demeter's grain, or on what do they live?
On milk and cheese and flesh of sheep.
Have they the drink of Bromius, the juice of the vine?
No indeed! and thus it is a joyless land they dwell in.
Are they hospitable and reverent towards strangers?
Strangers, they say, supply the daintiest meat.
What, do they delight in killing men and eating them?
No one has ever arrived here without being butchered.
Where is the Cyclops himself? inside his dwelling?
He is gone hunting wild beasts with hounds on Aetna.
Dost know then what to do, that we may be gone from the land?
Not I, Odysseus; but I would do anything for thee.
Sell us food, of which we are in need.
There is nothing but flesh, as I said.
Well, even that is a pleasant preventive of hunger.
And there is cheese curdled with fig-juice, and the milk of kine.
Bring them out; a man should see his purchases.
But tell me, how much gold wilt thou give me in exchange?
No gold bring I, but Dionysus' drink.
Most welcome words! I have long been wanting that.
Yes, it was Maron, the god's son, who gave me a draught.
What! Maron whom once I dandled in these arms?
The son of the Bacchic god, that thou mayst learn more certainly.
Is it inside the ship, or hast thou it with thee?
This, as thou seest, is the skin that holds it, old sir.
Why, that would not give me so much as a mouthful.
This, and twice as much again as will run from the skin.
Fair the rill thou speakest of, delicious to me.
Shall I let thee taste the wine unmixed, to start with?
A reasonable offer; for of a truth a taste invites the purchase.
Well, I haul about a cup as well as the skin.
Come, let it gurgle in, that I may revive my memory by a pull at
SILENUS (smelling it)
Ye gods! what a delicious scent it has!
What! didst thou see it?
No, i' faith, but I smell it.
Taste it then, that thy approval may not stop at words.
SILENUS (taking a drink)
Zounds! Bacchus is inviting me to dance; ha! ha!
Did it not gurgle finely down thy throttle?
Aye that it did, to the ends of my fingers.
Well, we will give thee money besides.
Only undo the skin, and never mind the money.
Bring out the cheeses then and lambs.
I will do so, with small thought of any master. For let me have
a single cup of that and I would turn madman, giving in exchange for
it the flocks of every Cyclops and then throwing myself into the sea
from the Leucadian rock, once I have been well drunk and smoothed
out my wrinkled brow. For if a man rejoice not in his drinking, he
is mad; for in drinking it's possible for this to stand up straight,
and then to fondle breasts, and to caress well tended locks, and there
is dancing withal, and oblivion of woe. Shall not I then purchase so
rare a drink, bidding the senseless Cyclops and his central eye go
(SILENUS goes into the cave.)
Hearken, Odysseus, let us hold some converse with thee.
Well, do so; ours is a meeting of friends.
Did you take Troy and capture the famous Helen?
Aye, and we destroyed the whole family of Priam.
After capturing your blooming prize, were all of you in turn her
lovers? for she likes variety in husbands; the traitress! the sight of
a man with embroidered breeches on his legs and a golden chain about
his neck so fluttered her, that she left Menelaus, her excellent
little husband. Would there had never been a race of women born into
the world at all, unles it were for me alone!
SILENUS (reappearing with food)
Lo! I bring you fat food from the flocks, king Odysseus, the young
of bleating sheep and cheeses of curdled milk without stint. Carry
them away with you and begone from the cave at once, after giving me a
drink of merry grape-juice in exchange.
Alack! yonder comes the Cyclops; what shall we do?
Then truly are we lost, old sir! whither must we fly?
Inside this rock, for there ye may conceal yourselves.
Dangerous advice of thine, to run into the net!
No danger; there are ways of escape in plenty in the rock.
No, never that; for surely Troy will groan and loudly too, if we
flee from a single man, when I have oft withstood with my shield a
countless host of Phrygians. Nay, if die we must, we will die a
noble death; or, if we live, we will maintain our old renown at
least with credit.
