John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 8 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 8 of 29)
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I did for mortals ; how, being fools before,
I made them wise and true in aim of soul.
And let me tell you, — not as taunting men.
But teaching you the intention of my gifts, — sis

How, first beholding, they beheld in vain.
And, hearing, heard not, but, like shapes in dreams.
Mixed all things wildly down the tedious time.
Nor knew to build a house against the sun
With wicketed sides, nor any woodcraft knew, 521?

But lived, like silly ants, beneath the ground
In hollow caves unsunned. There came to them
No steadfast sign of winter, nor of spring


Flower-perfumed, nor of summer full of fruit,

But blindly and lawlessly they did all things, 525

Until I taught them how the stars do rise

And set in mystery, and devised for them

Number, the inducer of philosophies.

The synthesis of letters, and, beside.

The artificer of all things, memory, 530

That sweet muse-mother. I was first to yoke

The servile beasts in couples, carrying

An heirdom of man's burdens on their backs.

I joined to chariots, steeds, that love the bit

They champ at, — ■ the chief pomp of golden ease. 535

And none but I originated ships.

The seaman's chariots, wanderings on the brine

With linen wings. And I — O, miserable ! —

Who did devise for mortals all these arts.

Have no device left now to save myself 540

From the woe I suffer.

Cho7ms. Most unseemly woe

Thou sufferest, and dost stagger from the sense
Bewildered ! Like a bad leech falling sick.
Thou art faint at soul, and canst not find the drugs
Required to save thyself.

Prometheus. Hearken the rest, 545

And marvel further, what more arts and means
I did invent, — this, greatest : if a man
Fell sick, there was no cure, nor esculent
Not chrism nor liquid, but for lack of drugs
Men pined and wasted, till I showed them all 550

Those mixtures of emollient remedies
Whereby they might be rescued from disease.
I fixed the various rules of mantic art.
Discerned the vision from the common dream,
instructed them in vocal auguries sss


Hard to interpret, and defined as plain

The wayside omens, — flights of crook - clawed

birds, —
Showed which are by their nature fortunate,^
And which not so, and what the food of each,
And what the hates, affections, social needs 56o

Of all to one another, — taught what sign
Of visceral lightness, colored to a shade,
May charm the genial gods, and what fair spots
Commend the lung and liver. Burning so
The limbs incased in fat, and the long chine, 565

I led my mortals on to an art abstruse,
And cleared their eyes to the image in the fire,
Erst filmed in dark. Enough said now of this.
Eor the other helps of man hid underground,
The iron and the brass, silver and gold, 570

Can any dare affirm he found them out
Before me ? None, I know ! unless he choose
To lie in his vaunt. In one word learn the whole, —
That all arts came to mortals from Prometheus.

Chorus. Give mortals now no inexpedient help, 575
Neglecting thine own sorrow.^ I have hope still
To see thee, breaking from the fetter here.
Stand up as strong as Zeus.

Prometheus. This ends not thus.

The oracular fate ordains. I must be bowed
By infinite woes and pangs to escape this chain. 58o
Necessity is stronger than mine art.

/Chorus. Who holds the helm of that Necessity ?
Prometheus. The threefold Fates and the unfor-
getting Furies.

1 I. e., of good omen. See Aristophanes' Birds, p. 266.

2 The Chorus hopes that if he will use his unbounded ingenuity in
his own behalf, he will secure release and power.


Jhorus. Is Zeus less absolute than these are ?

Prometheus, Yea,

And therefore cannot fly what is ordained. 585

Chorus. What is ordained for Zeus, except to be
A king forever ?

Prometheus. 'T is too early yet
For thee to learn it : ask no more.

Chorus. Perhaps

Thy secret may be something holy ?

Prom^etheus. Turn

To another matter : this, it is not time 590

To speak abroad, but utterly to veil
In silence. For by that same secret kept,
I 'scape this chain's dishonor, and its woe.

Chorus. First strophe.

Never, oh never.

