Prometheus Bound

Prometheus Bound
by Aeschylus
translated by Henry D. Thoreau

KRATOS and BIA, (Strength and Force)
IO, Daughter of Inachus


We are come to the far-bounding plain
  of earth,
To the Scythian way, to the
  unapproached solitude.
Hephaistus, orders must have thy
Which the father has enjoined on thee,
  this bold one
To the high-hanging rocks to bind,
In indissoluble fetters of adamantine
For thy flower, the splendor of fire
  useful in all arts,
Stealing, he bestowed on mortals; and
  for such
A crime 't is fit he should give
  satisfaction to the gods;
That he may learn the tyranny of Zeus
To love, and cease from his man-loving

Kratos and Bia, your charge from Zeus
Already has its end, and nothing further
  in the way;
But I cannot endure to bind
A kindred god by force to a bleak
Yet absolutely there's necessity that I
  have courage for these things;
For it is hard the father's words to
High-plotting son of the right-
  counselling Themis,
Unwilling thee unwilling in brazen
  fetters hard to be loosed
I am about to nail to this inhuman hill,
Where neither voice [you'll hear,] nor
  form of any mortal
See, but scorched by the sun's clear
Will change your color's bloom; and to
  you glad
The various-robed night will conceal
  the light,
And sun disperse the morning frost
And always the burden of the present ill
Will wear you; for he that will relieve
  you has not yet been born.
Such fruits you've reaped from your
  man-loving ways,
For a god, not shrinking from the wrath
  of gods,
You have bestowed honors on mortals
  more than just,
For which this pleasureless rock you'll
Standing erect, sleepless, not bending a
And many sighs and lamentations to no
Will you utter; for the mind of Zeus is
  hard to be changed;
And he is wholly rugged who may
  newly rule.

Well, why cost thou delay and pity in
Why not hate the god most hostile to
Who has betrayed thy prize to mortals?

The affinity indeed is appalling and the

I agree, but to disobey the Father's
How is it possible? Fear you not this

Aye you are always without pity, and
  full of confidence.

For 't is no remedy to bewail this one;
Cherish not vainly troubles which avail

O much hated handicraft!

Why hatest it? for in simple truth, for
  these misfortunes
Which are present now Art's not to

Yet I would't had fallen to another's lot.

All things were done but to rule the
For none is free but Zeus.

I knew it, and have nought to say
  against these things.

Will you not haste then to put the
  bonds about him,
That the Father may not observe you

Already at hand the shackles you may

Taking them, about his hands with firm
Strike with the hammer, and nail him
  to the rocks.
'T is done, and not in vain this work.

Strike harder, tighten, no where relax,
For he is skilful to find out ways e'en
  from the impracticable.

Aye but this arm is fixed inextricably.

And this now clasp securely; that
He may learn he is a duller schemer
  than is Zeus.

Except him would none justly blame

Now with an adamantine wedge's
  stubborn fang
Through the breasts nail strongly.

Alas! alas! Prometheus, I groan for thy

And do you hesitate, for Zeus' enemies
Do you groan? Beware lest one day you
  yourself will pity.

You see a spectacle hard for eyes to

I see him meeting his deserts;
But round his sides put straps.

To do this is necessity, insist not much.

Surely I will insist and urge beside,
Go downward, and the thighs surround
  with force.

Already it is done, the work, with no
  long labor.

Strongly now drive the fetters, through
  and through,
For the critic of the works is difficult.

Like your form your tongue speaks.

Be thou softened, but for my
Of temper and harshness reproach me

Let us withdraw, for he has a net about
  his limbs.

There now insult, and the shares of
Plundering on ephemerals bestow;
  what thee
Can mortals in these ills relieve?
Falsely thee the divinities Prometheus
In what manner you will escape this


O divine ether, and ye swift-winged
Fountains of rivers, and countless
Of the ocean waves, and earth, mother
  of all,
And thou all-seeing orb of the sun I call.
Behold me what a god I suffer at the
  hands of gods.
See by what outrages
Tormented the myriad-yeared
Time I shal1 endure; such the new
Ruler of the blessed has contrived for
Unseemly bonds.
Alas! alas! the present and the coming
Woe I groan; where ever of these
Must an end appear.
But what say I? I know beforehand all,
Exactly what will be, nor to me strange
Will any evil come. The destined fate
As easily as possible it behoves to bear,
Necessity's is a resistless strength.
But neither to be silent, nor unsilent
  about this
Lot is possible for me; for a gift to
Giving, I wretched have been yoked to
  these necessities;
Within a hollow reed by stealth I carry
  off fire's
Stolen source, which seemed the teacher
Of all art to mortals, and a great
For such crimes penalty I pay,
Under the sky, riveted in chains.
Ah! ah! alas ! alas!
What echo, what odor has flown to me
Of god, or mortal, or else mingled,-
Came it to this terminal hill
A witness of my sufferings, or wishing
Behold bound me an unhappy god,
The enemy of Zeus, fallen under
The ill will of all the gods, as many as
Enter into the hall of Zeus,
Through too great love of mortals.
Alas! alas! what fluttering do I hear
Of birds near? for the air rustles
With the soft rippling of wings.
Everything to me is fearful which
  creeps this way.