(The CYCLOPS enters as SILENUS goes into the cave. The CYCLOPS,
not noticing ODYSSEUS and his companions, addresses the CHORUS in
A light here! hold it up! what is this? what means this
idleness, your Bacchic revelry? Here have we no Dionysus, nor clash of
brass, nor roll of drums. Pray, how is it with my newly-born lambs
in the caves? are they at the teat, running close to the side of their
dams? Is the full amount of milk for cheeses milked out in baskets
of rushes? How now? what say you? One of ye will soon be shedding
tears from the weight of my club; look up, not down.
There! my head is bent back till I see Zeus himself; I behold both
the stars and Orion.
Is my breakfast quite ready?
'Tis laid; be thy throat only ready.
Are, the bowls too full of milk?
Aye, so that thou canst swill off a whole hogshead, so it please
Sheep's milk or cows' milk or a mixture of both?
Whichever thou wilt; don't swallow me, that's all.
Not I; for you would start kicking in the pit of my stomach and
kill me by your antics. (Catching sight Of ODYSSEUS and his followers)
Ha! what is this crowd I see near the folds? Some pirates or robbers
have put in here. (SILENUS comes out of the cave. He has made
himself appear as though he had just suffered a terrible beating.)
Yes, I really see the lambs from my caves tied up there with twisted
osiers, cheese-presses scattered about, and old Silenus with his
bald pate all swollen with blows.
Oh! oh! poor wretch that I am, pounded to a fever.
By whom? who has been pounding thy head, old sirrah?
These are the culprits, Cyclops, all because I refused to let them
Did they not know I was a god and sprung from gods?
That was what I told them, but they persisted in plundering thy
goods, and, in spite of my efforts, they actually began to eat the
cheese and carry off the lambs; and they said they would tie thee in a
three-cubit pillory and tear out thy bowels by force at thy navel, and
flay thy back thoroughly with the scourge; and then, after binding
thee, fling thy carcase down among the benches of their ship to sell
to someone for heaving up stones, or else throw thee into a mill.
Oh, indeed! Be off then and sharpen my cleavers at once; heap high
the faggots and light them; for they shall be slain forthwith and fill
this maw of mine, what time I pick my feast hot from the coals,
waiting not for carvers, and fish up the rest from the cauldron boiled
and sodden; for I have had my fill of mountain-fare and sated myself
with banquets of lions and stags, but 'tis long I have been without
Truly, master, a change like this is all the sweeter after
everyday fare; for just of late there have been no fresh arrivals of
strangers at these caves.
Hear the strangers too in turn, Cyclops. We had come near the cave
from our ship, wishing to procure provisions by purchase, when this
fellow sold us the lambs and handed them over for a stoup of wine to
drink himself, a voluntary act on both sides, there was no violence
employed at all. No, there is not a particle of truth in the story
he tells; now that he has been caught selling thy property behind
I? Perdition catch thee!
If I am lying, yes.
SILENUS (in agitation)
O Cyclops, by thy sire Poseidon, by mighty Triton and Nereus, by
Calypso and the daughters of Nereus, by the sacred billows and all the
race of fishes! I swear to thee, most noble sir, dear little
Cyclops, master mine, it is not I who sell thy goods to strangers,
else may these children, dearly as I love them, come to an evil end.
Keep that for thyself; with my own eyes I saw thee sell the
goods to the strangers; and if I lie, perdition catch my sire! but
injure not the strangers.
Ye lie; for my part I put more faith in him than Rhadamanthus,
declaring him more just. But I have some questions to ask. Whence
sailed ye, strangers? of what country are you? what city was it nursed
We are Ithacans by birth, and have been driven from our course
by the winds of the sea on our way from Ilium, after sacking its
Are ye the men who visited on Ilium, that bordereth on Scamander's
wave, the rape of Helen, worst of women?
We are; that was the fearful labour we endured.
