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- Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 4/44 -


He stole and gave to man. Such is the crime For which he pays the penalty to Heaven, That he may learn henceforth meekly to bear The rule of Zeus and less befriend mankind.

HEPHAESTUS.

Spirits of Might and Force, by you the word Of Zeus has been fulfilled; your task is done. But I--to bind a god, one of my kin, To a storm-beaten cliff, my heart abhors. And yet this must I do, for woe is him That does not what the Almighty Sire commands. Thou high-aspiring son of Themis sage, Unwilling is the hand that rivets thee Indissolubly to this lonely rock, Where thou shalt see no face and hear no voice Of man, but, scorched by the sun's burning ray, Change thy fair hue for dark, and long for night With starry kirtle to close up the day, And for the morn to melt the frosts of night, Still racked with tortures endlessly renewed, And which to end redeemer none is born. Such is the guerdon of thy love for man. A god thyself, thou gav'st, despite the gods, To mortals more than is a mortal's due. And therefore must thou keep this dreary rock, Erect, with frame unbending, reft of sleep, And many a bootless wail of agony Shalt utter. Change of mind in Zeus is none, Ruthless the rule when power is newly won.

MIGHT.

To work! A truce to these weak wails of ruth. Whom the gods hate why dost thou not abhor-- Him that betrayed thy attribute to man?

HEPHAESTUS.

Great force have kindred and companionship.

MIGHT.

True, but to disobey the Almighty Sire How canst thou dare? Fearest thou not this more?

HEPHAESTUS.

Relentless still and pitiless art thou.

MIGHT.

Thy wailings are no medicines for his woes; Then waste no pains on that which profits naught.

HEPHAESTUS.

O thrice accurs'd this master-craft of mine!

MIGHT.

Why dost thou curse it? Simple truth to say, Thy art is no way guilty of these ills.

HEPHAESTUS.

Would it had fallen to any lot but mine.

MIGHT.

The one thing to the gods themselves denied [Footnote: In this passage I have retained the old reading eprachthae with the interpretation of the Scholiast.] Is sovereignty, for Zeus alone is free.

HEPHAESTUS.

Too well I know it, and gainsay it not.

MIGHT.

Be quick, then, and make fast this sinner's chain, Lest the Almighty see thee loitering.

HEPHAESTUS.

Here are the fetters for his arms; behold them.

MIGHT.

Grasp him, and with thy hammer round his arms Strike and strike hard and clench them to the rock.

HEPHAESTUS.

The work goes on apace and tarries not.

MIGHT.

Strike harder, clench, leave nothing loose; his craft, E'en in extremity, can find a way.

HEPHAESTUS.

This arm is fixed past any power to loose.

MIGHT.

Clench now the other firmly; let him know That all his cunning is no match for Zeus.

HEPHAESTUS.

Fault with my work can no one find save he.

MIGHT.

Drive then the ruthless spike of adamant Right through the sinner's breast and see it holds.

HEPHAESTUS.

Alas, Prometheus! I bemoan thy pains.

MIGHT.

Thou loiterest, moaning for the foe of Zeus; One day thou mayest be moaning for thyself.

HEPHAESTUS.

Thou see'st a sight most piteous to behold.

MIGHT.

I see yon sinner meeting his desert. Proceed, make fast the fetters round his sides.

HEPHAESTUS.

Needs must I do it, press me not too hard.

MIGHT.

Press thee I will, and shout into thine ear. Go down and clench the gyves about his legs.

HEPHAESTUS.

That work with little labour has been done.

MIGHT.

Now let thy hammer all the bonds make fast; The overseer of this thy work is stern.

HEPHAESTUS.

Thy speech is ruthless as thy looks are grim.

MIGHT.

Be thou soft-hearted an thou wilt, but spare To flout my sternness and my strong resolve.

HEPHAESTUS.

Let us be gone; the gyves are on his legs.

MIGHT.

There revel in thy insolence, there rob Gods of their attributes to give to man. Can mortal man in aught thy durance ease? Ill chosen was the name that thou hast borne. Foresight it means, but thou dost foresight need To set thy limbs free from his handiwork.

PROMETHEUS.

O glorious firmament; O swift-winged winds, Ye rivers and ye gleaming ocean waves Innumerable, and thou great Mother Earth, Thou, too, O sun, with thy all-seeing eye, Look how a god is treated by the gods! See the pains that I must bear, Even to the thousandth year! Such the chains that heaven's new king Forges for my torturing. Ah me! Ah me! my present woe Does but the pangs to come foreshow, Pangs that an end will never know.

Yet hold! The darkness of futurity Is to my eye not dark, nor can aught come That I do not foresee. Our destiny We all must bear as lightly as we may, Since none may wrestle with necessity. And yet to speak or not to speak alike


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