Fear nothing; for friendly this band
Of wings with swift contention
Drew to this hill, hardly
Persuading the paternal mind.
The swift-carrying breezes sent me;
For the echo of beaten steel pierced
  the recesses
Of the caves, and struck out from me
  reserved modesty;
And I rushed unsandalled in a
  winged chariot.

Alas ! alas ! alas! alas!
Offspring of the fruitful Tethys,
And of him rolling around all
The earth with sleepless stream
Of father Ocean; behold, look on me,
By what bonds embraced,
On this cliff's topmost rocks
I shall maintain unenvied watch.
I see, Prometheus; but to my eyes a
Mist has come surcharged
With tears, looking upon thy body
Shrunk to the rocks
By these mischiefs of adamantine
Indeed new helmsmen rule Olympus;
And with new laws Zeus strengthens
  himself, annulling the old,
And the before great now makes

Would that under earth, and below
Receptacle of dead, to impassible
Tartarus, he had sent me, to bonds
Cruelly conducting, that neither god,
Nor any other had rejoiced at this.
But now the sport of winds, unhappy
A source of pleasure to my foes I suffer.

Who so hard-hearted
Of the gods, to whom these things are
Who does not sympathize with thy
Misfortunes, excepting Zeus? for he in
  wrath always
Fixing his stubborn mind,
Afflicts the heavenly race;
Nor will he cease, until his heart is
Or with some palm some one may take
  the power hard to be taken.

Surely yet, though in strong
Fetters I am now maltreated,
The ruler of the blessed will have need
  of me,
To show the new conspiracy, by which
He's robbed of sceptre and of honors,
And not at all me with persuasion's
Charms will he appease, nor ever
Shrinking from his firm threats, will I
Declare this, till from cruel
Bonds he may release, and to do justice
For this outrage be willing.

You are bold; and to bitter
Woes do nothing yield,
But too freely speak.
But my mind piercing fear disturbs;
For I'm concerned about thy fortunes,
Where at length arriving you may see
An end of these afflictions. For
Inaccessible, and a heart hard to be
  dissuaded has the son of Kronos.

I know, that Zeus is stern and having
Justice to himself. But after all
He will one day be, when thus he's
And his stubborn wrath allaying,
Into agreement with me and friendliness
Earnest to me earnest he at length will

The whole account disclose and tell us
In what crime taking you Zeus
Thus disgracefully and bitterly insults;
Inform us, if you are nowise hurt by
  the recital.

Painful indeed it is to me to tell these
And a pain to be silent, and every way
When first the divinities began their
And discord 'mong themselves arose,
Some wishing to cast out Kronos from
  his seat,
That Zeus might reign, forsooth, others
  the contrary
Striving, that Zeus might never rule the
Then I the best advising, to persuade
The Titans, sons of Uranus and
Unable was; but crafty stratagems
Despising with rude minds,
They thought without trouble to rule
  by force;
But to me my mother not once only,
And Gtea, of many names one form,
How the future should be accomplished
  had foretold,
That not by power, nor by strength
Would it be necessary, but by craft the
  victors should prevail.
Such I in words expounding,
They deigned not to regard at all.
The best course therefore of those
  occurring then
Appeared to be, taking my mother to
Of my own accord to side with Zeus
  glad to receive me;
And by my counsels Tartarus'
Depth conceals the ancient Kronos,
With his allies. In such things by me
The tyrant of the gods having been
With base rewards like these repays
For there is somehow in kingship
This disease, not to trust its friends.
What then you ask, for what cause
He afflicts me, this will I now explain.
As soon as on his father's throne
He sat, he straightway to the gods
  distributes honors,
Some to one and to another some, and
The government; but of unhappy
  mortals account
Had none; but blotting out the race
Entire, wished to create another new.
And these things none opposed but I,
But I adventured; I rescued mortals
From going destroyed to Hades.
Therefore indeed with such afflictions
  am I bent,
To suffer grievous, and piteous to
And holding mortals up to pity, myself
  am not
Thought worthy to obtain it; but
  without pity
Am I thus corrected, a spectacle
  inglorious to Zeus.
Of iron heart and made of stone,
Whoe'er, Prometheus, with thy
Does not grieve; for I should not have
  wished to see
These things, and having seen them I
  grieved at heart.

Indeed to friends I'm piteous to behold.

Did you in no respect go beyond this?

True, mortals I made cease foreseeing

Having found what remedy for this ail?

Blind hopes in them I made to dwell.

A great advantage this you gave to men

Beside these, too, I bestowed on them

And have mortals flamy fire?

From which indeed they will learn
  many arts.

Upon such charges then does Zeus
Maltreat you, and nowhere relax from
  ills ?
Is there no term of suffering lying
  before thee?

Nay, none at all, but when to him it
  may seem good.

And how will it seem good? What hope?
See you not that
You have erred? But how you've erred,
  for me to tell
Not pleasant, and to you a pain. But
  these things
Let us omit, and seek you some release
  from sufferings.

Easy, whoever out of trouble holds his
Foot, to admonish and remind those
Ill. But all these things I knew,
Willing, willing I erred, I'll not deny;
Mortals assisting I myself found
Not indeed with penalties like these
  thought I
That I should pine on lofty rocks,
Gaining this drear unneighbored hill.
But bewail not my present woes,
But alighting, the fortunes creeping on
Hear ye, that ye may learn all to the
Obey me, obey, sympathize
With him now suffering. Thus indeed
Wandering round, sits now by one, then
  by another.

