Avaunt this cave! avaunt the burnt-offerings, which the godless Cyclops
offers on Aetna's altars, exulting in meals on strangers' flesh!
Oh! the ruthless monster! to sacrifice his guests at his own hearth,
the suppliants of his halls, cleaving and tearing and serving up to
his loathsome teeth a feast of human flesh, hot from the coals.
ODYSSEUS (reappearing with a look of horror) O Zeus! what can I
say after the hideous sights I have seen inside the cave, things past
belief, resembling more the tales men tell than aught they do?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS What news, Odysseus? has the Cyclops, most godless
monster, been feasting on thy dear comrades?
ODYSSEUS Aye, he singled out a pair, on whom the flesh was fattest
and in best condition, and took them up in his hand to weigh.
LEADER How went it with you then, poor wretch?
ODYSSEUS When we had entered yonder rocky abode, he lighted first
a fire, throwing logs of towering oak upon his spacious hearth, enough
for three wagons to carry as their load; next, close by the blazing
flame, he placed his couch of pine-boughs laid upon the floor, and
filled a bowl of some ten firkins, pouring white milk thereinto, after
he had milked his kine; and by his side he put a can of ivy-wood,
whose breadth was three cubits and its depth four maybe; next he set
his brazen pot a-boiling on the fire, spits too he set beside him,
fashioned of the branches of thorn, their points hardened in the fire
and the rest of them trimmed with the hatchet, and the blood-bowls
of Aetna for the axe's edge. Now when that hell-cook, god-detested,
had everything quite ready, he caught up a pair of my companions and
proceeded deliberately to cut the throat of one of them over the yawning
brazen pot; but the other he clutched by the tendon of his heel, and,
striking him against a sharp point of rocky stone, dashed out his
brains; then, after hacking the fleshy parts with glutton cleaver,
he set to grilling them, but the limbs he threw into his cauldron
to seethe. And I, poor wretch, drew near with streaming eyes and waited
on the Cyclops; but the others kept cowering like frightened birds
in crannies of the rock, and the blood forsook their skin. Anon, when
he had gorged himself upon my comrades' flesh and had fallen on his
back, breathing heavily, there came a sudden inspiration to me. I
filled a cup of this Maronian wine and offered him a draught, saying,
"Cyclops, son of Ocean's god, see here what heavenly drink the grapes
of Hellas yield, glad gift of Dionysus." He, glutted with his shameless
meal, took and drained it at one draught, and, lifting up his hand,
he thanked me thus "Dearest to me of all my guests! fair the drink
thou givest me to crown so fair a feast." Now when I saw his delight,
I gave him another cup, knowing the wine would make him rue it, and
he would soon be paying the penalty. Then he set to singing; but I
kept filling bumper after bumper and heating him with drink. So there
he is singing discordantly amid the weeping of my fellow-sailors,
and the cave re-echoes; but I have made my way out quietly and would
fain save thee and myself, if thou wilt. Tell me then, is it your
wish, or is it not, to fly from this unsocial wretch and take up your
abode with Naiad nymphs in the halls of the Bacchic god? Thy father
within approves this scheme; but there! he is powerless, getting all
he can out of his liquor; his wings are snared by the cup as if he
had flown against bird-lime, and he is fuddled; but thou art young
and lusty; so save thyself with my help and regain thy old friend
Dionysus, so little like the Cyclops.
LEADER Best of friends, would we might see that day, escaping the
ODYSSEUS Hear then how I will requite this vile monster and rescue
you from thraldom.
LEADER Tell me how; no note of Asiatic lyre would sound more sweetly
in our ears than news of the Cyclops' death.
ODYSSEUS Delighted with this liquor of the Bacchic god, he fain would
go a-reveling with his brethren.
LEADER I understand; thy purpose is to seize and slay him in the
thickets when clone, or push him down a precipice.