May Zeus, the all-giver, 595

Wrestle down from his throne

In that might of his own

To antagonize mine !

Nor let me delay

As I bend on my way eoo

Toward the gods of the shrine

Where the altar is full

Of the blood of the bull,

Near the tossing brine

Of Ocean my father. ■ eos

May no sin be sped in the word that is said,

But my vow be rather
Nor evermore fail, nor evermore pine.^

^ The prayer is suggested by the Titan's sufferings : — «■
" May I never offend in thought, word, or deed."


First antistrophe,
'T IS sweet to have eio

Life lengthened out
With hopes proved brave

By the very doubt
Till the spirit infold
Those manifest joys which were foretold. 615

But I thrill to behold

Thee, victim doomed,
By the countless cares
And the drear despairs

Forever consumed, — 62b

And all because thou, who art fearless now

Of Zeus above,
Didst overflow for mankind below
With a free-souled, reverent love.

Ah, friend, behold and see ! 625

What 's all the beauty of humanity ?

Can it be fair ?
What 's all the strength ? Is it strong ?

And what hope can they bear.
These dying livers, living one day long ? m

Ah, seest thou not, my friend,
How feeble and slow,
And like a dream, doth go
This poor blind manhood, drifted from its end?
And how no mortal wranglings can confuse 635
The harmony of Zeus ?

Prometheus, I have learnt these things
From the sorrow in thy face.

Another song did fold its wings
Upon my lips in other days, 640


When round the bath and round the bed
The hymeneal chant instead

I sang for thee, and smiled,
And thou didst lead, with gifts and vows,

Hesione, my father's child, 645

To be thy wedded spouse.^

\^Third EpisodeJ]
lo enters.
lo. What land is this ? what people is here ?
And who is he that writhes, I see.

In the rock-hung chain ?
Now what is the crime that hath brought thee to
pain ? 650

Now what is the land — make answer free —
Which I wander through in my wrong and fear,

Ah, ah, ah me !
The gad-fly stingeth to agony !

O Earth, keep off that phantasm pale 655

Of earth-born Argus ! — ah ! I quail

When my soul descries
That herdsman with the myriad eyes
Which seem, as he comes, one crafty eye.
Graves hide him not, though he should die ; ^ eeo

But he doggeth me in my misery
From the roots of death, on high, on high ;
And along the sands of the siding deep,
All famine-worn, he follows me,
And his waxen reed doth undersound 665

The waters round.
And giveth a measure that giveth sleep.

1 I. e., How different is this song of the chorus from their joyous
song' at his marriage.

2 More literally, "thong-h he was slain (by Hermes), the Earth
does not hide him." In her half frenzied state, lo considers the oes-
trus (gadfly) to be the ghost of Argus.


Woe, woe, woe !
Where shall my weary course be done ?
What wouldst thou with me, Saturn's son ? m

And in what have I sinned, that I should go
Thus yoked to grief by thine hand forever ?
Ah, ah ! dost vex me so

That I madden and shiver
Stung through with dread ? 675

Flash the fire down to burn me !
Heave the earth up to cover me !
Plunge me in the deep, with the salt waves over me,
That the sea-beasts may be fed !
O king, do not spurn me eso

In my prayer !
For this wandering ever longer, evermore,
Hath overworn me,
And I know not on what shore
I may rest from my despair. ess

Chorus. Hearest thou what the ox-horned maiden

saith ? 1
Prometheus. How could I choose but hearken what
she saith,
The frenzied maiden ? — - Inachus's child ? —
Who love-warms Zeus's heart, and now is lashed
By Here's ^ hate along the unending ways ? 69o

lo. Who taught thee to articulate that name, —
My father's ? Speak to his child
By grief and shame defiled !
Who art thou, victim, thou who dost acclaim
Mine anguish in true words on the wide air ; 695

^ lo is represented as ox-horned. The ordinary myth said that she
■was turned into a heifer, but she could not be so represented in the
theatre. This verse is better assigned to lo, — " Dost thou hear

2 The Roman Juno.


And callest, too, by name tlie curse that came

From Here unaware,
To waste and pierce me with its maddening goad?

Ah, ah, I leap
With the pang of the hungry ; I bound on the road ;
I am driven by my doom ; 701

I am overcome
By the wrath of an enemy strong and deep !
Are any of those who have tasted pain,

Alas ! as wretched as I ? 705

Now tell me plain, doth aught remain
For my soul to endure beneath the sky ?
Is there any help to be holpen by ?
If knowledge be in thee, let it be said !

Cry aloud — cry 710

To the wandering, woful maid.

Prometheus. Whatever thou wouldst learn, I wiU
declare ;
No riddle upon my lips, but such straight words
As friends should use to each other when they talk.
Thou seest Prometheus, who gave mortals fire. 715

lo. O common help of all men, known of all,
O miserable Prometheus, for what cause
Dost thou endure thus ?

Prometheus. I have done with wail

For my own griefs but lately.

lo. Wilt thou not

Vouchsafe the boon to me ?

Prometheus. Say what thou wilt.

For I vouchsafe all.

lo. Speak, then, and reveal

Who shut thee in this chasm.

Prometheus. The will of Zeus,

The hand of his Hephaestus.



lo. And what crime

Dost expiate so ?

Prometheus, Enough for thee I have told
In so much only.

lo, Nay, but show besides 725

The limit of my wandering, and the time
Which yet is lacking to fulfil my grief.

Prometheus. Why, not to know were better than
to know
For such as thou.

lo. Beseech thee, blind me not

To that which I must suffer.

Prometheus, If I do, 730

The reason is not that I grudge a boon.

lo. What reason, then, prevents thy speaking out ?

Prometheus. No grudging, but a fear to break
thine heart.

lo. Less care for me, I pray thee. Certainty
I count for advantage.

Prometheus, Thou wilt have it so, 735

And therefore I must speak. Now hear —

Chorus. Not yet.

Give half the guerdon my way. Let us learn
First what the curse is that befell the maid.
Her own voice telling her own wasting woes :
The sequence of that anguish shall await 740

The teaching of thy lips.

Prometheus. It doth behoove

That thou, maid lo, shouldst vouchsafe to these
The grace they pray, — the more, because they are

Thy father's sisters ; since to open out
And mourn out grief, where it is possible 745

To draw a tear from the audience, is a work
That pays its own price well.


lo. I cannot choose

But trust you, nymphs, and tell you all ye ask,
In clear words, though I sob amid my speech
In speaking of the storm-curse sent from Zeus, 750

And of my beauty, from which height it took
Its swoop on me, poor wretch ! left thus deformed
And monstrous to your eyes. For evermore
Around my virgin-chamber, wandering went
The nightly visions which entreated me 755

With syllabled smooth sweetness, — " Blessed maid,
Why lengthen out thy maiden hours, when fate
Permits the noblest spousal in the world ?
When Zeus burns with the arrow of thy love,
And fain would touch thy beauty ? — Maiden, thou
Despise not Zeus ! depart to Lerne's mead 76i

That 's green around thy father's flocks and stalls,
Until the passion of the heavenly Eye
Be quenched in sight." Such dreams did all night

Constrain me, — me, unhappy ! — till I dared ^ 765
To tell my father how they trod the dark
With visionary steps. Whereat he sent
His frequent heralds to the Pythian fane,^
And also to Dodona,^ and inquired
How best, by act or speech, to please the gods. 770

The same returning brought back oracles
Of doubtful sense, indefinite response.
Dark to interpret ; but at last there came
To Inachus an answer that was clear,
Thrown straight as any bolt, and spoken out, — 775

1 Rather, " took heart." She did not wish to tell her father such
dreams. Compare verses 35, 351.

2 Of Pythian Apollo, at Delphi.

^ In Epirns ; the oldest Hellenic shrine.


