FROM CHURCH'S STORIES FROM HOMER
 WHEN the great city of Troy was taken, all the chiefs who had fought against it set sail
for their homes. But there was wrath in heaven against them, for indeed they had borne
themselves haughtily and cruelly in the day of their victory. Few, therefore, found a
safe and happy return. For one was shipwrecked, and another was shamefully slain by his
false wife in his palace, and others found all things at home troubled and changed, and
were driven to seek new dwellings elsewhere. And some, whose wives and friends and people
had been still true to them through those ten long years of absence, were driven far and
wide about the world before they saw their native land again. And of all, the wise Ulysses
was he who wandered farthest and suffered most.
He was well-nigh the last to sail, for he had tarried many days to do pleasure to
Agamemnon, lord of all the Greeks. Twelve ships he had with him—twelve he had brought
to Troy—and in each there were some fifty men, being scarce half of those that had
sailed in them in the old days, so many valiant heroes slept the last sleep by Simois
and Scamander, and in the plain and on the sea-shore, slain in battle or by the shafts
First they sailed northwest to the Thracian coast, where the Ciconians dwelt, who had
helped the men of Troy. Their city they took, and in it much plunder, slaves and oxen,
and jars of fragrant wine, and might have escaped unhurt, but that they stayed to hold
revel on the shore. For the Ciconians gathered their neighbors, being men of the same
blood, and did battle with the invaders, and drove them to their ship. And when Ulysses
numbered his men, he found that he had lost six out of each ship.
Scarce had he set out again when the wind began to blow fiercely; so, seeing a smooth
sandy beach, they drave the ships ashore and dragged them out of reach of the waves,
and waited till the storm should abate. And the third morning being fair, they sailed
again, and journeyed prosperously till they came to the very end of the great
Peloponnesian land, where Cape Malea looks out upon the southern sea. But contrary
currents baffled them, so that they could not round it, and the north wind blew so
strongly that they must fain drive before it. And on the tenth day they came to the
land where the lotus grows—a wondrous fruit, of which whosoever eats cares not to
see country or wife or children again. Now the lotus-eaters, for so they called the
people of the land, were a kindly folk, and gave of the fruit to some of the sailors,
not meaning them any harm, but thinking it to be the best that they had to give. These,
when they had eaten, said that they would not sail any more over the sea; which, when
the wise Ulysses heard, he bade their comrades bind them and carry them, sadly
complaining, to the ships.
Then, the wind having abated, they took to their oars, and rowed for many days till
they came to the country where the Cyclopes dwell. Now, a mile or so from the shore
there was an island, very fair and fertile, but no man dwells there or tills the soil,
and in the island a harbor where a ship may be safe from all winds, and at the head of
the harbor a stream falling from a rock, and whispering alders all about it. Into this
the ships passed safely, and were hauled up on the beach, and the crews slept by them,
waiting for the morning. And the next day they hunted the wild goats, of which there was
great store on the island, and feasted right merrily on what they caught, with draughts
of red wine which they had carried off from the town of the Ciconians.
But on the morrow Ulysses, for he was ever fond of adventure, and would know of every
 to which he came what manner of men they were that dwelt there, took one
of his twelve ships and bade row to the land. There was a great hill sloping to the
shore, and there rose up here and there a smoke from the caves where the Cyclopes dwelt
apart, holding no converse with each other, for they were a rude and savage folk, but
ruled each his own household, not caring for others. Now very close to the shore was
one of these caves, very huge and deep, with laurels round about the mouth, and in front
a fold with walls built of rough stone, and shaded by tall oaks and pines. So Ulysses
chose out of the crew the twelve bravest, and bade the rest guard the ship, and went to
see what manner of dwelling this was, and who abode there. He had his sword by his side,
and on his shoulder a mighty skin of wine, sweet-smelling and strong, with which he might
win the heart of some fierce savage, should he chance to meet with such, as indeed his
prudent heart forecasted that he might.
So they entered the cave, and judged that it was the dwelling of some rich and skillful
shepherd. For within there were pens for the young of the sheep and of the goats, divided
all according to their age, and there were baskets full of cheeses, and full milk pails
ranged along the wall. But the Cyclops himself was away in the pastures. Then the companions
of Ulysses besought him that he would depart, taking with him, if he would, a store of cheese
and sundry of the lambs and of the kids. But he would not, for he wished to see, after his
wont, what manner of host this strange shepherd might be. And truly he saw it to his cost!
It was evening when the Cyclops came home, a mighty giant, twenty feet in height, or more.
On his shoulder he bore a vast bundle of pine logs for his fire, and threw them down outside
the cave with a great crash, and drove the flocks within, and closed the entrance with a huge
rock, which twenty wagons and more could not bear. Then he milked the ewes and all the
she-goats, and half of the milk he curdled for cheese, and half he set ready for himself,
when he should sup. Next he kindled a fire with the pine logs, and the flame lighted up
all the cave, showing him Ulysses and his comrades.
