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For other English-language translations of this work, see Prometheus Bound.

 

THE PROMETHEUS BOUND
OF ÆSCHYLUS.

 

LITERALLY TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE

BY

AUGUSTA WEBSTER.

 

EDITED BY

THOMAS WEBSTER, M.A.,

LATE FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

 

London and Cambridge:

MACMILLAN AND CO.

1866

 

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EDITOR'S PREFACE.


THE reason why the title-page of this book bears the name of an Editor as well as that of a Translator is, that my wife wished for some better guarantee of accuracy than a lady's name could give, and so, rightly or wrongly, looked to me for what she wanted.

I have most carefully compared this translation, line by line, with the original, and am not afraid to vouch for its conscientious adherence to the letter of the text. I offer no opinion as to what share of poetic merit it may have, but leave that to critics less biased than myself.

T. W.

Cambridge,
January 18, 1866.

 

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The text upon which this translation is based is that of Paley (2nd English edition, 1861). A list of the few instances in which different readings have been adopted will be found at the end of the notes.

The numbers within brackets refer to the corresponding lines in Paley.

 
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DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

 

Strength.

Force (a Mute).

Hephaistos.

Prometheus.

Chorus of Nymphs, daughters of Oceanus.

Oceanus.

Io, daughter of Inachus.

Hermes.

 

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PROMETHEUS BOUND.


Strength.

NOW have we come to earth's far final plain,
To the Scythian reach, the untrodden wilderness.
Hephaistos, needs must thou observe the charge
The father gave thee, and on these beetling rocks,
In adamantine chains unbreakable, 5 (4)
Bind down this rebel here. For thine own glory,
The live blaze of all-working fire, he stole,
And unto mortals gave. And for such crime
Must he pay forfeit to the gods, that so
He learn to bear with Zeus's empery, 10 (10)
And to refrain from his man-helping wont.


Hephaistos.

Strength, and thou, Force, ye both have to the full
Performed what Zeus laid on ye: ye have done.
But I am scant of courage to bind down
A like-born god on this storm-beaten peak. 15 (15)
But yet I needs must nerve myself to do it.—
For to slight Zeus's words is a grave thing.
Oh high-souled son of justice-teaching Themis,
I, most unwilling, even as thou thyself
Art most unwilling, now must rivet thee, 20 (19)
In brazen bonds 'twill pass thee to unloose,
Upon this desolate rock, where never voice
Nor form of man shall pass into thy ken,
But shrivelled by the living glow of the sun
Thy bloom shall wither up, and welcoming 25 (23)
Wilt thou perceive the twinkling-vestured night
Veiling the light, and welcoming perceive
The sun once more disperse the morning rimes.
And always shall the burden of an ill
Present upon thee wear thee down: for he 30 (26)
Who shall release thee waits yet for the birth.
Such thy reward for thy man-helping wont.
For thou, a god, brunting the wrath of gods,
Hast given a wrongful honour to mankind.
So on this joyless rock shalt thou keep watch, 35 (31)
Standing erect and sleepless, not so much
As bending the tired knee. And many moans
And many useless prayers shalt thou pour forth,
For inexorable is the heart of Zeus.
So every one is harsh whose power is new. 40 (35)


Strength.

Enough: why art thou lingering, making waste
Of lamentations? Why dost thou not hate
This god most hateful to the other gods,
Betrayer of thy sovereignty to men?


Hephaistos.

In sooth, 'tis a marvellous potency this tie 45 (39)
Of kinship and familiar intercourse.


Strength.

I grant thee. But how canst thou not regard
The father's words? Dost thou not dread this worse?


Hephaistos.

Thou art ever ruthless, ready to all tasks.


Strength.

Why, it avails him nought to be bemoaned. 50 (43)
And thou spend not thyself in labour lost.

 

Hephaistos.

O most abominable handicraft!


Strength.

Why spite at that? for in good sooth thine art
Is no way cause of the present use for it.


Hephaistos.

And yet I would it were some other's art. 55 (48)


Strength.

All is allowed the gods except to rule
Unruled; for none is free save Zeus alone.


Hephaistos.

I know: I cannot answer thee thy words.


Strength.

Then wilt thou not make haste to clip him round
With bonds, lest Zeus perceive thee truanting? 60 (53)


Hephaistos.

Nay here the irons may be seen at hand.


Strength.

Bind them about his arms then; smite amain
With thy strong hammer; nail him to the rock.

 

Hephaistos.

Well 'tis a doing, and at no sluggard's pace.


Strength.

Smite harder, press him tightly—leave nought slack—
He's clever at impossible escapes. 66 (59)


Hephaistos.

There, one arm's fixed already, past all freeing.


Strength.

Now pin the other fast then—let the sage
Be taught that he is duller-brained than Zeus.


Hephaistos.

None can reproach me fairly, save him here. 70 (63)


Strength.

Now drive the relentless tooth of the iron wedge
Right through his body—force it into him.


Hephaistos.

Alas! Prometheus, woe's me for thy pangs.

 

Strength.

Again then thou art shrinking, making moan
Over the foe of Zeus. Have thou a care 75 (68)
Lest some day thou shouldst needs wail for thyself.


Hephaistos.

Thou seest a sight most piteous to behold.


Strength.

I see one here receiving his deserts.
Come, gird him round the body with those bands.


Hephaistos.

So must I needs, but thou hound me not on. 80 (72)


Strength.

But I will hound thee on, aye, drive thee at him.
Go lower, force his legs into the gyves.


Hephaistos.

There then, that work is done, and with no lagging.


Strength.

Now strike strong on the rivets through the feet,
For stern the overseer who scans the work. 85 (77)

 

Hephaistos.

Thy voice jars loathsome on me like thy shape.


Strength.

Pule thou away, but do not fling at me
My ruthlessness and harshness of my mood.


Hephaistos.

Let us depart; his limbs are in the toils.


Strength.

Now then be insolent, and spoil the gods 90 (82)
Of their royalties, to lay them at the feet
Of creatures of a day. Well, how far now
Can mortals drain away thy deeps of woe?
'Twas a rare blunder when the gods assigned
Thy name Prometheus, the forecasting one, 95 (85)
For thou needst surely a forecaster now
For how thou mayst elude these shrewd-wrought bonds.


Prometheus.

Oh marvellous sky, and swiftly winging winds,
And streams, and myriad laughter of sea-waves,
And universal mother earth, I call ye 100 (90)
And the all-seeing sun to look on me,
What I, a god, endure from other gods.
Yea, see racked with what tormentings
I must wrestle through time told by thousands of years,
For the new king of gods hath contrived for me 105 (96)
Bondage thus shameful.
Woe, woe! for the pain that is on me now
I groan, and I groan for the coming pain—
Where will the end ta this evil break
Like the dawn of a star in heaven? 110 (100)

But yet what say I? For I throughly know
All coming things, and no ill breaks on me
With strangeness. It behoves me that I bear
That which is doomed in patience, since I know
The might of Fate to be invincible. 115 (105)
Yet can I not find in me, or to keep
Silence on this my lot, or not to keep.
For when I gave my gift to men, myself,
Unhappy, thralled myself into this doom.
For I made booty of the fount of fire— 120 (109)
Hid it within a fennel stalk—which since
Has proved to man the teacher of all arts,
And his chief riches. And this penalty
I pay for my transgressions, rivetted
Here in these chains beneath the open sky. 125 (113)

Ah me! Hush! Hush!
What whisper and what odour comes to me
From some one yet unseen? Is it of gods,
Or mortals, or perchance of both commingled?
Has one come to this world's end peak 130 (117)
To view my anguish?—or with what intent?