A sorry expedition yours, to have sailed to the land of Phrygia
for the sake of one woman
It was a god's doing; blame not any son of man. But thee do we
implore, most noble son of Ocean's god, speaking as free-born men;
be not so cruel as to slay thy friends on their coming to thy cave,
nor regard us as food for thy jaws, an impious meal; for we
preserved thy sire, O king, in possession of his temple-seats deep
in the nooks of Hellas; and the sacred port of Taenarus and Malea's
furthest coves remain unharmed; and Sunium's rock, the
silver-veined, sacred to Zeus-born Athena, still is safe, and
Geraestus, the harbour of refuge; and we did not permit Phrygians to
put such an intolerable reproach on Hellas. Now in these things thou
too hast a share, for thou dwellest in a corner of the land of
Hellas beneath Aetna's fire-streaming rock; and although thou turn
from arguments, still it is a custom amongst mortal men to receive
shipwrecked sailors as their suppliants and show them hospitality
and help them with raiment; not that these should fill thy jaws and
belly, their limbs transfixed with spits for piercing ox-flesh. The
land of Priam hath emptied Hellas quite enough, drinking the blood
of many whom the spear laid low, with the ruin it has brought on
widowed wives, on aged childless dames, and hoary-headed sires; and if
thou roast and consume the remnant,-a meal thou wilt rue,-why, where
shall one turn? Nay, be persuaded by me, Cyclops; forego thy
ravenous greed and choose piety rather than wickedness; for on many
a man ere now unrighteous gains have brought down retribution.
I will give thee a word of advice! as for his flesh, leave not a
morsel of it, and if thou eat his tongue, Cyclops, thou wilt become
a monstrous clever talker.
Wealth, manikin, is the god for the wise; all else is mere
vaunting and fine words. Plague take the headlands by the sea, on
which my father seats himself! Why hast thou put forward these
arguments? I shudder not at Zeus's thunder, nor know I wherein Zeus is
a mightier god than I, stranger; what is more, I reck not of him; my
reasons hear. When he pours down the rain from above, here in this
rock in quarters snug, feasting on roast calf's flesh or some wild
game and moistening well my up-turned paunch with deep draughts from a
tub of milk, I rival the thunder-claps of Zeus with my artillery;
and when the north wind blows from Thrace and sheddeth snow, I wrap my
carcase in the hides of beasts and light a fire, and what care I for
snow? The earth perforce, whether she like it or not, produces grass
and fattens my flocks, which I sacrifice to no one save myself and
this belly, the greatest of deities; but to the gods, not I! For
surely to eat and drink one's fill from day to day and give oneself no
grief at all, this is the king of gods for your wise man, but
lawgivers go hang, chequering, as they do, the life of man! And so I
will not cease from indulging myself by devouring thee; and thou shalt
receive this stranger's gift, that I may be free of blame,-fire and my
father's element yonder, and a cauldron to hold thy flesh and boil
it nicely in collops. So in with you, that ye may feast me well,
standing round the altar to honour the cavern's god.
(The CYCLOPS goes into his cave, driving ODYSSEUS' men before
Alas! escaped from the troubles of Troy and the sea, my barque now
strands upon the whim and forbidding heart of this savage. O Pallas,
mistress mine, goddess-daughter of Zeus, help me, help me now; for I
am come to toils and depths of peril worse than all at Ilium; and
thou, O Zeus, the stranger's god, who hast thy dwelling 'mid the
radiant stars, behold these things; for, if thou regard them not, in
vain art thou esteemed the great god Zeus, though but a thing of
(He follows the CYCLOPS reluctantly. SILENUS also goes in.)
Ope wide the portal of thy gaping throat, Cyclops; for
strangers' limbs, both boiled and grilled, are ready from off the
coals for the to gnaw and tear and mince up small, reclining in thy
shaggy goat-skin coat.
