| Stories of the Ancient Greeks|
|by Charles D. Shaw|
|Delightful collection of both mythological and historical stories of the ancient Greeks, in language simple enough for younger listeners, yet appealing to all ages. Provides an excellent introduction to ancient Greece, beginning with 32 of the best-known myths, and then continuing with 32 short stories of the historical era, arranged in chronological order. An extensive pronunciation guide is included. Ages 8-11 |
THE GIANT'S CAVE
HEN the Trojan war was ended, Ulysses called together his
men, and with several vessels sailed for Ithaca and
home. Many strange things were to happen to him before
he saw his wife and son.
A storm drove the little fleet to the land of the
Lotus-eaters. The lotus is a water plant, and the
people ate the yellow buds. Then they never wished to
live anywhere else, or even to see any other country.
It was so with every one who ate the lotus.
Three friends of Ulysses went up the hill, found the
people, and ate some of the buds. They did not go back
to the ship. Others were sent to bring them, but they
said, "We do not wish to go home. We are at home here
in this lovely land." The other sailors dragged them
to the ship and kept them tied until they were far out
The ships touched at an island, where they anchored.
Ulysses took one vessel and went ashore to get
something for his men to eat. The sailors carried a
large skin of wine, as a present to the king.
They saw nobody, but found a cave and went in. There
were lambs and young goats in pens, piles of cheeses,
bowls of milk; everything to show that somebody carried
on a good dairy business.
 While they were looking around they heard the patter of
many feet, and a large flock of sheep and goats began
to come into the cave. The men hid themselves until
they should see what the master was like.
They were not pleased with the sight. He was a huge
giant, very strong and very ugly. He had one large,
round eye in the middle of his forehead. For that
reason he was called a "Cyclops," which means "round
eye." A tribe of such giants lived in the caves of
This Cyclops was named Polyphemus. When the flock was
all in, he shut the opening of the cave with a very
large stone, lighted a fire, milked his sheep and
goats, put aside some of the milk to be made into
cheese, and drank the rest.
Then he had time to look around the cave and see his
visitors. In a frightful, roaring voice he asked, "Who
are you, and where do you come from?"
"Great sir," replied Ulysses, "we are men of Ithaca,
who have fought in the Trojan war and gained much
glory. We are now going home, and ask you, in the name
of the gods, to give us food and shelter to-night, and
send us safely away in the morning."
IN THE GIANT'S CAVE
The giant did not speak, but stretched out his hand and
caught two of the men, knocked their heads against the
wall, and quickly ate them. Then he threw himself down
on the floor and went to sleep.
Ulysses could have killed him with his sword, but how
then would he and his companions escape? They could
never roll away that stone. There was no help for it;
they had to wait until the morning.
 When the morning came it brought no light to that dark
cave. The giant took two more Greeks and ate them for
breakfast. Then he opened the cave, drove out his
flock, and rolled the heavy stone into its place again.
The men were prisoners.
They kept up the fire, which gave them light to look
around. They found a large stick,—the trunk of a
tree, in fact,—which the giant had used as a cane
or walking-stick. Ulysses told his men to sharpen it
with their swords to a point, and to harden that in the
fire. He chose four of the bravest sailors to act with
him when the time came.
At night the Cyclops returned, shut his cave tight,
milked his flocks, and made a hearty supper of two more
Greeks. Then Ulysses came forward with a bowl he had
filled with wine. "Drink, master," he said. "Your
slaves offer you wine." The giant tasted, and drank it
all. "More," he said. They filled the bowl again and
again until the skin was empty.
Polyphemus had never felt so gay in all his life. He
laughed, he sang in a voice that shook the mountain, he
joke with his prisoners.
"What is your name?" he asked Ulysses. "I am called
No-man," was the answer. "Well, No-man, you are a fine
little fellow. That wine you gave me was better than
milk. I am sorry it is all gone. Rest easy, and be
happy, No-man. I shall eat you the last of all."
He was soon fast asleep. Ulysses told his four men to
take the stake, and hold the point in the fire until it
was a hot coal, then to lift it and plunge it into the
 one eye. Ulysses had ordered them to
turn it around, and they ground it in well.
The blinded monster roared with pain and rage and
stumbled about he cave, trying to find his enemies.
The fire was still burning, and they could see how to
keep out of his way. Then he called on his friends,
the other Cyclopes who lives on the island, and they
"What is it, brother?" they shouted. "Why do you call
and cry so loudly?"
"Oh!" he said, "I die, and No-man kills me."
They answered, "If it is no man, it must be the gods
who are punishing you. Try to be patient." Then they
went away home.
In the morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let
his flock out, but stood at the mouth of the cave.
Ulysses had told his men to harness the biggest sheep,
three abreast, with willow twigs which the giant had
gathered for making baskets. Under each middle sheep a
Greek hid himself, holding fast to the wool. The
Cyclops felt the sides and back of every sheep, to be
sure that no Greek was riding them, but never thought
of feeling underneath.
So all got out safe, Ulysses last, and drove part of
the flocks down to the ship. Their friends gladly took
on board the men and the sheep. When they were some
distance from the shore, Ulysses called out, "Cyclops,
I am Ulysses, and I am also No-man." The giant threw
rocks in the direction of the voice, but the sailors
rowed away, and reached the other ships.
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