Not to unwilling ears do you urge
This, Prometheus.
And now with light foot the swift-
Seat leaving, and the pure ether,
Path of birds, to this peaked
Ground I come; for thy misfortunes
I wish fully to hear.


I come to the end of a long way
Travelling to thee, Prometheus,
By my will without bits directing
This wing-swift bird;
For at thy fortunes know I grieve.
And, I think, affinity thus
Impels me, but apart from birth,
There's not to whom a higher rank
I would assign than thee.
And you will know these things as true
  and not in vain
To flatter with the tongue is in me.
Come, therefore,
Show how it is necessary to assist you;
For never will you say, than Ocean
There's a firmer friend to thee.

Alas! what now? And you then of my
Come spectator? How didst thou dare,
The stream which bears thy name, and
Caves self-built, to the iron-mother
Earth to go? To behold my fate
Hast come, and to compassionate my
Behold a spectacle, this, the friend
  of Zeus,
Having with him stablished his
With what afflictions by himself I'm

I see, Prometheus, and would admonish
Thee the best, although of varied craft.
Know thyself, and fit thy manners
New; for new also the king among the
But if thus rude and whetted words
Thou wilt hurl out, quickly may Zeus,
  though sitting
Far above, hear thee, so that thy
  present wrath
Of troubles child's play will seem to be.
But, O wretched one, dismiss the
  indignation which thou hast,
And seek deliverance from these woes.
Like an old man, perhaps, I seem to
  thee to say these things;
Such, however, are the wages
Of the too lofty speaking tongue,
But thou art not yet humble, nor cost
  yield to ills,
And beside the present wish to receive
  others still.
But thou wouldst not, with my counsel,
Against the pricks extend your limbs,
  seeing that
A stern monarch, irresponsible reigns.
And now I go, and will endeavor,
If I can, to release thee from these
But be thou quiet, nor too rudely speak.
Know'st thou not well, with thy superior
  wisdom, that
On a vain tongue punishment is

I congratulate thee that thou art
  without blame,
Having shared and dared all with me,
And now leave off, and let it not
  concern thee.
For altogether thou wilt not persuade
  him, for he's not easily persuaded,
But take heed yourself lest you be
  injured by the way.

Far better thou art to advise those near
Than thyself; by deed and not by word
  I judge.
But me hastening by no means mayest
  thou detain,
For I boast, I boast, this favor will Zeus
Grant me, from these sufferings to
  release thee.
So far I praise thee, and will never
For zeal you nothing lack. But
Strive not; for in vain, nought helping
Me, thou'lt strive, if aught to strive
  you wish.
But be thou quiet, holding thyself aloof,
For I would not, though I'm unfortunate.
  that on this account
Evils should come to many.

Surely not, for me too the fortunes of
  thy brother
Atlas grieve, who towards the evening-
Stands, the pillar of heaven and earth
Upon his shoulders bearing, a load not
  easy to be borne.
And the earth-born inhabitant of the
Caves, seeing, I pitied, the savage
With a hundred heads, by force
Typhon impetuous, who stood 'gainst
  all the gods,
With frightful jaws hissing out
And from his eyes flashed a gorgonian
Utterly to destroy by force the
  sovereignty of Zeus;
But there came to him Zeus' sleepless
Descending thunder, breathing flame,
Which struck him out from lofty
Boastings. For struck to his very heart,
His strength was scorched and
  thundered out.
And now a useless and extended
Lies he near a narrow passage of the
Pressed down under the roots of '7Etna.
And on the topmost summit seated,
Hammers the ignited mass, whence wil1
  burst out at length
Rivers of fire, devouring with wild jaws
Fair-fruited Sicily's smooth fields;
Such rage will Typhon make boil over
With hot discharges of insatiable fire-
  breathing tempest,
Though by the bolt of Zeus burnt to a

Thou art not inexperienced, nor cost
My counsel; secure thyself as thou
  know'st how;
And I against the present fortune will
  bear up,
Until the thought of Zeus may cease
  from wrath.

Know'st thou not this, Prometheus, that
Words are healers of distempered

If any seasonably soothe the heart,
And swelling passion check not rudely.

In the consulting and the daring
What harm seest thou existing?
  Teach me.

Trouble superfluous, and light-minded

Be this my ail then, since it is
Most profitable being wise not to
  seem wise.

PR. This will seem to be my error.

Plainly homeward thy words remand

Aye, let not grief for me into hostility
  cast thee.

To the new occupant of the all-
  powerful seats?

Beware lest ever his heart be angered.

Thy fate, Prometheus, is my teacher.

Go thou, depart, preserve the present

To me rushing this word you utter.
For the smooth path of the air sweeps
  with his wings
The four-legged bird; and gladly would
In the stalls at home bend a knee.


