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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘Ulysses von Ithacia’
By Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754)
 
Translation of William Morton Payne

ULYSSES—Alas, Chilian, I have tried in every way to calm the wrath of Neptune; but prayers, offerings, are all in vain. We have now wandered about for twenty years since the conquest of Troy from one place to another, until we have at last come to Cajania, where Queen Dido has promised us provision of ships for the pursuit of our journey; but alas! day after day goes by, and I fear that it will be longer than we think. For I am afraid of something I dare not think about. I am afraid, Chilian—  1
  Chilian—What is my lord afraid of?  2
  Ulysses—I am afraid that Dido has fallen in love with me.  3
  Chilian—Perhaps—  4
  Ulysses—Oh, unfortunate man that I am! If it is true, Chilian, we shall never get away from here.  5
  Chilian—Will my lord not take it ill if I ask him how old he was when he left home?  6
  Ulysses—I was in the flower of my age, not over forty.  7
  Chilian—Good. Forty years to begin with; then ten years for the siege makes fifty, then twenty years on the homeward journey makes seventy. The great Dido must be a great lover of antiquities, if she is so cold towards the many young men from whom she might choose, and falls in love with an aged and bearded man.  8
  Ulysses—Listen, Chilian: I don’t want to hear any such arguments; you must have made a mistake in the reckoning. When you see a thing with your eyes, you mustn’t doubt it. If you saw snow in midsummer, you shouldn’t say, “It is not possible that this should be snow, for it is now summer”: it should be enough for you to see the snow with your eyes.  9
  Chilian—I observe, my lord, that I must leave reason out of the question in the things that have happened to us. So I will no longer doubt, but rather think how we can get ourselves out of this fix.  10
  Ulysses—How shall we escape this impending disaster?  11
  Chilian—There is no other way but to steal away from the land in secret.  12
  Ulysses—You are right there, Chilian. I will go right away and talk the situation over with my faithful comrades; stay here until I come back.  [Goes away.]  13
  Chilian  [alone.]—I wish I had a pinch of snuff, so I could catch my breath; for my head is almost distracted. I am sure that when my lord comes back he will say again that it is ten years since he last spoke with me. We shall get to be five or six thousand years old before we come home to our fatherland; for I notice that we do not keep pace with time, but that time runs away from us while we stand still. I have a piece of English cheese here that I brought from Ithaca thirty years ago, and it is still quite fresh. And not only does time run away from us, but the earth on which we stand; for many times, when I light my pipe we are in the eastern corner of the world, and before I have smoked it out we find ourselves in the western corner.  14
Ulysses returns
  Ulysses—Oh heavens! is it possible that such things can be in nature?
  15
  Chilian—What is up now, your Worship?  16
  Ulysses—Alas, Chilian, I never could have imagined such a thing, if I hadn’t seen it with these my eyes.  17
  Chilian—What is it, my lord?  18
  Ulysses—O Dido, Dido, what ill have I done thee, that thou shouldst thus exercise thy magic arts upon my faithful comrades?  19
  Chilian—Are they bewitched?  20
  Ulysses—Listen, Chilian, to a marvelous tale, the like of which has not been known from Deucalion’s flood to the present time. During the four weeks since I last spoke with you—  21
  Chilian—Is it only four weeks? I thought it was about four years.  22
  Ulysses—During the four weeks, I say, I have been planning with my comrades to journey away in secret. We were all ready to go on board, when Dido got wind of it, and to prevent our departure, by magic changed all my comrades into swine.  23
  Chilian—Ei, that cannot be possible, gracious lord!  [aside]  because they were swine before.  24
  Ulysses—Alas, it is too true, Chilian. I thought my eyes deceived me, and I spoke to them. But their speech was transformed with their shape, and for an answer they grunted at me. Then I took flight for fear of likewise being turned into a hog. But there they come; I dare stay no longer.  [Departs weeping.]  25
Enter the Comrades of Ulysses, crawling on their hands and feet, and grunting
  Chilian—Ha, ha! ha, ha! ha, ha! ha, ha! The deuce take you all! I never saw the like in all my days.
  26
  Swine—Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!  27
  Chilian—Listen, you fellows: what devil is bestride you?  28
  Swine—We are swine, little father. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!  29
  Chilian—The Devil take me if you are swine.  30
  Swine—Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!  31
  Chilian  [gets down on his hands and feet, and begins to grunt]—Ugh, ugh, ugh! Listen, you fellows, are you sure you are swine?  32
  Swine—Ugh, ugh, ugh!  33
  Chilian—Well, since you are swine, you shall have swine’s food. Eat me up this filth that lies here.  34
  Swine—We are not hungry, little father. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!  35
  Chilian  [beating them with a whip]—Go on, I tell you,—eat it up, or I will cut your swinish backs into strips. Go on, go on; if you are swine it is the right food for you.  36
[He flogs them roundly. The swine get up, and become men again.]
  Swine—As sure as you live, you shall pay us for these blows, my good Monsieur Wegner. 1 Aren’t you ashamed to spoil the whole story in this way?  [They run off.]
  37
  Chilian—I didn’t spoil the story,—I made them into two-legged hogs, as they were before. But there comes my lord again.  38
  Ulysses—Alas! Chilian, have they all gone?  39
  Chilian—Yes, my lord, they have gone. They go on two legs now as they did before.  40
  Ulysses—Are they no longer swine?  41
  Chilian—I don’t say that; far from it: but my leechcraft has gone so far as to make them two-legged once more.  42
  Ulysses—O great son of Æsculapius! you deserve to have temples and altars erected in your honor. From what god or goddess did you learn such divine arts?  43
  Chilian—I lay down in the field for a while, and with bitter tears bewailed the misfortune of our people. While weeping I fell asleep, and there appeared to me Proserpina, the goddess of leechcraft, (that’s her name, isn’t it?) who said to me: “Chilian, I have heard thy tears and thy prayers. Get up, and cut a branch from the first birch at your left hand. It is a sacred tree that no man has hitherto touched. As soon as you touch your countrymen with it, they shall rise up and walk on two legs as before.” Which happened just as she said. Whether they are still swine or not, I don’t say; but it is certain that they look as they used to, walk on two legs, and speak,—for they abused me because I hit them too hard with the sacred rod.  44
  Ulysses—O Chilian, you have saved me! Let me embrace you!  45
  Chilian—Serviteur! It would be a pleasure to me if my lord would also turn hog, so that I might have the satisfaction of curing him too.  46
  Ulysses—Listen, Chilian, there is not much time to waste; the ship is all ready. Let us go and gather our people together, that we may escape hastily and in silence. See, there comes Dido: we must run.  47
 
Note 1. The name of the actor who took the part of Chilian. [back]
 
 
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