Prometheus Bound

Prometheus Bound
by Aeschylus
translated by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

(audio part 1 begins here)

Officers Power and Violence have Prometheus handcuffed and in a chokehold. The officers pull and drag him towards a distant, barren rock. Close behind, Hephaistos follows, carrying heavy tools and chains of iron.
 
POWER:
And so we've come to the last stop on the train.
To Scythia: this lonely hell-hole
where no one in their right mind would go.
 
Hephaistos, get busy! What the Boss demands You'd better deliver!
See those cliffs over there?
Take your unbreakable chains and nail this piece of shit to the rock!
That's an order.
 
Come on, Hephaistos,
He took your luminous petals of FIRE - the beginning of all arts -
he snatched them and then gave them
as a gift to mankind.
He got busted. He's got to do time.
He must give in to the judgement of Zeus
and learn to like it.
 
He should stop feeling so dammed sorry for those nobodies.
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Power and Violence,
You've done your job
Just the way Zeus told you to.
You're done.
Be out. As for me, I can't do it
I can't chain my brother, this god, to this frozen piece of wasteland
But then again, I must.
I can't risk to double-cross the boss,
my father, Zeus.
 
Prometheus, I know who you are...
An idealist who thinks he can change the world...
The unstoppable son of Themis, your down-to-earth mother.
You don't want me to,
But I've got to do what I've got to do.
I'm going to nail you
to this frigid cliff.
You're totally alone.
You won't see, you won't hear
Another human being.
When the color of your face is charred black by the burning sun
You'll be glad when Night's star-spangled curtain
is drawn against the heat.
You'll be glad again when the sun returns
To melt away the dark, biting frost.
You'll be pounded by your heavy load forever.
Your Messiah will not come.
He doesn't even exist!
This is what you get for loving Mankind!
 
You, a God, have played the Gods. You gave people more than they can handle,
So now you must guard this dead chunk of stone
Standing at attention, never sleeping, never moving
Only groaning and wailing
Though no one can hear you.
 
Zeus isn't soft. New dictators never show mercy.
POWER:
Why don't you move your ass and hold the pity?
You should hate this God that betrays all other Gods,
Who's given humanity a force reserved for us alone?
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Blood is thicker than water!
 
POWER:
Yeah, right. But how can you ignore our Boss's orders?
Isn't fear stronger than loyality?
 
HEPHAISTOS:
You've always been souped-up and hard-headed!
 
POWER:
It's all over for him, so you might as well stop crying.
No use beating a dead horse.
 
HEPHAISTOS:
My talent has become my curse!
 
POWER:
What are you talking about? Your skills have nothing to do with this!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
I wish someone else had gotten this job.
 
POWER:
Everything is a struggle, except for the Man on top.
Only Zeus is free to do whatever he wants!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
( looking at Prometheus ) What more can I say?
 
POWER:
So get with it -- chain him down
Before Zeus catches you slacking off!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Get off my back! Can't you see I have the chains in my hands?
 
POWER:
So spike him down as hard as you can! Pick up that sledgehammer! Nail him to the stone!
 
Hephaistos starts hammering Prometheus to the rock.
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Alright, already! See? I'm doing it! I'm doing it!!
 
POWER:
Strike harder! HARDER! Pound him real good! If there's a way to get free,
This bastard will find it!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Well, this is one arm he'll never use again!
 
POWER:
So clamp the other one down so he'll learn that
compared to Zeus, he's not all that!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
No one can say I did a lousy job of this,
Except my brother Prometheus.
 
POWER:
Now take this iron wedge and drive it straight through his chest!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
I feel his pain!
 
POWER:
What's your problem? You'd better start covering your own ass, and
stop worrying about enemies of Zeus!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
This is a spectacle no one should see.
 
POWER:
Well, what I'm seeing is one major asshole getting what he deserves!
Come on! Strap him down already!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Stop sweatin' me!
I know what I'm doing!
 
POWER:
I will sweat you!
I will be on your back!
Now get down and chain his ankles!
 
HEPHAISTOS:
I finished already. Easy.
Done deal.
 
POWER:
Hammer him down with everything you've got!
The Boss isn't easy to please.
 
HEPHAISTOS:
Your words are like your face .... ugly.
 
POWER:
So you, you be a punk!
Me, I'm a hardass.
That's just the way I am.
 