I mourn for thee thy ruinous
Fate, Prometheus,
And tear-distilling from my tender
Eyes a stream has wet
My cheeks with flowing springs;
For these, unenvied, Zeus
By his own laws enforcing,
Haughty above the gods
That were displays his sceptre.
And every region now
With groans resounds,
Mourning the illustrious
And ancient honor
Of thee and of thy kindred;
As many mortals as the habitable seat
Of sacred Asia pasture,
With thy lamentable
Woes have sympathy.
And of the Colchian land, virgin
Inhabitants, in fight undaunted,
And Scythia's multitude, who the last
Place of earth, about
Maeotis lake possess,
And Arabia's martial flower,
And who the high-hung citadels
Of Caucasus inhabit near,
A hostile army, raging
With sharp-pronged spears.
Only one other god before, in sufferings
Subdued by injuries
Of adamantine bonds, I've seen,
Atlas, who always with superior
The huge and heavenly globe
On his back bears;
And with a roar the sea waves
Dashing, groans the deep,
And the dark depth of Hades murmurs
The earth, and fountains of pure-
  running rivers
Heave a pitying sigh.

Think not indeed through weakness or
  through pride
That I am silent; for with the
  consciousness I gnaw my heart,
Seeing myself thus basely used.
And yet to these new gods their shares
Who else than I wholly distributed?
But of these things I am silent; for I
  should tell you
What you know; the sufferings of
  mortals too
You've heard, how I made intelligent
And possessed of sense them ignorant
But I will speak, not bearing any
  grudge to men,
But showing in what I gave the good
At first, indeed, seeing they saw in vain,
And hearing heard not; but like the
Of dreams, for that long time, rashly
All, nor brick-woven dwellings
Knew they, placed in the sun, nor
But digging down they dwelt, like puny
Ants, in sunless nooks of caves.
And there was nought to them, neither
  of winter sign,
Nor of flower-giving spring, nor fruitful
Summer, that was sure; but without
Did they all, till I taught them the
Of the stars, and goings down, hard to
And numbers, chief of inventions,
I found out for them, and the
  assemblages of letters,
And memory, Muse-mother, doer of
  all things,
And first I joined in pairs wild animals
Obedient to the yoke; and that they
  might be
Alternate workers with the bodies of
In the severest toils, harnessed the
  rein-loving horses
To the car, the ornament of over-
  wealthy luxury.
And none else than I invented the
Flaxen-winged vehicles of sailors.
Such inventions I wretched having
  found out
For men, myself have not the ingenuity
  by which
From the now present ill I may escape.

You suflfer unseemly ill, deranged in
You err; and as some bad physician,
Sick you are dejected, and cannot find
By what remedies you may be healed.
Hearing the rest from me more will
  you wonder,
What arts and what expedients I
That which was greatest, if any might
  fall sick,
There was alleviation none, neither
  to eat,
Nor to anoint, nor drink, but for the
Of medicines they were reduced to
  skeletons, till to them
I showed the mingling of mild remedies,
By which all ails they drive away.
And many modes of prophecy I settled,
And distinguished first of dreams what
  a real
Vision is required to be, and omens
  hard to be determined
I made known to them; and tokens by
  the way,
And flight of crooked-taloned birds I
Defined, which lucky are,
And unlucky, and what mode of life
Have each, and to one another what
Hostilities, attachments, and
The entrails' smoothness, and what
  color having
They would be to the divinities
Of the gall and liver the various
And the limbs concealed in fat; and
  the long
Flank burning, to an art hard to be
I showed the way to mortals; and
  flammeous signs
Explained, before obscure.
Such indeed these; and under ground
Concealed the helps to men,
Brass, iron, silver, gold, who
Would affirm that he discovered
  before me?
None, I well know, not wishing in vain
  to boast.
But learn all in one word,
All arts to mortals from Prometheus.

Assist not mortals now unseasonably,
And neglect yourself unfortunate; for I
Am of good hope, that from these bonds
Released, you will yet have no less
power than Zeus.

Never thus has Fate the Accomplisher
Decreed to fulfil these things, but by
  a myriad ills
And woes subdued, thus bonds I flee;
For art's far weaker than necessity.
Who then is helmsman of necessity?

The Fates three-formed, and the
  remembering Furies.

Than these then is Zeus weaker?

Aye, he could not escape what has
  been fated.
But what to Zeus is fated, except
  always to rule?

This thou wilt not learn; seek not
  to know.

Surely some awful thing it is which
  you withhold.

Remember other words, for this by
  no means
Is it time to tell, but to be concealed
As much as possible; for keeping this
  do I
Escape unseemly bonds and woes.

Never may the all-ruling
Zeus put into my mind
Force antagonist to him.
Nor let me cease drawing near
The gods with holy sacrifices
Of slain oxen, by Father Ocean's
Ceaseless passage,
Nor offend with words,
But in me this remain,
And ne'er be melted out.
'T is something sweet with bold
Hopes the long life to
Extend, in bright
Cheerfulness cherishing the spirit.
But I shudder, thee beholding
By a myriad sufferings
tormented. * * *
For not fearing Zeus,
In thy private mind thou cost regard
Mortals too much, Prometheus.
Come, though a thankless
Favor, friend, say where is any
From ephemerals any help? Saw you
The powerless inefficiency,
Dream-like, in which the blind * * *
Race of mortals are entangled?
Never counsels of mortals
May transgress the harmony of Zeus.
I learned these things looking on
Thy destructive fate, Prometheus.
For different to me did this strain come,
And that which round thy baths
And couch I hymned,
With the design of marriage, when
  my father's child
With bridal gifts persuading, thou
  didst lead
Hesione the partner of thy bed.


