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Prometheus Bound
By Aeschylus


Dramatis Personae



Mountainous country, and in the middle of a deep gorge a Rock, towards
which KRATOS and BIA carry the gigantic form of PROMETHEUS. HEPHAESTUS
follows dejectedly with hammer, nails, chains, etc.


KRATOS Now have we journeyed to a spot of earth 
Remote-the Scythian wild, a waste untrod. 
And now, Hephaestus, thou must execute 
The task our father laid on thee, and fetter 
This malefactor to the jagged rocks 
In adamantine bonds infrangible; 
For thine own blossom of all forging fire 
He stole and gave to mortals; trespass grave 
For which the Gods have called him to account, 
That he may learn to bear Zeus' tyranny 
And cease to play the lover of mankind. 

HEPHAESTUS Kratos and Bia, for ye twain the hest 
Of Zeus is done with; nothing lets you further. 
But forcibly to bind a brother God, 
In chains, in this deep chasm raked by all storms 
I have not courage; yet needs must I pluck 
Courage from manifest necessity, 
For woe worth him that slights the Father's word. 
O high-souled son of them is sage in counsel, 
With heavy heart I must make thy heart heavy, 
In bonds of brass not easy to be loosed, 
Nailing thee to this crag where no wight dwells, 
Nor sound of human voice nor shape of man 
Shall visit thee; but the sun-blaze shall roast 
Thy flesh; thy hue, flower-fair, shall suffer change; 
Welcome will Night be when with spangled robe 
She hides the light of day; welcome the sun 
Returning to disperse the frosts of dawn. 
And every hour shall bring its weight of woe 
To wear thy heart away; for yet unborn 
Is he who shall release Chee from thy pain. 
This is thy wage for loving humankind. 
For, being a God, thou dared'st the Gods' ill will, 
Preferring, to exceeding honour, Man. 
Wherefore thy long watch shall be comfortless, 
Stretched on this rock, never to close an eye 
Or bend a knee; and vainly shalt thou lift, 
With groanings deep and lamentable cries, 
Thy voice; for Zeus is hard to be entreated, 
As new-born power is ever pitiless. 

KRATOS Enough! Why palter? Why wast idle pity? 
Is not the God Gods loathe hateful to thee? 
Traitor to man of thy prerogative? 

HEPHAESTUS Kindred and fellowship are dreaded names. 

KRATOS Questionless; but to slight the Father's word- 
How sayest thou? Is not this fraught with more dread? 

HEPHAESTUS Thy heart was ever hard and overbold. 

KRATOS But wailing will not ease him! Waste no pains 
Where thy endeavour nothing profiteth. 

HEPHAESTUS Oh execrable work! O handicraft! 

KRATOS Why curse thy trade? For what thou hast to do, 
Troth, smithcraft is in no wise answerable. 

HEPHAESTUS Would that it were another's craft, not mine!

KRATOS Why, all things are a burden save to rule 
Over the Gods; for none is free but Zeus. 

HEPHAESTUS To that I answer not, knowing it true. 

KRATOS Why, then, make haste to cast the chains about him,

Lest glancing down on thee the Father's eye 
Behold a laggard and a loiterer. 

HEPHAESTUS Here are the iron bracelets for his arms. 

KRATOS Fasten them round his arms with all thy strength!

Strike with thy hammer! Nail him to the rocks! 

HEPHAESTUS 'Tis done! and would that it were done less well!

KRATOS Harder-I say-strike harder-screw all tight 
And be not in the least particular 
Remiss, for unto one of his resource 
Bars are but instruments of liberty. 

HEPHAESTUS This forearm's fast: a shackle hard to shift.

KRATOS Now buckle this! and handsomely! Let him learn 
Sharp though he be, he's a dull blade to Zeus. 

HEPHAESTUS None can find fault with this: -save him it tortures.

KRATOS Now take thine iron spike and drive it in, 
Until it gnaw clean through the rebel's breast. 

HEPHAESTUS Woe's me, Prometheus, for thy weight of woe!

KRATOS Still shirking? still a-groaning for the foes 
Of Zeus? Anon thou'lt wail thine own mishap. 

HEPHAESTUS Thou seest what eyes scarce bear to look upon!

KRATOS I see this fellow getting his deserts! 
But strap him with a gelt about his ribs. 

HEPHAESTUS I do what I must do: for thee-less words! 

KRATOS "Words," quotha? Aye, and shout 'em if need be. 
Come down and cast a ring-bolt round his legs. 

HEPHAESTUS The thing is featly done; and 'twas quick work.

KRATOS Now with a sound rap knock the bolt-pins home! 
For heavy-handed is thy task-master. 

HEPHAESTUS So villainous a form vile tongue befits. 

KRATOS Be thou the heart of wax, but chide not me 
That I am gruffish, stubborn and stiff-willed. 

HEPHAESTUS Oh, come away! The tackle holds him fast. 

KRATOS Now, where thou hang'st insult Plunder the Gods 
For creatures of a day! To thee what gift 
Will mortals tender to requite thy pains? 
The destinies were out miscalling the 
Designer: a designer thou wilt need 
From trap so well contrived to twist thee free.  (Exeunt.)

PROMETHEUS O divine air Breezes on swift bird-wings, 
Ye river fountains, and of ocean-waves 
The multitudinous laughter Mother Earth! 
And thou all-seeing circle of the sun, 
Behold what I, a God, from Gods endure! 
Look down upon my shame, 
The cruel wrong that racks my frame, 
The grinding anguish that shall waste my strength, 
Till time's ten thousand years have measured out their length!

He hath devised these chains, 
The new throned potentate who reigns, 
Chief of the chieftains of the Blest. Ah me! 
The woe which is and that which yet shall be 
I wail; and question make of these wide skies 
When shall the star of my deliverance rise. 
And yet-and yet-exactly I foresee 
All that shall come to pass; no sharp surprise 
Of pain shall overtake me; what's determined 
Bear, as I can, I must, knowing the might 
Of strong Necessity is unconquerable. 
But touching my fate silence and speech alike 
Are unsupportable. For boons bestowed 
On mortal men I am straitened in these bonds. 
I sought the fount of fire in hollow reed 
Hid privily, a measureless resource 
For man, and mighty teacher of all arts. 
This is the crime that I must expiate 
Hung here in chains, nailed 'neath the open sky. Ha! Ha!

What echo, what odour floats by with no sound? 
God-wafted or mortal or mingled its strain? 
Comes there one to this world's end, this mountain-girt ground,

To have sight of my torment? Or of what is he fain? 
A God ye behold in bondage and pain, 
The foe of Zeus and one at feud with all 
The deities that find 
Submissive entry to the tyrant's hall; 
His fault, too great a love of humankind. 
Ah me! Ah me! what wafture nigh at hand, 
As of great birds of prey, is this I hear? 
The bright air fanned 
Whistles and shrills with rapid beat of wings. 
There cometh nought but to my spirit brings 
Horror and fear.  (The DAUGHTERS OF OCEANUS draw near in mid-air in
their winged chariot.)  

