PROMETHEUS BOUND by Aeschylus, Part 12
Nay, but let both be granted! Unto her
That which she chooseth, unto me my choice,
That I, too, may have honour from thy lips.
First unto her declare her wanderings,
And unto me him who shall set thee free;
'Tis that I long to know.
I will resist
No further, but to your importunacy
All things which ye-desire to learn reveal.
And, Io, first to thee I will declare
Thy far-driven wanderings; write thou my words
In the retentive tablets of thy heart.
When thou hast crossed the flood that flows between
And is the boundary of two continents,
Turn to the sun's uprising, where he treads
Printing with fiery steps the eastern sky,
And from the roaring of the Pontic surge
Do thou pass on, until before thee lies
The Gorgonean plain, Kisthene called,
Where dwell the gray-haired three, the Phorcides,
Old, mumbling maids, swan-shaped, having one eye
Betwixt the three, and but a single tooth.
On them the sun with his brightbeams ne'er glanceth
Nor moon that lamps the night. Not far from them
The sisters three, the Gorgons, have their haunt;
Winged forms, with snaky locks, hateful to man,
Whom nothing mortal looking on can live.
Thus much that thou may'st have a care of these.
Now of another portent thou shalt hear.
Beware the dogs of Zeus that ne'er give tongue,
The sharp-beaked gryphons, and the one-eyed horde
Of Arimaspians, riding upon horses,
Who dwell around the river rolling gold,
The ferry and the frith of Pluto's port.
Go not thou nigh them. After thou shalt come
To a far land, a dark-skinned race, that dwell
Beside the fountains of the sun, whence flows
The river Ethiops: follow its banks
Until thou comest to the steep-down slope
Where from the Bibline mountains Nilus old
Pours the sweet waters of his holy stream.
And thou, the river guiding thee, shalt come
To the three-sided, wedge-shaped land of Nile,
Where for thyself, Io, and for thy children
Long sojourn is appointed. If in aught
My story seems to stammer and to er
From indirectness, ask and ask again
Till all be manifest. I do not lack
For leisure, having more than well contents me
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.
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