Book 9

Ulysses discovers himself to the Phæacians, and begins the history of his adventures. He destroys Ismarus, city of the Ciconians; arrives among the Lotophagi; and afterwards at the land of the Cyclops. He is imprisoned by Polypheme in his cave, who devours six of his companions; intoxicates the monster with wine, binds him while he sleeps, and escapes from him.

   Then answer, thus, Ulysses wise return’d.
Alcinoüs! King! illustrious above all
Phæacia’s sons, pleasant it is to hear
A bard like this, sweet as the Gods in song.
The world, in my account, no sight affords
More gratifying than a people blest
With cheerfulness and peace, a palace throng’d
With guests in order ranged, list’ning to sounds
Melodious, and the steaming tables spread
With plenteous viands, while the cups, with wine
From brimming beakers fill’d, pass brisk around.
No lovelier sight know I. But thou, it seems,
Thy thoughts hast turn’d to ask me whence my groans
And tears, that I may sorrow still the more.
What first, what next, what last shall I rehearse,
On whom the Gods have show’r’d such various woes?
Learn first my name, that even in this land
Remote I may be known, and that escaped
From all adversity, I may requite
Hereafter, this your hospitable care
At my own home, however distant hence.
I am Ulysses, fear’d in all the earth
For subtlest wisdom, and renown’d to heaven,
The offspring of Laertes; my abode
Is sun-burnt Ithaca; there waving stands
The mountain Neritus his num’rous boughs,
And it is neighbour’d close by clust’ring isles
All populous; thence Samos is beheld,
Dulichium, and Zacynthus forest-clad.
Flat on the Deep she lies, farthest removed
Toward the West, while, situate apart,
Her sister islands face the rising day;
Rugged she is, but fruitful nurse of sons
Magnanimous; nor shall these eyes behold,
Elsewhere, an object dear and sweet as she.
Calypso, beauteous Goddess, in her grot
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused;
Ææan Circe also, skill’d profound
In potent arts, within her palace long
Detain’d me, wishing me her own espoused;
But never could they warp my constant mind.
So much our parents and our native soil
Attract us most, even although our lot
Be fair and plenteous in a foreign land.
But come—my painful voyage, such as Jove
Gave me from Ilium, I will now relate.
From Troy the winds bore me to Ismarus,
City of the Ciconians; them I slew,
And laid their city waste; whence bringing forth
Much spoil with all their wives, I portion’d it
With equal hand, and each received a share.
Next, I exhorted to immediate flight
My people; but in vain; they madly scorn’d
My sober counsel, and much wine they drank,
And sheep and beeves slew num’rous on the shore.
Meantime, Ciconians to Ciconians call’d,
Their neighbours summoning, a mightier host
And braver, natives of the continent,
Expert, on horses mounted, to maintain
Fierce fight, or if occasion bade, on foot.
Num’rous they came as leaves, or vernal flow’rs
At day-spring. Then, by the decree of Jove,
Misfortune found us. At the ships we stood
Piercing each other with the brazen spear,
And till the morning brighten’d into noon,
Few as we were, we yet withstood them all;
But, when the sun verged westward, then the Greeks
Fell back, and the Ciconian host prevail’d.
Six warlike Greecians from each galley’s crew
Perish’d in that dread field; the rest escaped.
Thus, after loss of many, we pursued
Our course, yet, difficult as was our flight,
Went not till first we had invoked by name
Our friends, whom the Ciconians had destroy’d.
But cloud-assembler Jove assail’d us soon
With a tempestuous North-wind; earth alike
And sea with storms he overhung, and night
Fell fast from heav’n. Their heads deep-plunging oft
Our gallies flew, and rent, and rent again
Our tatter’d sail-cloth crackled in the wind.
We, fearing instant death, within the barks
Our canvas lodg’d, and, toiling strenuous, reach’d
At length the continent. Two nights we lay
Continual there, and two long days, consumed
With toil and grief; but when the beauteous morn
Bright-hair’d, had brought the third day to a close,
(Our masts erected, and white sails unfurl’d)
Again we sat on board; meantime, the winds
Well managed by the steersman, urged us on.
And now, all danger pass’d, I had attain’d
My native shore, but, doubling in my course
Malea, waves and currents and North-winds
Constrain’d me devious to Cythera’s isle.
Nine days by cruel storms thence was I borne
Athwart the fishy Deep, but on the tenth
Reach’d the Lotophagi, a race sustain’d
On sweetest fruit alone. There quitting ship,
We landed and drew water, and the crews
Beside the vessels took their ev’ning cheer.
When, hasty, we had thus our strength renew’d,
I order’d forth my people to inquire
(Two I selected from the rest, with whom
I join’d an herald, third) what race of men
Might there inhabit. They, departing, mix’d
With the Lotophagi; nor hostile aught
Or savage the Lotophagi devised
Against our friends, but offer’d to their taste
The lotus; of which fruit what man soe’er
Once tasted, no desire felt he to come
With tidings back, or seek his country more,
But rather wish’d to feed on lotus still
With the Lotophagi, and to renounce
All thoughts of home. Them, therefore, I constrain’d
Weeping on board, and dragging each beneath
The benches, bound him there. Then, all in haste,
I urged my people to ascend again
Their hollow barks, lest others also, fed
With fruit of lotus, should forget their home.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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