HEPHAlSTOS:
Let's get out of here!
He's not going anywhere!
 
POWER:
So Prometheus, you think you're all that, you souped-up bastard?
Try stealing from the Gods now!
And tell me how your precious little humans
Are going to relieve you from your misery?
The Gods called you "creative." That's a joke!
You better be creative
If you want to get out of those chains!
 
POWER stomps off. VIOLENCE trails after him, still silent.
 

(audio part 2 begins here)

PROMETHEUS is alone. He speaks to the darkness:
 
Bright, heavenly light and rushing, soaring winds
River fountains forever laughing
ocean waves And Earth - our mother
and you
the ever-vigilent eye of the Sun
 
Look at what the Gods will do to one of their own!
This is the humiliation and torture
I must endure for centuries to come.
The new oppressor from above
Forged these chains of degradation.
 
Oh God, I feel the agony now, and forever
When shall this hell storm be over?
 
But, what am I talking about?
I always knew this would happen.
I knew what I was getting into.
And I know what I have to go through.
I am willing to suffer the consequences.
You don't know like I know.
You can't fight Destiny.

You can talk or be silent about all this.
For my glorious offering to Humanity,
I end up bound.
Behind the backs of the Gods,
I took fire from its source.
I stole it.
I hid it in the hollow of a fennel stalk
And I delivered it to the humans.
It bloomed into a great light,
the teacher of humankind,
the origin of all art.
 
For this, I'm doing hard time
locked down with chains under the open sky.
 
What's that distant echo, that strange scent floating towards me?
Is it from Heaven or Earth
or a combination of the two?
Who would visit this godforsaken place?
 
Hey! Who are you looking at? You looking at me?
Well go ahead! Look at a god
brought down by chains!
Take a good look!
I'm an enemy of Zeus and
All of his followers.
I loved Humanity.
That's why they hate me.
 
What is that fluttering sound - like birds - getting closer?
The air softly murmurs with the rustling of wings.
Whatever approaches terrifies me.
 

(audio part 3 begins here)

CHORUS:
Don't be scared. We rushed here because we love you.
At first our father complained, but he finally let us come.
The swift breezes carried us.
We could hear the loud hammering
echoing through our caves.
We came in such a hurry, we forgot to put on our sandles!
 
PROMETHEUS:
I can't believe it!
The kids of Tethys'!
The daughters of ancient father Ocean
Who never sleeps.
Who winds his streams all over the world
Oh father Ocean,
Look what's happened to me,
Bolted to the peak of a cliff,
Standing watch over nothingness.
No one envies this job!
 
CHORUS:
Prometheus, my eyes see, but through
A mist of fear
Through tears, I see your figure
Wasted on these rocks
Shackled, bound down
By bonds of depravation and shame.
New bosses are ruling Olympus
And Zeus has a new way of running things.
He's above the law.
What once was strong, he has made weak.
 
PROMETHEUS:
I wish He had sent me to Hell.
To the home of the Dead,
Down to bottomless Tartarus
In indestructible chains
While being tormented.
At least there no other Gods,
Or anyone else could gloat over me.
Instead, I hang here like a broken doll
Entertainment for my enemies!
 
CHORUS:
What God could be so cruel
To get his thrills out of this?
Everyone protests your pain,
Except for Zeus.
His rage is like iron, forever unyielding.
His mind is fixed and it wants revenge
That cuts down the children of Sky.
He won't quit until he's had his fill
Or until he's pulled down by a more powerful hand.
 
PROMETHEUS:
I may be down now,
Battered and in chains,
But I know
this God of the favored
will need me someday
To inform him of a new plot
That will strip him of his sceptre and supremacy.
He'll never trick me into talking
With his sugar-coated promises.
And he can't scare me into telling
With his heavy-handed threats.
He'll know nothing until
He frees me from these chains
And atones for the injustices he has put me through.
 
CHORUS:
You're brave and you don't cave in to pain
But you talk too much!
We're trembling and our hearts are stabbed with fear
And dread for your future
When is this all going to stop?
When will you find rest?
You cannot thaw the frozen solid heart
Of the son of Kronos.
 
PROMETHEUS:
He's bitter cold, I realize.
He's the Law unto Himself.
But my knowledge of his impending danger will be a crushing blow.
His icy rage will slowly melt down.
He'll come to me, running and eager
In to my open arms.
 