Behold me, a most wretched god, in chains,
One counted foe unto Zeus, and so come
Into the hate of all other gods, 134 (121)
Of the gods who resort to the halls of Zeus,
Because I have loved mankind too well.
Woe's me, hark! What is this rustling again?
The air is astir with the flutter of wings!
All that comes near brings me dread.

 

CHORUS.

Strophe I.

Fear us not: thou dost perceive 140 (128)
Only a friendly crowd,
Who on eager wings have raced to this peak;
And many a prayer had we to speak
Ere we won our father's leave.
But the helping winds sent us swiftly to thee, 145 (133)
For down below to our caves in the sea
Came the clanging of steel so loud
That it startled our sober coyness away,
And without delay 149 (137)
Unsandalled we sped here our winged cars' array.


Prometheus.

Alas! Alas!
Daughters of Tethys mother of many lives,
Children of him who encoils all the earth
With the unsleeping flow of his waters,
Father Oceanus, look ye upon me. 155 (143)
See me with what thralls imprisoned
Mid the bleak ridges of the chasm-reft peak
Where my terrible watch must be kept.

 

CHORUS.

Antistrophe I.

We behold thee, and a haze,
Prometheus, dims our eyes, 160 (148)
Of awe and of many tears for thee,
When we look at thee on this rock and see
Thy body parched by hot rays
And fettered with iron in shameful chains.
But now in Olympus a new lord reigns, 165 (153)
And Zeus kings in lawless guise,
By laws that are wondrously changed of late,
And those who were great
In the ancient days meet a pitiful fate.


Prometheus.

If he had but sent me down under earth, 170 (158)
Under Hades thronged with the dead, yea down
Into boundless Tartarus, penning me thus,
By his barbarous will, in unyielding chains,
That so nor god nor any should joy
At beholding! But now I am made a mock 175 (163)
In the open skies and, most wretched, bear
Pangs that make mirth for my foes.

 

CHORUS.

Strophe II.

Who is among the gods so stern at heart
As to be glad o'er thee?
Who does not rather in thy wrath bear part 180 (167)
For the ill in which thou art,
Save only Zeus? And truly he,
Revengeful always, sets his stedfast will
And keeps the sons of heaven enthralled,
And will not slack until his heart be palled, 185 (171)
Or else until
By some device another reave away
His hardly to be conquered sway.


Prometheus.

Yet of me, though wrung in these stubborn bonds,
Shall the lord of gods have need one day, 190 (176)
To show the new plot which shall strip from him
Sceptre and pride. Then not honied spell
Of words, shall entice me, nor rugged threats
Prevail to have me make known those things
Till he set me free from these barbarous chains 195 (183)
And be fain to atone with a penalty
For the outrages done on me.

 

CHORUS.

Antistrophe II.

Yea thou indeed art bold, and batest nought
For all thine agonies,
But rather dost too freely speak thy thought. 200 (187)
But, for us, our minds are wrought
By a keen fear: with scared surmise
We scan thy destiny, nor can discern
Which were thy course to steer and gain
By holding it the end of thy long pain. 205 (191)
For ever stern
The son of Kronos keeps his purposed mind,
And still his ways pass us to find.


Prometheus.

That Zeus is savage and meteth out right
By his will alone I know. But one day 210 (195)
Will his mood be soft,
When that blow to come hath smitten him down.
And then, with his stubborn wrath hushed calm,
Will he eagerly seek, from me eagerly giving,
A league and a loving bond. 215 (200)

 

Chorus.

Unveil to us thy story, tell out all—
For what imputed guilt Zeus holds thee bond,
Putting thee thus to torment and to shame.
Tell, if to tell us do not cost thee hurt.


Prometheus.

To tell these things indeed is painful for me, 220 (205)
But to keep silence on them is pain too.
Yea, all ways is it wretched. When first grew
The strife among the gods, and they were ranged
Faction to adverse faction, these all zeal
To overtopple Kronos from his seat 225 (209)
That Zeus, forsooth, might king it, these astir
To thwart them, that Zeus ne'er should rule the gods,
I, counselling for the best, could not persuade
The Titans, sons of Uranus and Earth.
They, in their pride of strength despising arts 230 (214)
Of subtlety, supposed they should prevail
With little effort and by force alone.
But me, a many times, my mother Themis,
And Gaia, she who beareth many names,
Had warned of how the end should be achieved: 235 (219)
That not by strength, and not by who was bold,
But by their crafts must the victors overcome.
When I set forth all this to them in words
They deigned not to regard me in the least.
Then, as things fared, it seemed to me the best 240 (224)
To take my mother with me in my plans,
And willingly range sides with willing Zeus.
And through my counsels is it the murk deeps
Of Tartarus conceal with his allies
The ancient Kronos. Such the debt to me 245 (229)
Owed by the despot of the gods, and this
The evil price in which he quits the debt.
For somehow despotism is ever sick
Of this disease, to have no faith in friends.
Howbeit that you ask me, on what charge 250 (234)
He persecutes me, now will I make clear.
So soon as on his father's throne he sat
He ruled their several honours to the gods,
And ordered his dominion; but no thought
Took he for toil-worn mortals, but desired 255 (240)
To sweep the whole race off and plant a new.
And none withstood his wish save only me.
But I was venturous, I saved mankind
From being dashed in shivers down to Hades.
And 'tis for this I am brought low by pain 260 (245)
Dreadful to bear and piteous to behold.
I, who took mortals in compassion, earned
No like compassion, but thus ruthlessly
Am tuned to obedience, a sight shaming Zeus.


Chorus.

With iron heart and made of stone were he, 265 (250)
Prometheus, who in wrath at these thy woes
Should bear no part with thee: and as for us
Who never should have sought to look on such,
Beholding we are pained unto the heart.


Prometheus.

If they who look be friends, then I seem piteous. 270 (254)


Chorus.

Farther than this thou surely didst not go?


Prometheus.

Yea, I stayed men from brooding on their death.


Chorus.

By finding them what cure for that disease?

 

Prometheus.

I gave to them blind hopes to dwell with them.


Chorus.

Thou gavest mortals a rare help in that! 275 (259)


Prometheus.

But furthermore 'twas I that gave them fire.


Chorus.

And have these creatures of a day live fire?


Prometheus.

Yea, and with it shall master many arts.


Chorus.

Are these indeed the charges on which Zeus
Thus persecutes thee and will nought abate 280 (264)
Thy woes? And is there no term set thy pain?


