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Cyclops   


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.
SILENUS I will give thee a word of advice! as for his flesh, leave
not a morsel of it, and if thou eat his tongue, Cyclops, thou wilt
become a monstrous clever talker.
CYCLOPS Wealth, manikin, is the god for the wise; all else is mere
vaunting and fine words. Plague take the headlands by the sea, on
which my father seats himself! Why hast thou put forward these arguments?
I shudder not at Zeus's thunder, nor know I wherein Zeus is a mightier
god than I, stranger; what is more, I reck not of him; my reasons
hear. When he pours down the rain from above, here in this rock in
quarters snug, feasting on roast calf's flesh or some wild game and
moistening well my up-turned paunch with deep draughts from a tub
of milk, I rival the thunder-claps of Zeus with my artillery; and
when the north wind blows from Thrace and sheddeth snow, I wrap my
carcase in the hides of beasts and light a fire, and what care I for
snow? The earth perforce, whether she like it or not, produces grass
and fattens my flocks, which I sacrifice to no one save myself and
this belly, the greatest of deities; but to the gods, not I! For surely
to eat and drink one's fill from day to day and give oneself no grief
at all, this is the king of gods for your wise man, but lawgivers
go hang, chequering, as they do, the life of man! And so I will not
cease from indulging myself by devouring thee; and thou shalt receive
this stranger's gift, that I may be free of blame,-fire and my father's
element yonder, and a cauldron to hold thy flesh and boil it nicely
in collops. So in with you, that ye may feast me well, standing round
the altar to honour the cavern's god. (The CYCLOPS goes into his
cave, driving ODYSSEUS' men before him.)

ODYSSEUS Alas! escaped from the troubles of Troy and the sea, my
barque now strands upon the whim and forbidding heart of this savage.
O Pallas, mistress mine, goddess-daughter of Zeus, help me, help me
now; for I am come to toils and depths of peril worse than all at
Ilium; and thou, O Zeus, the stranger's god, who hast thy dwelling
'mid the radiant stars, behold these things; for, if thou regard them
not, in vain art thou esteemed the great god Zeus, though but a thing
of naught. (He follows the CYCLOPS reluctantly. SILENUS also goes
in.)

CHORUS (singing) Ope wide the portal of thy gaping throat, Cyclops;
for strangers' limbs, both boiled and grilled, are ready from off
the coals for the to gnaw and tear and mince up small, reclining in
thy shaggy goat-skin coat.
Relinquish not thy meal for me; keep that boat for thyself alone.

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