CHORUS Put thou all fear away! 
In kindness cometh this array 
On wings of speed to mountain lone, 
Our sire's consent not lightly won. 
But a fresh breeze our convoy brought, 
For loud the din of iron raught 
Even to our sea-cave's cold recess, 
And scared away the meek-eyed bashfulness. 
I tarried not to tic my sandal shoe 
But haste, post haste, through air my winged chariot flew.

PROMETHEUS Ah me! Ah me! 
Fair progeny 
That many-childed Tethys brought to birth, 
Fathered of Ocean old 
Whose sleepless stream is rolled 
Round the vast shores of earth 
Look on me! Look upon these chains 
Wherein I hang fast held 
On rocks high-pinnacled, 
My dungeon and my tower of dole, 
Where o'er the abyss my soul, 
Sad warder, her unwearied watch sustains! 

CHORUS Prometheus, I am gazing on thee now! 
With the cold breath of fear upon my brow, 
Not without mist of dimming tears, 
While to my sight thy giant stature rears 
Its bulk forpined upon these savage rocks 
In shameful bonds the linked adamant locks. 
For now new steersmen take the helm 
Olympian; now with little thought 
Of right, on strange, new laws Zeus stablisheth his realm,

Bringing the mighty ones of old to naught. 

PROMETHEUS Oh that he had conveyed me 
'Neath earth, 'neath hell that swalloweth up the dead; 
In Tartarus, illimitably vast 
With adamantine fetters bound me fast- 
There his fierce anger on me visited, 
Where never mocking laughter could upbraid me 
Of God or aught beside! 
But now a wretch enskied, 
A far-seen vane, 
All they that hate me triumph in my pain. 

CHORUS Who of the Gods is there so pitiless 
That he can triumph in thy sore distress? 
Who doth not inly groan 
With every pang of thine save Zeus alone? 
But he is ever wroth, not to be bent 
From his resolved intent 
The sons of heaven to subjugate; 
Nor shall he cease until his heart be satiate, 
Or one a way devise 
To hurl him from the throne where he doth monarchize. 

PROMETHEUS Yea, of a surety-though he do me wrong, 
Loading my limbs with fetters strong- 
The president 
Of heaven's high parliament 
Shall need me yet to show 
What new conspiracy with privy blow 
Attempts his sceptre and his kingly seat. 
Neither shall words with all persuasion sweet, 
Not though his tongue drop honey, cheat 
Nor charm my knowledge from me; nor dures 
Of menace dire, fear of more grievous pains, 
Unseal my lips, till he have loosed these chains, 
And granted for these injuries redress. 

CHORUS High is the heart of thee, 
Thy will no whit by bitter woes unstrung, 
And all too free 
The licence of thy bold, unshackled tongue. 
But fear hath roused my soul with piercing cry! 
And for thy fate my heart misgives me! I 
Tremble to know when through the breakers' roar 
Thy keel shall touch again the friendly shore; 
For not by prayer to Zeus is access won; 
An unpersuadable heart hath Cronos' son. 

PROMETHEUS I know the heart of Zeus is hard, that he hath tied

Justice to his side; 
But he shall be full gentle thus assuaged; 
And, the implacable wrath wherewith he raged 
Smoothed quite away, nor he nor I 
Be loth to seal a bond of peace and amity. 

CHORUS All that thou hast to tell I pray unfold, 
That we may hear at large upon what count 
Zeus took thee and with bitter wrong affronts: 
Instruct us, if the telling hurt thee not. 

PROMETHEUS These things are sorrowful for me to speak, 
Yet silence too is sorrow: all ways woe! 
When first the Blessed Ones were filled with wrath 
And there arose division in their midst, 
These instant to hurl Cronos from his throne 
That Zeus might be their king, and these, adverse, 
Contending that he ne'er should rule the Gods, 
Then I, wise counsel urging to persuade 
The Titans, sons of Ouranos and Chthon, 
Prevailed not: but, all indirect essays 
Despising, they by the strong hand, effortless, 
Yet by main force-supposed that they might seize 
Supremacy. But me my mother Themis 
And Gaia, one form called by many names, 
Not once alone with voice oracular 
Had prophesied how power should be disposed- 
That not by strength neither by violence 
The mighty should be mastered, but by guile. 
Which things by me set forth at large, they scorned, 
Nor graced my motion with the least regard. 
Then, of all ways that offered, I judged best, 
Taking my mother with me, to support, 
No backward friend, the not less cordial Zeus. 
And by my politic counsel Tartarus, 
The bottomless and black, old Cronos hides 
With his confederates. So helped by me, 
The tyrant of the Gods, such service rendered 
With ignominious chastisement requites. 
But 'tis a common malady of power 
Tyrannical never to trust a friend. 
And now, what ye inquired, for what arraigned 
He shamefully entreats me, ye shall know. 
When first upon his high, paternal throne 
He took his seat, forthwith to divers Gods 
Divers good gifts he gave, and parcelled out 
His empire, but of miserable men 
Recked not at all; rather it was his wish 
To wipe out man and rear another race: 
And these designs none contravened but me. 
I risked the bord attempt, and saved mankind 
From stark destruction and the road to hell. 
Therefore with this sore penance am I bowed, 
Grievous to suffer, pitiful to see. 
But, for compassion shown to man, such fate 
I no wise earned; rather in wrath's despite 
Am I to be reformed, and made a show 
Of infamy to Zeus. 

CHORUS He hath a heart 
Of iron, hewn out of unfeeling rock 
Is he, Prometheus, whom thy sufferings 
Rouse not to wrath. Would I had ne'er beheld them, 
For verily the sight hath wrung my heart. 

PROMETHEUS Yea, to my friends a woeful sight am I. 

CHORUS Hast not more boldly in aught else transgressed?

PROMETHEUS I took from man expectancy of death. 

CHORUS What medicine found'st thou for this malady? 

PROMETHEUS I planted blind hope in the heart of him. 

CHORUS A mighty boon thou gavest there to man. 

PROMETHEUS Moreover, I conferred the gift of fire. 

CHORUS And have frail mortals now the flame-bright fire?

PROMETHEUS Yea, and shall master many arts thereby. 

CHORUS And Zeus with such misfeasance charging thee- 

PROMETHEUS Torments me with extremity of woe. 

CHORUS And is no end in prospect of thy pains? 

PROMETHEUS None; save when he shall choose to make an end.

CHORUS How should he choose? What hope is thine? Dost thou

Not see that thou hast erred? But how thou erredst 
Small pleasure were to me to tell; to the 
Exceeding sorrow. Let it go then: rather 
Seek thou for some deliverance from thy woes. 

PROMETHEUS He who stands free with an untrammelled foot

Is quick to counsel and exhort a friend 
In trouble. But all these things I know well. 
Of my free will, my own free will, I erred, 
And freely do I here acknowledge it. 
Freeing mankind myself have durance found. 
Natheless, I looked not for sentence so dread, 
High on this precipice to droop and pine, 
Having no neighbour but the desolate crags. 
And now lament no more the ills I suffer, 
But come to earth and an attentive ear 
Lend to the things that shall befall hereafter. 
Harken, oh harken, suffer as I suffer! 
Who knows, who knows, but on some scatheless head, 
Another's yet for the like woes reserved, 
The wandering doom will presently alight? 