Prometheus.

None else, in sooth, than when it fits his whim,


Chorus.

Say how were that? What hope? Dost thou not see
That thou hast sinned? But in what way hast sinned
For us to say were thankless to ourselves 285 (269)
And pain to thee. Rather let us forbear
From talk of these things, and do thou seek out
For some releasement from thine agony.


Prometheus.

An easy tale for one who has his foot
Without the toils to teach and lecture him 290 (272)
Who feels the actual ill. But I indeed
Was well prepared for all befallen me.
With intent I sinned, with intent—I hide it not:
By helping men I gained myself these pangs.
Yet thought I not by such a punishment 295 (276)
To waste away amid these high-poised rocks,
Doomed to this barren solitary peak.
But ye, bewail not my now present woes,
But light down on the ground, and to the fate
In store for me give ear: so thoroughly 300 (281)
Shall ye know all. Yield to my asking, yield;
Bear so much part with the sufferer. Even thus
Winged trouble flits from each to each by turn.

 

CHORUS.

Prometheus, not on unwilling ears
Dost thou urge thy wish. 305 (286)
And we leave with light foot our swift-rushing cars
And the pure ether, highway of lone flying birds,
And will set ourselves close to this rugged spot.
For eagerly we desire to be taught
These sorrows of thine to the full. 310 (291)


Oceanus.

I arrive at the goal of the long long way
I have traversed to come, Prometheus, to thee,
Guiding my winged steed rapid in flight,
With never a bit, by my will alone.
And know I sorrow with thee for thy fate, 315 (296)
Constrained thus methinks by our kinsmanship.
But, apart from that tie, there is no one to whom
I give place before thee.
And thou shalt perceive the truth of my words,
For 'tis not in me to befriend with vain talk. 320 (302)
Yea, do thou but show me in what I can help—
Thou shalt never say that a trustier friend
Thou hast than Oceanus is.

 

Prometheus.

So! What this marvel? And thou comest then
To gaze upon my pain. Whence hadst thou nerve,
Leaving thy waterflood that bears thy name, 326 (308)
And thy rock-vaulted natural caves, to reach
This iron bearing land? Or art thou come
To observe my fate and wail my woes with me?
Behold a spectacle, the friend of Zeus 330 (312)
Who helped to stablish his control, behold
What sufferings must bow me to his will.


Oceanus.

Prometheus, I behold, and long to teach thee
A better wisdom, though thyself be wily: 334 (316)
Know thine own self, and change into new ways,
Since the monarch among gods is new himself.
But, if thou still thus hurlest keen-edged words
And passionate, it may be Zeus, though throned
In the far heights, shall hear thee, so the wrath
Thou bearest now may come to seem to thee 340 (322)
Mere child's-play hardship. Nay, thou evil fated,
Dismiss thy rage and seek thy woes an end.
What I would say may seem to thee worn trite,
But such, Prometheus, truly is the meed
Of a too braggart tongue. Thou no way yet 345 (327)
Hast humbled thee nor bowed thee to thine ills.
But wouldst add more to those thou hast already.
But, if thou use my teaching, thou no more
Wilt kick against the goad, since thou canst see
That a stern monarch, owing count to none, 350 (332)
Bears sway. And now I go to try my hap
If I prevail to loose thee from these pains.
But thou, be still, and make no blusterings.
Knowest thou not fully, thou the very wise, 354 (336)
That the froward tongue meets with its punishment?


Prometheus.

I give thee joy that thou hast scaped the blame,
Who in the whole tookst venturous part with me.
And now let it pass, never disturb thyself,
For thine utmost will not move him, he hears no one.
But take thou heed lest this journey harm thyself.


Oceanus.

Truly thou 'rt abler to guide other minds 361 (343)
Than thine own self. By deeds not words I judge it.
But, now I am purposed, do not hold me back.
I am sure, yes sure, that Zeus will give to me
This boon, and thou be loosened from thy pains.

 

Prometheus.

For this I thank thee, nor will ever cease, 366 (348)
For in goodwill thou failest not; but yet
Charge not thyself, for vainly, with no gain
To me, thou wilt have toiled, if thou persist.
Rather be still and keep thyself apart: 370 (352)
For I, though suffering, would not therefore long
For ill to light on the most heads possible.
No verily, I weary at the fate
Of my brother Atlas, standing in the west,
The pillar of Heaven and of earth upborne 375 (357)
By his shoulders—load that arms can hardly grasp.
The earthborn dweller in Cilician caves,
An angry monster with a hundred heads,
I pitying saw when overpowered by force—
The raging Typhon who braved all the gods, 380 (362)
Hissing destruction from his horrible jaws,
While from his eyes there lightened fearful flame
As though he'd storm the royalty of Zeus.
But Zeus's sleepless weapon came on him,
The downward thunderbolt outbreathing fire, 385 (367)
And dashed his arrogant vaunts. For, smitten through
To the very vitals, he was shrivelled up
And blasted in his strength. And now he lies
A paralyzed and helpless form beside
The narrow-straited sea, crushed down beneath 390 (372)
The roots of Etna. And Hephaistos sits
Forging his iron on the topmost peak—
Whence streams of fire will one day burst and prey
With ravening jaws upon the level plains
Of richly fruited Sicily. Such rage 395 (377)
Will Typhon bubble up with seething jets
Of unapproachable fire-breathing surge,
Albeit the bolt of Zeus have blasted him.
But thou art not ignorant, nor needest me
To teach this. Save thyself as thou knowst how.
But I shall drain to the dregs my present fate 401 (383)
Till the high heart of Zeus abate its wrath.


Oceanus.

Knowst thou not this, Prometheus, arguments
Are the physicians of a mind diseased?


Prometheus.

Yes, if in season one should soothe the heart; 405 (387)
Not if one press the swelling down by force.

 

Oceanus.

But in discretion unto boldness joined
What likely harm dost thou discern? Inform me.


Prometheus.

Pains ill bestowed, and fond credulity.


Oceanus.

Let me be sick of that disease, since best 410 (392)
'Tis for the politic not to seem wise.


Prometheus.

'Twould seem as if the blunder were mine own.


Oceanus.

Thine answer plainly sends me home again.


Prometheus.

Lest pitying me should bring thee enmity.


Oceanus.

From him new seated on the omnipotent throne?


Prometheus.

Be watchful lest his heart be ever wroth. 416 (398)


Oceanus.

Thy fate, Prometheus, is my teacher there.

 

Prometheus.

Go, take thee hence. Keep in thy present mind.


Oceanus.

I was setting off when thou bayedst out that word,
For my four-footed bird flaps with his wings 420 (402)
The level track of ether. Joyfully
No doubt he'll bend his knee in his own stall.


CHORUS.

Strophe I.

Prometheus, thy sad fate we rue,
Our tender eyes well founts whose streams our cheeks bedew:
Hard is the present case, 425 (411)
Zeus wields his power by laws that are his own,
And on the gods of old his over-weening mood is shown.


Antistrophe I.

