Book 12 odyssey

The odyssey sirens passage

The sun god Helios angrily asked Zeus and the other gods to punish Odysseus's crew for killing his cattle, and Zeus complied. They boarded swiftly and took their place on the benches then sitting in their rows struck the grey water with their oars. All night long was I borne, and at the rising of the sun I came to the cliff of Scylla and to dread Charybdis. Analysis Loyalty and keeping promises are two of the highest virtues in Homer's world. They are the sturdy sheep and cows of Helios , a great god, who sees and hears everything. She verily sucked down the salt water of the sea, but I, springing up to the tall fig-tree, laid hold of it, and clung to it like a bat. But if you harm them, I prophesy shipwreck for you and your friends, and even if you yourself escape, you will come unlooked-for to your home, in sore distress, losing all comrades. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you, then they must bind you faster. Then while I was still out at sea in my black ship, I heard the lowing of the cattle that were being stalled and the bleating of the sheep, and upon my mind fell the words of the blind seer, Theban Teiresias, and of Aeaean Circe, who very straitly charged me to shun the island of Helios, who gives joy to mortals. So, row the black ship on past the island. The Ithakans approach the Sirens and, following Circe's instructions, Odysseus plugs his men's ears with melted beeswax and then instructs them to tie him up. Nay, come, let us drive off the best of the kine of Helios and offer sacrifice to the immortals who hold broad heaven. Not even a man of might could shoot an arrow from the hollow ship so as to reach into that vaulted cave.

She might keep her from darting out once more. For it was but yesterday that I told it in thy hall to thyself and to thy noble wife.

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Verily whenever she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a great fire she would seethe and bubble in utter turmoil, and high over head the spray would fall on the tops of both the cliffs. But come now, do ye all swear to me a mighty oath, to the end that, if we haply find a herd of kine or a great flock of sheep, [] no man may slay either cow or sheep in the blind folly of his mind; but be content to eat the food which immortal Circe gave.

I used my courage, intelligence and tactics, to get us out of there, and some day these dangers too will be only a memory.

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All deaths are bad enough but there is none so bad as famine. Odysseus wants to bypass the island because of Tiresias' prophecy and Circe's warning. So then all day long till set of sun we sat feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. By her no sailors yet may boast that they have fled unscathed in their ship, for with each head she carries off [] a man, snatching him from the dark-prowed ship. From this smoke and surf keep [] the ship well away and hug the cliff, lest, ere thou know it, the ship swerve off to the other side and thou cast us into destruction. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave wherein the sea-nymphs hold their courts and dances, and I called the men together in council. For it was but yesterday that I told it in thy hall to thyself and to thy noble wife. Not even a man of might could shoot an arrow from the hollow ship so as to reach into that vaulted cave. Then I plugged the ears of each of my friends, and they tied me hand and foot and stood me upright in the mast housing, and fastened the rope ends round the mast itself. No mortal man could scale it or set foot upon the top, not though he had twenty hands and feet; for the rock is smooth, as if it were polished. She advised that Odysseus put beeswax in the men's ears, and that they tie Odysseus to the mast if he insisted on hearing the Sirens' songs. For a full month. For never yet has any man rowed past this isle in his black ship until he has heard the sweet voice from our lips. Therewith Zeus thundered and hurled his bolt upon the ship, and she quivered from stem to stern, smitten by the bolt of Zeus, and was filled with sulphurous smoke, and my comrades fell from out the ship.

When she spits it back up again, Odysseus let go and lands on its flotsam. But my comrades rose up and furled the sail and stowed it in the hollow ship, and thereafter sat at the oars and made the water white with their polished oars of fir. He delights in it and goes his way a wiser man.

book 12 odyssey quotes

As soon as we were well away from the island, and could see nothing but sky and sea, the son of Saturn raised a black cloud over our ship, and the sea grew dark beneath it. If they resist temptation, they can return home safely; if, on the other hand, they harm any sacred animal, the ship and men will be destroyed.

The odyssey book 12 full text

The ox-hides crawled about, raw meat and roast bellowed on the spit, and all around sounded the noise of lowing cattle. So when we had straightway made fast all the tackling throughout the ship we sat down, but the wind and the helmsman guided the ship. They had no wine with which to make drink-offerings over the sacrifice while it was cooking, so they kept pouring on a little water from time to time while the inward meats were being grilled; then, when the thigh bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small and put the pieces upon the spits. Like sea-crows they were borne on the waves about the black ship, and the god took from them their returning. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, they began talking about their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten; this set them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a sound sleep. Circe of the lovely tresses, dread goddess with a human voice, sent us a good companion to help us, a fresh wind from astern of our dark-prowed ship to fill the sail. Odysseus here breaks from his story, stating to the Phaeacians that he sees no reason to repeat to them his account of his experience on Ogygia. To me they cried aloud, calling upon me [] by name for that last time in anguish of heart. The second route holds two dangers: Skylla, a sea monster with six heads that eats men, and Charybdis, a whirlpool that sucks in and vomits out the sea three times a day. One day Odysseus fell asleep, and Eurylochus convinced the men to eat the Cattle of the Sun: it's better to die at sea from the wrath of the gods, he said, than to die of hunger. Verily whenever she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a great fire she would seethe and bubble in utter turmoil, and high over head the spray would fall on the tops of both the cliffs. Steak for everyone! As soon as land is out of sight, Zeus sends a monstrous storm that destroys the vessel and kills all the men, sparing only Odysseus. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore and began with their singing.

And if thou shalt implore and bid thy comrades to loose thee, then let them bind thee with yet more bonds.

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The Odyssey Book 12 Summary