Relinquish not thy meal for me; keep that boat for thyself
alone. Avaunt this cave! avaunt the burnt-offerings, which the godless
Cyclops offers on Aetna's altars, exulting in meals on strangers'
Oh! the ruthless monster! to sacrifice his guests at his own
hearth, the suppliants of his halls, cleaving and tearing and
serving up to his loathsome teeth a feast of human flesh, hot from the
ODYSSEUS (reappearing with a look of horror)
O Zeus! what can I say after the hideous sights I have seen inside
the cave, things past belief, resembling more the tales men tell
than aught they do?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What news, Odysseus? has the Cyclops, most godless monster, been
feasting on thy dear comrades?
Aye, he singled out a pair, on whom the flesh was fattest and in
best condition, and took them up in his hand to weigh.
How went it with you then, poor wretch?
When we had entered yonder rocky abode, he lighted first a fire,
throwing logs of towering oak upon his spacious hearth, enough for
three wagons to carry as their load; next, close by the blazing flame,
he placed his couch of pine-boughs laid upon the floor, and filled a
bowl of some ten firkins, pouring white milk thereinto, after he had
milked his kine; and by his side he put a can of ivy-wood, whose
breadth was three cubits and its depth four maybe; next he set his
brazen pot a-boiling on the fire, spits too he set beside him,
fashioned of the branches of thorn, their points hardened in the
fire and the rest of them trimmed with the hatchet, and the
blood-bowls of Aetna for the axe's edge. Now when that hell-cook,
god-detested, had everything quite ready, he caught up a pair of my
companions and proceeded deliberately to cut the throat of one of them
over the yawning brazen pot; but the other he clutched by the tendon
of his heel, and, striking him against a sharp point of rocky stone,
dashed out his brains; then, after hacking the fleshy parts with
glutton cleaver, he set to grilling them, but the limbs he threw
into his cauldron to seethe. And I, poor wretch, drew near with
streaming eyes and waited on the Cyclops; but the others kept cowering
like frightened birds in crannies of the rock, and the blood forsook
their skin. Anon, when he had gorged himself upon my comrades' flesh
and had fallen on his back, breathing heavily, there came a sudden
inspiration to me. I filled a cup of this Maronian wine and offered
him a draught, saying, "Cyclops, son of Ocean's god, see here what
heavenly drink the grapes of Hellas yield, glad gift of Dionysus."
glutted with his shameless meal, took and drained it at one draught,
and, lifting up his hand, he thanked me thus "Dearest to me of all
my guests! fair the drink thou givest me to crown so fair a feast."
Now when I saw his delight, I gave him another cup, knowing the wine
would make him rue it, and he would soon be paying the penalty. Then
he set to singing; but I kept filling bumper after bumper and
heating him with drink. So there he is singing discordantly amid the
weeping of my fellow-sailors, and the cave re-echoes; but I have
made my way out quietly and would fain save thee and myself, if thou
wilt. Tell me then, is it your wish, or is it not, to fly from this
unsocial wretch and take up your abode with Naiad nymphs in the
halls of the Bacchic god? Thy father within approves this scheme;
but there! he is powerless, getting all he can out of his liquor;
his wings are snared by the cup as if he had flown against
bird-lime, and he is fuddled; but thou art young and lusty; so save
thyself with my help and regain thy old friend Dionysus, so little
like the Cyclops.
Best of friends, would we might see that day, escaping the godless
Hear then how I will requite this vile monster and rescue you from
Tell me how; no note of Asiatic lyre would sound more sweetly in
our ears than news of the Cyclops' death.
Delighted with this liquor of the Bacchic god, he fain would go
a-reveling with his brethren.
I understand; thy purpose is to seize and slay him in the thickets
when clone, or push him down a precipice.
Not at all; my plan is fraught with subtlety.
What then? Truly we have long heard of thy cleverness.
I mean to keep him from this revel, saying he must not give this
drink to his brethren but keep it for himself alone and lead a happy
life. Then when he falls asleep, o'ermastered by the Bacchic god, I
will put a point with this sword of mine to an olive-branch I saw
lying in the cave, and will set it on fire; and when I see it well
alight, I will lift the heated brand, and, thrusting it full in the
Cyclops' eye, melt out his sight with its blaze; and, as when a man in
fitting the timbers of a ship makes his auger spin to and fro with a
double strap, so will I make the brand revolve in the eye, that
gives the Cyclops light and will scorch up the pupil thereof.