CHORUS Prometheus, we have heard thy call: 
Not on deaf cars these awful accents fall. 
Lo! lightly leaving at thy words 
My flying car 
And holy air, the pathway of great birds, 
I long to tread this land of peak and scar, 
And certify myself by tidings sure 
Of all thou hast endured and must endure.  (While the winged chariot
of the OCEANIDES comes to ground their father OCEANUS enters, riding
on a monster.)  

OCEANUS Now have I traversed the unending plain 
And unto thee, Prometheus, am I come, 
Guiding this winghd monster with no rein, 
Nor any bit, but mind's firm masterdom. 
And know that for thy grief my heart is sore; 
The bond of kind, methinks, constraineth me; 
Nor is there any I would honour more, 
Apart from kinship, than I reverence thee. 
And thou shalt learn that I speak verity: 
Mine is no smooth, false tongue; for do but show 
How I can serve thee, grieved and outraged thus, 
Thou ne'er shalt say thou hast, come weal, come woe, 
A friend more faithful than Oceanus. 

PROMETHEUS How now? Who greets me? What! Art thou too come

To gaze upon my woes? How could'st thou leave 
The stream that bears thy name, thine antres arched 
With native rock, to visit earth that breeds 
The massy iron in her womb? Com'st thou 
To be spectator of my evil lot 
And fellow sympathizer with my woes? 
Behold, a thing indeed to gaze upon 
The friend of Zeus, co-stablisher of his rule, 
See, by this sentence with what pains I am bowed I 

OCEANUS Prometheus, all too plainly I behold: 
And for the best would counsel thee: albeit 
Thy brain is subtle. Learn to know thy heart, 
And, as the times, so let thy manners change, 
For by the law of change a new God rules. 
But, if these bitter, savage, sharp-set words 
Thou ventest, it may be, though he sit throned 
Far off and high above thee, Zeus will hear; 
And then thy present multitude of ills 
Will seem the mild correction of a babe. 
Rather, O thou much chastened one, refrain 
Thine anger, and from suffering seek release. 
Stale, peradventure, seem these words of mine: 
Nevertheless, of a too haughty tongue 
Such punishment, Prometheus, is the wage. 
But thou, not yet brought low by suffering, 
To what thou hast of ill would'st add far worse. 
Therefore, while thou hast me for schoolmaster, 
Thou shalt not kick against the pricks; the more 
That an arch-despot who no audit dreads 
Rules by his own rough will. And now I leave thee, 
To strive with what success I may command 
For thy deliv'rance. Keep a quiet mind 
And use not over-vehemence of speech- 
Knowest thou not, being exceeding wise, 
A wanton, idle tongue brings chastisement? 

PROMETHEUS I marvel that thou art not in my case, 
Seeing with me thou did'st adventure all. 
And now, I do entreat thee, spare thyself. 
Thou wilt not move him: he's not easy moved 
Take heed lest thou find trouble by the way. 

OCEANUS Thou are a better counsellor to others 
Than to thyself: I judge by deeds not words. 
Pluck me not back when I would fain set forth. 
My oath upon it, Zeus will grant my prayer 
And free thee from these pangs. 

PROMETHEUS I tender the 
For this my thanks and ever-during praise. 
Certes, no backward friend art thou; and yet 
Trouble not thyself; for at the best thy labour 
Will nothing serve me, if thou mean'st to serve. 
Being thyself untrammelled stand fast. 
For, not to mitigate my own mischance, 
Would I see others hap on evil days. 
The thought be far from me. I feel the weight 
Of Atlas' woes, my brother in the west 
Shouldering the pillar that props heaven and earth, 
No wieldy fardel for his arms to fold. 
The giant dweller in Cilician dens 
I saw and pitied-a terrific shape, 
A hundred-headed monster-when he fell, 
Resistless Typhon who withstood the Gods, 
With fearsome hiss of beak-mouth horrible, 
While lightning from his eyes with Gorgon-glare 
Flashed for the ravage of the realm of Zeus. 
But on him came the bolt that never sleeps, 
Down-crashing thunder, with emitted fire, 
Which shattered him and all his towering hopes 
Dashed into ruin; smitten through the breast, 
His strength as smoking cinder, lightning-charred. 
And now a heap, a helpless, sprawling hulk, 
He lies stretched out beside the narrow seas, 
Pounded and crushed deep under Etna's roots. 
But on the mountain-top Hephaestus sits 
Forging the molten iron, whence shall burst 
Rivers of fire, with red and ravening jaws 
To waste fair-fruited, smooth, Sicilian fields. 
Such bilious up-boiling of his ire 
Shall Typho vent, with slingstone-showers red-hot, 
And unapproachable surge of fiery spray, 
Although combusted by the bolt of Zeus. 
But thou art not unlearned, nor needest me 
To be thy teacher: save thyself the way 
Thou knowest and I will fortify my heart 
Until the wrathfulness of Zeus abate. 

OCEANUS Nay then, Prometheus, art thou ignorant 
Words are physicians to a wrath-sick soul? 

PROMETHEUS Yes, if with skill one soften the ripe core,

Not by rough measures make it obdurate. 

OCEANUS Seest thou in warm affection detriment 
Or aught untoward in adventuring? 

PROMETHEUS A load of toil and a light mind withal. 

OCEANUS Then give me leave to call that sickness mine. 
Wise men accounted fools attain their ends. 

PROMETHEUS But how if I am galled by thine offence? 

OCEANUS There very palpably thou thrustest home. 

PROMETHEUS Beware lest thou through pity come to broils.

OCEANUS With one established in Omnipotence? 

PROMETHEUS Of him take heed lest thou find heaviness. 

OCEANUS I am schooled by thy calamity, Prometheus! 

PROMETHEUS Pack then! And, prithee, do not change thy mind!

OCEANUS Thou criest "On" to one in haste to go. 
For look, my dragon with impatient wings 
Flaps at the broad, smooth road of level air. 
Fain would he kneel him down in his own stall.  (Exit OCEANUS.)

CHORUS  (after alighting) I mourn for thee, Prometheus, minished
and brought low, 
Watering my virgin cheeks with these sad drops, that flow

From sorrow's rainy fount, to fill soft-lidded eyes 
With pure libations for thy fortune's obsequies. 
An evil portion that none coveteth hath Zeus 
Prepared for thee; by self-made laws established for his use

Disposing all, the elder Gods he purposeth to show 
How strong is that right arm wherewith he smites a foe. 
There hath gone up a cry from earth, a groaning for the fall

Of things of old renown and shapes majestical, 
And for thy passing an exceeding bitter groan; 
For thee and for thy brother Gods whose honour was thine own:

These things all they who dwell in Asia's holy seat, 
Time's minions, mourn and with their groans thy groans repeat.

Yea, and they mourn who dwell beside the Colchian shore,

The hero maids unwedded that delight in war, 
And Scythia's swarming myriads who their dwelling make 
Around the borders of the world, the salt Maeotian lake.

Mourns Ares' stock, that flowers in desert Araby, 
And the strong city mourns, the hill-fort planted high, 
Near neighbour to huge Caucasus, dread mountaineers 
That love the clash of arms, the counter of sharp spears.

Beforetime of all Gods one have I seen in pain, 
One only Titan bound with adamantine chain, 
Atlas in strength supreme, who groaning stoops, downbent

Under the burthen of the earth and heaven's broad firmament.

