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Cyclops   


LEADER 'Tis laid; be thy throat only ready.
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.

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