Ho! ho! how glad I feel! wild with joy at the contrivance!
That done, I will embark thee and those thou lovest with old
Silenus in the deep hold of my black ship, my ship with double banks
of oars, and carry you away from this land.
Well, can I too lay hold of the blinding brand, as though the
god's libation had been poured? for I would fain have a share in
this offering of blood.
Indeed thou must, for the brand is large, and thou must help
How lightly would I lift the load of e'en a hundred wains, if that
will help us to grub out the eye of the doomed Cyclops, like a
Hush! for now thou knowest my plot in full, and when I bid you,
obey the author of it; for I am not the man to desert my friends
inside the cave and save myself alone. And yet I might escape; I am
clear of the cavern's depths already; but no! to desert the friends
with whom I journeyed hither and only save myself is not a righteous
(He re-enters the cave.)
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Come, who will be the first and who the next to him upon the
list to grip the handle of the brand, and, thrusting it into the
Cyclops' eye, gouge out the light thereof?
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Hush! hush! Behold the drunkard leaves his rocky home, trolling
loud some hideous lay, a clumsy tuneless clown, whom tears await.
Come, let us give this boor a lesson in revelry. Ere long will he be
blind at any rate.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Happy he who plays the Bacchanal amid the precious streams
distilled from grapes, stretched at full length for a revel, his arm
around the friend he loves, and some fair dainty damsel on his
couch, his hair perfumed with nard and glossy, the while he calls,
"Oh! who will ope the door for me?"
(The CYCLOPS enters. He is obviously drunk.)
Ha! ha! full of wine and merry with a feast's good cheer am I,
my hold freighted like a merchant-ship up to my belly's very top. This
turf graciously invites me to seek my brother Cyclopes for revel in
the spring-tide. Come, stranger, bring the wine-skin hither and hand
it over to me.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing)
Forth from the house its fair lord comes, casting his fair
glance round him. We have someone to befriend us. A hostile brand is
awaiting thee, no tender bride in dewy grot. No single colour will
those garlands have, that soon shall cling so close about thy brow.
(returning with the wine-skin. He is followed by SILENUS, who is
Hearken, Cyclops; for I am well versed in the ways of Bacchus,
whom I have given thee to drink.
And who is Bacchus? some reputed god?
The greatest god men know to cheer their life.
I like his after-taste at any rate.
This is the kind of god he is; he harmeth no man.
But how does a god like being housed in a wine-skin?
Put him where one may, he is content there.
It is not right that gods should be clad in leather.
What of that, provided he please thee? does the leather hurt thee?
I hate the wine-skin, but the liquor we have here I love.
Stay, then, Cyclops; drink and be merry.
Must I not give my brethren a share in this liquor?
No, keep it thyself and thou wilt appear of more honour.
Give it my friends and I shall appear of more use.
Revelling is apt to end in blows, abuse, and strife.
I may be drunk, but no man will lay hands on me for all that.
Better stay at home, my friend, after a carouse.
Who loves not revelling then is but a simpleton.
But whoso stays at home, when drunk, is wise.
What shall we do, Silenus? art minded to stay?
That I am; for what need have we of others to share our drink,
Well, truly the turf is soft as down with its fresh flowering
SILENUS (seating himself)
Aye, and 'tis pleasant drinking in the warm sunshine. Come, let me
see thee stretch thy carcase on the ground.
CYCLOPS (sitting down)
There then Why art thou putting the mixing-bowl behind me?
That no one passing by may upset it.
Nay, but thy purpose is to drink upon the sly; set it between
us. (To ODYSSEUS) Now tell me, stranger, by what name to call thee.
(SILENUS is drinking steadily and stealthily.)