Bellows the main of waters, surge with foam-seethed surge

Clashing tumultuous; for thee the deep seas chant their dirge;

And Hell's dark under-world a hollow moaning fills; 
Thee mourn the sacred streams with all their fountain-rills.

PROMETHEUS Think not that I for pride and stubbornness 
Am silent: rather is my heart the prey 
Of gnawing thoughts, both for the past, and now 
Seeing myself by vengeance buffeted. 
For to these younger Gods their precedence 
Who severally determined if not I? 
No more of that: I should but weary you 
With things ye know; but listen to the tale 
Of human sufferings, and how at first 
Senseless as beasts I gave men sense, possessed them 
Of mind. I speak not in contempt of man; 
I do but tell of good gifts I conferred. 
In the beginning, seeing they saw amiss, 
And hearing heard not, but, like phantoms huddled 
In dreams, the perplexed story of their days 
Confounded; knowing neither timber-work 
Nor brick-built dwellings basking in the light, 
But dug for themselves holes, wherein like ants, 
That hardly may contend against a breath, 
They dwelt in burrows of their unsunned caves. 
Neither of winter's cold had they fixed sign, 
Nor of the spring when she comes decked with flowers, 
Nor yet of summer's heat with melting fruits 
Sure token: but utterly without knowledge 
Moiled, until I the rising of the stars 
Showed them, and when they set, though much obscure. 
Moreover, number, the most excellent 
Of all inventions, I for them devised, 
And gave them writing that retaineth all, 
The serviceable mother of the Muse. 
I was the first that yoked unmanaged beasts, 
To serve as slaves with collar and with pack, 
And take upon themselves, to man's relief, 
The heaviest labour of his hands: and 
Tamed to the rein and drove in wheeled cars 
The horse, of sumptuous pride the ornament. 
And those sea-wanderers with the wings of cloth, 
The shipman's waggons, none but I contrived. 
These manifold inventions for mankind 
I perfected, who, out upon't, have none- 
No, not one shift-to rid me of this shame. 

CHORUS Thy sufferings have been shameful, and thy mind 
Strays at a loss: like to a bad physician 
Fallen sick, thou'rt out of heart: nor cans't prescribe 
For thine own case the draught to make thee sound. 

PROMETHEUS But hear the sequel and the more admire 
What arts, what aids I cleverly evolved. 
The chiefest that, if any man fell sick, 
There was no help for him, comestible, 
Lotion or potion; but for lack of drugs 
They dwindled quite away; until I taught them 
To compound draughts and mixtures sanative, 
Wherewith they now are armed against disease. 
I staked the winding path of divination 
And was the first distinguisher of dreams, 
The true from false; and voices ominous 
Of meaning dark interpreted; and tokens 
Seen when men take the road; and augury 
By flight of all the greater crook-clawed birds 
With nice discrimination I defined; 
These by their nature fair and favourable, 
Those, flattered with fair name. And of each sort 
The habits I described; their mutual feuds 
And friendships and the assemblages they hold. 
And of the plumpness of the inward parts 
What colour is acceptable to the Gods, 
The well-streaked liver-lobe and gall-bladder. 
Also by roasting limbs well wrapped in fat 
And the long chine, I led men on the road 
Of dark and riddling knowledge; and I purged 
The glancing eye of fire, dim before, 
And made its meaning plain. These are my works. 
Then, things beneath the earth, aids hid from man, 
Brass, iron, silver, gold, who dares to say 
He was before me in discovering? 
None, I wot well, unless he loves to babble. 
And in a single word to sum the whole- 
All manner of arts men from Prometheus learned. 

CHORUS Shoot not beyond the mark in succouring man 
While thou thyself art comfortless: for 
Am of good hope that from these bonds escaped 
Thou shalt one day be mightier than Zeus. 

PROMETHEUS Fate, that brinks all things to an end, not thus

Apportioneth my lot: ten thousand pangs 
Must bow, ten thousand miseries afflict me 
Ere from these bonds I freedom find, for Art 
Is by much weaker than Necessity. 

CHORUS Who is the pilot of Necessity? 

PROMETHEUS The Fates triform, and the unforgetting Furies.

CHORUS So then Zeus is of lesser might than these? 

PROMETHEUS Surely he shall not shun the lot apportioned.

CHORUS What lot for Zeus save world-without-end reign? 

PROMETHEUS Tax me no further with importunate questions.

CHORUS O deep the mystery thou shroudest there 

PROMETHEUS Of aught but this freely thou may'st discourse;

But touching this I charge thee speak no word; 
Nay, veil it utterly: for strictly kept 
The secret from these bonds shall set me free. 

CHORUS May Zeus who all things swayeth 
Ne'er wreak the might none stayeth 
On wayward will of mine; 
May I stint not nor waver 
With offerings of sweet savour 
And feasts of slaughtered kine; 
The holy to the holy, 
With frequent feet and lowly 
At altar, fane and shrine, 
Over the Ocean marches, 
The deep that no drought parches, 
Draw near to the divine. 
My tongue the Gods estrange not; 
My firm set purpose change not, 
As wax melts in fire-shine. 
Sweet is the life that lengthens, 
While joyous hope still strengthens, 
And glad, bright thoughts sustain; 
But shuddering I behold thee, 
The sorrows that enfold thee 
And all thine endless pain. 
For Zeus thou hast despised; 
Thy fearless heart misprized 
All that his vengeance can, 
Thy wayward will obeying, 
Excess of honour paying, 
Prometheus, unto man. 
And, oh, beloved, for this graceless grace 
What thanks? What prowess for thy bold essay 
Shall champion thee from men of mortal race, 
The petty insects of a passing day? 
Saw'st not how puny is the strength they spend? 
With few, faint steps walking as dreams and blind, 
Nor can the utmost of their lore transcend 
The harmony of the Eternal Mind. 
These things I learned seeing thy glory dimmed, 
Prometheus. Ah, not thus on me was shed 
The rapture of sweet music, when I hymned 
The marriage-song round bath and bridal bed 
At thine espousals, and of thy blood-kin, 
A bride thou chosest, wooing her to thee 
With all good gifts that may a Goddess win, 
Thy father's child, divine Hesione.  (Enter IO, crazed and horned.)

IO What land is this? What people here abide? 
And who is he, 
The prisoner of this windswept mountain-side? 
Speak, speak to me; 
Tell me, poor caitiff, how did'st thou transgress, 
Thus buffeted? 
Whither am I, half-dead with weariness, 
Ha! Ha! 
Again the prick, the stab of gadfly-sting! 
O earth, earth, hide, 
The hollow shape-Argus-that evil thing- 
The hundred-eyed- 
Earth-born-herdsman! I see him yet; he stalks 
With stealthy pace 
And crafty watch not all my poor wit baulks! 
From the deep place 
Of earth that hath his bones he breaketh bound, 
And from the pale 
Of Death, the Underworld, a hell-sent hound 
On the blood-trail, 
Fasting and faint he drives me on before, 
With spectral hand, 
Along the windings of the wasteful shore, 
The salt sea-sand! 
List! List! the pipe! how drowzily it shrills! 
A cricket-cry! 
See! See! the wax-webbed reeds! Oh, to these ills 
Ye Gods on high, 
Ye blessed Gods, what bourne? O wandering feet 
When will ye rest? 
O Cronian child, wherein by aught unmeet 
Have I transgressed 
To be yoke-fellow with Calamity? 
My mind unstrung, 
A crack-brained lack-wit, frantic mad am I, 
By gad-fly stung, 
Thy scourge, that tarres me on with buzzing wingl 
Plunge me in fire, 
Hide me in earth, to deep-sea monsters fling, 
But my desire- 
Kneeling I pray-grudge not to grant, O King! 
Too long a race 
Stripped for the course have I run to and fro; 
And still I chase 
The vanishing goal, the end of all my woe; 
Enough have I mourned! 
Hear'st thou the lowing of the maid cow-horned? 

