This is a chapter of The Wanderings of Odysseus, by C. Witt & F. Younghusband.
The ship of Odysseus now continued its solitary way and by-and-by came to another land. By this time, the sailors were quite worn out with the long rowing, otherwise they would have been afraid to land again, lest some new misfortune should befall them. Weary and dejected, they remained for two days at anchor on the shore, but, on the third day, Odysseus took his sword and spear and set out to explore the country. He climbed up a little hill and perceived that he was on an island; before him lay a thick wood, but beyond it was some smoke which showed him that the island was inhabited.
He went on until his ship was quite out of sight, and presently came to a meadow through which there ran a little brook. It was about the middle of the day, and just then there came out of the forest a great stag with tall branching antlers, who was on his way to the brook to quench his thirst. Odysseus raised his spear, threw it at him, and hit him in the back. The spear went right through his spine, and he fell immediately and died without a groan. In order to carry him back the more easily, Odysseus plucked some pliable twigs from the nearest trees and twisted them into a rope with which he bound the animal’s legs together. Then he slung him onto his back, but so heavy was the huge stag that Odysseus had to lean heavily on his spear for support in carrying his burden back to the shore. There he found his companions sitting wrapped up in their cloaks, just as disheartened and faint-spirited as when he had left them.
He threw down his booty before them and exclaimed, “Friends, be of good courage; death has not as yet been allotted to us by the gods. Rise up then, and let us eat and drink again.”
The men threw off their cloaks and jumped up, and, when they had made an end of examining and admiring the huge animal, they prepared a sumptuous repast. All the remainder of the day was spent in feasting on the flesh, and when night came they again wrapped themselves in their cloaks and lay down on the shore to sleep.
Next morning Odysseus assembled his companions and said, “We have come far out of our way and do not know which course we should take. There is but one thing to be done. We must seek for some kindly disposed people who will be willing to direct us. Yesterday, in the distance, I saw some smoke rising, and now some of us must go and find out who they are that live on the island.”
At these words, the Greeks raised loud cries of grief, for they feared lest the island might be the abode of such a race as the Cyclops or even the Laestrygonians. But little could be gained by weeping; and without heeding their lamentations, Odysseus divided his companions into two bands, each containing two-and-twenty men. One band was to be under the direction of Eurylochus, who, next to himself, was the best man among them; the other he was to lead himself. Then they drew lots to see which of them should go on before to spy out the land, and the lot fell to Eurylochus, who immediately set out with his companions. They parted from their friends with many tears on both sides, for they had abandoned all hope of ever again meeting with any good fortune.
Eurylochus and his companions went through the wood and emerged upon a very pleasant country, in the midst of which stood a magnificent palace. It was not, however, without alarm that they saw wolves and lions of a truly marvelous kind prowling about it: instead of behaving as wolves and lions might be expected to do, they came up to them in a friendly manner, wagging their tails like dogs who run to greet their master on his return home, which seemed to the Greeks a very strange proceeding. Inside the palace a woman’s voice was heard singing, and, when they had reached the gate of the courtyard, they could distinguish the sound of a loom at work.
They knocked at the door for admittance, and immediately it was opened by a tall, beautiful woman who invited them to enter the palace. All but Eurylochus followed her, but his suspicions had been aroused by the wonderful animals, and he remained outside. For some time he heard the sound of his companions’ voices engaged in conversation within, but suddenly all was silent. He waited for a long time hoping they would return, but not one of them came back, and he was forced to conclude that some evil had befallen them.
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It was even so. The beautiful woman who had invited them in so pleasantly was the enchantress Circe, whose delight it was to change her guests into animals. When the Greeks entered her house, she offered them seats and set before them a delicious drink, in which, however, she had mixed a magic juice. When they had drunk their fill, she touched them, one after another, with her wand, and immediately their heads and voices were changed into the heads and voices of swine, and their bodies became those of swine with bristles growing all over them. Then the enchantress drove them into a dark miserable sty and strewed acorns and other food for pigs before them. The unhappy men had retained their human thoughts and wept bitterly with grief and shame, but no words could they utter.
Eurylochus hastened back through the wood to Odysseus. For a long time he could but give way to his tears; no words would come to his lips. But at last, in answer to the questions of his friends, he related what had happened. They all threw themselves on the ground and joined their lamentations to his, but Odysseus armed himself with his sword and bow and called upon Eurylochus to lead him to the palace.
In an agony of fear, Eurylochus threw himself at the feet of Odysseus and, embracing his knees, implored him not to require this of him: he thought that Odysseus would surely perish without being able to rescue his friends and that it would be far better for them to return at once to their ships and hasten away as fast as they could. But Odysseus looked at him with contempt and answered, “Very well, then. Remain here, eat and drink. I shall follow the bidding of my heart.” And with these words he set off towards the wood.