"Who are ye?" cried Polyphemus, for that was the giant's name. "Are ye traders, or,
For in those days it was not counted shame to be called a pirate.
Ulysses shuddered at the dreadful voice and shape, but bore his bravely, and answered,
"We are no pirates, mighty sir, but Greeks, sailing back from Troy, and subjects of the
great King Agamemnon, whose fame is spread from one end of heaven to the other. And we
are come to beg hospitality of thee in the name of Zeus, who rewards or punishes hosts
and guests according as they be faithful the one to the other, or no."
"Nay," said the giant, "it is but idle talk to tell me of Zeus and the other gods. We
Cyclopes take no account of gods, holding ourselves to be much better and stronger than
they. But come, tell me where have you left your ship?"
But Ulysses saw his thought when he asked about the ship, how he was minded to break it,
and take from them all hope of flight. Therefore he answered him craftily,—
"Ship have we none, for that which was ours King Poseidon brake, driving it on a jutting
rock on this coast, and we whom thou seest are all that are escaped from the waves."
Polyphemus answered nothing, but without more ado caught up two of the men, as a man
might catch up the whelps of a dog, and dashed them on the ground and tore them, with
huge draughts of milk between, limb from limb, and devoured them, leaving not a morsel,
not even the very bones. But the others, when they saw the dreadful deed, could only weep
and pray to Zeus for help. And when the giant had ended his foul meal, he lay down among
his sheep and slept.
Then Ulysses questioned much in his heart whether he should slay the monster as he slept,
for he doubted not that his good sword would pierce to the giant's heart, mighty as he
 But, being very wise, he remembered that, should he slay him, he and his
comrades would yet perish miserably. For who should move away the great rock that lay
against the door of the cave? So they waited till the morning. And the monster woke,
and milked his flocks, and afterwards, seizing two men, devoured them for his meal.
Then he went to the pastures, but put the great rock on the mouth of the cave, just
as a man puts down the lid upon his quiver. All that day the wise Ulysses was thinking
what he might do to save himself and his companions, and the end of his thinking was
this: There was a mighty pole in the cave, green wood of an olive tree, big as a ship's
mast, which Polyphemus purposed to use, when the smoke should have dried it, as a walking
staff. Of this he cut off a fathom's length, and his comrades sharpened it and hardened
it in the fire, and then hid it away. At evening the giant came back, and drove his sheep
into the cave, nor left the rams outside, as he had been wont to do before, but shut them
in. And having duly done his shepherd's work, he made his cruel feast as before. Then
Ulysses came forward with the wine-skin in his hand, and said,—
"Drink, Cyclops, now that thou hast feasted. Drink, and see what precious things we had
in our ship. But no one hereafter will come to thee with such like, if though dealest
with strangers as cruelly as thou hast dealt with us."
Then the Cyclops drank, and was mightily pleased, and said, "Give me again to drink, and
tell me thy name, stranger, and I will give thee a gift such as a host should give. In
good truth this is a rare liquor. We, too, have vines, but they bear not wine like this,
which indeed must be such as the gods drink in heaven."
Then Ulysses gave him the cup again, and he
 drank. Thrice he gave it to him, and
thrice he drank, not knowing what it was, and how it would work within his brain.
Then Ulysses spake to him. "Thou didst ask my name, Cyclops. Lo! my name is No Man. And
now that thou knowest my name, thou shouldst give me thy gift."
And he said, "My gift shall be that I will eat thee last of all thy company."
And as he spoke he fell back in a drunken sleep. Then Ulysses bade his comrades be of
good courage, for the time was come when they should be delivered. And they thrust the
stake of olive wood into the fire till it was ready, green as it was, to burst into
flame, and they thrust it into the monster's eye; for he had but one eye, and that in
the midst of his forehead, with the eyebrow below it. And Ulysses leaned with all his
force upon the stake, and thrust it in with might and main. And the burning wood hissed
in the eye, just as the red-hot iron hisses in the water when a man seeks to temper steel
for a sword.
Then the giant leaped up, and tore away the stake, and cried aloud, so that all the
Cyclopes who dwelt on the mountain side heard him and came about his cave, asking him,
"What aileth thee, Polyphemus, that though makest this uproar in the peaceful night,
driving away sleep? Is any one robbing thee of thy sheep, or seeking to slay thee by
craft or force?"
And the giant answered, "No Man slays me by craft."
"Nay, but," they said, "if no man does thee wrong, we cannot help thee. The sickness
which great Zeus may send, who can avoid? Pray to our father, Poseidon, for help."
Then they departed; and Ulysses was glad at heart for the good success of his device,
when he said that he was No Man.
But the Cyclops rolled away the great stone from the door of the cave, and sat in the
midst, stretching out his hands, to feel whether perchance the men within the cave would
seek to go out among the sheep.
