Prometheus Bound

Aeschylus

Aeschylus, creator; Aeschylus with an English translation Vol I. Smyth, Herbert Weir, 1857- 1937, editor, translator. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd.: 1922.

  1. the contrary end, that Zeus might never win mastery over the gods—it was then that I, although advising them for the best, was unable to persuade the Titans, children of Heaven and Earth; but they, disdaining counsels of craft, in the pride of their strength
  2. thought to gain the mastery without a struggle and by force. Often my mother Themis, or Earth (though one form, she had many names), had foretold to me the way in which the future was fated to come to pass. That it was not by brute strength nor through violence,
  3. but by guile that those who should gain the upper hand were destined to prevail. And though I argued all this to them, they did not pay any attention to my words. With all that before me, it seemed best that, joining with my mother, I should place myself,
  4. a welcome volunteer, on the side of Zeus; and it is by reason of my counsel that the cavernous gloom of Tartarus now hides ancient Cronus and his allies within it. Thus I helped the tyrant of the gods
  5. and with this foul payment he has responded; for it is a disease that is somehow inherent in tyranny to have no faith in friends. However, you ask why he torments me, and this I will now make clear.
  6. As soon as he had seated himself upon his father’s throne, he immediately assigned to the deities their several privileges and apportioned to them their proper powers. But of wretched mortals he took no notice, desiring to bring
  7. the whole race to an end and create a new one in its place. Against this purpose none dared make stand except me— I only had the courage; I saved mortals so that they did not descend, blasted utterly, to the house of Hades. This is why I am bent by such grievous tortures,
  8. painful to suffer, piteous to behold. I who gave mortals first place in my pity, I am deemed unworthy to win this pity for myself, but am in this way mercilessly disciplined, a spectacle that shames the glory of Zeus.
Chorus
  1. Iron-hearted and made of stone, Prometheus,
  2. is he who feels no compassion at your miseries. For myself, I would not have desired to see them; and now that I see them, I am pained in my heart.
Prometheus
  1. Yes, to my friends indeed I am a spectacle of pity.
Chorus
  1. Did you perhaps transgress even somewhat beyond this offence?
Prometheus
  1. Yes, I caused mortals to cease foreseeing their doom.[*](Doom here signifies doom of death.)
Chorus
  1. Of what sort was the cure that you found for this affliction?
Prometheus
  1. I caused blind hopes to dwell within their breasts.
Chorus
  1. A great benefit was this you gave to mortals.
Prometheus
  1. In addition, I gave them fire.
Chorus
  1. What! Do creatures of a day now have flame-eyed fire?
Prometheus
  1. Yes, and from it they shall learn many arts.
Chorus
  1. Then it was on a charge like this that Zeus—