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The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, [1922], at

Book X


"So we sailed on and reached the island where dwells Æolus with his wife and family of six sons and six daughters, who live together amid great and continuous plenty. I staid with him a whole month, and when I would go, he tied all the winds up (for he was their keeper) in a leather sack, which he gave me; but he left the West wind free, for this was the one I wanted.

28 "Nine days did we sail, and on the tenth we could see our native land with the stubble fires burning thereon. I had never let the rudder out of my hands till then, but being now close in shore I fell asleep. My men, thinking I had treasure in the sack, opened it to see, on which the winds came howling out and took us straight back to the Æolian island. So I went to the house of Æolus and prayed him to help me, but he said, 'Get you gone, abhorred of heaven: him whom heaven hates will I in no wise help.' So I went full sadly away.

77 "Six days thence did we sail onward, worn out in body and mind, and on the seventh we reached the stronghold of king Lamus, the Læstrygonian city Telepylus, where the shepherd who drives his flock into the town salutes another who is

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driving them out, and the other returns his salute. A man in that country could earn double wages if he could do without sleep, for they work much the same by night as they do by day. Here we landed, and I climbed a high rock to look round, but could see no signs of man or beast, save only smoke rising from the ground.

"Then I sent two of my crew with an attendant, to see what 100 manner of men the people might be, and they met a young woman who was coming down to fetch water from the spring Artacia, whence the people drew their water. This young woman took my men to the house of her father Antiphates, whereon they discovered the people to be giants and ogres like Polyphemus. One of my men was gripped up and eaten, but the other two escaped and reached the ships. The Læstrygonians raised a hue and cry after them, and rushing to the harbour, within which all my ships were moored except my own, they dashed my whole fleet in pieces with the rocks that they threw. I and my own ship alone escaped them, for we were outside, and I bade the men row for their lives.

"On and on did we sail, till we reached the island of Circe, 133 where heaven guided us into a harbour. Here I again climbed a rock and could see the smoke from Circe's house rising out of a thick wood; I then went back to the ship,, and while on my way had the good fortune to kill a noble stag, which gave us a supply of meat on which we feasted all the rest of the day. Next morning I held a council and told my men of the smoke that I had seen.

"Eurylochus and twenty-two men then went inland to 210 reconnoitre, and found Circe's house made of squared stones and standing on high ground in the middle of the forest. This forest was full of wild beasts, poor dazed creatures whom Circe had bewitched, but they fawned upon my men and did not harm them. When the men got to the door of her house they could hear her singing inside most beautifully, so they called her down, and when she came she asked them in, gave them a drugged drink, and then turned them into pigs—all except Eurylochus who had remained outside.

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244 "Eurylochus made all haste back to tell me, and I started for Circe's house. When I was in the wood where the wild 277 beasts were, Mercury met me and gave me an herb called 305 Moly, which would protect me from Circe's spells; he also told me how I should treat her. Then I went to her house, and called her to come down.

312 "She asked me in, and tried to bewitch me as she had the others, but the herb which Mercury had given me protected me; so I rushed at her with my drawn sword. When she saw this, she said she knew I must be Ulysses, and that I must marry her at once. But I said, 'Circe, you have just turned my men into pigs, and have done your best to bewitch me into the bargain; how can you expect me to be friendly with you? Still, if you will swear to take no unfair advantage of me, I will consent.' So she swore, and I consented at once.

348 "Then she set the four maid servants of her house to wash me and feast me, but I was still moody and would not eat till Circe removed her spells from off my men, and brought them back safe and sound in human form. When she had done this she bade me go back to my ship and bring the rest of my men—which I presently did, and we staid with her for a whole twelve months, feasting continually and drinking an untold quantity of wine. At last, however, my men said that if I meant going home at all it was time I began to think of starting.

480 "That night, therefore, when I was in bed with Circe, I told her how my men were murmuring, and asked her to let me go. This she said she would do; but I must first go down into the house of Hades, and consult the blind Theban prophet Tiresias. And she directed me what I should do.

551 "On the following morning I told my men, and we began to get ready; but we had an accident before we started, for there was a foolish and not very valiant young man in my ship named Elpenor, who had got drunk and had gone on to the roof of Circe's house to sleep off his liquor in the cool. The bustle my men made woke him, and in his flurry he forgot all about coming down by the staircase, and fell right off the roof; whereby he broke his neck and was killed. We started,

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however, all the same, and Circe brought us a lamb and a black sheep to offer to the Shades below. She passed in and out among us, but we could not see her; who, indeed, can see the gods, when they are in no mind to be seen?

Next: Book XI. Ulysses in the House of Hades