Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus

“Here we are
in this desolate wasteland.
You Prometheus are to be bound
in unbreakable chains upon this rock.
For it is you who stole Fire from the Gods
and gave it to mankind.
And for this, Zeus,
the new king of the Gods,
condemns you to this punishment.”

“Whoa is me, I Hephaestus
am charged with securing the bonds
around you, poor Prometheus,
it is my task to see to it that you remain un-moving
here in this place beyond the edge of human-kind,
where the sun will scorch your face,
the wind will howl, the rain will pour down upon you
for endless time.”

“Hurry! Hephaestus, now is the time
chain this God, this Prometheus,
to this craggy rock, and we shall be off.”

“Curse this unfortunate situation I find myself in!
To have to chain my dear friend Prometheus,
to keep him here banished from men and Gods alike
away from all eyes.
Prometheus I am sorry, the hammer is weak in my hands
but I must drive this adamantine wedge
straight through your heart.”

“Do not pity him!
He knew what he has done, and yet he did it anyway!
Now, he must suffer his fate.”

“You may be cruel, but I cannot help feel deep pain
in having to so re-strain my dear friend.”

Ch. 1

Earth, Water, Wind Sky
Mother Nature!
See how I am forsaken by the Gods!
See how I am unjustly punished by Zeus!
I, who tried to help mankind,
to give them fire,
to teach them the ways of knowledge
so that they may live a better life,
am now stuck here to suffer,
pitiable, for all to laugh at.”

“Prometheus, we the Chorus,
daughters of the Ocean, bird-like
in our flight do see your misfortune
and feel deep pity in our hearts.”

“If only Zeus had cast me down to Hades,
at least then I would be spared
this ridicule and display!”

“Zeus’s rule is new, this is why he is so
harsh on you.
He knows not tradition, but creates
his own rules in a moment’s notice!”

“I tell you this, one day Zeus will need me!
And then he shall remember how he
did cast me aside like this.
He will come to me begging for forgiveness!”

“Prometheus, all Gods alike feel for you,
but be careful of speaking such harsh words
for surely Zeus will hear them,
and your situation will only become worse still!”

“Zeus knows no justice other than that which
he calls his own! I shall not be silent,
for in the end, the tables will turn.”

“Tell us what happened, Prometheus.
Let us know the full tale.”

Ch. 2

“When the Gods began fighting,
one against the other, seeking to remove
Kronos from his place atop the Throne,
to be replaced by Zeus,
I tried my best to help the Titans,
sons of the Earth and Sky,
but they would not listen to me.
They did not realize what they were
up against, they did not see that
fate decrees power to be held
in the hands of those who scheme.
And so, I turned to the aid of Zeus
and together we overcame them,
Kronos and his allies thrown into
the depths of Tartarus.
But then, with Zeus now in power,
while he did assign to the Gods
each in turn their own privileges
to mankind he gave nothing.
Zeus desired to wipe out mankind,
to make them extinct,
for he saw nothing good in them.
But I desired to save the human race!
I helped them!
And for this reason, my once ally Zeus
turned on me, and now sentences
me to suffer here on this pitiful rock…”

“Zeus’s heart must be made of stone
to cast you aside so, for no one can
look upon you without feeling pain.”

“Yes, I am a most wretched site.”

“In what ways did you help mankind?”

“Not only did I give them fire,
to provide them with warmth
in the coldest of nights,
but so too did I stop them from
seeing what lies ahead.”

“How did you do that?”

“I gave them hope.”

“Your actions were noble,
but so too did you know
that they were against Zeus’s commands.”

“This I know. But how could I have foreseen
being treated with such unrestrained cruelty!

Ch. 3

“Prometheus! It is I Oceanos,
I came as soon as I could to see you.
O what a condition you are in!
Tell me, what can I do to help?”

“Dear friend, you see me now, chained to Mother Earth.
Now you see how Zeus treats his friends!”

“Prometheus, I understand you are upset.
Your situation is most distressing.
But please, restrain yourself.
Do not let loose your tongue
but keep quiet, for Zeus is brash
and will seek to cause you even more calamity!”

“Please, Oceanos, stay away from me,
so that my plight does not befall you too!”

“O, how I wish you were as good at following
your own advice as you are giving it.
Dear friend, let me speak to Zeus on your behalf.”

“You are a most loyal friend.
But I must insist that you do no such thing.
I have seen Zeus’s wrath. It knows no bounds.
I have witnessed my brother Atlas’s misfortune,
bearing the world on his shoulders,
heaven and earth!
And I have seen dreadful monsters brought down,
laid low by Zeus’s terrific thunder-bolts.
No, you must stay away from me,
so that Zeus’s anger does not turn upon you too…”

“But I can help! Let me talk to him.”

“I assure you, your words will only make him more angry
for he will assume I put you up to it.”

“It seems you would have me go home?”

“I’m sorry, but this is the only way.”

Ch. 4

“O, Prometheus, how we cry out
seeing you tortured this way!”

“My heart is broken.
I tried to help mankind.
They had eyes but did not know how to see.
They had ears but couldn’t hear.
Their lives were like a dream,
unreal, muddied, without purpose
or direction.
They ran about like ants.
It was I who taught them how to make things,
the arts and crafts, to utilize the Earth
and the Ocean for the sake of making
a better life – Civilization!”

“Your suffering is so great!”

“Yes, this is true.
I had sought to help humanity in their time
of sickness, by showing them the way
of medicines and helping them to understand
the riches of nature, its metals and resources.
But now I am the one who is in despair.”

“You mustn’t help humanity
at your own expense!”

“This is the way it must be.
I must suffer now this misfortune and pain,
before one day Fate will make things right again.”

“And who will make this be?”

“The Three Fates.
Even Zeus cannot escape what they proclaim.”

“But is not Zeus’s rule to be eternal?”

“This is a secret, best not spoken of.”

Ch. 5

“Where am I?
I, Io, am tortured to walk the face of the Earth
always pushed forward by this gadfly at my side.
How it stings me, never letting me be comfortable.
Where are you taking me?
Why must I live this life of madness?”

“It is Io I hear, daughter of Inachus,
who was so lusted after by Zeus
that Hera his wife insisted she be cursed,
turned into a cow-maid
with horns upon her head,
ever-sent forward across the vastness
of the World in torment and wander.”

“You know who I am!”

“Yes, child. I am Prometheus.
You see before you a cursed God,
for I did give fire to human beings.”

“Who did this to you?”

“The will was Zeus’s, the execution Hephaestus.”

“Won’t you tell me your story?”

“Enough has been said about me,
but about you this much is true:
You who were so beautiful Zeus did strive
to lay with, and so he sought to take you in the fields.”

“Yes, this is true.
And my father did consent, and I was presented to him,
but then suddenly I found myself transformed
both my mind as well as my body, into this
horrific sight you see today,
half woman, half calf, with horns atop my head,
ever-pushed forward by this gadfly at my side!”

“You groan too soon, not realizing the full extent
of your punishment.”

“Won’t you tell me the rest?
For to one who suffers, knowing what’s to come
is better than not knowing at all.”

“Because of Hera’s jealousy, your journey
will be long and arduous, you will pass many
people, some carrying arms, you will cross
fields and mountains and plains,
the waves will moan when they see you.
You will wander through Europe and Asia,
across Rivers and rock-lands.
This is the terror of Zeus!”

“O no!”

“You cry out now, but you do not even
know the full extent of your prescribed suffering!”

“I should dash myself upon these rocks!
What good is life to me?
A life of misery and pain.”

“For myself, death is not an option,
as I am a God, and so immortal.”

“Is there no limit to your suffering, Prometheus?”

“Only when Zeus shall fall.”

“Do you know when this shall happen?”

“Zeus will meet his fate.
He will fall from power, as he has risen.”

“How shall this be?”

“He will be undone by his own counsels.
A son will be born to him, who will be greater
than He. And this son shall be a descendent
of you, Io.”

“Me?”

“Yes!”

“I do not understand your prophecy.”

“Then let us speak no more of it.
But it will happen. Of this I am sure.”

“Please, tell me the rest of my own fate?”

“Io, you will be forced onward
again and again by the gadfly
to ever-deeper reaches of the World.
Across many hills you will travel,
til one day you will come to the inlet
which shall come to bear your name:
Ionian, a memorial to all other men
of your journeys.”

“Curse this gadfly!
How it does pester me to the ends of the Earth!”

Ch. 6

“Yes, Zeus, for all his pride will be undone.
He will meet his match.
He shall be driven out of power,
fulfilling father Kronos’s curse against him.
So let him be brash, let him be arrogant,
let him throw his lightning bolts
and thunder around me.
Let him whip up the skies!
For Zeus cannot escape this fate.
And when it happens, he too will see
how different rule is from slavery.”

“Prometheus, it is I Hermes, Zeus’s messenger.
Zeus has heard your words and he demands
to know which marriage will undo him.
Tell him, so as not to bring more pain
upon yourself.”

“You prideful lackey of the Gods!
How silly you are to ask me to do such thing.
I am not afraid of Zeus, that tyrant.
I shall not tell you anything!”

“You speak recklessly!
You should pay heed to common sense,
make things easier on yourself not harder!”

“Hermes, I know what is to be.
Do not think that I will cower in the face
of a tyrant. Do not think I will give in
because of suffering.
Let Zeus do what he will, I shall remain firm.”

“Prometheus, you who is chained to this rock
will have a winged bird, a great Eagle
pick out your liver daily
until it becomes as black as the night’s sky.
Do not be so brazen!
Calm yourself and give me this message
to deliver to Zeus.”

“You have wasted your time coming here.
Let Zeus’s wrath be unleashed upon me.
Let the foundations of the world shake.
Let the Oceans and the Sky be mixed together
in wild confusion, for no matter what he may do,
Zeus cannot kill me.
I am a God just like you.”

“You are mad!”

“No, I am the only one who is sane.
The rest of you go around upholding this
madman Zeus, who rules with an iron fist,
who knows no justice except his own.
But I will not give in to tyranny ever,
I have seen many a ruler fall,
and so too will he.”