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.
I will not speak to upbraid mankind but to set forth the friendly purpose that inspired my blessing. First of all, though they had eyes to see, they saw to no avail; they had ears, but they did not understand ; but, just as shapes in dreams, throughout their length of days,
without purpose they wrought all things in confusion. They had neither knowledge of houses built of bricks and turned to face the sun nor yet of work in wood; but dwelt beneath the ground like swarming ants, in sunless caves. They had no sign either of winter
or of flowery spring or of fruitful summer, on which they could depend but managed everything without judgment, until I taught them to discern the risings of the stars and their settings, which are difficult to distinguish. Yes, and numbers, too, chiefest of sciences,
I invented for them, and the combining of letters, creative mother of the Muses’ arts, with which to hold all things in memory. I, too, first brought brute beasts beneath the yoke to be subject to the collar and the pack-saddle, so that they might bear in men’s stead their
heaviest burdens; and to the chariot I harnessed horses and made them obedient to the rein, to be an image of wealth and luxury. It was I and no one else who invented the mariner’s flaxen-winged car that roams the sea. Wretched that I am—such are the arts I devised
for mankind, yet have myself no cunning means to rid me of my present suffering.
You have suffered sorrow and humiliation. You have lost your wits and have gone astray; and, like an unskilled doctor, fallen ill, you lose heart and cannot
discover by which remedies to cure your own disease.
Hear the rest and you shall wonder the more at the arts and resources I devised. This first and foremost: if ever man fell ill, there was no defence—no healing food,
no ointment, nor any drink—but for lack of medicine they wasted away, until I showed them how to mix soothing remedies with which they now ward off all their disorders. And I marked out many ways by which they might read the future,
and among dreams I first discerned which are destined to come true; and voices baffling interpretation I explained to them, and signs from chance meetings. The flight of crook-taloned birds I distinguished clearly— which by nature are auspicious,
which sinister—their various modes of life, their mutual feuds and loves, and their consortings; and the smoothness of their entrails, and what color the gall must have to please
the gods, also the speckled symmetry of the liver-lobe; and the thigh-bones, wrapped in fat, and the long chine I burned and initiated mankind into an occult art. Also I cleared their vision to discern signs from flames,which were obscure before this.
Enough about these arts. Now as to the benefits to men that lay concealed beneath the earth—bronze, iron, silver, and gold—who would claim to have discovered them before me? No one, I know full well, unless he likes to babble idly.
Hear the sum of the whole matter in the compass of one brief word—every art possessed by man comes from Prometheus.
Do not benefit mortals beyond reason and disregard your own distress; although, I am confident that you will be freed
from these bonds and will have power in no way inferior to Zeus.
Not in this way is Fate, who brings all to fulfillment, destined to complete this course. Only when I have been bent by pangs and tortures infinite am I to escape my bondage. Skill is weaker by far than Necessity.