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     Just as the sun set, darkness fell. Circe grabbed me by the hand, and made me sit away from my shipmates and, while leaning close to me, she asked me what had happened; and I told her following her order. Then she told me these words:

    - Hear me now of what I am going to say and later a god in person will remind you: first, you will go to the mermaids, whom enchant the men who go to them. Those who recklessly go to them and hear their voice, no longer return to see their wives and children, who happily surround them filled with great joy when they arrive home. The mermaids bewitch them with their melodious songs, while sitting in a meadow in the center of a huge pile of rotting bones of men whose skin slowly deteriorates away. You must pass them and cover the ears of your shipmates with white wax, however if you wish to hear them, make them tie your hands and feet to the bottom of your boat’s mast, and make sure that the ropes are attached to it: that way you will be able to be delighted listening to the mermaids. And in case you beg and order your mates to set you free, they should tie you down with even more ropes.

    That is what she said; and suddenly dawn fell with a golden aura. The divine one amongst the goddesses returned back to the island, and I, heading towards the ship, ordered my shipmates to get on the boat and to untie the ropes.  They got on the boat following the order and sat down to begin rowing against the sparkling sea. Behind the bluish ship, prosperous winds blew which blew the sails; what a good mate Circe sent our way; she who has pretty braids, is a powerful deity, and endowed with voice.

      The gear was put in place. We sat in the ship, which was being driven by the wind and the pilot. Then I raised my voice to my mates, with a sad heart, and talked to them this way:

    - Oh friends! It should not be only one or two of you to know about the predictions that Circe, the most divine out of all the goddesses, revealed to me; and I will tell you, so you know that we shall die or survive, liberating us from the Reaper. She has advised us to avoid the voices of the divine mermaids and the flowery meadow in which they live. Only I must hear them; but you must tie my feet with strong ropes and knots pushed against the bottom of the mast so I remain there without being able to move. And just in case I beg you to untie me, go ahead and tie me even more.

    As he spoke, the ship came very close to the island of the mermaids, since there was a favorable wind pushing them. From that moment on, the wind stopped blowing and a placid calmness reigned, because some deity made the waves fall asleep. My shipmates got up, put away the sails back inside the ship; and once again sitting, they beat against the water, turning it white by beating it with their rows. Instantly I grabbed a large pan of wax and cut it with a sharp bronze knife in little bite-sized pieces, which I then had to mold with my robust hands. Soon the wax was warm enough due to the great strength put and the rays of the sovereign Sun. I then covered my shipmates’ ears with the wax. They tied me by my hands and feet, and crammed me right into the bottom of the mast with the ropes tied around it; and once again sitting, they continued to beat the sparkling sea with their rows. We made the ship go very quickly, and, finding themselves so close to the shore that their voices could reach, the mermaids noticed that the lightweight boat was sailing within walking distance, so they started to sing melodiously.

    - ¡Alas, famous Odysseus, distinguished glory to those of the sea! Come and stop the ship so you can hear our voices. No one has gone in their black ship without hearing the soft voices that flow out from our lips, but they all leave knowing much more than before after enjoying it, since we know how many hardships the Greeks and Trojans have suffered in the enormous land of Troy due to the will of the gods. And, we also know everything that happens on land.    This is what they said with their beautiful voices. My heart had the desire to hear them, and I moved my eyebrows, ordering my shipmates to untie me; but all of them bowed down and kept on paddling. And it was then that Perimedes and Eurylochos, tied me down even more with new knots. And once the mermaids were left behind, up until when their voices could no longer be heard, my faithful shipmates took off the wax with which I had covered their ears and they finally released me.

    HOMER.  Odyssey

Instructions: Select one of the buttons with letters a, b and c. The selected answer will appear in red.



1.- Who taught Ulysses how to get rid of the mermaids?

            a) The Reaper goddess.

            b) The Aurora.

            c) The witch-goddess Circe.

2.- What would the mermaids do with the men who approached them?

            a) Put them under a spell.

            b) Kill them.

            c) Put them to sleep.

3.- What means did the mermaids used to bewitch them?

            a) Their conversation.

            b) A resonant song.

            c) Their screams.

4.- What did Ulysses have to do with the sailors?  

            a) Cover their ears with wax.

            b) Tie them to a mast.

            c) Cover their eyes.

5.- How should have Ulysses been?

            a) With his ears covered with white wax.

            b) Tied to the bottom of the mast.

            c) With his eyes covered with a blindfold.

6.- With what did Circe award them with?

            a) With a calm sea.

            b) With a splendid morning.

            c) With a favorable wind.

7.- The sailors should have neither listened to the sirens or:

            a) Be invited by them.

            b) Pass by the flowery meadow where the mermaids lived.

            c) Eat what they would give them.


8.- What did the mermaids ask Ulysses?

            a) To stop the ship.

            b) To go up to the island.

            c) To eat what they offered.

9.- Who tied Ulysses again?   

            a) The witch-goddess Circe.

            b) The Reaper goddess.

            c) Perimedes and Eurylochos.

10.- Did they stop the ship to hear the mermaids?  

            a) Yes.

            b) No.

            c) A little.

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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL