The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. — Winston Churchill

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

Odysseus Escapes from the Cave

Odysseus was determined that he and his comrades should escape from the cave of the dread Cyclops. Hour after hour he pondered how he might persuade the giant to let them go, but at length he thought, 'I will not persuade him, I will force him to let us go.'

At that moment, his eye fell upon a great staff or club in a corner of the cave. He bade his companions make a sharp point to it. When this was done he hardened it in the fire and then hid it from sight.

The day passed slowly, but at length evening came and Polyphemus returned to the cave. His guests shrank into the farthest corner as the giant began his supper, but ere he finished, he again stretched out his hand, seized two of his prisoners, and devoured them. Then Odysseus offered him a draught of wine which he had brought with him from Ismarus.

Deep drank the giant, and ere he fell into a sound sleep he turned to Odysseus saying, 'No Man,  thee will I eat last in return for thy gift of wine.'

Odysseus waited until he saw that Polyphemus was fast asleep, then he bade his comrades put the point of the great staff in the fire. When it was red hot he told them to thrust it deep into the eye of the giant. So great was the pain that the Cyclops heaped up from his sleep and hurled away the staff, uttering loud cries of agony.

The giants who dwelt on the mountains round about heard the voice of Polyphemus, and together they hastened to the doorway of the cave.

'What hath so distressed thee, Polyphemus,' they cried, 'that thou criest thus aloud through the immortal night and makest us sleepless? Surely no mortal driveth off thy flocks against thy will; surely none slayeth thyself by force or craft?'

'No Man  is slaying me by guile, nor at all by force,' answered Polyphemus, proud even in his pain.

'If no man is harming thee, it may be that Zeus has sent sickness upon thee,' answered the giants. 'Pray thou then to thy father Poseidon for aid. As for us, we will go back to our slumbers.'

Odysseus laughed to himself as he heard their retreating feet, for now he was sure that he would be able to save himself and his comrades.

When morning dawned, Polyphemus, still groaning with pain, groped his way to the door. Having found it he pushed the stone a little way to the side to allow his flocks to pass out of the cave. To make sure that his prisoners did not escape with the animals, he sat down by the entrance and touched the back of each ram as it passed. But Odysseus had tied his followers with osier twigs beneath the rams, and so, in spite of the care of the giant, all his prisoners escaped. Odysseus himself was the last to leave the cave, holding fast to the fleece of the largest ram.

No sooner had Odysseus rejoined his companions than he loosened the twigs with which he had bound them. Then together they ran to the shore, driving before them many of the giant's best sheep. These they took on board their ship, and then rowed out some way from land.

Polyphemus soon found that he had been outwitted, and he began to stumble down toward the sea.

When Odysseus saw him, he bade his men rest on their oars, while he spoke to the giant in a loud voice.

'Cyclops,' he cried, 'so thou wert not to eat the company of a weakling by main might in thy hollow cave. Thine evil deeds were very sure to find thee out, thou cruel man, who hadst no shame to eat thy guests within thy gates, wherefore Zeus hath requited thee and the other gods.'

In his rage Polyphemus took a great rock off the top of a mountain and hurled it in the direction from which the voice came. The rock fell near to the bow of the ship, so that the waters rose and pushed the vessel toward the shore.

But Odysseus seized a pole and swiftly thrust the ship back from the land. Then he bade the sailors pull for the open sea with might and main.

When the ship was once more some distance from the shore, Odysseus taunted the giant yet again with his evil deeds.

'Cyclops,' he cried, 'if any one of mortal men shall ask thee of the unsightly blinding of thine eye, say that is was Odysseus who blinded it, the Waster of Cities, son of Laertes, whose dwelling is in Ithaca.'

Then the giant, in impotent anger, stretched out his hands to the heavens and cried, 'Hear me, Poseidon, girdler of the earth, god of the dark hair, if indeed I be thy son. . . . Grant that he may never come to his home, even Odysseus, waster of cities, son of Laertes, whose dwelling is in Ithaca; yet if he is ordained to see his friends and come into his well-builded house and his own country, late may he come, and in evil case, with the loss of all his company, in the ship of strangers, and find sorrows in his house.'

And so it came to pass, even as the Cyclops prayed, for only after many wanderings did Odysseus reach his home, to find it in the hands of those who prayed that the king might never return to Ithaca.


Front Matter

The Great God Pan
The Six Pomegranate Seeds
The Birth of Athene
The Two Weavers
The Purple Flowers
Danae and Her Little Son
The Quest of Perseus
Andromeda and Sea-Monster
Acrisius Killed by Perseus
Achilles and Briseis
Menelaus and Paris Do Battle
Hector and Andromache
The Horses of Achilles
The Death of Hector
Polyphemus the Giant
Odysseus Escapes from Cave
Odysseus Returns to Ithaca
Argus the Hound Dies
The Bow of Odysseus
The Land of Hellas
Lycurgus and His Nephew
Lycurgus Returns to Sparta
Training of the Spartans
The Helots
Aristomenes and the Fox
The Olympian Games
The Last King of Athens
Cylon Fails to be Tyrant
Solon Frees the Slaves
Athenians Take Salamis
Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant
Harmodius and Aristogiton
The Law of Ostracism
The Bridge of Boats
Darius Rewards Histiaeus
Histiaeus Shaves His Slave
Sardis Is Destroyed
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus
Earth and Water
Battle of Marathon
Miltiades Sails to Paros
Aristides is Ostracised
The Dream of Xerxes
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Bravest Men of All Hellas
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Artemisium
Themistocles at Salamis
Themistocles Tricks Admirals
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea
Delian League
Themistocles Deceives Spartans
Themistocles is Ostracised
Eloquence of Pericles
Pericles and Elpinice
The City of Athens
Great Men of Athens
Thebans Attack Plataeans
Attica Invaded by Spartans
Last Words of Pericles
Siege of Plataea
The Sentence of Death
Brasidas Loses His Shield
The Spartans Surrender
Brasidas the Spartan
Amphipolus Surrenders
Alcibiades the Favourite
Socrates the Philosopher
Alcibiades Praises Socrates
Images of Hermes Destroyed
Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta
The Siege of Syracuse
Athenian Army is Destroyed
Alcibiades Returns to Athens
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades
Walls of Athens Destroyed
March of the Ten Thousand
Pelopidas and Epaminondas
Seven Conspirators
Battle of Leuctra
Death of Epaminondas
The Two Brothers
Timoleon exiles Dionysius
Icetes Attacks Timoleon
Battle of Crimisus
Demosthenes' Wish
Greatest Orator of Athens
The Sacred War
Alexander and Bucephalus
Alexander and Diogenes
Battle of Granicus
The Gordian Knot
Darius Gallops from Battle
Tyre Stormed by Alexander
Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander Burns Persepolis
Alexander Slays Foster-Brother
Porus and His Elephant
Alexander Is Wounded
The Death of Alexander
Demosthenes in the Temple