This : " He should drive me from my home and

And bid me wander to the extreme verge
Of all the earth ; or, if he willed it not,
Should have a thunder with a fiery eye
Leap straight from Zeus to burn up all his race 78o
To the last root of it." By which Loxian word
Subdued, he drove me forth, and shut me out,
He loath, me loath ; but Zeus's violent bit
Compelled him to the deed : when instantly
My body and soul were changed and distraught, 785
And, horned as ye see, and spurred along
By the fanged insect, with a maniac leap
I rushed on to Cenchrea's^ limpid stream.
And Lerne's fountain-water. There, the earth-born.
The herdsman Argus, most immitigable 790

Of wrath, did find me out, and track me out
With countless eyes set staring at my steps ;
And though an unexpected sudden doom
Drew him from life, I, curse-tormented still.
Am driven from land to land before the scourge 795
The gods hold o'er me. So thou hast heard the

past ;
And, if a better future thou canst tell.
Speak on, I charge thee, do not flatter me.
Through pity, with false words ; for in my mind
Deceiving works more shame than torturing doth, soo


Ah, silence here !

Nevermore, nevermore,

Would I languish for

The stranger's word

To thrill in mine ear — sos

1 Near lo's home at Argos.


Nevermore for the wrong and the woe and the fear

So hard to behold,

So cruel to bear,
Piercing my soul with a double-edged sword

Of a sliding cold. 8io

Ah, Fate ! ah, me I

I shudder to see
This wandering maid in her agony.

Prometheus. Grief is too quick in thee, and fear
too full :
Be patient till thou hast learnt the rest.

Chorus. Speak : teach. sis

To those who are sad already, it seems sweet.
By clear foreknowledge to make perfect, pain.

Prometheus. The boon ye asked me first was lightly
won ;
For first ye asked the story of this maid's grief,
As her own lips might tell it. Now remains 820

To list what other sorrows she so young
Must bear from Here. Inachus's child,
O thou I drop down thy soul my weighty words,
And measure out the landmarks which are set
To end thy wandering. Toward the orient sun 825
First turn thy face from mine, and journey on
Along the desert-flats till thou shalt come
Where Scythia's shepherd-peoples dwell aloft,
Perched in wheeled wagons under woven roofs,
And twang the rapid arrow past the bow. m

Approach them not, but, siding in thy course
The rugged shore-rocks resonant to the sea.
Depart that country. On the left hand dwell
The iron-workers, called the Chalybes,
Of whom beware, for certes they are uncouth, ess


And nowise bland to strangers. Keachlng so

The stream Hybristes (well tbe scorner called),^

Attempt no passage, — it is hard to pass, —

Or ere thou come to Caucasus itself,

That highest of mountains, where the river leaps 84o

The precipice in his strength. Thou must toil up

Those mountain-tops that neighbor with the stars.

And tread the southway, and draw near, at last,

The Amazonian host that hateth man,

Inhabitants of Themiscyra, close 845

Upon Thermodon,^ where the sea's rough jaw

Doth gnash at Salmydessa,^ and provide

A cruel host to seamen, and to ships

A stepdame. They, with unreluctant hand,

Shall lead thee on and on till thou arrive sso

Just where the ocean-gates show narrowest

On the Cimmerian isthmus. Leaving which,

Behooves thee swim with fortitude of soul

The strait Maeotis. Ay, and evermore

That traverse shall be famous on men's lips, 855

That strait called Bosporus,* the horned one's road.

So named because of thee,^ who so wilt pass

From Europe's plain to Asia's continent.

How think ye, nymphs ? the king of gods appears

Impartial in ferocious deeds ? Behold ! seo

The god desirous of this mortal's love

Hath cursed her with these wanderings. Ah, fair child,

Thou hast met a bitter groom for bridal troth !

^ No river is known of this name. Perhaps the Araxes is meant.

2 Strictly, " on the banks of the Thermodon."

3 More literally, " the Salmydessian Jaw (or promontory) of the
sea." The Jaw is Salmydessus.

* The Cimmeric Bosporus, near the Crimea, not the Thracian
Bosporus, near Constantinople.
^ Bosporus, interpreted as Ox-ford,


For all thou yet hast heard can only prove

The incompleted prelude of thy doom. scs

lo. Ah, ah !