The whole land echoes now with sighs,
Sighing and making moan for the old majesties
Of thee and of thy race. 430 (419)
Yea where the Asian colonies lie fair,
In loud lamentings for thine ills do mortal dwellers share.

 

Strophe II.

And the maidens who possess
The Colchian land, in battle terrorless,
And the Scythian host 435 (425)
Who near to the Mæotic lake inhabit earths last coast.


Antistrophe II.

And Araby's brave youth who dwell
Near Caucasus in the high citadel
Poised on the rocks,
A threatening army with barbed spears clashing loud-ringing shocks. 440 (431)


Strophe III.

Only one other till yet
Among the gods have we seen bear pain,
The Titan compelled in an adamant chain,
Atlas, who groaning lifts high
The ponderous weight on his shoulders set, 445 (437)
The revolving dome of the sky.


Antistrophe III.

And the ocean billows roar
In a sullen chime, and the deeps resound
With groans, and mutters from underground
Hades' black glooming recess, 450 (441)
And the founts whence clear-running streams brim oe'r
Moan piteous for thy distress.


Prometheus.

Deem not that arrogance or stubbornness
Refrains my tongue. But brooding wrings my heart
When I behold myself thus trampled on. 455 (446)
Yet who but I marked out for these new gods,
With perfect bounds, their several sovereignties?
But I'll not speak of this—for what ye know
I should be telling you. But rather hear 459 (450)
Men's evil plight—how, child-brained at the first,
I made them shrewd and of a reasoning mind.
Not as a shame to mortals shall I tell it,
But shewing that I planned my gifts for good.
For, first of all, they seeing saw amiss, 464 (455)
And hearing knew not what they heard; but, like
The forms seen in a dream, through that long time
Confused all things in medley; nor had skill
Of brick-built houses turned towards the sun,
Nor the carpenter's craft, but burrowing they dwelt
In the unsunned recesses of their caves, 470 (461)
Like the puny ants. Nor had they certain sign
Either of winter or of flowery spring
Or fruitful summer, but in all they did
Were without rule, until I shewed the risings
And the perplexing settings of the stars. 475 (466)
And the chief among inventions, numbers, too
I found them, and the art of joining letters,
Handmaid of universal memory
And mother of all learning. And I first
Brought to the yoke the beasts who yield themselves 480 (470)
To the harness and to riders, that so they
Might take men's place in all their heavier toils,
And, pride of lavish wealth, in chariots
I fastened horses docile to the reins.
And the mariner's sea-breasting sail-winged cars 485 (475)
None other planned but I. These the devices
I made for mortals: yet I, wretched, know
No artifice to banish mine own ills


Chorus.

A graceless ill thou bearest. Through a warp
In the mind thou wentst astray, and now dost thou,
Like to a bad physician fallen sick, 491 (482)
Despair and know no drug to heal thyself.


Prometheus.

You'll marvel more when you have heard the rest;
What arts and what resources I contrived:
The greatest this—if any one fell ill 495 (486)
There was no help, neither of solid drugs
Of chrisms nor of draughts, but for the lack
Of medicine they wasted till I showed them
How to mix soothing remedies by which
They ward off all diseases. Many ways 500 (491)
Of divinations I arranged for them,
Interpreted what dreams must needs receive
Their due fulfilment, made them comprehend
The difficult sound omens, and of things
Met on a journey. And I carefully 505 (496)
Defined the flights of birds of prey—which kind
Showed good, which harm—what several ways of life,
What hatreds one to another, and what loves,
And gatherings together are their wont.
The smoothness of the liver I explained, 510 (501)
What colour it should be to please the gods,
And when the lobe near the gall is rightly mottled.
And, roasting fat-cased thighs and the long chine,
I led mankind to a mysterious lore.
And I unveiled to them the signs of flames, 515 (506)
Which formerly they saw as through a film.
So much for these things: but the precious gifts
To man concealed beneath the earth, the brass
The iron and the silver and the gold,
Who can declare he found them till I found? 520 (511)
None truly not inclined to babble lies.
But hear all summed up in a little word—
Their every art had mortals from Prometheus.


Chorus.

Now do thou not serve mortals past the mark
And take no thought for thine own evil case: 525 (517)
For we are of good hope that thou shalt yet,
Freed from these bonds, be no less strong than Zeus.


Prometheus.

Nor yet is it laid on completing Fate
To bring this so to pass, but by much woes
And pangs bowed down thus shall I scape these chains.
For art is very weak before The Must. 531 (522)

 

Chorus.

Who then as helmsman can direct The Must?


Prometheus.

The triple Fates and the unforgetting Furies.


Chorus.

And is Zeus then less powerful than these?


Prometheus.

That which is destined he can not escape. 535 (526)


Chorus.

But what is destined Zeus save still to reign?


Prometheus.

That may ye not learn now. Press me no more.


Chorus.

'Tis sure portentous, what thou thus dost cloak.


Prometheus.

Turn to some other topic, for of this
'Tis now no time to speak, but hidden close 540 (531)
To the utmost should it be: for hoarding it
I shall escape these shaming bonds and pangs.

 

CHORUS.

Strophe I.

May he who all doth guide,
Even Zeus, ne'er pit his strength against our will.
May we ne'er fail, with righteous sacrifice 545 (537)
Of slaughtered oxen, to approach the deities
By our father Ocean's never ceasing tide.
And may our words be sinless still.
Be these thoughts firmly fixed in us, for ever to abide.


Antistrophe I.

Sweet is it to pursue 550 (545)
One's long life in glad hopes and feed one's heart
Mid sunny joys, but shuddering we behold
How thou art agonized by tortures manifold
Because, not keeping Zeus's will in view,
But by thine own will taking part 555 (552)
Thou gavest, Prometheus, to mankind an honour not their due.


Strophe II.

See now, oh friend, how thankless was the grace.
Say where is aid? How helps the ephemeral race?
And knewst thou not the puny helpless kind,
Idle as dreams, 560 (559)
Which cramps that people to the light left blind?
No, never can what Zeus has predesigned
Be crossed by mortal's schemes.


Antistrophe I.

And this, Prometheus, have we surely known
Seeing thy mournful fate. And now the tone 565 (566)
Of a far other song seems to us sped
Than the bridal strain
We sang around the bath, around the bed,
When Hesione our sister with thee wed,
Whom thy rich gifts did gain. 570 (571)


Io.

To what land am I come? To what people? And how
Shall I name him I see made fast to these rocks,
Left bare to the storms? To atone what sin
Dost thou perish thus?—Oh say to what spot
Of earth I have wandered forlorn. 575 (576)
Alas! Woe! Woe!
Me miserable does the gadfly once more sting.
Lo! the ghost of earth-born Argus!
Keep him from me, Earth! I tremble
Gazing on the herdsman myriad eyed. 580 (581)
Still with crafty look he follows,
Whom, even dead, earth cannot cover.
But from among the dead he passes out
To hound me down and drive me to and fro,
Hungering and wretched, on the seashore sands. 585 (586)

Strophe.

