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- Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 6/44 -


CHORUS.

'Tis wise to bow to the inevitable.

PROMETHEUS.

Cringe, if thou wilt, sue, bend the knee to power. Little reck I of Zeus. Then let him work His tyrant will for his allotted span. Not long shall he be monarch of the gods. But lo! the Almighty's henchman I behold, That errands bears for this new dynasty; His lacqueyship must some new fiat bring.

(_Enter_ HERMES.)

HERMES.

Thou of the crafty soul and bitter tongue, Sinner, that did'st betray to mortal man The attributes of gods, stealer of fire, The Father bids thee tell what wedlock this That thou dost boast shall hurl him from his throne. Speak plain, Prometheus, and take heed that I Have not a second journey, for such shifts, As well thou seest, turn not the heart of Zeus.

PROMETHEUS.

High are the words and full of majesty For him that runs the errands of the gods. New are ye, new to rule, and deem your tower Of puissance proof against calamity. Yet therefrom two lords I have seen cast out; A third, him that now reigns, cast out shall see Most quickly and most foully. Think'st thou I Will crouch before these gods of yesterday? Far, far from me that thought of shame. Do thou The way thou camest measure back with speed, For to thy question I give answer none.

HERMES.

It was by such self-will before displayed, That thou did'st pluck these woes upon thy head.

PROMETHEUS.

My woes, how great so e'er, I would not change For servitude like thine; of that be sure.

HERMES.

Better, thou think'st, be bondsman to this rock Than be the faithful pursuivant of Zeus.

PROMETHEUS.

'Tis meet the scorner should be met with scorn.

HERMES.

Thou seem'st to revel in thy present lot.

PROMETHEUS.

Revel! I would that I could see my foes Thus revelling, of whom I count thee one.

HERMES.

Layest thou the blame on me of thy mischance?

PROMETHEUS.

I hate, without exception, all the gods Who my good deeds with injury requite.

HERMES.

Thy words bespeak no common sickness thine.

PROMETHEUS.

If hating foes be sickness, I am sick.

HERMES.

Thou wert past bearing wert thou prosperous.

PROMETHEUS.

Alas!

HERMES.

Zeus knows not how to say Alas!

PROMETHEUS.

Time in its course can teach us anything.

HERMES.

Yet thee it has not taught to rule thy tongue.

PROMETHEUS..

No, else I had not parleyed with a slave.

HERMES.

It seems thou wilt not tell what Zeus demands.

PROMETHEUS.

Were I his debtor I the debt would pay.

HERMES.

As though I were a child thou twittest me.

PROMETHEUS.

Art thou not sillier than a silly child, To think that I will tell thee what thou ask'st? No torture does Zeus know, he has no rack By which he can my secret wrest from me, Till from these cruel bonds I am released. Let him hurl lightnings with his red right hand, Let him with whirling snow and earthquake shock, Confound and wreck this universal frame, Never shall he constrain me to reveal The child of fate that hurls him from his throne.

HERMES.

Look, will this insolence amend thy lot?

PROMETHEUS.

I have well looked, and fixed is my resolve.

HERMES.

Bow thy proud soul, insensate wretch, and do What wisdom bids in thine extremity.

PROMETHEUS.

Waste no more words, thou dost but chide the sea; Dream not that I can be o'erawed by Zeus, That I will from my manhood derogate And sue to him that from my soul I hate, With womanish uplifting of my hands, For liberation from these fetters.--Never!

HERMES.

Methinks I spend my eloquence in vain, For all my prayers nor melt nor move thy heart. Like a raw colt that pulls against the reins, Taking the bit between his teeth, art thou. And yet thy mettle will but weakness prove; For dogged resolution by itself, With wisdom unallied, is impotence. See if thou wilt not to my words give ear, What stormy billows of resistless woe Will overwhelm thee. First the Almighty Sire Will with his thunder cleave this beetling rock, And bury thee beneath its shattered base, Within its stony arms enfolding thee; And many an age shall pass ere thou return To daylight. Then the winged hound of Zeus, The ravening eagle with devouring maw, Shall deeply trench thy quivering flesh and come, Day after day, an uninvited guest, To feast upon thy ulcerated heart. Of this thy agony expect no end Until some god appears to take on him Thy load of suffering, and for thee descend To the dark depths of the dread under-world. Advise thee then, and deem not that my words Are feigned, for I in bitter earnest speak. The lips of the Almighty cannot lie; Each word they utter surely is fulfilled. Use then thy forecast and be circumspect, Nor o'er good counsel let self-will prevail.

CHORUS.

As seems to us, Hermes has spoken well, In that he redes thee put away self-will, And take far-sighted prudence to thy heart. Give ear; for one so wise to err were shame.

PROMETHEUS.

Well known beforehand was to me


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