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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 22
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    Chapter XXII

    Adventures of Ulysses. The Lotus-Eaters. Cyclopes. Circe.
    Sirens. Scylla and Charybdis. Calypso

    The romantic poem of the Odyssey is now to engage our attention.
    It narrates the wanderings of Ulysses (Odysseus in the Greek
    language) in his return from Troy to his own kingdom of Ithaca.

    >From Troy the vessels first made land at Ismarus, a city of the
    Ciconians, where, in a skirmish with the inhabitants, Ulysses
    lost six men from each ship. Sailing thence they were overtaken
    by a storm which drove them for nine days along the sea till they
    reached the country of the Lotus-eaters. Here, after watering,
    Ulysses sent three of his men to discover who the inhabitants
    were. These men on coming among the Lotus-eaters were kindly
    entertained by them, and were given some of their own food, the
    lotus-plant to eat. The effect of this food was such that those
    who partook of it lost all thoughts of home and wished to remain
    in that country. It was by main force that Ulysses dragged these
    men away, and he was even obliged to tie them under the benches
    of his ship. (Tennyson in the Lotus-eaters has charmingly
    expressed the dreamy languid feeling which the lotus-food is said
    to have produced:

    "How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream
    With half-shut eyes ever to seem
    Falling asleep in a half-dream!
    To dream and dream, like yonder amber light
    Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
    To hear each other's whispered speech;
    Eating the lotus, day by day,
    To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
    And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
    To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
    To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
    To muse and brood and live again in memory,
    With those old faces of our infancy
    Heaped over with a mound of grass,
    Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass.")

    They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes. The Cyclopes
    were giants, who inhabited an island of which they were the only
    possessors. The name means "round eye," and these giants were so
    called because they had but one eye, and that placed in the
    middle of the forehead. They dwelt in caves and fed on the wild
    productions of the island and on what their flocks yielded, for
    they were shepherds. Ulysses left the main body of his ships at
    anchor, and with one vessel went to the Cyclopes' island to
    explore for supplies. He landed with his companions, carrying
    with them a jar of wine for a present, and coming to a large cave
    they entered it, and finding no one within examined its contents.
    They found it stored with the riches of the flock, quantities of
    cheese, pails and bowls of milk, lambs and kids in their pens,
    all in nice order. Presently arrived the master of the cave,
    Polyphemus, bearing an immense bundle of firewood, which he threw
    down before the cavern's mouth. He then drove into the cave the
    sheep and goats to be milked, and, entering, rolled to the cave's
    mouth an enormous rock, that twenty oxen could not draw. Next he
    sat down and milked his ewes, preparing a part for cheese, and
    setting the rest aside for his customary drink. Then turning
    round his great eye he discerned the strangers, and growled out
    to them, demanding who they were, and where from. Ulysses
    replied most humbly, stating that they were Greeks, from the
    great expedition that had lately won so much glory in the
    conquest of Troy; that they were now on their way home, and
    finished by imploring his hospitality in the name of the gods.
    Polyphemus deigned no answer, but reaching out his hand, seized
    two of the Greeks, whom he hurled against the side of the cave,
    and dashed out their brains. He proceeded to devour them with
    great relish, and having made a hearty meal, stretched himself
    out on the floor to sleep. Ulysses was tempted to seize the
    opportunity and plunge his sword into him as he slept, but
    recollected that it would only expose them all to certain
    destruction, as the rock with which the giant had closed up the
    door was far beyond their power to remove, and they would
    therefore be in hopeless imprisonment. Next morning the giant
    seized two more of the Greeks, and dispatched them in the same
    manner as their companions, feasting on their flesh till no
    fragment was left. He then moved away the rock from the door,
    drove out his flocks, and went out, carefully replacing the
    barrier after him. When he was gone Ulysses planned how he might
    take vengeance for his murdered friends, and effect his escape
    with his surviving companions. He made his men prepare a massive
    bar of wood cut by the Cyclops for a staff, which they found in
    the cave. They sharpened the end of it and seasoned it in the
    fire, and hid it under the straw on the cavern floor. Then four
    of the boldest were selected, with whom Ulysses joined himself as
    a fifth. The Cyclops came home at evening, rolled away the stone
    and drove in his flock as usual. After milking them and making
    his arrangements as before, he seized two more of Ulysses'
    companions and dashed their brains out, and made his evening meal
    upon them as he had on the others. After he had supped, Ulysses,
    approaching him, handed him a bowl of wine, saying, "Cyclops,
    this is wine; taste and drink after thy meal of man's flesh." He
    took and drank it, and was hugely delighted with it, and called
    for more. Ulysses supplied him once and again, which pleased the
    giant so much that he promised him as a favor that he should be
    the last of the party devoured. He asked his name, to which
    Ulysses replied, "My name is Noman."