Noman. What boon shall I receive of thee to earn my thanks?
I will feast on thee last, after all thy comrades.
Fair indeed the honour thou bestowest on thy guest, sir Cyclops!
CYCLOPS (turning suddenly to SILENUS)
Ho, sirrah! what art thou about? taking a stealthy pull at the
No, but it kissed me for my good looks.
Thou shalt smart, if thou kiss the wine when it kisses not thee.
Oh! but it did, for it says it is in love with my handsome face.
CYCLOPS (holding out his cup)
Pour in; only give me my cup full.
H'm! how is it mixed? just let me make sure.
(Takes another pull.)
Perdition! give it me at once.
Oh, no! I really cannot, till I see thee with a crown on, and have
another taste myself.
My cup-bearer is a cheat.
No really, but the wine is so luscious. Thou must wipe thy lips,
though, to get a draught.
There! my lips and beard are clean now.
Bend thine elbow gracefully, and then quaff thy cup, as thou seest
me do, and as now thou seest me not. (Burying his face in his cup)
Aha! what next?
I drunk it off at a draught with much pleasure.
Stranger, take the skin thyself and be my cup-bearer.
Well, at any rate the grape is no stranger to my hand.
Come, pour it in.
In it goes! keep silence, that is all.
A difficult task when a man is deep in his cups.
Here, take and drink it off; leave none. Thou must be silent and
only give in when the liquor does.
God wot! it is a clever stock that bears the grape.
Aye, and if thou but swallow plenty of it after a plentiful
meal, moistening thy belly till its thirst is gone, it will throw thee
into slumber; but if thou leave aught behind, the Bacchic god will
parch thee for it.
Ha! ha! what a trouble it was getting out! This is pleasure
unalloyed; earth and sky seem whirling round together; I see the
throne of Zeus and all the godhead's majesty. Kiss thee! no! There are
the Graces trying to tempt me. I shall rest well enough with my
Ganymede here; yea, by the Graces, right fairly; for I like lads
better than the wenches.
What! Cyclops, am I Ganymede, Zeus's minion?
CYCLOPS (attempting to carry him into the cave)
To be sure, Ganymede whom I am carrying off from the halls of
I am undone, my children; outrageous treatment waits me.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Dost find fault with thy lover? dost scorn him in his cups?
Woe is me! most bitter shall I find the wine ere long.
(SILENUS is dragged into the cave by the CYCLOPS.)
Up now, children of Dionysus, sons of a noble sire, soon will
yon creature in the cave, relaxed in slumber as ye see him, spew
from his shameless maw the meat. Already the brand inside his lair
is vomiting cloud of smoke; and the only reason we prepared it was
to burn the Cyclops' eye; so mind thou quit thee like a man.
I will have a spirit as of rock or adamant; but go inside,
before my father suffers any shameful treatment; for here thou hast
O Hephaestus, lord of Aetna, rid thyself for once and all of a
troublesome neighbour by burning his bright eye out. Come, Sleep, as
well, offspring of sable Night, come with all thy power on the monster
god-detested; and never after Troy's most glorious toils destroy
Odysseus and his crew by the hands of one who recketh naught of God or
man; else roust we reckon Chance a goddess, and Heaven's will inferior
(ODYSSEUS re-enters the cave.)
Tightly the pincers shall grip the neck of him who feasts upon his
guests; for soon will he lose the light of his eye by fire; already
the brand, a tree's huge limb, lurks amid the embers charred. Oh! come
ye then and work his doom, pluck out the maddened Cyclops' eye, that
he may rue his drinking. And I too fain would leave the Cyclops'
lonely land and see king Bromius, ivy-crowned, the god I sorely
miss. Ah! shall I ever come to that?
ODYSSEUS (leaving the cave cautiously)
Silence, ye cattle! I adjure you; close your lips; make not a
sound I'll not let a man of you so much as breathe or wink or clear
his throat, that yon pest awake not, until the sight in the Cyclops'
eye has passed through the fiery ordeal.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Silent we stand with bated breath.
