(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

As he rakes the ground before the cave of his master, the Cyclops, old Silenus laments the day he was shipwrecked on the rock of Aetna and taken into captivity by the monstrous, one-eyed offspring of Poseidon, god of the sea. About Silenus gambols his children, the Chorus of Satyrs, who pray with their father to Bacchus for deliverance. Suddenly, Silenus spies a ship and the approach of a group of sailors who are clearly seeking supplies. Odysseus and his companions approach, introduce themselves as the conquerors of Troy, driven from their homeward journey by tempestuous winds and desperately in need of food and water. Silenus warns them of the cannibalistic Cyclops’s impending return, urges them to make haste, and then begins to bargain with them over the supplies. Spying a skin of wine, the precious liquid of Bacchus that he did not taste for years, Silenus begs for a drink. After one sip he feels his feet urging him to dance. He offers them all the lambs and cheese they need in exchange for one skin of wine.

As the exchange takes place, the giant Cyclops suddenly returns, ravenously hungry. The wretched Silenus makes himself appear to be terribly beaten and accuses Odysseus and his men of plundering the Cyclops’s property. Odysseus denies the false charge, but although he is supported by the leader of the Chorus of Satyrs, the Cyclops seizes two of the sailors, takes them into his cave, and makes a meal of them. Horrified, Odysseus is then urged...

(The entire section is 596 words.)