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The Odyssey Book IX (9): New Coasts & Poseidon's Son
Transcript of The Odyssey Book IX (9): New Coasts & Poseidon's Son
"What shall I say first? What
shall I keep until the end? The
gods have tried me in a thousand
ways...I am Laertes' son, Odysseus.
Men hold me formidable (inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable) for guile (being sly or cunning) in peace and war; this fame has gone abroad to the sky's rim. My home is on...Ithaca..."
1st stop after Troy:
Land of the Cicones
We behaved like pirates.
Land of the Lotus Eaters
plant makes men forget home
had to drag men & tie them to the ship
dun. dun. dun...
My men didn't listen to me, so a bunch of them died.
They land on an island
and find a cave filled
with cheese and sheep.
"My men came pressing round
me, pleading: Why not take
these cheeses, get them stowed,
come back, throw open all the pens,
and make a run for it? We'll drive the
[animals] aboard. We say put out
again on good salt water."
The Cyclops returns
and closes the door to
the cave..."He swung high
overhead a slab of solid
rock to close the cave. Two
dozen four-wheeled wagons
with heaving wagon teams,
could not have stirred the
tonnage of that rock from where
he wedged it..."
O warns him to
be polite. "If you don't
treat us right, Zeus is
gonna snipe you."
but he is curious...
"Ah, how sound that was!
Yet I refused. I wished to
see the caveman, what he had
to offer--no pretty sight,
it turned out for my friends."
"He answered this from his brute
chest, unmoved: You are a ninny,
or else you come from the other end
of nowhere, telling me, mind the gods!
We Cyclops care not a whistle for your
thundering Zeus or all the gods in bliss;
we have more force by far. I would not let
you go for fear of Zeus--you or your friends--
unless I had a whim to.
"Neither reply nor pity came from him, but
in one stride he clutched at my companions
and caught two in his hands like squirming
puppies to beat their brains out, spattering the
floor. Then he dismembered them and made his
meal, gaping and crunching like a mountain lion--
everything: innards, flesh, and marrow bones. We
cried aloud, lifting our hands to Zeus, powerless,
looking on at this, appalled; but Cyclops went on
filling up his belly with manflesh and great gulps
"...Then [the Cyclops] lay
down like a mast among
his sheep. My heart beat high
now at the chance of action,
and drawing the sharp sword
from my hip I went along his flank
to stab him where the midriff
hold the liver. I had touched the
spot when sudden fear stayed me: If
I killed him we perished as well, for we
could never move his ponderous doorway
slab aside. So we were left to groan and
wait until morning."
"Cyclops, try some wine. Here's liquor to wash down your scraps of men...I meant it for an offering if you would help us home. But you are mad, unbearable, a bloody monster! After this, will
any other traveller come see you? He seized and
drained the bowl, and it went down so fiery smooth, he called for more. 'Give me another, thank you kindly.'"
"Tell me, how are you called? I'll make a gift will please you."
"Cyclops, you ask my honorable name? Remember the gift you promised me, and I shall tell you. My name is Nohbdy (nobody); mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy."
"Nohbdy's my meat, then, after I eat his friends. Others come first. There's a noble gift, now."
"Even as he spoke, he reeled and tumbled backward, his great head lolling to one side: and sleep took him like any creature. Drunk, hiccuping, he dribbled streams of liquor and bits of men."
"Clawing his face he tugged the bloody
spike out of his eye, threw it away, and
his wild hands went groping; then he set
up a howl for Cyclopses who lived in caves
on windy peaks nearby..."
"Out of the cave the mammoth Polyphemus
roared in answer:
'Nohbdy, Nohbdy's tricked me, Nohbdy's ruined me!'"
"But I kept thinking how to win the game:
death sat there huge; how could we slip away?
I drew on all my wits, and ran through tactics
until a trick came--and it pleased me well.
The Cyclops' rams were handsome, fat, with heavy
fleeces, a dark violet. I tied them silently together, twining cords of willow from the ogre's bed; then slung a man under each middle one to
ride there safely, shielded left and right. So three
sheep could convey each man. I took the wooliest
ram, the choicest of the flock, and hung myself
under his kinky belly, pulled up tight, with fingers
twisted deep in sheepskin ringlets for an iron grip. So breathing hard, we waited until morning."
Cy touches the back
of each sheep as he lets them out
wonders why big guy is so slow
They make it to the ship
and steal the sheep.
O yells back at Cy.
Cy breaks a hilltop &
throws at the voice
ship comes back to shore
guys row fast & get away again
Men beg O to hush
Yells anyway & says his name
Cy was told O would blind him
expected someone big & scary
O still taunting him...
Cy asks his dad for this curse...
If O is to reach home...
let it be a long time
let the years be bad
let him lose all his men
let him find trouble at home
line 586: Poseidon will do this.
(messin' with a Ninja!)
"I shall not see on earth a place more dear...Where shall a man find sweetness to surpass his own home and his parents? In far lands, he shall not, though he find a house of gold."
"...Though I have been detained long by Calypso, loveliest among goddesses, who held me in her smooth caves, to be her heart's delight, as Circe...the enchantress, desired me, and detained me in her hall. But in my heart I never gave consent."
Let's take the...
"Strangers, he said, who are you? And where
from? What brings you here by sea ways--a
fair traffic? Or are you wandering rogues,
who cast your lives like dice, and ravage
other folk by sea?"
"We are from Troy, Akhaians, blown of course by shifting gales on the Great South Sea; homeward bound, but taking routes and ways uncommon...it was our luck to come here; here we stand, beholden for your help, or any gifts you give--as custom is to honor strangers. We would entreat you, great Sir, have a care for the gods' courtesy; Zeus will avenge the unoffending guest."
"Tell me, where was it, now, you left your ship--
around the point, or down the shore, I wonder? He
thought he'd find out, but I saw through this, and
answered with a ready lie:
My ship? Poseidon Lord, who sets the earth a tremble, broke it up on the rocks at your land's end. A wind from seaward served him, drove us there. We are survivors, these good men and I."
The next morning, the Cyclops has a
lovely breakfast of two more men, herds
his animals out, and replaces the huge
slab of rock, locking the men in the cave.
"...I pondered how to hurt him...Here are the means
I thought would serve my turn:
a club or staff lay there among the fold--an olive tree, felled green and left to season...It was like the mast a lugger of twenty oars broad in the beam..I chopped out a six foot section of this pole...[made] a pointed end...held it in the fire's heart and turned it, toughening it, then hid it, well
back in the cavern, under one of the dung piles in profusion there."
"Now, by the gods...
the pierced ball hissed
broiling, and the roots
"Some heard him; and they came by divers ways
to clump around outside and call:
'What ails you Polyphemus? Why do you cry so sore
in the starry night? You will not let us sleep.
Sure no man's driving off your flock? No man
has tricked you, ruined you?'"
To this rough shout they made a sage reply:
'Ah well, if nobody has played you foul there in
your lonely bed, we are no use in pain given
by great Zeus. Let it be your father, Poseidon Lord, to whom you pray.'"
"So saying they trailed away. And I was filled with laughter to see how like a charm the name deceived them. Now Cyclops, wheezing as the pain came on him, fumbled to wrench away the great doorstone and squatted in the breach with arms thrown wide for any silly beast or man who bolted--hoping somehow I might be such a fool."