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
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.
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?
SILENUS 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?
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.