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Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 152

Ulysses next arrived at the island of AEolus. To this monarch Jupiter had intrusted the government of the winds, to send them forth or retain them at his will. He treated Ulysses hospitably, and at his departure gave him, tied up in a leathern bag with a silver string, such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous, commanding fair winds to blow the barks towards their country. Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that time Ulysses had stood at the helm, without sleep. At last quite exhausted he lay down to sleep. While he slept, the crew conferred together about the mysterious bag, and concluded it must contain treasures given by the hospitable King AEolus to their commander. Tempted to secure some portion for themselves they loosed the string, when immediately the winds rushed forth. The ships were driven far from their course, and back again to the island they had just left. AEolus was so indignant at their folly that he refused to assist them further, and they were obliged to labor over their course once more by means of their oars.

THE LAESTRYGONIANS

The next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of Laestrygonians. The vessels pushed into the harbor, tempted by the secure appearance of the cove, completely land-locked; Ulysses alone moored his vessel without. As soon as the Laestrygonians found the ships completely in their power they attacked them, having huge stones which broke and overturned them, and with their spears dispatched the seamen as they struggled in the water. All the vessels with their crews were destroyed, except Ulysses' own ship which had remained outside, and finding no safety but in flight, he exhorted his men to ply their oars vigorously, and they escaped.

With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy at their own escape, they pursued their way till they arrived at the Aeaean isle, where dwelt Circe, the daughter of the sun. Landing here Ulysses climbed a hill, and gazing round saw no signs of habitation except in one spot at the centre of the island, where he perceived a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one- half of his crew, under the command of


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