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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book III Chapter 25: Achaemenides (cont.)
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“My home was Ithaca, and I partook |
the fortunes of Ulysses evil-starred.
My name is Achaemenides, my sire
was Adamastus, and I sailed for Troy,
being so poor, -- O, that I ne'er had change
the lot I bore! In yon vast Cyclops' cave
my comrades, flying from its gruesome door,
left me behind, forgotten. T is a house
of gory feasts of flesh, t is deep and dark,
and vaulted high. He looms as high as heaven;
I pray the blessed gods to rid the earth
of the vile monster! None can look on him,
none speak with him. He feeds on clotted gore
of disembowelled men. These very eyes
saw him seize two of our own company,
and, as he lolled back in the cave, he clutched
and dashed them on the stones, fouling the floor
with torrent of their blood; myself I saw him
crunch with his teeth the dripping, bloody limbs
still hot and pulsing on his hungry jaw.
But not without reward! For such a sight
Ulysses would not brook, and Ithaca
forgot not in such strait the name he bore.
For soon as, gorged with feasting and o'ercome
with drunken slumber, the foul giant lay
sprawled through the cave, his head dropped helpless down,
disgorging as he slept thick drool of gore
and gobbets drenched with bloody wine; then we,
calling on Heaven and taking place by lot,
drew round him like one man, and with a beam
sharpened at end bored out that monster eye,
which, huge and sole, lay under the grim brow,
round as an Argive shield or Phoebus' star.
Thus took we joyful vengeance for the shades
of our lost mates. But, O ill-fated men!
Fly, I implore, and cut the cables free
along the beach! For in the land abide,
like Polyphemus, who in hollow cave
kept fleecy sheep, and milked his fruitful ewes,
a hundred other, huge as he, who rove
wide o'er this winding shore and mountains fair:
Cyclops accursed, bestial! Thrice the moon
has filled her horns with light, while here I dwell
in lonely woods and lairs of creatures wild;
or from tall cliffs out-peering I discern
the Cyclops, and shrink shuddering from the sound
of their vast step and cry. My sorry fare
is berries and hard corners dropped from trees,
or herb-roots torn out from the niggard ground.
Though watching the whole sea, only today
Have I had sight of ships. To you I fled.
Whate'er ye be, it was my only prayer
to 'scape that monster brood. I ask no more.
O, set me free by any death ye will!"
'sum patria ex Ithaca, comes infelicis Vlixi,
nomine Achaemenides, Troiam genitore Adamasto
paupere (mansissetque utinam fortuna!) profectus.
hic me, dum trepidi crudelia limina linquunt,
immemores socii uasto Cyclopis in antro
deseruere. domus sanie dapibusque cruentis,
intus opaca, ingens. ipse arduus, altaque pulsat
sidera (di talem terris auertite pestem!)
nec uisu facilis nec dictu adfabilis ulli;
uisceribus miserorum et sanguine uescitur atro.
uidi egomet duo de numero cum corpora nostro
prensa manu magna medio resupinus in antro
frangeret ad saxum, sanieque aspersa natarent
limina; uidi atro cum membra fluentia tabo
manderet et tepidi tremerent sub dentibus artus—
haud impune quidem, nec talia passus Vlixes
oblitusue sui est Ithacus discrimine tanto.
nam simul expletus dapibus uinoque sepultus
ceruicem inflexam posuit, iacuitque per antrum
immensus saniem eructans et frusta cruento
per somnum commixta mero, nos magna precati
numina sortitique uices una undique circum
fundimur, et telo lumen terebramus acuto
ingens quod torua solum sub fronte latebat,
Argolici clipei aut Phoebeae lampadis instar,
et tandem laeti sociorum ulciscimur umbras.
sed fugite, o miseri, fugite atque ab litore funem
nam qualis quantusque cauo Polyphemus in antro
lanigeras claudit pecudes atque ubera pressat,
centum alii curua haec habitant ad litora uulgo
infandi Cyclopes et altis montibus errant.
tertia iam lunae se cornua lumine complent
cum uitam in siluis inter deserta ferarum
lustra domosque traho uastosque ab rupe Cyclopas
prospicio sonitumque pedum uocemque tremesco.
uictum infelicem, bacas lapidosaque corna,
dant rami, et uulsis pascunt radicibus herbae.
omnia conlustrans hanc primum ad litora classem
conspexi uenientem. huic me, quaecumque fuisset,
addixi: satis est gentem effugisse nefandam.
uos animam hanc potius quocumque absumite leto.'