Achaemenides apud Polyphemum.
ULYSSES WITH POLYPHEMUS AND CIRCESibylla with such words beguild their way
from Stygian realms up to the Euboean town.
Trojan Aeneas, after he had made
due sacrifice in Cumae, touched the shore
that had not yet been given his nurse's name.
There Macareus of Neritus had come,
companion of long tried Ulysses, there
he rested, weary of his lengthened toils.
He recognized one left in Aetna's cave,
greek Achaemenides, and, all amazed
to find him yet alive, he said to him,
“What chance, or what god, Achaemenides,
preserves you? Why is this barbarian ship
conveying you a Greek? What land is sought?”
No longer ragged in the clothes he wore
and his own master, wearing clothes not tacked
with sharp thorns, Achaemenides replied,
“Again may I see Polyphemus' jaws
out-streaming with their slaughtered human blood;
if my own home and Ithaca give more
delight to me than this barbarian bark,
or if I venerate Aeneas less
than my own father. If I should give my all,
it never could express my gratitude,
that I can speak and breath, and see the heavens
illuminated by the gleaming sun—
how can I be ungrateful and forget all this?
Because of him these limbs of mine were spared
the Cyclops' jaws; and, though I were even now
to leave the light of life, I should at worst
be buried in a tomb—not in his maw.
“What were my feelings when (unless indeed
my terror had deprived me of all sense) left there,
I saw you making for the open sea?
I wished to shout aloud, but was afraid
it would betray me to the enemy.
The shoutings of Ulysses nearly caused
destruction of your ship and there I saw
the Cyclops, when he tore a crag away
and hurled the huge rock in the whirling waves;
I saw him also throw tremendous stones
with his gigantic arms. They flew afar,
as if impelled by catapults of war,
I was struck dumb with terror lest
the waves or stones might overwhelm the ship,
forgetting that I still was on the shore!
“But when your flight had saved you from that death
of cruelty, the Cyclops, roaring rage,
paced all about Mount Aetna, groping through
its forests with his outstretched arms. Deprived
of sight, he stumbled there against the rocks,
until he reached the sea; and stretching out
his gore stained arms into its waters there,
he cursed all of the Grecian race, and said,
‘Oh! that some accident would carry back
Ulysses to me, or but one of his
companions; against whom my rage
might vent itself, whose joints my hand might tear
whose blood might drench my throat, whose living limbs
might quiver in my teeth. How trifling then,
how insignificant would be the loss,
of my sight which he took from me!’
and more he said. A ghastly horror took
possession of me when I saw his face
and every feature streaming yet with blood,
his ruthless hands, and the vile open space
where his one eye had been, and his coarse limbs,
and his beard matted through with human blood.
“It seemed as if Death were before my eyes,
yet that was but the least part of my woe.
I seemed upon the point of being caught,
my flesh about to be the food of his.
Before my mind was fixed the time I saw
two bodies of my loved companions
dashed three or four times hard against the ground,
when he above them, like a lion, crouched,
devouring quickly in his hideous jaws,
their entrails and their flesh and their crushed bones,
white marrowed, and their mangled quivering limbs.
A trembling fear seized on me as I stood
pallid and without power to move from there,
while I recalled him chewing greedily,
and belching out his bloody banquet from
his huge mouth—vomiting crushed pieces mixed
with phlegmy wine—and I feared such a doom
in readiness, awaited wretched me.
“Most carefully concealed for many days,
trembling at every sound and fearing death,
although desiring death; I fed myself
on grass and acorns, mixed with leaves; alone
and destitute, despondent unto death,
awaiting my destruction I lost hope.
In that condition a long while, at last
I saw a ship not far off, and by signs
prayed for deliverance, as I ran in haste,
down to the shore. My prayers prevailed on them.
A Trojan ship took in and saved a Greek!
“And now, O dearest to me of all men,
tell me of your adventures, of your chief
and comrades, when you sailed out on the sea.”