Prometheus. Is 't thy turn now to shriek and
How wilt thou, when thou hast hearkened what re-
mains ?

Chorus. Besides the grief thou hast told, can aught
remain ?

Prometheus. A sea of foredoomed evil worked to

lo. What boots my life, then ? why not cast my-
self 870
Down headlong from this miserable rock,
That, dashed against the flats, I may redeem
My soul from sorrow ? Better once to die
Than day by day to suffer.

Prometheus. Yerily,

It would be hard for thee to bear my woe 875

For whom it is appointed not to die.
Death frees from woe ; but I before me see
In all my far prevision not a bound
To all I suffer, ere that Zeus shall fall
From being a king.

lo. And can it ever be sso

That Zeus shall fall from empire ?

Prometheus. Thou^ methinks

Would take some joy to see it.

lo. Could I choose ?

JTwho endure such pangs now, by that god !

Prometheus. Learn from me, therefore, that the
event shall be.

lo. By whom shall his imperial sceptred hand 885
Be emptied so?


Prometheus. Himself shall spoil liimself,
Through his idiotic counsels.

lo. How ? declare,

Unless the word bring evil.

Prometheus. He shall wed,

And in the marriage-bond be joined to grief.

lo. A heavenly bride, or human ? Speak it out,
If it be utter able.

Prometheus. Why should I say which ? ssn

It ought not to be uttered, verily.

lo. Then

It is his wife shall tear him from his throne ?

Prometheus. It is his wife shall bear a son to him
More mighty than the father.

lo. From this doom 895

Hath he no refuge ?

Prometheus. None : or ere that I

Loosed from ther.e fetters —

lo. Yea ; but who shall loose

While Zeus h adverse ?

Prometheus. One who is born of thee :

It is ordained so.

lo. What is this thou sayest ?

A son of mine shall liberate thee from woe ? 900

Prometheus. After ten generations count three
And find him in the third.

lo. The oracle

Remains obscure.

Prometheus. And search it not to learn

Thine own griefs from it.^

To. Point me not to a good

To leave me straight bereaved.

1 Literally, " And do not seek either to learn thy own griefs."


Prometheus. I am prepared 905

To grant thee one of two things.

lo. But which two ?

Set them before me ; grant me power to choose.

Pro7netheus. I grant it ; choose now ! Shall I
name aloud
What griefs remain to wound thee, or what hand
Shall save me out of mine ?

Chorus. Vouchsafe, O god, 910

The one grace of the twain to her who prays,
The next to me, and turn back neither prayer
Dishonored by denial. To herself
Recount the future wandering of her feet ;
Then point me to the looser of thy chain, 915

Because I yearn to know him.

Prometheus. Since ye will,

Of absolute will, this knowledge, I will set
No contrary against it, nor keep back
A word of all ye ask for. lo, first
To thee I must relate thy wandering course 920

Far winding. As I tell it, write it down
In thy soid's book of memories. When thou hast past
The refluent bound that parts two continents,^
Track on the footsteps of the orient sun
In his own fire across the roar of seas, — 921

Fly till thou hast reached the Gorgonaean flats
Beside Cisthene. There the Phorcides,
Three ancient maidens, live, with shape of swan,
One tooth between them, and one common eye.
On whom the sun doth never look at all 930

With all his rays, nor evermore the moon
When she looks through the night. Anear to whom
Are the Gorgon sisters three, enclothed with wings,

^ Return to the tale interrupted at verse 854.