PROMETHEUS How should I hear thee not? Thou art the child

Of Inachus, dazed with the dizzying fly. 
The heart of Zeus thou hast made hot with love 
And Hera's curse even as a runner stripped 
Pursues thee ever on thine endless round. 

IO How dost thou know my father's name? Impart 
To one like thee 
A poor, distressful creature, who thou art. 
Sorrow with me, 
Sorrowful one! Tell me, whose voice proclaims 
Things true and sad, 
Naming by all their old, unhappy names, 
What drove me mad- 
Sick! Sick! ye Gods, with suffering ye have sent, 
That clings and clings; 
Wasting my lamp of life till it be spent! 
Crazed with your stings! 
Famished I come with trampling and with leaping, 
Torment and shame, 
To Hera's cruel wrath, her craft unsleeping, 
Captive and tame 
Of all wights woe-begone and fortune-crossed, 
Oh, in the storm 
Of the world's sorrow is there one so lost? 
Speak, godlike form, 
And be in this dark world my oracle I 
Can'st thou not sift 
The things to come? Hast thou no art to tell 
What subtle shift, 
Or sound of charming song shall make me well? 
Hide naught of ill 
But-if indeed thou knowest-prophesy- 
In words that thrill 
Clear-toned through air-what such a wretch as 
Must yet abide- 
The lost, lost maid that roams earth's kingdoms wide? 

PROMETHEUS What thou wouldst learn I will make clear to thee,

Not weaving subtleties, but simple sooth 
Unfolding as the mouth should speak to friends. 
I am Prometheus, giver of fire to mortals. 

IO Oh universal succour of mankind, 
Sorrowful Prometheus, why art thou punished thus? 

PROMETHEUS I have but now ceased mourning for my griefs.

IO Wilt thou not grant me then so small a boon? 

PROMETHEUS What is it thou dost ask? Thou shalt know all.

IO Declare to me who chained thee in this gorge. 

PROMETHEUS The hest of Zeus, but 'twas Hephaestus' hand.

IO But what transgression dost thou expiate? 

PROMETHEUS Let this suffice thee: thou shalt know no more.

IO Nay, but the end of my long wandering 
When shall it be? This too thou must declare. 

PROMETHEUS That it is better for thee not to know. 

IO Oh hide not from me what I have to suffer! 

PROMETHEUS Poor child! Poor child! I do not grudge the gift.

IO Why then, art thou so slow to tell me all? 

PROMETHEUS It is not from unkindness; but I fear 
'Twill break thy heart. 

IO Take thou no thought for me 
Where thinking thwarteth heart's desire! 

To know thy sorrows! List I and thou shalt learn. 

CHORUS Not till thou hast indulged a wish of mine. 
First let us hear the story of her grief 
And she herself shall tell the woeful tale. 
After, thy wisdom shall impart to her 
The conflict yet to come. 

PROMETHEUS So be it, then. 
And, Io, thus much courtesy thou owest 
These maidens being thine own father's kin. 
For with a moving story of our woes 
To win a tear from weeping auditors 
In nought demeans the teller. 

IO I know not 
How fitly to refuse; and at your wish 
All ye desire to know I will in plain, 
Round terms set forth. And yet the telling of it 
Harrows my soul; this winter's tale of wrong, 
Of angry Gods and brute deformity, 
And how and why on me these horrors swooped. 
Always there were dreams visiting by night 
The woman's chambers where I slept; and they 
With flattering words admonished and cajoled me, 
Saying, "O lucky one, so long a maid? 
And what a match for thee if thou would'st wed 
Why, pretty, here is Zeus as hot as hot- 
Love-sick-to have thee! Such a bolt as thou 
Hast shot clean through his heart And he won't rest 
Till Cypris help him win thee! Lift not then, 
My daughter, a proud foot to spurn the bed 
Of Zeus: but get thee gone to meadow deep 
By Lerna's marsh, where are thy father's flocks 
And cattle-folds, that on the eye of Zeus 
May fall the balm that shall assuage desire." 
Such dreams oppressed me, troubling all my nights, 
Woe's me! till I plucked courage up to tell 
My father of these fears that walked in darkness. 
And many times to Pytho and Dodona 
He sent his sacred missioners, to inquire 
How, or by deed or word, he might conform 
To the high will and pleasure of the Gods. 
And they returned with slippery oracles, 
Nought plain, but all to baffle and perplex- 
And then at last to Inachus there raught 
A saying that flashed clear; the drift, that 
Must be put out from home and country, forced 
To be a wanderer at the ends of the earth, 
A thing devote and dedicate; and if 
I would not, there should fall a thunderbolt 
From Zeus, with blinding flash, and utterly 
Destroy my race. So spake the oracle 
Of Loxias. In sorrow he obeyed, 
And from beneath his roof drove forth his child 
Grieving as he grieved, and from house and home 
Bolted and barred me out. But the high hand 
Of Zeus bear hardly on the rein of fate. 
And, instantly-even in a moment-mind 
And body suffered strange distortion. Horned 
Even as ye see me now, and with sharp bite 
Of gadfly pricked, with high-flung skip, stark-mad, 
I bounded, galloping headlong on, until 
I came to the sweet and of the stream 
Kerchneian, hard by Lerna's spring. And thither 
Argus, the giant herdsman, fierce and fell 
As a strong wine unmixed, with hateful cast 
Of all his cunning eyes upon the trail, 
Gave chase and tracked me down. And there he perished 
By violent and sudden doom surprised. 
But I with darting sting-the scorpion whip 
Of angry Gods-am lashed from land to land. 
Thou hast my story, and, if thou can'st tell 
What I have still to suffer, speak; but do not, 
Moved by compassion, with a lying tale 
Warm my cold heart; no sickness of the soul 
Is half so shameful as composed falsehoods. 

CHORUS Off! lost one! off! Horror, I cry! 
Horror and misery 
Was this the traveller's tale I craved to hear? 
Oh, that mine eyes should see 
A sight so ill to look upon! Ah me! 
Sorrow, defilement, haunting fear, 
Fan my blood cold, 
Stabbed with a two-edged sting! 
O Fate, Fate, Fate, tremblingly I behold 
The plight of Io, thine apportioning! 

PROMETHEUS Thou dost lament too soon, and art as one 
All fear. Refrain thyself till thou hast heard 
What's yet to be. 

CHORUS Speak and be our instructor: 
There is a kind of balm to the sick soul 
In certain knowledge of the grief to come. 

