Translated by G. M. CooksonPrometheus bound to a rock at Zeus’ order for giving man fire, bemoans his fate until it become worse still…
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.
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.
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.
Kindred and fellowship are dreaded names.
Thy heart was ever hard and overbold.
Oh execrable work! O handicraft!
Would that it were another’s craft, not mine!
To that I answer not, knowing it true.
Here are the iron bracelets for his arms.
‘Tis done! and would that it were done less well!
This forearm’s fast: a shackle hard to shift.
None can find fault with this: -save him it tortures.
Woe’s me, Prometheus, for thy weight of woe!
Thou seest what eyes scarce bear to look upon!
I do what I must do: for thee-less words!
The thing is featly done; and ’twas quick work.
So villainous a form vile tongue befits.
Oh, come away! The tackle holds him fast.
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.
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.
Prometheus Bound By Aeschylus