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PROMETHEUS BOUND by Aeschylus, Part 15

Hermes
Alas, that Zeus knows not that word, Alas!
PROMETHEUS
But ageing Time teacheth all knowledge.
Hermes
Time
Hath not yet taught thy rash, imperious will
Over wild impulse to win mastery.
PROMETHEUS
Nay: had Time taught me that, I had not stooped
To bandy words with such a slave as thou.
Hermes
This, then, is all thine answer: thou'lt not
One syllable of what our Father asks.
PROMETHEUS
Oh, that I were a debtor to his kindness!
I would requite him to the uttermost!
Hermes
A cutting speech! You take me for a boy
Whom you may taunt and tease.
PROMETHEUS
Why art thou not
A boy-a very booby-to suppose
Thou wilt get aught from me? There is no wrong
However shameful, nor no shift of malice
Whereby Zeus shall persuade me to unlock
My lips until these shackles be cast loose.
Therefore let lightning leap with smoke and flame,
And all that is be beat and tossed together,
With whirl of feathery snowflakes and loud crack
Of subterranean thunder; none of these
Shall bend my will or force me to disclose
By whom 'tis fated he shall fall from power.
Hermes
What good can come of this? Think yet again!
PROMETHEUS
I long ago have thought and long ago
Determined.
Hermes
Patience! patience! thou rash fool
Have so much patience as to school thy mind
To a right judgment in thy present troubles.
PROMETHEUS
Lo, I am rockfast, and thy words are wave
That weary me in vain. Let not the thought
Enter thy mind, that I in awe of Zeus
Shall change my nature for a girl's, or beg
The Loathed beyond all loathing-with my hands
Spread out in woman's fashion-to cast loose
These bonds; from that I am utterly removed.
Hermes
I have talked much, yet further not my purpose;
For thou art in no whit melted or moved
By my prolonged entreaties: like a colt
New to the harness thou dost back and Plunge.
Snap at thy bit and fight against the rein.
And yet thy confidence is in a straw;
For stubbornness, if one be in the wrong,
Is in itself weaker than naught at all.
See now, if thou wilt not obey my words,
What storm, what triple-crested wave of woe
Unshunnable shall come upon thee. First,
This rocky chasm shall the Father split
With earthquake thunder and his burning bolt,
And he shall hide thy form, and thou shalt hang
Bolt upright, dandled in the rock's rude arms.
Nor till thou hast completed thy long term
Shalt thou come back into the light; and then
The hound of Zeus, the tawny eagle,
Shall violently fall upon thy flesh
And rend it as 'twere rags; and every day
And all day long shall thine unbidden guest
Sit at thy table, feasting on thy liver
Till he hath gnawn it black. Look for no term
To such an agony till there stand forth
Among the Gods one who shall take upon him
Thy sufferings and consent to enter hell
Far from the light of Sun, yea, the deep pit
And mirk of Tartarus, for thee. Be advised;
This is not stuffed speech framed to frighten the
But woeful truth. For Zeus knows not to lie
CHORUS
To our mind
The words of Hermes fail not of the mark.
For he enjoins thee to let self-will go
And follow after prudent counsels. Him
Harken; for error in the wise is shame.
PROMETHEUS
These are stale tidings I foreknew;
Therefore, since suffering is the due
A foe must pay his foes,
Let curled lightnings clasp and clash
And close upon my limbs: loud crash
The thunder, and fierce throes
Of savage winds convulse calm air:
The embowelled blast earth's roots uptear
And toss beyond its bars,
The rough surge, till the roaring deep
In one devouring deluge sweep
The pathway of the stars
Finally, let him fling my form
Down whirling gulfs, the central storm
Of being; let me lie
Plunged in the black Tartarean gloom;
Yet-yet-his sentence shall not doom
This deathless self to die!

 

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