PROMETHEUS Your former wish I lightly granted ye: 
And ye have heard, even as ye desired, 
From this maid's lips the story of her sorrow. 
Now hear the sequel, the ensuing woes 
The damsel must endure from Hera's hate. 
And thou, O seed of Inachaean loins, 
Weigh well my words, that thou may'st understand 
Thy journey's end. First towards the rising sun 
Turn hence, and traverse fields that ne'er felt plough 
Until thou reach the country of the Scyths, 
A race of wanderers handling the long-bow 
That shoots afar, and having their habitations 
Under the open sky in wattled cotes 
That move on wheels. Go not thou nigh to them, 
But ever within sound of the breaking waver, 
Pass through their land. And on the left of the 
The Chalybes, workers in iron, dwell. 
Beware of them, for they are savages, 
Who suffer not a stranger to come near. 
And thou shalt reach the river Hybristes, 
Well named. Cross not, for it is ill to cross, 
Until thou come even unto Caucasus, 
Highest of mountains, where the foaming river 
Blows all its volume from the summit ridge 
That o'ertops all. And that star-neighboured ridge 
Thy feet must climb; and, following the road 
That runneth south, thou presently shall reach 
The Amazonian hosts that loathe the male, 
And shall one day remove from thence and found 
Themiscyra hard by Thermodon's stream, 
Where on the craggy Salmadessian coast 
Waves gnash their teeth, the maw of mariners 
And step-mother of ships. And they shall lead the 
Upon thy way, and with a right good will. 
Then shalt thou come to the Cimmerian Isthmus, 
Even at the pass and portals of the sea, 
And leaving it behind thee, stout of heart, 
Cross o'er the channel of Maeotis' lake. 
For ever famous among men shall be 
The story of thy crossing, and the strait 
Be called by a new name, the Bosporus, 
In memory of thee. Then having left 
Europa's soil behind thee thou shalt come 
To the main land of Asia. What think ye? 
Is not the only ruler of the Gods 
A complete tyrant, violent to all, 
Respecting none? First, being himself a God, 
He burneth to enjoy a mortal maid, 
And then torments her with these wanderings. 
A sorry suitor for thy love, poor girl, 
A bitter wooing. Yet having heard so much 
Thou art not even in the overture 
And prelude of the song. 

IO Alas! Oh! Oh! 

PROMETHEUS Thou dost cryout, fetching again deep groans:

What wilt thou do when thou hast heard in full 
The evils yet to come? 

CHORUS And wilt thou tell 
The maiden something further: some fresh sorrow? 

PROMETHEUS A stormy sea of wrong and ruining. 

IO What does it profit me to live! Oh, why 
Do I not throw myself from this rough crag 
And in one leap rid me of all my pain? 
Better to die at once than live, and all 
My days be evil. 

PROMETHEUS Thou would'st find it hard 
To bear what I must bear: for unto me 
It is not given to die,-a dear release 
From pain; but now of suffering there is 
No end in sight till Zeus shall fall. 

IO And shall 
Zeus fall? His power be taken from him? 
No matter when if true- 

PROMETHEUS 'Twould make thee happy 
Methinks, if thou could'st see calamity 
Whelm him. 

IO How should it not when all my woes 
Are of his sending? learn how 
These things shall be. 
The tyrant's rod? 
And fond imaginings. 

IO But how? Oh, speak, 
If the declaring draw no evil down I 

PROMETHEUS A marriage he shall make shall vex him sore.

IO A marriage? Whether of gods or mortals? 
If this be utterable! 

PROMETHEUS Why dost thou ask 
What I may not declare? 

IO And shall he quit 
The throne of all the worlds, by a new spouse 

PROMETHEUS She will bear to him a child, 
And he shall be in might more excellent 
Than his progenitor. 

IO And he will find 
No way to parry this strong stroke of fate? 

PROMETHEUS None save my own self-when these bonds are loosed.

IO And who shall loose them if Zeus wills not? 
Of thine own seed. 
How say'st thou? Shall a child 
Of mine release thee? 

PROMETHEUS Son of thine, but son 
The thirteenth generation shall beget. 

IO A prophecy oracularly dark. 

PROMETHEUS Then seek not thou to know thine own fate. 

IO Nay, 
Tender me not a boon to snatch it from me. 

PROMETHEUS Of two gifts thou hast asked one shall be thine.

IO What gifts? Pronounce and leave to me the choice. 

PROMETHEUS Nay, thou are free to choose. Say, therefore, whether

I shall declare to thee thy future woes 
Or him who shall be my deliverer. 

CHORUS Nay, but let both be granted! Unto her 
That which she chooseth, unto me my choice, 
That I, too, may have honour from thy lips. 
First unto her declare her wanderings, 
And unto me him who shall set thee free; 
'Tis that I long to know. 

PROMETHEUS I will resist 
No further, but to your importunacy 
All things which ye-desire to learn reveal. 
And, Io, first to thee I will declare 
Thy far-driven wanderings; write thou my words 
In the retentive tablets of thy heart. 
When thou hast crossed the flood that flows between 
And is the boundary of two continents, 
Turn to the sun's uprising, where he treads 
Printing with fiery steps the eastern sky, 
And from the roaring of the Pontic surge 
Do thou pass on, until before thee lies 
The Gorgonean plain, Kisthene called, 
Where dwell the gray-haired three, the Phorcides, 
Old, mumbling maids, swan-shaped, having one eye 
Betwixt the three, and but a single tooth. 
On them the sun with his brightbeams ne'er glanceth 
Nor moon that lamps the night. Not far from them 
The sisters three, the Gorgons, have their haunt; 
Winged forms, with snaky locks, hateful to man, 
Whom nothing mortal looking on can live. 
Thus much that thou may'st have a care of these. 
Now of another portent thou shalt hear. 
Beware the dogs of Zeus that ne'er give tongue, 
The sharp-beaked gryphons, and the one-eyed horde 
Of Arimaspians, riding upon horses, 
Who dwell around the river rolling gold, 
The ferry and the frith of Pluto's port. 
Go not thou nigh them. After thou shalt come 
To a far land, a dark-skinned race, that dwell 
Beside the fountains of the sun, whence flows 
The river Ethiops: follow its banks 
Until thou comest to the steep-down slope 
Where from the Bibline mountains Nilus old 
Pours the sweet waters of his holy stream. 
And thou, the river guiding thee, shalt come 
To the three-sided, wedge-shaped land of Nile, 
Where for thyself, Io, and for thy children 
Long sojourn is appointed. If in aught 
My story seems to stammer and to er 
From indirectness, ask and ask again 
Till all be manifest. I do not lack 
For leisure, having more than well contents me 

CHORUS If there be aught that she must suffer yet, 
Or aught omitted in the narrative 
Of her long wanderings, I pray thee speak. 
But if thou hast told all, then grant the boon 
We asked and doubtless thou wilt call to mind. 

PROMETHEUS Nay, she has heard the last of her long journey.