What earth, what race, what being
  shall I say is this

I see in bridles of rock
Exposed? By what crime's
Penalty cost thou perish? Show, to
  what part
Of earth I miserable have wandered.

Ah! ah! alas! alast
Again some fly cloth sting me wretched,
Image of earth-born Argus, cover it
I fear the myriad-eyed herdsman
For he goes having a treacherous eye,
Whom not e'en dead the earth conceals.
But me, wretched from the Infernals
He pursues, and drives fasting along
  the sea-side
Sand, while low resounds a wax-
  compacted reed,
Uttering sleep-giving law; alas! alas!
  O gods!
Where, gods! where lead me far-
  wandering courses?
In what sin, O son of Kronos,
  In what sin ever having taken,
To these afflictions hast thou yoked me?
  alas! alas!
With fly-driven fear a wretched
Phrenzied one cost thus afflict?
With fire burn, or with earth cover, or
To sea monsters give for food, nor
Envy me my prayers, king.
Enough much-wandered wanderings
Have exercised me, nor can I learn
I shall escape from sufferings.

Hear'st thou the address of the
  cow-horned virgin?

And how not hear the fly-whirled
Daughter of Inachus, who Zeus' heart
With love, and now the courses over
By Here hated, forcedly performs?

Whence utterest thou my father's
Tell me, miserable, who thou art,
That to me, O suffering one, me born
  to suffer,
Thus true things cost address?
The god-sent ail thou'st named,
Which wastes me stinging
With maddening goads, alas! alas!
With foodless and unseemly leaps
Rushing headlong, I came,
By wrathful plots subdued.
Who of the wretched, who, alas! alas!
  suffers like me?
But to me clearly show
What me awaits to suffer,
What not necessary; what remedy
  of ill,
Teach, if indeed thou know's",
  speak out,
Tell the ill-wandering virgin.

I'll clearly tell thee all you wish
  to learn.
Not weaving in enigmas, but in simple
As it is just to open the mouth to
Thou seest the giver of fire to men,

O thou who didst appear a common
  help to mortals,
Wretched Prometheus, to atone for
  what do you endure this?

I have scarce ceased my sufferings

Would you not grant this favor to me?

Say what you ask; for you'd learn all
  from me.
Say who has bound thee to the cliff.

The will indeed of Zeus, Hephaistus'
  the hand.

And penalty for what crimes cost thou

Thus much only can I show thee.

But beside this, declare what time
  will be
To me unfortunate the limit of my

Not to learn is better for thee than
  to learn these things.

Conceal not from me what I am to

Indeed, I grudge thee not this favor.

Why then cost thou delay to tell the

There's no unwillingness, but I hesitate
  to vex thy mind.

Care not for me more than is pleasant
  to me.

Since you are earnest, it behoves to
  speak; hear then.

Not yet indeed; but a share of pleasure
  also give to me.
First we'll learn the malady of
  this one,
Herself relating her destructive
And the remainder of her trials let her
  learn from thee.

'T is thy part, Io, to do these a favor,
As well for every other reason, and as
  they are sisters of thy father.
Since to weep and to lament
There where one will get a tear
From those attending, is worth the

I know not that I need distrust you,
But in plain speech you shall learn
All that you ask for; and yet e'en
  telling I lament
The god-sent tempest, and dissolution
Of my form-whence to me miserable
  it came.
For always visions in the night moving
My virgin chambers, enticed me
With smooth words; "O greatly
  happy virgin,
Why be a virgin long? it is permitted
  to obtain
The greatest marriage. For Zeus with
  love's dart
Has been warmed by thee, and wishes
  to unite
In love; but do thou, O child, spurn
  not the couch
Of Zeus, but go out to Lerna's deep
Morass, and stables of thy father's
That the divine eye may cease from
With such dreams every night
Was I unfortunate distressed, till I
  dared tell
My father of the night-wandering
And he to Pytho and Dodona frequent
Prophets sent, that he might learn what
  it was necessary
He should say or do, to do agreeably to
  the gods.
And they came bringing ambiguous
Oracles, darkly and indistinctly uttered.
But finally a plain report came to
Clearly enjoining him and telling,
Out of my home and country to
  expel me,
  Discharged to wander to the earth's
  last bounds,
And if he was not willing, from Zeus
  would come
A fiery thunderbolt, which would
  annihilate all his race.
Induced by such predictions of the
Against his will he drove me out
And shut me from the houses; but
  Zeus' rein
Compelled him by force to do these
Immediately my form and mind were
Changed, and horned, as you behold,
By a sharp-mouthed fly, with frantic
Rushed I to Cenchrea's palatable
And Lerna's source; but a herdsman
Of violent temper, Argus, accompanied,
  with numerous
Eyes my steps observing.
But unexpectedly a sudden fate
Robbed him of life; and I, fly-stung,
By lash divine am driven from land
  to land.
You hear what has been done; and if
  you have to say,
What's left of labors, speak; nor
  pitying me
Comfort with false words; for an ill
The worst of all, I say, are made-up

Ah! ah! enough, alas!
Ne'er, ne'er did I presume such cruel
Would reach my ears, nor thus
And intolerable hurts, sufferings, fears
  with a two-edged
Goad would chill my soul;
Alas! alas! fate! fate!
I shudder, seeing the state of Io.