Long did Ulysses think how he and his comrades should best escape. At last he lighted
upon a good device, and much he thanked Zeus for that this once the giant had driven
the rams with the other sheep into the cave. For, these being great and strong, he
fastened his comrades under the bellies of the beasts, tying them with osier twigs,
of which the giant made his bed. One ram he took, and fastened a man beneath it, and
two others he set, one on either side. So he did with the six, for but six were left
out of the twelve who had ventured with him from the ship. And there was one mighty
ram, far larger than all the others, and to this Ulysses clung, grasping the fleece
tight with both his hands. So they waited for the morning. And when the morning came,
the rams rushed forth to the pasture; but the giant sat in the door and felt the back
of each as it went by, nor thought to try what might be underneath. Last of all went
the great ram. And the Cyclops knew him as he passed, and said,—
"How is this, thou, who art the leader of the flock? Thou art not wont thus to lag
behind. Thou hast always been the first to run to the pastures and streams in the
morning, and the first to come back to the fold when evening fell; and now thou art
last of all. Perhaps thou art troubled about thy master's eye, which some wretch—No
Man, they call him—has destroyed, having first mastered me with wine. He has not
escaped, I ween. I would that thou couldst speak, and tell me where he is lurking.
Of a truth I would dash out his brains upon the ground, and avenge me of this No Man."
So speaking, he let him pass out of the cave. But when they were out of reach of the
giant, Ulysses loosed his hold of the ram, and then unbound his comrades. And they
hastened to their ship, not forgetting to drive before them a good store of the Cyclops'
fat sheep. Right glad were those that had abode by the ship to see them. Nor did they
lament for those that had died, though they were fain to do so, for Ulysses forbade,
fearing lest the noise of their weeping should betray them to the giant, where they
 they all climbed into the ship, and sitting well in order on the benches,
smote the sea with their oars, laying to right lustily, that they might the sooner get
away from the accursed land. And when they had rowed a hundred yards or so, so that a
man's voice could yet be heard by one who stood upon the shore, Ulysses stood up in the
ship and shouted:—
"He was no coward, O Cyclops, whose comrades thou didst so foully slay in thy den.
Justly art thou punished, monster, that devourest thy guest in thy dwelling. May the
gods make thee suffer yet worse things than these!"
Then the Cyclops, in his wrath, broke off the top of a great hill a mighty rock, and
hurled it where he had heard the voice. Right in front of the ship's bow it fell, and
a great wave rose as it sank, and washed the ship back to the shore. But Ulysses seized
a long pole with both hands and pushed the ship from the land, and bade his comrades ply
their oars, nodding with his head, for he was too wise to speak, lest the Cyclops should
know where they were. Then they rowed with all their might and main.
And when they had gotten twice as far as before. Ulysses made as if he would speak again;
but his comrades sought to hinder him, saying, "Nay, my lord, anger not the giant any more.
Surely we thought before we were lost, when he threw the great rock, and washed our ship
back to the shore. And if he hear thee now, he may crush our ship and us, for the man
throws a mighty bolt and throws it far."
But Ulysses would not be persuaded, but stood up and said, "Hear, Cyclops! If any man
ask who blinded thee, say that it was the warrior Ulysses, son of Laertes, dwelling in
And the Cyclops answered with a groan, "Of a truth, the old oracles are fulfilled, for
long ago there came to this land one Telemus, a prophet, and dwelt among us eve to old
age. This man foretold to me that one Ulysses would rob me of my sight. But I looked for
a great man and a strong, who should subdue me by force, and now a weakling has done the
deed, having cheated me with wine. But come thou hither, Ulysses, and I will be a host
indeed to thee. Or, at least, may Poseidon give thee such a voyage to thy home as I would
wish thee to have. For know that Poseidon is my sire. May be that he may heal me of my
And Ulysses said, "Would to God I could send thee down to the abode of the dead, where
thou wouldst be past all healing, even from Poseidon's self."
Then Cyclops lifted up his hands to Poseidon and prayed:—
"Hear me, Poseidon, if I am indeed thy son and thou my father. May this Ulysses never
reach his home! Or, if the Fates have ordered that he should reach it, may he come alone,
all his comrades lost, and come to find sore trouble in his house!"
And as he ended he hurled another mighty rock, which almost lighted on the rudder's end
yet missed it, as by a hair's breadth. So Ulysses and his comrades escaped, and came to
the island of the wild goats, where they found their comrades, who indeed had waited long
for them, in sore fear lest they had perished. Then Ulysses divided amongst his company
all the sheep which they had taken from the Cyclops. And all, with one consent, gave him
for his share the great ram which had carried him out of the cave, and he sacrificed it
to Zeus. And all that day they feasted right merrily on the flesh of sheep and on sweet
wine, and when the night was come they lay down upon the shore and slept.
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