    After his supper the giant lay down to repose, and was soon sound
    asleep. Then Ulysses with his four select friends thrust the end
    of the stake into the fire till it was all one burning coal, then
    poising it exactly above the giant's only eye, they buried it
    deeply into the socket, twirling it round and round as a
    carpenter does his auger. The howling monster filled the cavern
    with his outcry, and Ulysses with his aids nimbly got out of his
    way and concealed themselves in the cave. The Cyclops,
    bellowing, called aloud on all the Cyclopes dwelling in the caves
    around him, far and near. They on his cry flocked around the
    den, and inquired what grievous hurt had caused him to sound such
    an alarm and break their slumbers. He replied, "O friends, I
    die, and Noman gives the blow." They answered, "If no man hurts
    thee it is the stroke of Jove, and thou must bear it." So
    saying, they left him groaning.

    Next morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let his flock
    out to pasture, but planted himself in the door of the cave to
    feel of all as they went out, that Ulysses and his men should not
    escape with them. But Ulysses had made his men harness the rams
    of the flock three abreast, with osiers which they found on the
    floor of the cave. To the middle ram of the three one of the
    Greeks suspended himself, so protected by the exterior rams on
    either side. As they passed, the giant felt of the animals'
    backs and sides, but never thought of their bellies; so the men
    all passed safe, Ulysses himself being on the last one that
    passed. When they had got a few paces from the cavern, Ulysses
    and his friends released themselves from their rams, and drove a
    good part of the flock down to the shore to their boat. They put
    them aboard with all haste, then pushed off from the shore, and
    when at a safe distance Ulysses shouted, "Cyclops, the gods have
    well requited thee for thy atrocious deeds. Know it is Ulysses
    to whom thou owest thy shameful loss of sight." The Cyclops,
    hearing this, seized a rock that projected from the side of the
    mountain, and rending it from its bed he lifted it high in the
    air, then exerting all his force, hurled it in the direction of
    the voice. Down came the mass, just clearing the vessel's stern.
    The ocean, at the plunge of the huge rock, heaved the ship
    towards the land, so that it barely escaped being swamped by the
    waves. When they had with the utmost difficulty pulled off
    shore, Ulysses was about to hail the giant again, but his friends
    besought him not to do so. He could not forbear, however,
    letting the giant know that they had escaped his missile, but
    waited till they had reached a safer distance than before, The
    giant answered them with curses, but Ulysses and his friends
    plied their oars vigorously, and soon regained their companions.

    Ulysses next arrived at the island of AEolus. To this monarch
    Jupiter had intrusted the government of the winds, to send them
    forth or retain them at his will. He treated Ulysses hospitably,
    and at his departure gave him, tied up in a leathern bag with a
    silver string, such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous,
    commanding fair winds to blow the barks towards their country.
    Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that time Ulysses
    had stood at the helm, without sleep. At last quite exhausted he
    lay down to sleep. While he slept, the crew conferred together
    about the mysterious bag, and concluded it must contain treasures
    given by the hospitable King AEolus to their commander. Tempted
    to secure some portion for themselves they loosed the string,
    when immediately the winds rushed forth. The ships were driven
    far from their course, and back again to the island they had just
    left. AEolus was so indignant at their folly that he refused to
    assist them further, and they were obliged to labor over their
    course once more by means of their oars.


    The next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of
    Laestrygonians. The vessels pushed into the harbor, tempted by
    the secure appearance of the cove, completely land-locked;
    Ulysses alone moored his vessel without. As soon as the
    Laestrygonians found the ships completely in their power they
    attacked them, having huge stones which broke and overturned
    them, and with their spears dispatched the seamen as they
    struggled in the water. All the vessels with their crews were
    destroyed, except Ulysses' own ship which had remained outside,
    and finding no safety but in flight, he exhorted his men to ply
    their oars vigorously, and they escaped.

    With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy at their own
    escape, they pursued their way till they arrived at the Aeaean
    isle, where dwelt Circe, the daughter of the sun. Landing here
    Ulysses climbed a hill, and gazing round saw no signs of
    habitation except in one spot at the centre of the island, where
    he perceived a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one-
    half of his crew, under the command of Eurylochus, to see what
    prospect of hospitality they might find. As they approached the
    palace, they found themselves surrounded by lions, tigers and
    wolves, not fierce, but tamed by Circe's art, for she was a
    powerful magician. All these animals had once been men, but had
    been changed by Circe's enchantments into the forms of beasts.
    The sounds of soft music were heard from within, and a sweet
    female voice singing. Eurylochus called aloud and the goddess
    came forth and invited them in. They all gladly entered except
    Eurylochus, who suspected danger. The goddess conducted her
    guests to a seat, and had them served with wine and other
    delicacies. When they had feasted heartily, she touched them one
    by one with her wand, and they became immediately changed into
    SWINE, in "head, body, voice and bristles," yet with their
    intellects as before. She shut them in her sties, and supplied
    them with acorns and such other things as swine love.