With twisted snakes for ringlets, man-abhorred :

There is no mortal gazes in their face, 935

And gazing can breathe on. I speak of snch

To guard thee from their horror. Ay, and list

Another tale of a dreadful sight : beware

The Griffins, those unbarking dogs of Zeus,

Those sharp-mouthed dogs ! — and the Arimaspian

host 940

Of one-eyed horsemen, habiting beside

The river of Pluto that runs bright with gold :

Approach them not, beseech thee. Presently

Thou 'It come to a distant land, a dusky tribe

Of dwellers at the fountain of the Sun, 945

Whence flows the Eiver Aethiops ; wind along

Its banks, and turn off at the cataracts, ^

Just as the Nile pours from the Bybline hills

His holy and sweet wave : his course shall guide

Thine own to that triangular Nile-ground ^ 950

Where, lo, is ordained for thee and thine

A lengthened exile. Have I said in this

Aught darkly or incompletely? — now repeat

The question, make the knowledge fuller ! Lo,

I have more leisure than I covet here. 955

Chorus. If thou canst tell us aught that 's left un-
Or loosely told, of her most dreary flight.
Declare it straight ; but, if thou hast uttered all,
Grant us that latter grace for which we prayed,
Remembering how we prayed it.

Prometheus. She has heard 960

The uttermost of her wandering. There it ends.
But, that she may be certain not to have heard

1 Literally, " Until thou shalt come to the cataracts, where."

2 The Delta of the Nile.


All vainly, I will speak what slie endured
Ere coming hither, and invoke the past
To prove my prescience true.^ And so — to leave 965
A multitude of words, and pass at once
To the subject of thy course — when thou hadst gone
To those Molossian plains which sweep around
Dodona shouldering Heaven, whereby the fane
Of Zeus Thesprotian keepeth oracle, 970 ^

And, wonder past belief, where oaks do wave
Articulate adjurations — (ay, the same
Saluted thee in no perplexed phrase.
But clear with glory, noble wife of Zeus
That shouldst be, there some sweetness took thy
sense !) 975

Thou didst rush further onward, stung along
The ocean-shore, toward Rhea's mighty bay ,2
And, tost back from it, wast tost to it again
In stormy evolution : and know well.
In coming time that hollow of the sea sso

Shall bear the name Ionian, and present
A monument of lo's passage through,^
Unto all mortals. Be these words the signs
Of my soul's power to look beyond the veil
Of visible things. The rest to you and her ess

I will declare in common audience,* nymphs.
Returning thither where my speech brake off.^
There is a town, Canobus, built upon
The earth's fair margin, at the mouth of Nile,

^ The Titan's knowledg-e of lo's course on her way to Seythia is an
indication of his supernatural knowledge.

2 The Ionian Sea, the Adriatic.

2 This etymology, like that of Bosporus, is fanciful.

^ Since lo had asked of her future wandering, and the Chorus of
him who was to release Prometheus.

^ Return to the story broken off at verse 952,


And on the mound washed up by it : lo, there 990

Shall Zeus give back to thee thy perfect mind,
And only by the pressure and the touch
Of a hand not terrible ; and thou to Zeus
Shall bear a dusky son who shall be called
Thence Epaphus, Touched. That son shall pluck the
fruit 995

Of all that land wide-watered by the flow
Of Nile ; but after him, when counting out
As far as the fifth full generation, then
Full fifty maidens,^ a fair woman-race,
Shall back to Argos turn reluctantly, 1000

To fly the proffered nuptials of their kin.
Their father's brothers. These being passion-struck,
Like falcons bearing hard on flying doves,
Shall follow hunting at a quarry of love
They should not hunt ; till envious Heaven main-
tain 1005
A curse betwixt that beauty and their desire,^
And Greece receive them, to be overcome
In murtherous woman-war by fierce red hands
Kept savage by the night. For every wife
Shall slay a husband, dyeing deep in blood 1010
The sword of a double edge — (I wish indeed
As fair a marriage- joy to all my foes ! )
One bride alone shall fail to smite to death
The head upon her pillow, touched with love,
Made impotent of purpose, and impelled 1015
To choose the lesser evil, — shame on her cheeks,^
Than blood-guilt on her hands ; which bride shall bear

1 The Danaids.

2 A better reading- of the text makes Greece receive the maidens,

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 8 of 29)