Padraic Colum > The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy > Part II > Chapter V
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Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy.  1918.

Part II
 
Chapter V
 
WE came to the Island where Æolus, the Lord of the Winds, he who can give mariners a good or a bad wind, has his dwelling. With his six sons and his six daughters Æolus lives on a floating island that has all around it a wall of bronze. And when we came to his island, the Lord of the Winds treated us kindly and kept us at his dwelling for a month. Now when the time came for us to leave, Æolus did not try to hold us on the island. And to me, when I was going down to the ships, he gave a bag made from the hide of an ox, and in that bag were all the winds that blow. He made the mouth of the bag fast with a silver thong, so that no wind that might drive us from our course could escape. Then he sent the West Wind to blow on our sails that we might reach our own land as quickly as a ship might go.’   1
  ‘For nine days we sailed with the West Wind driving us, and on the tenth day we came in sight of Ithaka, our own land. We saw its coast and the beacon fires upon the coast and the people tending the fires. Then I thought that the curse of the Cyclops was vain and could bring no harm to us. Sleep that I had kept from me for long I let weigh me down, and I no longer kept watch.’   2
  ‘Then even as I slept, the misfortune that I had watched against fell upon me. For now my men spoke together and said, “There is our native land, and we come back to it after ten years’ struggles and toils, with empty hands. Different it is with our lord, Odysseus. He brings gold and silver from Priam’s treasure-chamber in Troy. And Æolus too has given him a treasure in an ox-hide bag. But let us take something out of that bag while he sleeps.”’   3
  ‘So they spoke, and they unloosed the mouth of the bag, and behold! all the winds that were tied in it burst out. Then the winds drove our ship towards the high seas and away from our land. What became of the other ships I know not. I awoke and I found that we were being driven here and there by the winds. I did not know whether I should spring into the sea and so end all my troubles, or whether I should endure this terrible misfortune. I muffled my head in my cloak and lay on the deck of my ship.’   4
  ‘The winds brought us back again to the floating Island. We landed and I went to the dwelling of the Lord of the Winds. I sat by the pillars of his threshold and he came out and spoke to me. “How now, Odysseus?” said he. “How is it thou hast returned so soon? Did I not give thee a fair wind to take thee to thine own country, and did I not tie up all the winds that might be contrary to thee?”’   5
  ‘“My evil companions,” I said, “have been my bane. They have undone all the good that thou didst for me, O King of the Winds. They opened the bag and let all the winds fly out. And now help me, O Lord Æolus, once again.”’   6
  ‘But Æolus said to me, “Far be it from me to help such a man as thou—a man surely accursed by the gods. Go from my Island, for nothing will I do for thee.” Then I went from his dwelling and took my way down to the ship.’   7
  WE sailed away from the Island of Æolus with heavy hearts. Next we came to the Æean Island, where we met with Circe, the Enchantress. For two days and two nights we were on that island without seeing the sign of a habitation. On the third day I saw smoke rising up from some hearth. I spoke of it to my men, and it seemed good to us that Part of our company should go to see were there people there who might help us. We drew lots to find out who should go, and it fell to the lot of Eurylochus to go with Part of the company, while I remained with the other Part.’   8
  ‘So Eurylochus went with two and twenty men. In the forest glades they came upon a house built of polished stones. All round that house wild beasts roamed—wolves and lions. But these beasts were not fierce. As Eurylochus and his men went towards the house the lions and wolves fawned upon them like house dogs.’   9
  ‘But the men were affrighted and stood round the outer gate of the court. They heard a voice within the house singing, and it seemed to them to be the voice of a woman, singing as she went to and fro before a web she was weaving on a loom. The men shouted, and she who had been singing opened the polished doors and came out of the dwelling. She was very fair to see. As she opened the doors of the house she asked the men to come within and they went into her halls.’   10
  ‘But Eurylochus tarried behind. He watched the woman and he saw her give food to the men. But he saw that she mixed a drug with what she gave them to eat and with the wine she gave them to drink. No sooner had they eaten the food and drunk the wine than she struck them with a wand, and behold! the men turned into swine. Then the woman drove them out of the house and put them in the swine-pens and gave them acorns and mast and the fruit of the cornel tree to eat.’   11
  ‘Eurylochus, when he saw these happenings, ran back through the forest and told me all. Then I cast about my shoulder my good sword of bronze, and, bidding Eurylochus stay by the ships, I went through the forest and came to the house of the enchantress. I stood at the outer court and called out. Then Circe the Enchantress flung wide the shining doors, and called to me to come within. I entered her dwelling and she brought me to a chair and put a footstool under my feet. Then she brought me in a golden cup the wine into which she had cast a harmful drug.’   12
  ‘As she handed me the cup I drew my sword and sprang at her as one eager to slay her. She shrank back from me and cried out, “Who art thou who art able to guess at my enchantments? Verily, thou art Odysseus, of whom Hermes told me. Nay, put up thy sword and let us two be friendly to each other. In all things I will treat thee kindly.”’   13
  ‘But I said to her, “Nay, Circe, you must swear to me first that thou wilt not treat me guilefully.”’   14
  ‘She swore by the gods that she would not treat me guilefully, and I put up my sword. Then the handmaidens of Circe prepared a bath, and I bathed and rubbed myself with olive oil, and Circe gave me a new mantle and doublet. The handmaidens brought out silver tables, and on them set golden baskets with bread and meat in them, and others brought cups of honey-tasting wine. I sat before a silver table but I had no pleasure in the food before me.’   15
  ‘When Circe saw me sitting silent and troubled she said, “Why, Odysseus, dost thou sit like a speechless man? Dost thou think there is a drug in this food? But I have sworn that I will not treat thee guilefully, and that oath I shall keep.”’   16
  ‘And I said to her, “O Circe, Enchantress, what man of good heart could take meat and drink while his companions are as swine in swine-pens? If thou wouldst have me eat and drink, first let me see my companions in their own forms.”’   17
  ‘Circe, when she heard me say this, went to the swine-pen and anointed each of the swine that was there with a charm. As she did, the bristles dropped away and the limbs of the man were seen. My companions became men again, and were even taller and handsomer than they had been before.’   18
  ‘After that we lived on Circe’s island in friendship with the enchantress. She did not treat us guilefully again and we feasted in her house for a year.’   19
  ‘But in all of us there was a longing to return to our own land. And my men came to me and craved that I should ask Circe to let us go on our homeward way. She gave us leave to go and she told us of the many dangers we should meet on our voyage.’   20

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