And still his wax-joined shrilling reed
Pipes to a sleepy strain.
Alas, alas for me! Oh whither lead
These wanderings o'er and o'er again?
Oh son of Kronos, how, how didst thou find me sin
That thou hast laid on me this yoke of woes? 591 (594)
And thus dost haraass me, poor wretch, crazed by the fear
Of the gadfly's maddening stings?
Oh! let fire consume me, or let the earth unclose
And hide me in, 595 (597)
Or let me be a prey to ravening monsters of the sea.
Deny not, oh deny not, lord, this prayer to me;
Enough have I been tried with many wanderings;
And nowhere find I means to learn how I may be
From my wanderings set free.— 600 (603)
The cry of the horned maiden dost thou hear?


Prometheus.

And how not hear the gadfly-driven child
Of Inachus, who fires the heart of Zeus
With love, and now, to Hera hateful, runs
A round of forced and weary journeyings? 605 (606)


Io.

Antistrophe.

Whence is my father known to thee,
Named by thee even now?
Answer and tell me, weary-laden me,
Who, evil-fated one, art thou?
Thou who true sayings dost to hapless me proclaim,
And namst by name the god-sent malady 611 (614)
That, goading me with frenzy-waking stings,
Thus is wearing me away.
Woe! with famished boundings on-rushing came I nigh,
Thus put to shame 615 (619)
By Hera's wily vengeance. Woe! Woe me! are anywhere
Beings so wretched as like woes with mine to share?
But what remains for me to suffer plainly say,
Tell me, what help? What cure for the sore ill I bear?
If indeed thou know, declare. 620 (625)
To the way-weary maiden show these things.


Prometheus.

I will tell thee plainly all thou seekst to know,
Not framing riddles, but in open words,
As it is right to unlock one's lips to friends.
Thou seest Prometheus, who gave fire to men. 625 (630)


Io.

Oh thou who wast the common good of men,
Woeful Prometheus, why must thou bear this?


Prometheus.

I have just ceased from wailing for my woes.


Io.

Wilt thou not then concede this boon to me?


Prometheus.

Say, what wouldst thou? From me thou mayst learn all.


Io.

Reveal to me who bound thee to this cleft. 631 (636)

 

Prometheus.

The will of Zeus, but 'twas Hephaistos' hand.


Io.

And of what crimes dost thou pay the penalty?


Prometheus.

It is enough to tell thee but this much.


Io.

Yet show me too the end of my wanderings, 635 (640)
How long must last the miserable time.


Prometheus.

Better for thee to know not, than to know.


Io.

Never hide from me what I must endure.


Prometheus.

Nay, 'tis not that I grudge the boon to thee.


Io.

Then wherefore linger nor make known the whole?


Prometheus.

Nought hinders; but I shrink from paining thee. 641 (646)

 

Io.

Care not for me beyond what I find good.


Prometheus.

Needs must I speak since thou so will'st. Then hear.


Chorus.

Not yet. Give us our own share of the pleasure too:
Let us first learn this maiden's malady, 645 (650)
She telling of her perilous haps herself;
Then let her learn from thee her future toils.


Prometheus.

Io, be it thy task to do this grace—
The more that these are sisters of thy sire—
For to give vent to sobbings and laments 650 (655)
For evil fortunes, when one so shall earn
Tears from the hearers, is well spent delay.


Io.

I know not why I need refuse you this;
Therefore in a plain tale shall ye learn all
Ye care to know. And yet I shame to speak 655 (660)
Wherefore this god-sent storm and this foul change
Of shape came on me, miserable girl.
For ever nightly visions haunted me
In my maiden chambers, seeking to beguile
With speeches smooth. "Oh! highly favoured maid,
Why so long live a virgin, when there waits 661 (666)
So high a marriage for thee? For a dart
Of love-desire for thee has fevered Zeus,
And he longs with thee to bear the yoke of Cypris.
And thou, oh damsel, do not spurn the bed 665 (669)
Of Zeus, but go to the lush meadow-land
Of Lerna, to thy fathers herds and byres,
That so the eye of Zeus be freed from longing."
And by such visions was I companied
And troubled night by night; until at last 670 (673)
I plucked up heart to give my father word
Of the dusk-brought phantoms. Then did he send out
To Pytho and towards Dodona trains
Of frequent messengers, to learn for him
What should be done or said to please the gods. 675 (678)
But they came back with riddling oracles
Vague in their import and perplexed in phrase.
At length plain answer came to Inachus,
Clearly commanding and instructing him
To drive me from my home and fatherland, 680 (683)
To wander like a god-devoted thing
Along earth's outmost tracts; and if he failed
A fiery thunderbolt would come from Zeus
And smite his whole race into nothingness.
Then, by such oracles of Loxias moved, 685 (687)
He drove me forth and closed his home to me,
We both unwilling, but the strong hand of Zeus
Despite himself constrained him to do this.
And instantly my shape and mind were, changed,
And, horned as you behold me now and galled 690 (692)
By the sharp stinging fly, with furious bounds
I hied me to Kerchneia's limpid stream
And Lerna's springs. And then an earth-born herdsman,
Hot in his furies, Argus, tracked my steps,
Gazing upon me with his countless eyes. 695 (697)
And him an unforeseen and sudden fate
Despoiled of life. But I, by the gad-fly spurred,
Beneath a scourge divine from land to land
Am driven on. Thou hearst the past, and now,
If thou canst tell what ills remain, say on, 700 (702)
And do not, pitying, soothe me with false tales.
For a mean fault methinks is specious talk.

 

CHORUS.

Woe! woe! Oh keep her still!
Alas! oh never, never, had we thought
That tale so strange as this is should be brought 705 (708)
To our ears,
Nor that woes and pains and fears
Sad to bear and sad to see should thus
With a two-edged goading chill
The heart in us. 710 (712)
Woe! woe! Oh fate! oh fate!
We shiver looking upon Io's state.


Prometheus.

Too soon ye make lament and are afraid;
Refrain until ye have been told the rest.


Chorus.

Speak, show the whole; 'tis good for the afflicted 715 (717)
Fully to apprehend the coming griefs.


Prometheus.

