Prometheus Bound Monologue
|Prometheus Bound Monologue by Aeschylus|
- PROMETHEUS: Think not that I through pride or stubbornness
- Keep silence; nay, my brooding heart is gnawed
- Seeing myself thus marred with contumely;
- And yet what other but myself marked out
- To these new gods their full prerogatives?
- But I refrain; for, nought my tongue would tell
- Save what ye know. But rather list the ills
- Of mortal men, how being babes before,
- I made them wise and masters of their wits.
- This will I tell, not as in blame of men,
- But showing how from kindness flow'd my gifts.
- For they, at first, though seeing, saw in vain;
- Hearing they heard not, but, like shapes in dreams.
- Through the long time all things at random mixed;
- Of brick-wove houses, sunward-turn'd, nought knew,
- Nor joiner's craft, but burrowing they dwelt
- Like puny ants, in cavern's depths unsunned.
- Neither of winter, nor of spring flower-strewn,
- Nor fruitful summer, had they certain sign,
- But without judgment everything they wrought,
- Till I to them the risings of the stars
- Discovered, and their settings hard to scan.
- Nay, also Number, art supreme, for them
- I found, and marshalling of written signs,
- Handmaid to memory, mother of the Muse.
- And I in traces first brute creatures yok'd,
- Subject to harness, with vicarious strength
- Bearing in mortals' stead their heaviest toils.
- Hearken the rest, and thou wilt marvel more
- What arts and what resources I devised.
- This chief of all; if any one fell sick,
- No help there was, diet nor liniment,
- Nor healing draught; but men, for lack of drugs
- Wasted away, till I to them revealed
- Commixtures of assuaging remedies
- Which may disorders manifold repel.
- Of prophecies the various modes I fixed,
- And among dreams did first discriminate
- The truthful vision. Voices ominous,
- Hard to interpret, I to them made known:
- And way-side auguries, the flight of birds
- With crooked talons, clearly I defined;
- Showed by their nature which auspicious are,
- And which ill-omened--taught the modes of life
- Native to each, and what, among themselves
- Their feuds, affections, and confederacies.
- Touching the smoothness of the vital parts,
- And what the hue most pleasing to the gods,
- I taught them, and the mottled symmetry
- Of gall and liver. Thighs encased in fat
- With the long chine I burnt, and mortals guided
- To a mysterious art; of fire-eyed signs,
- I purged the vision, over-filmed before.
- Such were the boons I gave; and 'neath the earth
- Those other helps to men, concealed which lie,
- Brass, iron, silver, gold, who dares affirm
- That before me he had discovered them?
- No one, I know, but who would idly vaunt.
- The sum of all learn thou in one brief word;
- All arts to mortals from Prometheus came.
- Such cunning works for mortals I contrived,
- Yet, hapless, for myself find no device
- To free me from this present agony.
Credits: Reprinted from The Dramas of Aeschylus. Trans. Anna Swanwick. London: George Bell and Sons, 1907.