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PROMETHEUS BOUND by Aeschylus, Part 01

460 BC
by Aeschylus
Characters in the Play

CHORUS of the Oceanides

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.
Enough! Why palter? Why wast idle pity?
Is not the God Gods loathe hateful to thee?
Traitor to man of thy prerogative?
Kindred and fellowship are dreaded names.
Questionless; but to slight the Father's word-
How sayest thou? Is not this fraught with more dread?
Thy heart was ever hard and overbold.
But wailing will not ease him! Waste no pains
Where thy endeavour nothing profiteth.
Oh execrable work! I handicraft!
Why curse thy trade? For what thou hast to do,
Troth, smithcraft is in no wise answerable.
Would that it were another's craft, not mine!
Why, all things are a burden save to rule
Over the Gods; for none is free but Zeus.
To that I answer not, knowing it true.
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.
Here are the iron bracelets for his arms.
Fasten them round his arms with all thy strength!
Strike with thy hammer! Nail him to the rocks!
'Tis done! and would that it were done less well!


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