ODYSSEUS Not at all; my plan is fraught with subtlety.
LEADER What then? Truly we have long heard of thy cleverness.
ODYSSEUS I mean to keep him from this revel, saying he must not give
this drink to his brethren but keep it for himself alone and lead
a happy life. Then when he falls asleep, o'ermastered by the Bacchic
god, I will put a point with this sword of mine to an olive-branch
I saw lying in the cave, and will set it on fire; and when I see it
well alight, I will lift the heated brand, and, thrusting it full
in the Cyclops' eye, melt out his sight with its blaze; and, as when
a man in fitting the timbers of a ship makes his auger spin to and
fro with a double strap, so will I make the brand revolve in the eye,
that gives the Cyclops light and will scorch up the pupil thereof.
LEADER Ho! ho! how glad I feel! wild with joy at the contrivance!
ODYSSEUS That done, I will embark thee and those thou lovest with
old Silenus in the deep hold of my black ship, my ship with double
banks of oars, and carry you away from this land.
LEADER Well, can I too lay hold of the blinding brand, as though
the god's libation had been poured? for I would fain have a share
in this offering of blood.
ODYSSEUS Indeed thou must, for the brand is large, and thou must
help hold it.
LEADER How lightly would I lift the load of e'en a hundred wains,
if that will help us to grub out the eye of the doomed Cyclops, like
a wasp's nest.
ODYSSEUS Hush! for now thou knowest my plot in full, and when I bid
you, obey the author of it; for I am not the man to desert my friends
inside the cave and save myself alone. And yet I might escape; I am
clear of the cavern's depths already; but no! to desert the friends
with whom I journeyed hither and only save myself is not a righteous
course. (He re-enters the cave.)
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing) Come, who will be the first and who
the next to him upon the list to grip the handle of the brand, and,
thrusting it into the Cyclops' eye, gouge out the light thereof?
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing) Hush! hush! Behold the drunkard leaves
his rocky home, trolling loud some hideous lay, a clumsy tuneless
clown, whom tears await. Come, let us give this boor a lesson in revelry.
Ere long will he be blind at any rate.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS (singing) Happy he who plays the Bacchanal amid
the precious streams distilled from grapes, stretched at full length
for a revel, his arm around the friend he loves, and some fair dainty
damsel on his couch, his hair perfumed with nard and glossy, the while
he calls, "Oh! who will ope the door for me?" (The CYCLOPS enters.
He is obviously drunk.)
CYCLOPS (singing) Ha! ha! full of wine and merry with a feast's
good cheer am I, my hold freighted like a merchant-ship up to my belly's
very top. This turf graciously invites me to seek my brother Cyclopes
for revel in the spring-tide. Come, stranger, bring the wine-skin
hither and hand it over to me.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS (singing) Forth from the house its fair lord
comes, casting his fair glance round him. We have someone to befriend
us. A hostile brand is awaiting thee, no tender bride in dewy grot.
No single colour will those garlands have, that soon shall cling so
close about thy brow.
ODYSSEUS (returning with the wine-skin. He is followed by SILENUS,
who is also drunk.) Hearken, Cyclops; for I am well versed in the
ways of Bacchus, whom I have given thee to drink.
CYCLOPS And who is Bacchus? some reputed god?
ODYSSEUS The greatest god men know to cheer their life.
CYCLOPS I like his after-taste at any rate.
ODYSSEUS This is the kind of god he is; he harmeth no man.
CYCLOPS But how does a god like being housed in a wine-skin?
ODYSSEUS Put him where one may, he is content there.
CYCLOPS It is not right that gods should be clad in leather.
ODYSSEUS What of that, provided he please thee? does the leather