CHORUS:
Tell us the whole story!
Why did Zeus have you arrested?
On what charges?
And why this cruel and unusual punishment?
Tell us, but only if it doesn't get you
Into even more trouble.
 

(audio part 4 begins here)

PROMETHEUS:
It hurts to confess
And it hurts to remain silent.
Either way, I'm screwed.
As soon as the unity of the Gods fell apart,
War broke out among them.
Some wanted to pull Kronos off the throne
So that Zeus might reign.
Others weren't having it.
No way was Zeus going to boss the other Gods around.
I offered some good advice
To the Titans, the sons of Father Sky and Mother Earth
But it fell on deaf ears
They blew off my battleplan.
They were arrogant. They believed
They would easily win through sheer will and brute force.
But I always remembered what my mother Themis
( She has one form, but many different names )
Told me over and over again:
She told me the war would not be won
By strength or might alone,
But by intelligence. And that's that.
Even though I layed it all out for them,
They wouldn't even look up at me.
They left me no choice but to listen to Mom
And hook up with the side of Zeus, who was really happy to have me.
Thanks to my advice,
Old, old Kronos is hidden in the dark tunnel of Tartarus
With his partners in crime.
The Tyrant of the Gods got a lot of help from me
And look at how he repays his debt!
It seems all Dictators have one sick trait in common -
They betray their friends.
 
So you ask why he torments me? Let me tell you.
As soon as his ass hit his father's throne
He starts right away handing out privledges like candy,
Passing out powers to all of his gang
While the poor humans were completely left out!
He wanted total genocide, wiping out the human race and
Replacing them with a whole new breed.
And no spoke up against this craziness except me!
Only I dared! I saved Humanity
From falling into death and destruction.
For this I've been convicted
And beat down with agony
Excruitating to bear,
Pitiful to look at.
I felt more sorry for humans than I did for myself
I never thought I'd ever deserve pity
But look at me now.
I stand corrected without mercy.
A spectacle - and a disgrace for Zeus.
 
CHORUS:
What heart of iron, what heart of stone
Would not grieve for you, Prometheus?
I would never ever wish to see you tortured
But now that I do see,
It's breaking my heart
 
PROMETHEUS:
I am pathetic to look at - especially for my friends.
 
CHORUS:
Did you go further than you told us?
 
PROMETHEUS:
Well I also blinded mankind to its Fate.
 
CHORUS :
And what medicine did you prescribe to cure this illness?
 
PROMETHEUS:
I planted blind hope in their souls.
 
CHORUS:
What a kindness you've delivered to humanity!
 
PROMETHEUS:
Not only that. I awarded them fire.
 
CHORUS:
You what?! Mortals? They've got flames of fire?
 
PROMETHEUS:
Yes. And it will teach them many arts.
 
CHORUS:
So for this Zeus punishes you!
 
PROMETHEUS:
And he beats me down, over and over again.
 
CHORUS:
Can you see any light at the end of the tunnel?
 
PROMETHEUS:
No. He won't stop until he feels like it!
 
CHORUS:
When he FEELS like it?! You call that hope?
Face it, you messed up big time.
But I don't get off on telling you "I told you so!"
I would just hurt you more. Let's drop it.
You've got to find a way to break free.
 
PROMETHEUS:
It's easy for a spectator
Outside of the trial
To give advice and warnings
to the convicted man.
I knew everything.
I knew it all along.
I broke the law on purpose. There's no denying.
In saving humanity,
I screwed myself.
But I never thought I would get in this deep.
Dangling and rusting away
Against the cold, broken cliffs of this high and desolate rock.
Alone.
 
Stop crying over my sadness now!
Go back to earth, but watch what will happen.
My story isn't over.
Go ahead. You can weep for me now.
But Trouble is always wandering
And will touch everyone of us,
Sooner or later.

(audio part 5 begins here)

OCEAN:
I'm at the end of my long journey, Prometheus
And here you are. I don't need any bits or reins
I direct this fast winged creature through willpower alone
You must believe how I feel for you
I feel our kinship powerfully
But even if we weren't related, I'd still feel sorry,
Because there is no one I admire more than you,
I mean that sincerely
I'm not just mouthing off.
I'm not into empty flattery and chit-chatting,
Listen, I'll prove it
Tell me how I can help you
Then you'll never say
That Ocean wasn't your best friend!
 