    Eurylochus hurried back to the ship and told the tale. Ulysses
    thereupon determined to go himself, and try if by any means he
    might deliver his companions. As he strode onward alone, he met
    a youth who addressed him familiarly, appearing to be acquainted
    with his adventures. He announced himself as Mercury, and
    informed Ulysses of the arts of Circe, and of the danger of
    approaching her. As Ulysses was not to be dissuaded from his
    attempts, Mercury provided him with a sprig of the plant Moly, of
    wonderful power to resist sorceries, and instructed him how to
    act. Ulysses proceeded, and reaching the palace was courteously
    received by Circe, who entertained him as she had done his
    companions, and after he had eaten and drank, touched him with
    her wand, saying, "Hence seek the sty and wallow with thy
    friends." But he, instead of obeying, drew his sword and rushed
    upon her with fury in his countenance. She fell on her knees
    and begged for mercy. He dictated a solemn oath that she would
    release his companions and practise no further against him or
    them; and she repeated it, at the same time promising to dismiss
    them all in safety after hospitably entertaining them. She was
    as good as her word. The men were restored to their shapes, the
    rest of the crew summoned from the shore, and the whole
    magnificently entertained day after day, till Ulysses seemed to
    have forgotten his native land, and to have reconciled himself to
    an inglorious life of ease and pleasure.

    At length his companions recalled him to nobler sentiments, and
    he received their admonition gratefully. Circe aided their
    departure, and instructed them how to pas safely by the coast of
    the Sirens. The Sirens were Sea-nymphs who had the power of
    charming by their song all who had heard them, so that the
    unhappy mariners were irresistibly impelled to cast themselves
    into the sea to their destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to
    fill the ears of his seamen with wax, so that they should not
    hear the strain; and to cause himself to be bound to the mast,
    and his people to be strictly enjoined, whatever he might say or
    do, by no means to release him till they should have passed the
    Sirens' island. Ulysses obeyed these directions. He filled the
    ears of his people with wax, and suffered them to bind him with
    cords firmly to the mast. As they approached the Sirens' island,
    the sea was calm, and over the waters came the notes of music so
    ravishing and attractive, that Ulysses struggled to get loose,
    and by cries and signs to his people, begged to be released; but
    they, obedient to his previous orders, sprang forward and bound
    him still faster. They held on their course, and the music grew
    fainter till it ceased to be heard, when with joy Ulysses gave
    his companions the signal to unseal their ears, and they relieved
    him from his bonds.

    The imagination of a modern poet, Keats, has discovered for us
    the thoughts that passed through the brains of the victims of
    Circe, after their transformation. In his Endymion he represents
    one of them, a monarch in the guise of an elephant, addressing
    the sorceress in human language thus:

    "I sue not for my happy crown again;
    I sue not for my phalanx on the plain;
    I sue not for my lone, my widowed wife;
    I sue not for my ruddy drops of life,
    My children fair, my lovely girls and boys;
    I will forget them; I will pass these joys,
    Ask nought so heavenward; so too too high;
    Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die;
    To be delivered from this cumbrous flesh,
    >From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh,
    And merely given to the cold, bleak air.
    Have mercy, goddess! Circe, feel my prayer!"


    Ulysses had been warned by Circe of the two monsters Scylla and
    Charybdis. We have already met with Scylla in the story of
    Glaucus, and remember that she was once a beautiful maiden and
    was changed into a snaky monster by Circe. She dwelt in a cave
    high up on the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust
    forth her long necks for she had six heads, and in each of her
    mouths to seize one of the crew of every vessel passing within
    reach. The other terror, Charybdis, was a gulf, nearly on a
    level with the water. Thrice each day the water rushed into a
    frightful chasm, and thrice was disgorged. Any vessel coming
    near the whirlpool when the tide was rushing in must inevitably
    by ingulfed; not Neptune himself could save it.

    On approaching the haunt of the dread monsters, Ulysses kept
    strict watch to discover them. The roar of the waters as
    Charybdis ingulfed them, gave warning at a distance, but Scylla
    could nowhere be discerned. While Ulysses and his men watched
    with anxious eyes the dreadful whirlpool, they were not equally
    on their guard from the attack of Scylla, and the monster darting
    forth her snaky heads, caught six of his men, and bore them away
    shrieking to her den. It was the saddest sight Ulysses had yet
    seen; to behold his friends thus sacrificed and hear their cries,
    unable to afford them any assistance.

