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THE CYCLOPS by Euripides, Part 01

420 BC
THE CYCLOPS
by Euripides
translated by E. P. Coleridge
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

SILENUS, old servant of the CYCLOPS
CHORUS OF SATYRS
ODYSSEUS
THE CYCLOPS
Companions Of ODYSSEUS


(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.)

SILENUS
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
towards me.
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
of Althaea?

(The CHORUS OF SATYRS enters, driving a flock of goats and sheep.
Servants follow them.)

CHORUS (singing)
strophe
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.

antistrophe
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?...

epode

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?
SILENUS
Hush, children! and bid our servants fold the flocks in the
rock-roofed cavern.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS (to Servants)
Away! (To SILENUS) But prithee, why such haste, father?
SILENUS
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.)

 

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