Aeschylus Prometheus Bound translations
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Prometheus Bound
-415
Aeschylus


Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης
-415
Αἰσχύλος

Κράτος

Χθονὸς μὲν ἐς τηλουρὸν ἥκομεν πέδον,
Σκύθην ἐς οἷμον, ἄβατον εἰς ἐρημίαν.
Ἥφαιστε, σοὶ δὲ χρὴ μέλειν ἐπιστολὰς
ἅς σοι πατὴρ ἐφεῖτο, τόνδε πρὸς πέτραις
ὑψηλοκρήμνοις τὸν λεωργὸν ὀχμάσαι
ἀδαμαντίνων δεσμῶν ἐν ἀρρήκτοις πέδαις.
τὸ σὸν γὰρ ἄνθος, παντέχνου πυρὸς σέλας,
θνητοῖσι κλέψας ὤπασεν. τοιᾶσδέ τοι
ἁμαρτίας σφε δεῖ θεοῖς δοῦναι δίκην,
ὡς ἂν διδαχθῇ τὴν Διὸς τυραννίδα
στέργειν, φιλανθρώπου δὲ παύεσθαι τρόπου.

Ἥφαιστος

Κράτος Βία τε, σφῷν μὲν ἐντολὴ Διὸς
ἔχει τέλος δὴ κοὐδὲν ἐμποδὼν ἔτι:
ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἄτολμός εἰμι συγγενῆ θεὸν
δῆσαι βίᾳ φάραγγι πρὸς δυσχειμέρῳ.
πάντως δ᾽ ἀνάγκη τῶνδέ μοι τόλμαν σχεθεῖν:
ἐξωριάζειν γὰρ πατρὸς λόγους βαρύ.

τῆς ὀρθοβούλου Θέμιδος αἰπυμῆτα παῖ,
ἄκοντά σ᾽ ἄκων δυσλύτοις χαλκεύμασι
προσπασσαλεύσω τῷδ᾽ ἀπανθρώπῳ πάγῳ
ἵν᾽ οὔτε φωνὴν οὔτε του μορφὴν βροτῶν
ὄψει, σταθευτὸς δ᾽ ἡλίου φοίβῃ φλογὶ
χροιᾶς ἀμείψεις ἄνθος. ἀσμένῳ δέ σοι
ἡ ποικιλείμων νὺξ ἀποκρύψει φάος,
πάχνην θ᾽ ἑῴαν ἥλιος σκεδᾷ πάλιν:
ἀεὶ δὲ τοῦ παρόντος ἀχθηδὼν κακοῦ
τρύσει σ᾽: ὁ λωφήσων γὰρ οὐ πέφυκέ πω.

Deborah H. Roberts
2012


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SCENE: A mountainous ravine, with cliffs rising steeply behind. Enter Power and Force, holding Prometheus between them, followed by Hephaestus. They place Prometheus against the rocky wall.

POWER:
We have come to a distant region of the earth,
the Scythian wilderness where no mortals live.
Hephaestus, you are here to carry out
the commands of father Zeus. Against these rocks,
high cliffs of fall, harness this criminal
in chains of adamant, bonds he cannot break.
It was the flower of your own craft he stole,
bright fire, the origin of every art
stole, and handed to mortals. For this wrong
he must pay the penalty the gods exact,
so that he may learn to embrace the authority
of Zeus, and leave his human-loving ways.

HEPHAESTUS:
Power and Force, you’ve carried out completely
what Zeus decreed; your part in this is done.
But I can’t bear to bind a god by force-
one of my family—in this wintry chasm.
And all the same I am required to bear it:
its hard to set aside my father’s words.

(He turns to speak to Prometheus.)

Child of Themis who gives sound advice,
your thoughts aim high. Against your will and mine,
I’ll pin you with bronze chains you can’t undo
on this Crag far away from humankind,
where you will neither see the forms of mortals,
nor hear their voices. Burnt by sun’s bright fire
your skin will lose its bloom; you will be glad
when night in spangled clothing hides the daylight,
and again when sun at dawn dispels the frost.
Always the burden of each moment’s pain
will wear you down. Your rescuer’s not yet born.
This is what your human—loving ways have won.
You are a god, and still you did not cower
before the anger of the gods, but granted
mortals honors to which they have no right.
For that, you’ll keep watch on this joyless rock,
upright, unsleeping, never bending a knee.
You’ll cry out often, in sorrow, pain, regret;
it will do no good. Zeus is not to be won over.
He is harsh, as all those new to power are harsh.

POWER: So—why delay and waste your time on pity?


Kenneth Mcleish and Frederic Raphael
1991


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Deserted mountainside. Enter HEPHAESTUS, MIGHT and FORCE, with PROMETHEUS in chains.

MIGHT.
No further. This is Scythia. End of the world.
No exit. No tracks. No .. . life.
Hephaestus, our father's orders: obey them now.
Spike that criminal, here on these crags.
Iron pegs, steel chains. No breaking.
Your flower he stole, your fire,
Spark of all knowledge. To give to mortals!
That was his crime. His punishment: whatever
The gods demand. He must turn his face
From mortals, and learn to love lord Zeus.