Lightly ye won from me your former wish,
For first ye sought to hear her history
Of her own trials. And now hear the rest,
What miseries this girl has yet to bear 720 (722)
From Hera. But thou, child of Inachus,
Lay these my words to heart that thou may'st know
Throughly what goal is set thy journeyings.
First, turning thee towards the rising sun
From hence, cross over untilled plains till so 725 (727)
Thou reach the wandering Scythians, those who dwell
In wicker tents aloft on cars with wheels
And are accoutred with far-shooting arrows.
Approach not these, but, on the surf-lashed shore
Keeping thy foot, pass outward from that land. 730 (732)
On the left hand the iron-workers dwell,
The Chalybes, of whom be thou well ware,
For they are savage, not to be approached
By strangers. And then wilt thou come beside
The rushing river, not inaptly named, 735 (736)
Which do not cross, for 'tis no easy task,
Until thou come to Caucasus itself,
Highest of mountains, where from the very brow
The river breaks in strength. And then must thou,
Making thy way o'er these star-neighbouring peaks,
Pass on a southward track until thou reach 741 (741)
The war-host of male-hating Amazons,
One day to seat themselves in Themiscyra
By the Thermodon, where, inhospitable
To mariners, that rugged jaw of the sea, 745 (745)
Salmudessia, plays her stepdame's part to ships.
These willingly will guide thee on thy way.
Then wilt thou come to the Cimmerian isthmus
Beside the narrow straits into the lake,
Which with a bold heart thou must leave behind 750 (749)
And cleave thy course through the Mæotic channel.
And there shall be for ever to mankind
A great note of thy passage—Bosphorus
It shall be called for thee. Thus, having left
The shore of Europe, Asia's continent 755 (753)
Shalt thou attain. So, seems he not to you,
This monarch of the gods, in all alike
To show mere ruffianly? Because he, a god,
Was fain to have this maiden to his consort
He burdened her with all these wanderings. 760 (757)
Ah! girl, a bitter wooer hast thou won
For thine espousals. Never think the tale
Thou hast listened to has reached the prelude yet.

 

Io.

Ah me! Alas for me! Woe! Woe!


Prometheus.

Afresh thou wailest and art making moan: 765 (762)
What wilt thou do when taught thine other woes?


Chorus.

What, hast thou yet more troubles to forebode?


Prometheus.

Yea, a tempestuous sea of baneful griefs.


Io.

Then what avails me life? Why not at once
Hurl myself downwards off this rugged crag, 770 (767)
And, dashed to the ground, be quit of all these toils?
For it is better once for all to die
Than to be suffering evil all one's days.


Prometheus.

Ill wouldst thou bear the trials given me
To whom it hath not been ordained to die; 775 (772)
For that would be deliverance from pain,
But now unto my sufferings is set
No term till Zeus be driven from his rule.

 

Io.

Is Zeus then one day to be driven from power?


Prometheus.

Thou'dst joy, methinks, to look on that mishap. 780 (777)


Io.

How should I not, who bear such ills from Zeus?


Prometheus.

Then learn that this will surely come to pass.


Io.

Who will deprive him of his kingly sceptre?


Prometheus.

Himself and his own foolish counsellings.


Io.

But in what way? Say if it be no risk. 785 (782)


Prometheus.

He will so wed as he shall one day rue.


Io.

With god or mortal? Tell if it may be told.


Prometheus.

Why dost thou ask? It may not be declared.

 

Io.

And will a wife unseat him from his throne?


Prometheus.

Aye, bear a son more mighty than the sire. 790 (787)


Io.

And has he no means to avert this fate?


Prometheus.

None save through me, if I be free from bonds.


Io.

Who then shall free thee, Zeus not willing it?


Prometheus.

'Tis fated that he shall be sprung from thee.


Io.

How sayest thou? Thou freed by a son of mine?


Prometheus.

The third in line when ten descents have been. 796 (793)


Io.

This prophecy is past my solving now.


Prometheus.

Neither seek longer to learn thine own woes.

 

Io.

Nay, reach me not a gift, to take it back.


Prometheus.

Of two recitals I will give thee one. 800 (797)


Io.

Say what they are, and then give me the choice.


Prometheus.

I give it. Choose if I shall plainly show
Thy future toils, or who shall set me free.


Chorus.

Consent to give to her one of these boons,
To us the other. Do not scorn our words. 805 (802)
Show her what wanderings remain, and us
Who shall release thee. For we long for this.


Prometheus.

Since ye are all so fain I will not thwart ye
By not declaring what ye further ask.
To thee thy many-ranging wanderings, 810 (807)
Io, will I first tell; which do thou write
On the remembering tablets of thy mind.
When thou hast crossed the waters, boundary
Between the continents, still turning thee
To the untrodden fiery-gazing east, 815 (810)
[Keep that straight course. And then first wilt thou come
Against the northern blasts; where take good heed
Of the boisterous gusts, lest suddenly they snatch thee
And in their stormy whirlwinds hurl thee on.]

*******

Crossing the sea's loud surges, until next
Cisthene's Gorgoneian plain thou reach,
Where dwell the Phorkides, three hoary maids,
Swan-visaged, of one common eye possessed,
And single-toothed; whom never does the sun 820 (815)
Nor nightly moon look down on with its rays.
And near at hand their three winged sisters dwell,
The snake-tressed Gorgons, hateful to mankind:
Whom never mortal looks upon and lives.
Such then the caution which I give thee. Now
Hear of another grewsome sight; for ware 826 (821)
The griffins, Zeus's sharp-beaked silent hounds,
And the one-eyed host, the horsemen Arimaspi
Who dwell around the river running gold,
The stream of Pluto. Go not near to these. 830 (825)
Next to a far land thou com'st and a black race
Who dwell beside the fountains of the sun,
Where is the Æthiopian river. By whose banks
Work onwards till thou reach the cataract
Where from the Bybline heights the Nile sends down
Its limpid holy flood. And this will lead thee 836 (832)
To the three-cornered Nile-land, where 'tis writ,
Io, that thou and sons of thine shall found
Your far off colony. If aught of this
Seem vague to thee or difficult in sense, 840 (835)
Question me on it, and learn perfectly;
For I have leisure here more than I would.


Chorus.

If thou hast aught remaining, aught passed o'er,
To tell her yet of her vexed wanderings
Say on. But, if thou hast told all, give now 845 (840)
The boon we begged, borne doubtless in thy mind.


Prometheus.

She has now learned her journey's full extent.
And yet, that she may see 'tis no fond tale
She hears from me, I'll speak what she has borne
Before her coming, and in that give proof 850 (844)
Of my revealings. Or rather I will pass
The mass of common featured incidents
And to thy latest wanderings proceed.
For, after thou hadst reached Molossia's plains
Set round high-ridged Dodona, where are found
Thesprotian Zeus's oracle and seat, 856 (850)
And that marvel past belief the talking oaks
Which sonorously and in no dark words
Did hail thee the illustrious bride of Zeus,
Thence by the gadfly thou wast maddened on 860 (855)
Along the seaside way until thou camest
To the great gulf of Rhea; whence didst thou
Distressfully return upon thy track.
And be assured that to all coming time
Ionian shall that ocean bay be called, 865 (859)
Memorial of thy passage to mankind.
These things are token to thee of my soul,
That it sees something more than meets the sense.
The rest to you and her alike I show,
Re-entering on the track of former words. 870 (864)
There is a town, Canopus, last in the land,
At the very mouth and sea-bar of the Nile,
And there shall Zeus restore thee to right mind
By stroking thee with his unharming hand,
And only touching. And thou shalt bring forth
The dusky Epaphus, so named to mark 876 (869)
How Zeus created him, who shall enjoy
The whole land watered by broad-flooding Nile.
And, five in line from him, a female race,
Fifty in number, shall unwillingly 880 (873)
Return again to Argos, taking flight
From intermarriage with their cousins. These,
Their hearts with love aflutter, falcons close
On the track of doves, shall follow in pursuit
Of a marriage it ill fits them to pursue. 885 (877)
But the damsels shall be grudged them by a god,
And the land of Argos shall receive them slain
By woman hate wake in the midnight hour.
For every bride doth reave her bridegroom's life,
Deep dyeing in his throat a two-edged sword. 890 (882)
In such a shape may Cypris greet my foes!
But one among the damsels love will lull
That she slay not her consort, her resolve
Being blunted, and she of the two will choose
Coward in her ears rather than murderess. 895 (887)
And at Argos she shall bear a race of kings—
'Twould take a many words to make all plain—
But of this seed a hero shall be born,
Far famous at the bow, who from these woes
Shall set me free—this prophecy revealed 900 (892)
My eldborn mother Titan Themis to me—
But how and why 'twould take a many words
To tell, and thou wouldst nothing gain by knowing


Io.

