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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Not so: the wish And the accomplishment go hand in hand.
Hast thou no fear venting such blasphemy?
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.
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.
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.
This proves thee stark mad!
Alas, that Zeus knows not that word, Alas!
But ageing Time teacheth all knowledge.