    Circe had warned him of another danger. After passing Scylla and
    Charybdis, the next land he would make was Trinakria, an island
    whereon were pastured the cattle of Hyperion, the Sun, tended by
    his daughters Lampetia and Phaethusa. These flocks must not be
    violated, whatever the wants of the voyagers might be. If this
    injunction were transgressed, destruction was sure to fall on the

    Ulysses would willingly have passed the island of the Sun without
    stopping, but his companions so urgently pleaded for the rest and
    refreshment that would be derived from anchoring and passing the
    night on shore, that Ulysses yielded. He bound them, however,
    with an oath that they would not touch one of the animals of the
    sacred flocks and herds, but content themselves with what
    provision they yet had left of the supply which Circe had put on
    board. So long as this supply lasted the people kept their oath,
    but contrary winds detained them at the island for a month, and
    after consuming all their stock of provisions, they were forced
    to rely upon the birds and fishes they could catch. Famine
    pressed them, and at length one day, in the absence of Ulysses,
    they slew some of the cattle, vainly attempting to make amends
    for the deed by offering from them a portion to the offended
    powers. Ulysses, on his return to the shore, was horror-struck
    at perceiving what they had done, and the more so on account of
    the portentous signs which followed. The skins crept on the
    ground, and the joints of meat lowed on the spits while roasting.

    The wind becoming fair they sailed from the island. They had not
    gone far when the weather changed, and a storm of thunder and
    lightning ensued. A stroke of lightning shattered their mast,
    which in its fall killed the pilot. At last the vessel itself
    came to pieces. The keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses
    formed of them a raft, to which he clung, and, the wind changing,
    the waves bore him to Calypso's island. All the rest of the crew

    The following allusion to the stories we have just been relating
    is from Milton's Comus, line 252:

    "I have often heard
    My mother Circe and the Sirens three,
    Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
    Culling their potent herbs and baneful drugs,
    Who as they sung would take the prisoned soul
    And lap it in Elysium. Scylla wept,
    And chid her barking waves into attention.
    And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause."

    Scylla and Charybdis have become proverbial, to denote opposite
    dangers which beset one's course.


    Calypso was a sea-nymph. One of that numerous class of female
    divinities of lower rank than the gods, yet sharing many of their
    attributes. Calypso received Ulysses hospitably, entertained him
    magnificently, became enamored of him, and wished to retain him
    forever, conferring on him immortality. But he persisted in his
    resolution to return to his country and his wife and son.
    Calypso at last received a command from Jove to dismiss him.
    Mercury brought the message to her, and found her in her grotto,
    which is thus described by Homer:

    "A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides,
    Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung
    Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph,
    Their sinuous course pursuing side by side,
    Strayed all around, and every where appeared
    Meadows of softest verdure purpled o'er
    With violets; it was a scene to fill
    A god from heaven with wonder and delight."

    Calypso with much reluctance proceeded to obey the commands of
    Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the means of constructing a
    raft, provisioned it well for him, and gave him a favoring gale.
    He sped on his course prosperously for many days, till at length,
    when in sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and
    threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he was seen
    by a compassionate sea-nymph, who in the form of a cormorant
    alighted on the raft, and presented him a girdle, directing him
    to bind it beneath his breast, and if he should be compelled to
    trust himself to the waves, it would buoy him up and enable him
    by swimming to reach the land.

    Fenelon, in his romance of Telemachus, has given us the
    adventures of the son of Ulysses in search of his father. Among
    other places at which he arrived, following on his father's
    footsteps, was Calypso's isle, and, as in the former case, the
    goddess tried every art to keep him with her, and offered to
    share her immortality with him. But Minerva, who, in the shape
    of Mentor, accompanied him and governed all his movements, made
    him repel her allurements, and when no other means of escape
    could be found, the two friends leaped from a cliff into the sea,
    and swam to a vessel which lay becalmed off shore. Byron alludes
    to this leap of Telemachus and Mentor in the following stanza:

    "But not in silence pass Calypso's isles,
    The sister tenants of the middle deep;
    There for the weary still a haven smiles,
    Though the fair goddess long has ceased to weep,
    And o'er her cliffs a fruitless watch to keep
    For him who dared prefer a mortal bride.
    Here too his boy essayed the dreadful leap,
    Stern Mentor urged from high to yonder tide;
    While thus of both bereft the nymph-queen doubly sighed."

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