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THE CYCLOPS by Euripides, Part 04

CYCLOPS
Are, the bowls too full of milk?
LEADER
Aye, so that thou canst swill off a whole hogshead, so it please
thee.
CYCLOPS
Sheep's milk or cows' milk or a mixture of both?
LEADER
Whichever thou wilt; don't swallow me, that's all.
CYCLOPS
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.
SILENUS
Oh! oh! poor wretch that I am, pounded to a fever.
CYCLOPS
By whom? who has been pounding thy head, old sirrah?
SILENUS
These are the culprits, Cyclops, all because I refused to let them
plunder thee.
CYCLOPS
Did they not know I was a god and sprung from gods?
SILENUS
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.
CYCLOPS
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
human flesh.
SILENUS
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.
ODYSSEUS
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
thy back.
SILENUS
I? Perdition catch thee!
ODYSSEUS
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.
LEADER
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.
CYCLOPS
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
your childhood?
ODYSSEUS
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
citadel.
CYCLOPS
Are ye the men who visited on Ilium, that bordereth on Scamander's
wave, the rape of Helen, worst of women?
ODYSSEUS
We are; that was the fearful labour we endured.
CYCLOPS
A sorry expedition yours, to have sailed to the land of Phrygia
for the sake of one woman
ODYSSEUS
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.

 

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