ODYSSEUS Shall I let thee taste the wine unmixed, to start with?
SILENUS A reasonable offer; for of a truth a taste invites the purchase.
ODYSSEUS Well, I haul about a cup as well as the skin.
SILENUS Come, let it gurgle in, that I may revive my memory by a
pull at it.
ODYSSEUS (pouring) There then!
SILENUS (smelling it) Ye gods! what a delicious scent it has!
ODYSSEUS What! didst thou see it?
SILENUS No, i' faith, but I smell it.
ODYSSEUS Taste it then, that thy approval may not stop at words.
SILENUS (taking a drink) Zounds! Bacchus is inviting me to dance;
ODYSSEUS Did it not gurgle finely down thy throttle?
SILENUS Aye that it did, to the ends of my fingers.
ODYSSEUS Well, we will give thee money besides.
SILENUS Only undo the skin, and never mind the money.
ODYSSEUS Bring out the cheeses then and lambs.
SILENUS 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 hang? (SILENUS goes into the cave.)
LEADER Hearken, Odysseus, let us hold some converse with thee.
ODYSSEUS Well, do so; ours is a meeting of friends.
LEADER Did you take Troy and capture the famous Helen?
ODYSSEUS Aye, and we destroyed the whole family of Priam.
LEADER 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
LEADER Alack! yonder comes the Cyclops; what shall we do?
ODYSSEUS Then truly are we lost, old sir! whither must we fly?
SILENUS Inside this rock, for there ye may conceal yourselves.
ODYSSEUS Dangerous advice of thine, to run into the net!
SILENUS No danger; there are ways of escape in plenty in the rock.
ODYSSEUS 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
CYCLOPS 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.
LEADER There! my head is bent back till I see Zeus himself; I behold
both the stars and Orion.
CYCLOPS Is my breakfast quite ready?