PROMETHEUS:
Oh, come on?! Have you too come to gawk at my misery?
How dare you neglect
The majestic stream that bears your name
Those cavernous cathedrals of stone carved out by the sea
To come to this place -- this motherland of iron?
For what? To check out my mess
And then feel so, so sorry for me?
Go ahead, then! Take a good look at this friend of Zeus!
I was his partner. I helped him set up the Dictatorship
That now holds me down.

 
OCEAN:
I hear you, Prometheus
Sure, you're smart, but can I give you the best advice I know?
Know yourself and change your ways
Start over
The Gods have a new boss
You'd better get with the program
If you keep running your mouth like this
Zeus may hear you even from up there. He'll be so pissed
That what you're going through now
Will seem like Disney!
I realize you're hurting, but you've got to swallow your pride
And find a way out
This may sound tired, but
"You reap what you sow."
And after all this, you still act like you're all that!
What a glutton for punishment!
If you let me, I'll teach you how to stop being a punching bag
For a hard-core despot who's completely bugged-out.

Let me go and try to
Get you out of this hell-hole
But for now, keep your mouth shut.
If you're so damned smart you should know --
A big mouth is asking for it.
 
PROMETHEUS:
Oh, you're just too wonderful to help me in my struggle!
Congratulations, oh pure one!
Get the hell out of here! Leave me alone!
He's got his mind made up, and you'll never change it
Cover your own ass, because it's headed for trouble.

 
OCEAN:
You can dish out advise, but you sure can't take it!
It's what you do, not what you say that counts!
I'm out of here! And don't try to hold me back!
I'm sure -- no -- I'm positively certain
That Zeus will do me this favor
And grant you a pardon.
 
PROMETHEUS:
Well, I have to admit,
You never run out of good intentions.
Don't bother.
It's hopeless to intervene.
Shut up and stay out of my business.
This is my dilemma.
There's no reason to drag anyone else into it.
I've been ripped apart by the suffering
Of my brother Atlas.
Atlas
he stands in the sea of evening
bearing the impossibly heavy weight
Of the pillar that lifts the sky from the earth

It cuts
To see this son of Earth
The fevered monster from the Cilician caves
With his one-hundred trembling heads
Also violently pulled down.
He took his stand against the Gods
With a horrible hissing through terrifying jaws
His eyes glowing like a gorgon's death mask
As if he could possibly defeat Zeus' tyranny
by force!
Zeus plunged his sleepless lightning bolt
he thrust his flamethrowing javelin
Knocking the boasting and bragging
Out of Typhon.
It ran right through him.
It burned out his heart.
It pounded his might into pieces.
Now that flaccid, hollow carcass
Lies in a stretched-out pile
Near an inlet from the sea
Buried in the colossal roots of Etna
While at the highest peak
Hephaistos hammers a radiant block of iron.
Soon,
Plumes of fire will erupt
Wild jaws will devour
The silken, fruited plains of Sicily
Even though he was incinerated by
The thunderbolt of Zeus,
That will be the fury of Typhon.
He'll still boil over.
He'll pour out geysers of fire and
Fountains of rage.

But you don't need me to tell you this.
You better save yourself
By any means necessary
I will endure
Until the anger of Zeus
Changes its mind.
 
OCEAN:
You know, Prometheus, words can be medicine to the sickest of minds.
 
PROMETHEUS:
But it's all in the timing.
When a mind is swollen with anger,
It's hard to force down.
 
OCEAN:
Then teach me.
What's the harm in mixing daring
With good intentions?
 
PROMETHEUS:
All Hell will break loose!
You're being naive!
 
OCEAN:
Well then, let me stay naive.
Wise men should appear to be fools.
 
PROMETHEUS:
But look at what happened to me!
 
OCEAN:
I've got the picture.
You're sending me home!
 
PROMETHEUS:
That's right! Your sympathy for me will be the end of you.
 
OCEAN:
By Him? The new boss sitting in the throne of power?
 
PROMETHEUS:
You got it. Watch your back, because he'll turn on you.
 
OCEAN:
Yes. Just look at what he's done to you.
 
PROMETHEUS:
So get out! Now!
You've got the message!
And don't forget it!
 
OCEAN:
I'm out! My four-legged bird
Will stroke the fur of the skies
With his two wings
He's glad to go home
So he can sleep in his own bed.
 
PROMETHEUS:

 
More of the translation will be posted later.

Prometheus Bound