But, as some warrant for her patient hearing 
I will relate her former sufferings 
Ere she came hither. Much I will omit 
That had detained us else with long discourse 
And touch at once her journey's thus far goal. 
When thou wast come to the Molossian plain 
That lies about the high top of Dodona, 
Where is an oracle and shrine of Zeus 
Thesprotian, and-portent past belief- 
The talking oaks, the same from whom the word 
Flashed clear and nothing questionably hailed the 
The destined spouse-ah! do I touch old wounds?- 
Of Zeus, honoured above thy sex; stung thence 
In torment, where the road runs by the sea, 
Thou cam'st to the broad gulf of Rhea, whence 
Beat back by a strong wind, thou didst retrace 
Most painfully thy course; and it shall be 
That times to come in memory of thy passage 
Shall call that inlet the Ionian Sea. 
Thus much for thee in witness that my mind 
Beholdeth more than that which leaps to light. 
Now for the things to come; what I shall say 
Concerns ye both alike. Return we then 
And follow our old track. There is a city 
Yclept Canobus, built at the land's end, 
Even at the mouth and mounded silt of Nile, 
And there shall Zeus restore to thee thy mind 
With touch benign and laying on of hands. 
And from that touch thou shalt conceive and bear 
Swarth Epaphus, touch-born; and he shall reap 
As much of earth as Nilus watereth 
With his broad-flowing river. In descent 
The fifth from him there shall come back to Argos, 
Thine ancient home, but driven by hard hap, 
Two score and ten maids, daughters of one house, 
Fleeing pollution of unlawful marriage 
With their next kin, who winged with wild desire, 
As hawks that follow hard on cushat-doves, 
Shall harry prey which they should not pursue 
And hunt forbidden brides. But God shall be 
Exceeding jealous for their chastity; 
And old Pelasgia, for the mortal thrust 
Of woman's hands and midnight murder done 
Upon their new-wed lords, shall shelter them; 
For every wife shall strike her husband down 
Dipping a two-edged broadsword in his blood. 
Oh, that mine enemies might wed such wivesl 
But of the fifty, one alone desire 
Shall tame, as with the stroke of charming-wand, 
So that she shall not lift her hands to slay 
The partner of her bed; yea, melting love 
Shall blunt her sharp-set will, and she shall choose 
Rather to be called weak and womanly 
Than the dark stain of blood; and she shall be 
Mother of kings in Argos. 'Tis a tale 
Were't told in full, would occupy us long. 
For, of her sowing, there shall spring to fame 
The lion's whelp, the archer bold, whose bow 
Shall set me free. This is the oracle 
Themis, my ancient Mother, Titan-born, 
Disclosed to me; but how and in what wise 
Were long to tell, nor would it profit thee. 

IO Again they come, again 
The fury and the pain! 
The gangrened wound! The ache of pulses dinned 
With raging throes 
It beats upon my brain-the burning wind 
That madness blows! 
It pricks-the barb, the hook not forged with heat, 
The gadfly dart! 
Against my ribs with thud of trampling feet 
Hammers my heart! 
And like a bowling wheel mine eyeballs spin, 
And I am flung 
By fierce winds from my course, nor can rein in 
My frantic tongue 
That raves I know not what!-a random tide 
Of words-a froth 
Of muddied waters buffeting the wide, 
High-crested, hateful wave of ruin and God's wrath!  (Exit raving.)

CHORUS I hold him wise who first in his own mind 
This canon fixed and taught it to mankind: 
True marriage is the union that mates 
Equal with equal; not where wealth emasculates, 
Or mighty lineage is magnified, 
Should he who earns his bread look for a bride. 
Therefore, grave mistresses of fate, I pray 
That I may never live to see the day 
When Zeus takes me for his bedfellow; or 
Draw near in love to husband from on high. 
For I am full of fear when I behold 
Io, the maid no human love may fold, 
And her virginity disconsolate, 
Homeless and husbandless by Hera's hate. 
For me, when love is level, fear is far. 
May none of all the Gods that greater are 
Eve me with his unshunnable regard; 
Fir in that warfare victory is hard, 
And of that plenty cometh emptiness. 
What should befall me then I dare not guess; 
Nor whither I should flee that I might shun 
The craft and subtlety of Cronos' Son. 

PROMETHEUS I tell thee that the self-willed pride of Zeus

Shall surely be abased; that even now 
He plots a marriage that shall hurl him forth 
Far out of sight of his imperial throne 
And kingly dignity. Then, in that hour, 
Shall be fulfilled, nor in one tittle fail, 
The curse wherewith his father Cronos cursed him, 
What time he fell from his majestic place 
Established from of old. And such a stroke 
None of the Gods save me could turn aside. 
I know these things shall be and on what wise. 
Therefore let him secure him in his seat, 
And put his trust in airy noise, and swing 
His bright, two-handed, blazing thunderbolt, 
For these shall nothing stead him, nor avert 
Fall insupportable and glory humbled. 
A wrestler of such might he maketh ready 
For his own ruin; yea, a wonder, strong 
In strength unmatchable; and he shall find 
Fire that shall set at naught the burning bolt 
And blasts more dreadful that o'er-crow the thunder. 
The pestilence that scourgeth the deep seas 
And shaketh solid earth, the three-pronged mace, 
Poseidon's spear, a mightier shall scatter; 
And when he stumbleth striking there his foot, 
Fallen on evil days, the tyrant's pride 
Shall measure all the miserable length 
That parts rule absolute from servitude. 

CHORUS Methinks the wish is father to the thought 
And whets thy railing tongue. 

PROMETHEUS Not so: the wish And the accomplishment go hand in hand.

CHORUS Then must we look for one who shall supplant 
And reign instead of Zeus? 
Far, far more grievous shall bow down his neck. 

CHORUS Hast thou no fear venting such blasphemy? 

PROMETHEUS What should I fear who have no part nor lot 
In doom of dying? 

CHORUS But he might afflict the 
With agony more dreadful, pain beyond 
These pains. 

PROMETHEUS Why let him if he will 
All evils I foreknow. 

CHORUS Ah, they are wise 
Who do obeisance, prostrate in the dust, 
To the implacable, eternal Will. 

PROMETHEUS Go thou and worship; fold thy hands in prayer,

And be the dog that licks the foot of power! 
Nothing care I for Zeus; yea, less than naught! 
Let him do what he will, and sway the world 
His little hour; he has not long to lord it 
Among the Gods. 
Oh here here runner comes 
The upstart tyrant's lacquey! He'll bring news, 
A message, never doubt it, from his master.  (Enter HERMES.)  Hermes.
You, the sophistical rogue, the heart of gall, 
The renegade of heaven, to short-lived men 
Purveyor of prerogatives and tities, 
Fire-thief! Dost hear me? I've a word for thee. 
Thou'rt to declare-this is the Father's pleasure 
These marriage-feasts of thine, whereof thy tongue 
Rattles a-pace, and by the which his greatness 
Shall take a fall. And look you rede no riddles, 
But tell the truth, in each particular 
Exact. I am not to sweat for thee, Prometheus, 
Upon a double journey. And thou seest 
Zeus by thy dark defiance is not moved. 