Before hand sigh'st thou, and art full
  of fears,
Hold till the rest also thou learn's".
Tell, teach; for to the sick's is sweet
To know the remaining pain beforehand

Your former wish ye got from me
With ease; for first ye asked to learn
  from her
Relating her own trials;
  The rest now hear, what sufferings 't
  is necessary
This young woman should endure from
But do thou, offspring of Inachus,
  my words
Cast in thy mind, that thou may'st
  learn the boundaries of the way.
First, indeed, hence toward the rising of
  the sun
Turning thyself, travel uncultivated
And to the Scythian nomads thou wilt
  come, who woven roofs
On high inhabit, on well-wheeled carts.
With far-casting bows equipped;
Whom go not near, but to the sea-
  resounding cliffs
Bending thy feet, pass from the region.
On the left hand the iron-working
Chalybes inhabit, whom thou must
  needs beware,
For they are rude and inaccessible to
And thou wilt come to the Hybristes
  river, not ill named,
Which pass not, for not easy is't to pass,
Before you get to Caucasus itself,
Of mountains, where the stream spurts
  out its tide
From the very temples; and passing
The star-neighbored summits, 't is
  necessary to go,
The southern way where thou wilt
  come to the man-hating
Army of the Amazons, who Themiscyra
  one day
Will inhabit, by the Thermodon,
Salmydessia, rough jaw of the sea,
Inhospitable to sailors, step-mother
  of ships;
They will conduct thee on thy way, and
  very cheerfully.
  And to the Cimmerian isthmus thou
  wilt come,
Just on the narrow portals of a lake,
  which leaving
It behoves thee with stout heart to pass
  the Maeotic straits;
And there will be to mortals ever a
  great fame
Of thy passage, and Bosphorus from
  thy name
'T will be called. And leaving
  Europe's plain
The continent of Asia thou wilt
  reach.-Seemeth to thee, forsooth,
The tyrant of the gods in everything
  to be
Thus violent? For he a god with this
Wishing to unite, drove her to these
A bitter wooer didst thou find, O virgin,
For thy marriage. For the words you
  now have heard
Think not yet to be the prelude.

Ah! me! me! alas! alas!
Again cost shriek and heave a sigh?
Wilt thou do when the remaining ills
  thou learn's"?

And hast thou any further suffering
  to tell her?

Aye, a tempestuous sea of baleful woe.

What profit then for me to live, and
  not in haste
To cast myself from this rough rock,
That rushing down upon the plain I
  may be released
From every trouble? For better once
  for all to die,
Than all my days to suffer evilly.

Unhappily my trials would's" thou bear,
To whom to die has not been fated;
For this would be release from
But now there is no end of ills lying
Before me, until Zeus falls from

And is Zeus ever to fall from power?

Thou would's" be pleased, I think, to see
  this accident.

How should I not, who suffer ill
  from Zeus?

That these things then are so, be thou

By what one will the tyrant's power be

Himself, by his own senseless counsels.

In what way show, if there's no harm.

He will make such a marriage as one
  day he'll repent.

Io. Of god or mortal? If to be spoken, tell.

What matter which? For these things
  are not to be told.

By a wife will he be driven from the

Aye, she will bring forth a son superior
  to his father.

Is there no refuge for him from this

None, surely, till I may be released from

Who then is to release thee, Zeus

He must be some one of thy

How sayest thou-that my child will
  deliver thee from ills?

Third of thy race after ten other births.

This oracle is not yet easy to be

But do not seek to understand thy

First proffering gain to me, do not
  then withhold it.

I'll grant thee one of two relations.

What two propose, and give to me my

I give; choose whether thy remaining
I shall tell thee clearly, or him that
  will release me.

Consent to do her the one favor,
Me the other, nor deem us undeserving
  of thy words;
To her indeed tell what remains of
And to me, who will release; for I
  desire this.

Since ye are earnest, I will not resist
To tell the whole, as much as ye ask i
To thee first, Io, vexatious wandering
  will tell,
Which engrave on the remembering
  tablets of the mind.
When thou hast passed the flood,
  boundary of continents,
Towards the flaming orient sun-
  travelled * * *
Passing through the tumult of the sea
  until you reach
The gorgonean plains of Cisthene,
The Phorcides dwell, old virgins,
Three, swan-shaped, having a commo
One-toothed, whom neither the sun
  looks on
With his beams, nor nightly moon eve
And near, their winged sisters three,
Dragon-scaled Gorgons, odious to men
Whom no mortal beholding, will have
Such danger do I tell thee,
But hear another odious sight;
Beware the gryphons, sharp-mouthed
Dogs of Zeus, which bark not, and the
  one-eyed Arimaspian
Host, going on horse-back, who dwell
The golden-flowing flood of Pluto's
These go not near. But to a distant land
Thou'lt come, a dusky race, who near
  the fountains
Of the sun inhabit, where is the
  Aethiopian river.
Creep down the banks of this, until
  thou com'st
To a descent, where from Byblinian
The Nile sends down its sacred
  palatable stream.
This will conduct thee to the
  triangled land
Nilean, where, Io, 't is decreed
Thou and thy progeny shall form the
  distant colony.
If aught of this is unintelligible to
  thee, and hard to be found out,
Repeat thy questions, and learn clearly;
For more leisure than I want is
  granted me.

