A monologue from the play by Euripides

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.
  • ULYSSES: Soon as we came into this craggy place,
    Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth
    The knotty limbs of an enormous oak,
    Three wagon-loads at least, and then he strewed
    Upon the ground, beside the red firelight,
    His couch of pine leaves; and he milked the cows,
    And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl
    Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much
    As would contain ten amphoræ, and bound it
    With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire
    A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot
    The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle
    But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws
    Of axes for Ætnean slaughterings.
    And when this god-abandoned cook of hell
    Had made all ready, he seized two of us
    And killed them in a kind of measured manner;
    For he flung one against the brazen rivets
    Of the huge cauldron, and seized the other
    By the foot's tendon, and knocked out his brains
    Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone:
    Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking-knife
    And put him down to roast. The other's limbs
    He chopped into the cauldron to be boiled.
    And I, with the tears raining from my eyes,
    Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him;
    The rest, in the recesses of the cave,
    Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear.
    When he was filled with my companions' flesh,
    He threw himself upon the ground and sent
    A loathsome exhalation from his maw.
    Then a divine thought came to me. I filled
    The cup of Maron, and I offered him
    To taste, and said:--"Child of the Ocean God,
    Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce,
    The exultation and the joy of Bacchus."
    He, satiated with his unnatural food,
    Received it, and at one draught drank it off,
    And taking my hand, praised me:--"Thou hast given
    A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest."
    And I perceiving that it pleased him, filled
    Another cup, well knowing that the wine
    Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge.
    And the charm fascinated him, and I
    Plied him cup after cup, until the drink
    Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud
    In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen
    A hideous discord--and the cavern rung.
    I have stolen out, so that if you will
    You may achieve my safety and your own.
    But say, do you desire, or not, to fly
    This uncompanionable man, and dwell
    As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs
    Within the fanes of your belovèd god?
    Your father there within agrees to it,
    But he is weak and overcome with wine,
    And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup,
    He claps his wings and crows in doting joy.
    You who are young escape with me, and find
    Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he
    To this rude Cyclops.