PROMETHEUS A very solemn piece of insolence 
Spoken like an underling of the Gods! Ye are young! 
Ye are young! New come to power And ye suppose 
Your towered citadel Calamity 
Can never enter! Ah, and have not 
Seen from those pinnacles a two-fold fall 
Of tyrants? And the third, who his brief "now" 
Of lordship arrogates, I shall see yet 
By lapse most swift' most ignominious, 
Sink to perdition. And dost thou suppose 
I crouch and cower in reverence and awe 
To Gods of yesterday? I fail of that 
So much, the total all of space and time 
Bulks in between. Take thyself hence and count 
Thy toiling steps back by the way thou camest, 
In nothing wiser for thy questionings. 

HERMES This is that former stubbornness of thine 
That brought thee hither to foul anchorage. 

PROMETHEUS Mistake me not; I would not, if I might, 
Change my misfortunes for thy vassalage. 

HERMES Oh! better be the vassal of this rock 
Than born the trusty messenger of Zeus 

PROMETHEUS I answer insolence, as it deserves, 
With insolence. How else should it be answered? 

HERMES Surely; and, being in trouble, it is plain 
You revel in your plight. 

PROMETHEUS Revel, forsooth! 
I would my enemies might hold such revels 
And thou amongst the first. 

HERMES Dost thou blame me 
For thy misfortunes? 

PROMETHEUS I hate all the Gods, 
Because, having received good at my hands, 
They have rewarded me with evil. 
Proves thee stark mad! 

HERMES This proves thee stark mad! 

PROMETHEUS Mad as you please, if hating 
Your enemies is madness 

HERMES Were all well 
With thee, thou'dst be insufferable! 


HERMES Alas, that Zeus knows not that word, Alas! 

PROMETHEUS But ageing Time teacheth all knowledge. 

Hath not yet taught thy rash, imperious will 
Over wild impulse to win mastery. 

PROMETHEUS Nay: had Time taught me that, I had not stooped

To bandy words with such a slave as thou. 

HERMES This, then, is all thine answer: thou'lt not 
One syllable of what our Father asks. 

PROMETHEUS Oh, that I were a debtor to his kindness! 
I would requite him to the uttermost! 

HERMES A cutting speech! You take me for a boy 
Whom you may taunt and tease. 

PROMETHEUS Why art thou not 
A boy-a very booby-to suppose 
Thou wilt get aught from me? There is no wrong 
However shameful, nor no shift of malice 
Whereby Zeus shall persuade me to unlock 
My lips until these shackles be cast loose. 
Therefore let lightning leap with smoke and flame, 
And all that is be beat and tossed together, 
With whirl of feathery snowflakes and loud crack 
Of subterranean thunder; none of these 
Shall bend my will or force me to disclose 
By whom 'tis fated he shall fall from power. 

HERMES What good can come of this? Think yet again! 

PROMETHEUS I long ago have thought and long ago 

HERMES Patience! patience! thou rash fool 
Have so much patience as to school thy mind 
To a right judgment in thy present troubles. 

PROMETHEUS Lo, I am rockfast, and thy words are wave 
That weary me in vain. Let not the thought 
Enter thy mind, that I in awe of Zeus 
Shall change my nature for a girl's, or beg 
The Loathed beyond all loathing-with my hands 
Spread out in woman's fashion-to cast loose 
These bonds; from that I am utterly removed. 

HERMES I have talked much, yet further not my purpose; 
For thou art in no whit melted or moved 
By my prolonged entreaties: like a colt 
New to the harness thou dost back and Plunge. 
Snap at thy bit and fight against the rein. 
And yet thy confidence is in a straw; 
For stubbornness, if one be in the wrong, 
Is in itself weaker than naught at all. 
See now, if thou wilt not obey my words, 
What storm, what triple-crested wave of woe 
Unshunnable shall come upon thee. First, 
This rocky chasm shall the Father split 
With earthquake thunder and his burning bolt, 
And he shall hide thy form, and thou shalt hang 
Bolt upright, dandled in the rock's rude arms. 
Nor till thou hast completed thy long term 
Shalt thou come back into the light; and then 
The hound of Zeus, the tawny eagle, 
Shall violently fall upon thy flesh 
And rend it as 'twere rags; and every day 
And all day long shall thine unbidden guest 
Sit at thy table, feasting on thy liver 
Till he hath gnawn it black. Look for no term 
To such an agony till there stand forth 
Among the Gods one who shall take upon him 
Thy sufferings and consent to enter hell 
Far from the light of Sun, yea, the deep pit 
And mirk of Tartarus, for thee. Be advised; 
This is not stuffed speech framed to frighten the 
But woeful truth. For Zeus knows not to lie 

CHORUS To our mind 
The words of Hermes fail not of the mark. 
For he enjoins thee to let self-will go 
And follow after prudent counsels. Him 
Harken; for error in the wise is shame. 

PROMETHEUS These are stale tidings I foreknew; 
Therefore, since suffering is the due 
A foe must pay his foes, 
Let curled lightnings clasp and clash 
And close upon my limbs: loud crash 
The thunder, and fierce throes 
Of savage winds convulse calm air: 
The embowelled blast earth's roots uptear 
And toss beyond its bars, 
The rough surge, till the roaring deep 
In one devouring deluge sweep 
The pathway of the stars 
Finally, let him fling my form 
Down whirling gulfs, the central storm 
Of being; let me lie 
Plunged in the black Tartarean gloom; 
Yet-yet-his sentence shall not doom 
This deathless self to die! 

HERMES These are the workings of a brain 
More than a little touched; the vein 
Of voluble ecstasy! 
Surely he wandereth from the way, 
His reason lost, who thus can pray 
A mouthing mad man he! 
Therefore, O ye who court his fate, 
Rash mourners-ere it be too late 
And ye indeed are sad 
For vengeance spurring hither fast- 
Hence! lest the bellowing thunderblast 
Like him should strike you mad I 

CHORUS Words which might work persuasion speak 
If thou must counsel me; nor seek 
Thus, like a stream in spate, 
To uproot mine honour. Dost thou dare 
Urge me to baseness! I will bear 
With him all blows of fate; 
For false forsakers I despise; 
At treachery my gorge doth rise: 
I spew it forth with hate! 

HERMES Only-with ruin on your track- 
Rail not at fortune; but look back 
And these my words recall; 
Neither blame Zeus that he hath sent 
Sorrow no warning word forewent! 
Ye labour for your fall 
With your own hands I Not by surprise 
Nor yet by stealth, but with clear eyes, 
Knowing the thing ye do, 
Ye walk into the yawning net 
That for the feet of is set 
And Ruin spreads for you.  (Exit.)  

PROMETHEUS The time is past for words; earth quakes 
Sensibly: hark! pent thunder rakes 
The depths, with bellowing din 
Of echoes rolling ever nigher: 
Lightnings shake out their locks of fire; 
The dust cones dance and spin; 
The skipping winds, as if possessed 
By faction-north, south, east and west, 
Puff at each other; sea 
And sky are shook together: Lo 
The swing and fury of the blow 
Wherewith Zeus smiteth me 
Sweepeth apace, and, visibly, 
To strike my heart with fear. See, see, 
Earth, awful Mother! Air, 
That shedd'st from the revolving sky 
On all the light they see thee by, 
What bitter wrongs I bear!  (The scene closes with earthquake and
thunder, in the midst of which PROMETHEUS and the DAUGHTERS OF OCEANUS
sink into the abyss.)  



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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