In then, and mind your fingers grip the brand, for it is
Thyself ordain who first must seize the blazing bar and burn the
Cyclops' eye out, that we may share alike whate'er betides.
Standing where I am before the door, I am too far off to thrust
the fire into his eye.
I have just gone lame.
Why, then, thou art in the same plight as I; for somehow or
other I sprained my ankle, standing still.
Sprained thy ankle, standing still?
Yes, and my eyes are full of dust or ashes from somewhere or
These are sorry fellows, worthless as allies.
Because I feel for my back and spine, and express no wish to
have my teeth knocked out, I am a coward, am I? Well, but I know a
spell of Orpheus, a most excellent one, to make the brand enter his
skull of its own accord, and set alight the one-eyed son of Earth.
Long since I knew thou wert by nature such an one, and now I
know it better; I must employ my own friends; but, though thou bring
no active aid, cheer us on at any rate, that I may find my friends
emboldened by thy encouragement.
(ODYSSEUS goes back into the cave.)
That will I do; the Carian shall run the risk for us; and as far
as encouragement goes, let the Cyclops smoulder.
What ho! my gallants, thrust away, make haste and burn his eyebrow
off, the monster's guest-devouring. Oh! singe and scorch the
shepherd of Aetna; twirl the brand and drag it round and be careful
lest in his agony he treat thee to some wantonness.
CYCLOPS (bellowing in the cave)
Oh! oh! my once bright eye is burnt to cinders now.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Sweet indeed the triumph-song; pray sing it to us, Cyclops.
CYCLOPS (from within)
Oh! oh! once more; what outrage on me and what ruin! But never
shall ye escape this rocky cave unpunished, ye worthless creatures;
for will stand in the entrance of the cleft and fit my hands into it
thus. (Staggering to the entrance)
Why dost thou cry out, Cyclops?
I am undone.
Thou art indeed a sorry sight.
Aye, and a sad one, too.
Didst fall among the coals in a drunken fit?
Noman has undone me,
Then there is no one hurting thee after all.
Noman is blinding me.
Then art thou not blind.
As blind as thou, forsooth.
How, pray, could no man have made thee blind?
Thou mockest me; but where is this Noman?
It was the stranger, vile wretch! who proved my ruin, that thou
mayst understand rightly, by swilling me with the liquor he gave me.
Ah! wine is a terrible foe, hard to wrestle with.
Tell me, I adjure thee, have they escaped or are they still
(During the following lines, ODYSSEUS and his men slip by the
CYCLOPS, despite his efforts to stop them.)
Here they are ranged in silence, taking the rock to screen them.
On which side?
On thy right.
Close against the rock. Hast caught them?
Trouble on trouble! I have run my skull against the rock and
Aye, and they are escaping thee.
This way, was it not? 'Twas this way thou saidst.
No, not this way.
They are getting round thee on the left.
Alas! I am being mocked; ye jeer me in my evil plight.
They are no longer there; but facing thee that stranger stands.
Master of villainy, where, oh! where art thou?
Some way from thee I am keeping careful guard over the person of
What, a new name! hast changed thine?
Yes, Odysseus, the name my father gave me. But thou wert doomed to
pay for thy unholy feast; for I should have seen Troy burned to but
sorry purpose, unless I had avenged on thee the slaughter of my
Woe is me! 'tis an old oracle coming true; yes, it said I should
have my eye put out by thee on thy way home from Troy; but it likewise
foretold that thou wouldst surely pay for this, tossing on the sea for
Go hang! E'en as I say, so have I done. And now will I get me to
the beach and start my hollow ship across the sea of Sicily to the
land of my fathers.
Thou shalt not; I will break a boulder off this rock and crush
thee, crew and all, beneath my throw. Blind though I be, I will
climb the hill, mounting through yonder tunnel.
As for us, henceforth will we be the servants of Bacchus,
sharing the voyage of this hero Odysseus.