Alas! out alas!
The convulsive pang again and the rage 905 (897)
Of my madness burn in my heart; and the fly
With a dart that is worse than if forged in the fire
Is piercing my flesh;
And my heart for fear knocks hard at my breast,
And my eyes spin round in a dizzy whirl; 910 (901)
I am hurled adrift by the passionate blast
Of frenzy, and no more master my tongue,
But my troubled words tumultuous beat
At the waves of this hideous storm.

 

CHORUS.

Strophe I.

Wise oh wise was he 915 (906)
Who first weighed this in his heart and in a proverb said,
That who marries like with like is the happier sped;
And, that not 'mong those who by riches boast their worth,
Nor 'mong those who glory because of noble birth,
Should the common craftsman set his mind to wed.


Antistrophe I.

Never may ye see, 921 (913)
Ye high Fates, one out of us becoming Zeus's bride,
Nor to any of the gods in marriage bonds allied.
For beholding Io's love-chary maidenhood
Visited with anguish, for many a weary rood 925 (918)
By Hera doomed to wander, our hearts faint terrified.


Strophe II.

To us seems wedlock paired aright
Nought baneful, not of that our fear,
But, oh never may love light
On any here 930 (921)
From great one of the gods whose eye
Vainly any seek to fly.


Antistrophe II.

That were a fight not to be fought,
A trackless path too hard to tread,
Nor know we to what pass were brought 935 (925)
One so bested:
For how could such as we escape
From designs that Zeus should shape?


Prometheus.

And yet, despite his stubborn pride, one day
Shall Zeus be humbled. He is set to wed 940 (929)
With such a wedding as shall shake him down
From throne and kingship, a forgotten thing,
And to the full shall be wrought out the curse
Of his father Kronos, which he called on him
When he was driven from his ancient throne. 945 (933)
And from these troubles none among the gods,
But I, can plainly show him an escape.
I know it and the way. Now after this
Let him throne it in assurance, confident
In his skyborne thunderpeals, and brandishing 950 (937)
The fiery breathing bolt in both his hands:
For these will nothing serve to check his fall,
Dishonoured to intolerable shame.
So dread a foe he now himself prepares
Against himself, a being dire to oppose: 955 (942)
Yea who than lightnings shall find mightier flame
And a great crash that shall outpass the thunder,
Who shall to shivers dash Poseidon's spear
The ocean trident, shaker of plagued earth.
And, fallen on such evils, he shall learn 960 (947)
How far apart to rule is from to serve.


Chorus.

These flouts at Zeus belike show but thy wish.


Prometheus.

I speak what shall be, speaking my desire.


Chorus.

Must we look for one to lord it over Zeus?


Prometheus.

Yea, harder ills than these shall he abide. 965 (952)


Chorus.

How fear'st thou not to give such words a tongue?

 

Prometheus.

What should I fear, for whom death is not writ.


Chorus.

But he might try thee with yet keener pangs.


Prometheus.

Let him do it then; I am prepared for all.


Chorus.

Wise are they who to Adrasteia bow. 970 (957)


Prometheus.

Do ye your homage still to whoso reigns,
Pray to him, fawn upon him. But for me
I prize Zeus less than nothing. Let him do,
Let him play the master for this little while
As it likes him, he'll not rule the gods for long. 975 (961)
But Zeus's errandsman I see at hand,
The minister of this new autocrat.
Be sure he comes to herald some ill news.


Hermes.

Thou the great sage; thou in thy bitterness
Something too bitter; thou who against the gods 980 (965)
Hast sinned, giving greatness to the ephemerals;
Thou thief of fire—it is to thee I speak.
The father bids thee show what marriage this
Thou pratest of so bigly, and by whom 984 (969)
Himself shall be cast down from power. And see
Thou speak not darkly, but from point to point.
So now, Prometheus, give me not two journeys:
Thou seest such ways do nothing soften Zeus.


Prometheus.

The speech, in sooth, is of portentous phrase
And prideful for a varlet to the gods. 990 (975)
Ye are new in a new rule, and yet ye think
To dwell in an untroubled citadel.
Have I not seen two tyrants driven thence?
And a third, even him now reigning, I shall view
Driven forth the quickest and the shamefullest. 995 (980)
Say, do I seem to thee to shake or cringe
Before these upstart gods? That's far from me;
Beyond all thinking. But thou, by the road
That brought thee here, take thyself back again,
For thou'lt learn nought of what thou questionest me. 1000 (984)

 

Hermes.

And yet 'twas by such braggart vaunts as these
Thou broughtst thee to this woeful anchorage.


Prometheus.

Be well assured this wretched plight of mine
I would not barter with thy lackeyship.


Hermes.

Better, I ween, play lackey to this rock 1005 (989)
Than be the trusty messenger of Zeus!


Prometheus.

Thus is it meet to insult the insolent.


Hermes.

Thou seemst to revel in thy present stead.


Prometheus.

Do I revel? May I see my enemies
So revelling. And I count thee one of them. 1010 (994)


Hermes.

What, dost thou blame thine evil fate on me?


Prometheus.

Simply, all gods to whom I have done good
And who reward me evil do I hate.

 

Hermes.

By how I hear thee rave thou'rt mad enough.


Prometheus.

Let me be mad, if to hate foes be madness. 1015 (999)


Hermes.

In prosperous case thoud'st be intolerable.


Prometheus.

Ah me!


Hermes.

Aye, there's a word Zeus does not know.


Prometheus.

But time as it gains age doth all things teach.


Hermes.

And yet thou hast not learned to be discreet.


Prometheus.

Else should I not with thee, a menial, talk. 1020 (1004)


Hermes.

Thou'rt like to tell me nought the father asks.


Prometheus.

Aye! I should pay the grace I'm in his debt!

 

Hermes.

Thou gib'st as though I were a child, forsooth.


Prometheus.

And art thou not a child, and sillier too,
If thou art looking to learn aught from me? 1025 (1009)
There is no outrage, no device, by which
Zeus shall prevail with me to speak these things
Till these injurious bonds be slacked from me.
Now let the shrivelling flame at me be driven,
Let him, with flaky snowstorms and the crash 1030 (1014)
Of subterraneous thunders, into ruins
And wild confusion hurl and mingle all:
For nought of these will bend me that I speak
Who is fore-doomed to cast him from his throne.


