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?
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.
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.
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.
A load of toil and a light mind withal.
But how if I am galled by thine offence?
There very palpably thou thrustest home.
Beware lest thou through pity come to broils.
With one established in Omnipotence?
Of him take heed lest thou find heaviness.
I am schooled by thy calamity, Prometheus!
Pack then! And, prithee, do not change thy mind!
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.
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.
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.