If to her aught remaining or omitted
Thou hast to tell of her pernicious
Speak; but if thou hast said all, give us
The favor which we ask, for surely thou

The whole term of her travelling has
  she heard.
But that she may know that not in vain
  she hears me,
I'll tell what before coming hither she
Giving this as proof of my relations.
The great multitude of words I will
And proceed unto the very limit of thy
When then you came to the
  Molossian ground,
And near the high-ridged Dodona,
Oracle and seat is of Thesprotian Zeus,
And prodigy incredible, the speaking
By whom thou clearly, and nought
Wert called the illustrious wife of Zeus
About to be, if aught of these things
  soothes thee;
Thence, driven by the fly, you came
The seaside way to the great gulf
  of Rhea,
From which by courses retrograde you
  are now tempest-tossed.
But for time to come the sea gulf,
Clearly know, will be called Ionian,
Memorial of thy passage to all mortals.
Proofs to thee are these of my
That it sees somewhat more than the
But the rest to you and her in common
  I will tell,
Having come upon the very track of
  former words.
There is a city Canopus, last of the
By Nile's very mouth and bank;
There at length Zeus makes thee sane,
Stroking with gentle hand, and
  touching only.
And, named from Zeus' begetting,
Thou wilt bear dark Epaphus, who
  will reap
As much land as broad-flowing Nile
  cloth water;
And fifth from him, a band of fifty
Again to Argos shall unwilling come,
Of female sex, avoiding kindred
Of their cousins; but they, with minds
Hawks by doves not far left behind,
Will come pursuing marriages
Not to be pursued, but heaven will
  take vengeance on their bodies;
For them Pelasgia shall receive by Mars
Subdued with woman's hand with
  night-watching boldness.
For each wife shall take her husband's
Staining a two-edged dagger in his
Such 'gainst my foes may Cypris
But one of the daughters shall love
Not to slay her bed-fellow, but she
  will waver
In her mind; and one of two things
  will prefer,
To hear herself called timid, rather
  than stained with blood;
She shall in Argos bear a royal race.-
Of a long speech is need this clearly
  to discuss.
From this seed, however, shall be born
  a brave,
Famed for his bow, who will release me
From these sufferings. Such oracle
  my ancient
Mother told me, Titanian Themis;
But how and by what means, this needs
  long speech
To tell, and nothing, learning, wilt
  thou gain.
Ah me! ah wretched me!
Spasms again and brain-struck
Madness burn me within, and a fly's
Stings me-not wrought by fire.
My heart with fear knocks at my breast,
And my eyes whirl round and round,
And from my course I'm borne by
Furious breath, unable to control my
While confused words dash idly
'Gainst the waves of horrid woe.

Wise, wise indeed was he,
Who first in mind
This weighed, and with the tongue
To marry according to one's degree is
  best by far;
Nor being a laborer with the hands,
To woo those who are by wealth
Nor those by birth made great.
Never, never me
  Fates * * *
May you behold the sharer of Zeus'
Nor may I be brought near to any
  husband among those from heaven,
For I fear, seeing the virginhood of Io,
Not content with man, through
  marriage vexed
With these distressful wanderings by
But for myself, since an equal marriage
  is without fear,
I am not concerned lest the love of the
Gods cast its inevitable eye on me.
Without war indeed this war, producing
Troubles; nor do I know what would
  become of me;
For I see not how I should escape the
  subtlety of Zeus.

Surely shall Zeus, though haughty now,
Yet be humble, such marriage
He prepares to make, which from
And the throne will cast him down
  obscure; and father Kronos'
Curse will then be all fulfilled,
Which falling from the ancient seats he
And refuge from such ills none of the
But I can show him clearly.
I know these things, and in what
  manner. Now therefore
Being bold, let him sit trusting to lofty
Sounds, and brandishing with both
  hands his fire-breathing weapon,
For nought will these avail him, not
To fall disgracefully intolerable falls;
Such wrestler does he now prepare,
Himself against himself, a prodigy
  most hard to be withstood;
Who, indeed, will invent a better flame
  than lightning,
And a loud sound surpassing thunder;
And shiver the trident, Neptune's
The marine earth-shaking ail.
Stumbling upon this ill he'll learn
How different to govern and to serve.

Aye, as you hope you vent this against

What will be done, and also what I
  hope, I say.

And are we to expect that any will
  rule Zeus?

Even than these more grievous ills
  he'll have.

How fear'st thou not, hurling such

What should I fear, to whom to die has
  not been fated?

But suffering more grievous still than
  this he may inflict.

Then let him do it; all is expected by

Those reverencing Adrastia are wise.

Revere, pray, flatter each successive
Me less than nothing Zeus concerns.
Let him do, let him prevail this short
As he will, for long he will not rule the
But I see here, indeed, Zeus' runner,
The new tyrant's drudge;
Doubtless he brings us some new

To thee, the sophist, the bitterly bitter,
The sinner against gods, the giver of
To ephemerals, the thief of fire
The father commands thee to tell the
Which you boast, by which he falls
  from power;
And that too not enigmatically,
But each particular declare; nor cause
Double journeys, Prometheus; for thou
  see'st that
Zeus is not appeased by such.