Hermes.

Look well now if thou thus dost serve thyself. 1035 (1018)


Prometheus.

Long since have I considered and resolved.


Hermes.

Bring thyself, madman, bring thyself at last,
In face of these thy woes, to a right mind.

 

Prometheus.

Thou dost so vainly importune as though
Thou didst persuade a wave out of its course. 1040 (1022)
Nay, never think that I, afraid of aught
Zeus may resolve, will woman-hearted turn
And will that most abhorred one supplicate,
Lifting beseeching hands as women do, 1044 (1026)
To free me from these bonds. That may not be.


Hermes.

It seems I may speak much and speak in vain,
For thou art nothing touched nor thy heart moved
By entreaties, but dost, like some new-yoked colt,
Champing the bit, plunge and resist the reins.
But 'tis poor cleverness that puffs thee up, 1050 (1032)
For by mere stubbornness left to itself
The unwise are less than nothing profited.
But, ponder it, if thou yield not to my words
What tempest and what triple wave of woes
Will whelm thee past escape. For first of all 1055 (1037)
With thunder and the lightning's flame the father
Will cleave this rugged precipice, and hide
Thy body, and the rocks shall gird thee in;
And when thou hast fulfilled much length of time
Thou shalt come back again to the day. But then
Shall the winged hound of Zeus, the gory eagle, 1061 (1043)
Fiercely tear greedy gobbets of thy flesh,
And come, an uninvited banqueter,
To gorge all day upon thy black-gnawed liver.
And of such anguish look thou for no end, 1055 (1047)
Until some god appear to take thy place
In suffering, and of free will shall seek
Dull Hades and the black Tartarean deeps.
Wherefore be better counselled, since this threat
Is not one feigned but all too truly phrased: 1070 (1052)
For the mouth of Zeus knows not to speak a lie,
But every word will he fulfil. And thou,
Look to it and consider, and deem not
That ever stubbornness excels discretion.


Chorus.

To us seems Hermes not to speak amiss; 1075 (1057)
For he bids thee, laying stubbornness aside,
To seek a wise discretion. Be convinced;
For to mistake brings shame upon a sage.

 

Prometheus.

To one who well knew all his message should bring
Hath he bayed it out, and that from his foes 1080 (1062)
A foe should bear ills is nothing unwont.
Now let the forked whorls of fire be driven
Against me, and let the air be convulsed
With thunder and rage of boisterous winds,
Let the blast sway the earth to her lowest base,
To the very roots, let it heap the sea wave 1086 (1069)
In lashing surge on the path of heaven's stars,
Let it, whirling me high in resistless wrath,
Dash my body down to deep Tartarus—
He slays me not do what he will. 1090 (1074)


Hermes.

Such counsels are these and such these words
As you shall hear from the stricken in mind.
For how is he short of what madmen are
Who, even thus crushed, cannot cease to rave? 1094 (1078)
But do ye who bear part in his griefs make haste
To go from this place, lest your minds be dazed
By the thunder's pitiless roar.

 

Chorus.

Persuade and entice us some other way
Where thou couldst prevail, but verily now 1099 (1085)
Thou hast forced on us words we cannot brook.
Wherefore then ask us such baseness to do?
Along with him do we make our choice
Whatever must needs be borne to bear;
For traitors have we been taught to loathe;
There is no disease 1105 (1090)
Which more than theirs we abhor.


Hermes.

Then remember of what I have warned you now,
And when ye are snared in your folly's toils
Do not blame it on fate, nor ever complain
As if Zeus had plunged you in unforeseen woe.
No truly, say that ye did it yourselves; 1111 (1096)
For with open eyes, and nor unawares
Nor stealthily, will ye be meshed in the net
Of Ate whence there is no escape,
Be meshed by your folly alone. 1115 (1100)

 

Prometheus.

Lo, in very deed, no more in mere talk
Does the earth now rock,
And a cavernous boom of thunders rolls near,
And the forked fierce blaze of the lightning glares out,
And whirlwinds chase round the eddying dust, 1120 (1105)
And the blasts of all the winds leap abroad
At war each with each in contending gusts,
And the sky and the sea are mingled in storm—
Such tempest from Zeus in our sight strides on
Towards me as though to daunt me with fear. 1125 (1111)
Oh mother mine, thou revered one, Oh sky
That bear'st in due round light, common to all,
Do ye see me what wrong I endure?

 
Prometheus Bound (Webster 1866) p73.png

Prometheus Bound (Webster 1866) p75-top.png
 

NOTES.


I.

Line 441 to 452.

There are great doubts as to the accuracy of parts of this division of the chorus, and Hermann leaves a blank for a lost line in the antistrophe. I have thought it best, while translating the whole passage, as it stands in Paley's text, as closely as possible, to arrange it in the usual completeness of strophe and antistrophe.


II.

Line 664. Cypris : a name of Aphrodite.


III.

Line 735. The rushing river not inaptly named.

This description is supposed to point to the Araxes, from ἀράσσειν, to dash in pieces.

 

IV.

Line 815. To the untrodden fiery-gazing east.

The four following lines, within brackets, translate four lines, quoted by Galen from the Prometheus Bound, placed here by Paley, on conjecture, as completing this otherwise unfinished sentence. They would at any rate belong to those which have been lost from this part of the description of Io's wanderings.


V.

Line 859. Did hail thee the illustrious bride of Zeus.

I have omitted a line following here—one which, in many texts, is put between brackets by way of protest, and which is said to be an interpolation. I am glad to have this excuse for rejecting it, as the first half of it weakens the preceding line and the last half of it (whichever reading of it be taken) makes an uncalled for break in the flow of the narration. Had I used this line the two lines would have run thus:

Hailed thee as soon to be the illustrious bride
Of Zeus—if aught of these things pleasures thee.


VI.

Line 876. Epaphus from ἐπαφᾶν, to touch.


VII.

Line 934. A trackless path too hard to tread.

I have to plead guilty to having by this line imitated, not translated, the expression it represents: ἄπορα πόριμος is quite unmanageable.

 

VIII.

Line 970. Adrasteia : a name of Nemesis.




Passages in which the Text taken departs from that of Paley.


Line Reading taken. Paley.
56. ἐπράχθη omnes MSS. ἐπαχθῆ.
618. τί μῆχαρ ἤ κ.τ.λ. conj. Elms. τί μή με χρή.
1002. καθώρμισας edd. ante Herm. κατούρισας.
1093. εἰ μήδ᾽ ἀτυχῶν conj. Porson. ἡ τοῦδε τύχη.
 
Prometheus Bound (Webster 1866) p77.png
 

CAMBRIDGE: PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.

 

 

Works by the Translator.


BLANCHE LISLE and other Poems. By Cecil Home. London: Macmillan and Co. 1860.


LESLEY'S GUARDIANS: a Novel, By Cecil Home. London: Macmillan and Co. 1864.


LILIAN GRAY: a Poem. By Cecil Home. London: Smith, Elder, and Co. 1864.