Power To earth's remotest limit we come, to the Scythian land, an untrodden solitude. And now, Hephaestus, yours is the charge to observe the mandates laid upon you by the Father—to clamp this miscreant 5upon the high craggy rocks in shackles of binding adamant that cannot be broken. For your own flower, flashing fire, source of all arts, he has purloined and bestowed upon mortal creatures. Such is his offence; for this he is bound to make requital to the gods, 10so that he may learn to bear with the sovereignty of Zeus and cease his man-loving ways.
Hephaestus Power and Force, for you indeed the behest of Zeus is now fulfilled, and nothing remains to stop you. But for me—I do not have the nerve myself 15to bind with force a kindred god upon this rocky cleft assailed by cruel winter. Yet, come what may, I am constrained to summon courage to this deed; for it is perilous to disregard the commandments of the Father.
Lofty-minded son of Themis who counsels straight, against my will, no less than yours, I must rivet you with brazen bonds 20no hand can loose to this desolate crag, where neither voice nor form of mortal man shall you perceive; but, scorched by the sun's bright beams, you shall lose the fair bloom of your flesh. And glad you shall be when spangled-robed night shall veil his brightness and 25when the sun shall scatter again the frost of morning. Evermore the burden of your present ill shall wear you out; for your deliverer is not yet born.
Such is the prize you have gained for your championship of man. For, god though you are, you did not fear the wrath of the gods, but
30you bestowed honors upon mortal creatures beyond their due. Therefore on this joyless rock you must stand sentinel, erect, sleepless, your knee unbent. And many a groan and unavailing lament you shall utter; for the heart of Zeus is hard,
35and everyone is harsh whose power is new.
Power Well, why delay and excite pity in vain? Why do you not detest a god most hateful to the gods, since he has betrayed your prerogative to mortals?
Hephaestus A strangely potent tie is kinship, and companionship as well.
Power 40I agree; yet to refuse to obey the commands of the Father; is this possible? Do you not fear that more?
Hephaestus Yes, you are ever pitiless and steeped in insolence.
Power Yes, for it does not good to bemoan this fellow. Stop wasting your labor at an unprofitable task.
Hephaestus 45Oh handicraft that I hate so much!
Power Why hate it? Since in truth your craft is in no way to blame for these present troubles.
Hephaestus Nevertheless, i wish it had fallen to another's lot!
Power Every job is troublesome except to be the commander of gods; 50no one is free except Zeus.
Hephaestus I know it by this task; I cannot deny it.
Power Hurry then to cast the fetters about him, so that the Father does not see you loitering.
Hephaestus Well, there then! The bands are ready, as you may see.
Power 55Cast them about his wrists and with might strike with your hammer; rivet him to the rocks.
Hephaestus There! The work is getting done and not improperly.
Power Strike harder, clamp him tight, leave nothing loose; for he is wondrously clever at finding a way even out of desperate straits.
60This arm, at least, is fixed permanently.
Power Now rivet this one too and securely, so that he may learn, for all his cleverness, that he is a fool compared to Zeus.
Hephaestus None but he could justly blame my work.
Power Now drive the adamantine wedge's stubborn edge straight 65through his chest with your full force.
Hephaestus Alas, Prometheus, I groan for your sufferings.
Power What! Shrinking again and groaning over the enemies of Zeus? Take care, so that the day does not come when you shall grieve for yourself.
Hephaestus You see a spectacle grievous for eyes to behold.
Power 70I see this man getting his deserts. Come, cast the girths about his sides.
Hephaestus I must do this; spare me your needless ordering.
Power Indeed, I'll order you, yes and more—I'll hound you on. Get down below, and ring his legs by force.
Hephaestus 75There now! The work's done and without much labor.
Power Now hammer the piercing fetters with your full force; for the appraiser of our work is severe.
Hephaestus The utterance of your tongue matches your looks.
Power Be softhearted then, 80but do not attack my stubborn will and my harsh mood.
Hephaestus Let us be gone, since he has got the fetters on his limbs.Exit
There now, indulge your insolence, keep on wresting from the gods their honors to give them to creatures of a day. Are mortals able to lighten your load of sorrow?
85Falsely the gods call you Prometheus, [Note]
O you bright sky of heaven, you swift-winged breezes, you river-waters, and
90infinite laughter of the waves of ocean, O universal mother Earth , and you, all-seeing orb of the sun, to you I call! See what I, a god, endure from the gods.
Look, with what shameful torture I am racked and must wrestle
95throughout the countless years of time apportioned me. Such is the ignominious bondage the new commander of the blessed has devised against me. Woe! Woe! For present misery and misery to come I groan, not knowing where
100it is fated that deliverance from these sorrows shall arise.
And yet, what am I saying? All that is to be I know full well and in advance, nor shall any affliction come upon me unforeseen. I must bear my allotted doom as lightly as I can, knowing that
105the might of Necessity permits no resistance.Yet I am not able to speak nor be silent about my fate. For it is because I bestowed good gifts on mortals that this miserable yoke of constraint has been bound upon me. I hunted out and stored in fennel stalk the stolen
110source of fire that has proved a teacher to mortals in every art and a means to mighty ends. Such is the offence for which I pay the penalty, riveted in fetters beneath the open sky.
115What murmur, what scent wings to me, its source invisible, heavenly or human, or both? Has someone come to this crag at the edge of the world to stare at my sufferings—or with what motive? Behold me, an ill-fated god, chained,
120the foe of Zeus,
hated of all who enter the court of Zeus, because of my very great love for mankind. Ha! What's this? What may be this rustling stir of birds I hear 125again nearby? The air whirs with the light rush of wings. Whatever approaches causes me alarm.The Daughters of Oceanus enter on a winged car
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (English) (XML Header) [genre: poetry; drama; tragedy; suspect] [word count] [Aesch. PV].