Solemn-mouthed and full of wisdom
Is thy speech, as of the servant of the
Ye newly rule, and think forsooth
To dwell in griefless citadels; have I
  not seen
Two tyrants fallen from these?
And third I shall behold him ruling
Basest and speediest. Do I seem to thee
To fear and shrink from the new gods?
Nay, much and wholly I fall short of
The way thou cam'st go through the
  dust again;
For thou wilt learn nought which tho
  ask'st of me.

Aye, by such insolence before
You brought yourself into these woes.

Plainly know, I would not change
My ill fortune for thy servitude,
For better, I think, to serve this rock
Than be the faithful messenger of
  Father Zeus.
Thus to insult the insulting it is fit.

Thou seem'st to enjoy thy present state

I enjoy? Enjoying thus my enemies
Would I see; and thee 'mong them I

Dost thou blame me for aught of thy

In plain words, all gods I hate,
As many as well treated wrong me

I hear thee raving, no slight ail.

Aye, I should ail, if ail one's foes to

If prosperous, thou couldst not be

Ah me!

This word Zeus does not know.

But time growing old teaches all things.

And still thou know'st not yet how to be

For I should not converse with thee a

Thou seem'st to say nought which the
  father wishes.

And yet his debtor I'd requite the favor.

Thou mock'st me verily as if I were a

And art thou not a child, and simpler
  still than this,
If thou expectest to learn aught from
There is not outrage nor expedient, by
Zeus will induce me to declare these
Before he loose these grievous bonds.
Let there be hurled then flaming fire,
And with white-winged snows, and
Of the earth, let him confound and
  mingle all.
For none of these will bend me till I tell
By whom 't is necessary he should fall
  from sovereignty.

Consider now if these things seem

Long since these were considered and

Venture, O vain one, venture, at length,
In view of present sufferings to be wise.

In vain you vex me, as a wave,
Ne'er let it come into thy mind, that,
  I, fearing
Zeus' anger, shall become woman-
And beg him, greatly hated,
With womanish upturnings of the
To loose me from these bonds. I am
  far from it.

Though saying much I seem in vain to
For thou art nothing softened nor
By prayers; but champing at the bit
  like a new-yoked
Colt, thou struggles" and contend's"
  against the reins.
But thou art violent with feeble wisdom
For stubbornness to him who is not
Itself alone, is less than nothing strong.
But consider, if thou art not persuaded
  by my words,
What storm and triple surge of ills
Will come upon thee not to be avoided
  for first this rugged
Cliff with thunder and lightning flame
The Father '11 rend, and hide

To me foreknowing these messages
He has uttered, but for a foe to suffer ill
From foes, is nought unseemly.
Thy body, and a strong arm will bury
When thou hast spent a long length
  of time,
Thou wilt come back to light; and Zeus'
Winged dog, a blood-thirsty eagle,
Shall tear the great rag of thy body,
Creeping an uninvited guest all day,
And banquet on thy liver black by
Of such suffering expect not any end,
Before some god appear
Succeeding to thy labors, and wish to
  go to rayless
Hades, and the dark depths of Tartarus.
Therefore deliberate; since this is not
Boasting, but in earnest spoken;
For to speak falsely does not know
  the mouth
Of Zeus, but every word he does. So
Look about thee, and consider, nor ever
Obstinacy better than prudence.
To us indeed Hermes appears to say
  not unseasonable things,
For he directs thee, leaving off
Self-will, to seek prudent counsel.
Obey; for, it is base for a wise man
  to err.
Therefore 'gainst me let there be
Fire's double-pointed curl, and air
Be provoked with thunder, and a
Of wild winds; and earth from its
Let a wind rock, and its very roots,
And with a rough surge mingle
The sea waves with the passages
Of the heavenly stars, and to black
Tartarus let him quite cast down my
Body, by necessity's strong eddies;
Yet after all he will not kill me.

Such words and counsels you may he`L
From the brain-struck.
For what lacks he of being mad?
And if prosperous, what does he ceas'
  from madness?
Do you, therefore, who sympathize
With this one's suffering,
From these places quick withdraw
Lest the harsh bellowing of thunder
Stupify your minds.

Say something else, and exhort me
To some purpose; for surely
Thou hast intolerably abused this wot
How direct me to perform a baseness,
I wish to suffer with him whate'er is
For I have learned to hate betrayers;
Nor is there pest
Which I abominate more than this.

Remember then what I fore-tell;
Nor by calamity pursued
Blame fortune, nor e'er say
That Zeus into unforeseen
Ill has cast you; surely not, but
You yourselves; for knowing,
And not suddenly nor clandestinely,
You'll be entangled through your folly
In an impassible net of woe.

PR. Surely indeed, and no more in word,
Earth is shaken;
And a hoarse sound of thunder
Bellows near, and wreaths of lightning
Flash out fiercely blazing, and
  whirlwinds dust
Whirl up; and leap the blasts
Of all winds, 'gainst one another
Blowing in opposite array;
And air with sea is mingled;
Such impulse against me from Zeus
Producing fear, cloth plainly come.
O revered Mother, O Ether
Revolving common light to all,
You see me, how unjust things I

Prometheus Bound