HEPHAESTUS.
Might, Force, you are the word of Zeus.
He orders; You obey; you are fulfilled.
But I - how can I bring myself
To bind a kinsman here in this wintry place?
I must. To ignore Zeus’ word is no careless thing.
Prometheus, noble-hearted son
Of Themis the counsellor,
Not I, not you, chose this.
I’ll spike you here on this hill.
No mortals to hear, to see. Sun’s rays
Will scorch you, wither you. You'll cry
For starry-mantled Night to douse the fire -
And cry again, when next day's Sun
Scatters the dew and renews your pain.
Forever. No blunting the tooth of pain.
Your rescuer’s unborn, does not exist.
You chose it. Mortal-lover! Chose it yourself.
A god, you laughed at gods. You gave
What was theirs to mortals. Free choice!
Now brood on that, here on this rock
No rest. No sleep. Limbs locked with cramp.
You’ll groan. You’ll curse. You’ll shriek.
You’ll not move Zeus. All new-throned kings are harsh.

MIGHT
Time-wasting! Weeping! All in vain.
Why love the god all gods detest?
He gave your pride to mortals.

HEPHAESTUS.
But kinship .. . fellowship . . .

MIGHT.
Zeus speaks, and you ignore.
Do you dare? Are you not afraid?

HEPHAESTUS.
You’re made of stone. No pity.

MIGHT.
For him? Sing dirges? Save your breath.
You've work to do.

HEPHAESTUS.
I curse my skill -

MIGHT.
Why? Bluntly,
Did your skill bring him here?

HEPHAESTUS.
Perhaps someone else -

MIGHT.
Who? All are slaves, feel pain.
All creation. Only Zeus is free.


Paul Roche
1962


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MIGHT

We've come to the end, then—the world’s end:
This Scythian tract, a desert without men.
Here, Hephaestus, you must now despatch
That mandate which the Father laid on you
And clamp this rebel to the crag-capt rocks
With adamantine bonds that none can break.
Your very flower, your fire, the spark of artifex,
He filched and gave to mortal man.
Such his sin,
For which he has to pay the gods and learn
Respect for Zeus’s sovereignty
And cease his philanthropic turn.

HEPHAESTUS

Yes, Might and Force,
The task Zeus gave you is complete
And nothing keeps you here,
But as for me I have no heart
To bind by force a fellow god
Upon this winter-riven scar
And I must summon all my strength for it:
There’s danger in the Father disobeyed.
Prometheus, soaring-minded son
Of Themis, queen of thinking right,
Against your will and mine,
Indissolubly fettered must I nail you to this crag
Remote from man;
Where no voice, no human form shall meet your sight,
But, burning in the sun’s bright heat,
Your flesh shall lose its flower
And glad you'll be when jeweled night
Veils from you the glare,
And glad when the morning sun
Breaks up again the rime.
Ages shall pass of this present wasting pain,
For he who comes to ease you is not born.

MIGHT

Well, why do you wait? Why sympathize in vain,
And do not hate the god whom all the gods must hate:
The one who sold your birthright to mankind?

HEPHAESTUS

There's something strange in kin and fellowship.

MIGHT

So I grant, and yet to flout the Father's words—— is that possible? Isn’t that more strange than anything?

HEPHAESTUS

Always so pitiless and so uncurbed!

MIGHT

Certainly, when crying for him cannot cure a thing.
Don’t waste your time on something so in vain.

HEPHAESTUS

How I now detest my craftsmanship!

MIGHT

Why loathe that, when in literal truth
you cannot curse your craft for present pain?

HEPHAESTUS

Nevertheless, I wish it were another’s lot.

MIGHT

All roles are hard, except to rule in heaven: none alive is free but Zeus alone.

HEPHAESTUS

I know it, and I cannot contradict.

MIGHT

Hurry, then, and cast him round with fetters; not let theFather catch you loitering.

HEPHAESTUS

Of course, of course! The manacles are ready.

MIGHT

Then clap them on his wrists
and rock the mallet with a mighty swing
to peg him to the crags.
[HEPHAESTUS exerts himself]

HEPHAESTUS

The job is done; it is not shoddy work.


Philip Vellacott
1961


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A racy mountain-top, within sight of the sea.
Enter
ATRENGTH and VIOLENCE, dragging in PROMETHEUS.
HEPHAESTUS follows.

STRENGTH: Here we have reached the remotest region of the earth,
The haunt of Scythians, a wilderness without a footprint.
Hephaestus, do your duty. Remember what command
The Father laid on you. Here is Prometheus, the rebel:
Nail him to the rock; secure him on this towering summit
Fast in the unyielding grip of adamantine chains.
It was your treasure that he stole, the flowery splendour
Of all-fashioning fire, and gave to men - an offence
Intolerable to the gods, for which he now must suffer,
Till he be taught to accept the sovereignty of Zeus
And cease acting as champion of the human race.

HEPHAESTUS: For you two, Strength and Violence, the command of Zeus
Is now performed. You are released. But how can I
Find heart to lay hands on a god of my own race,
And cruelly clamp him to this bitter, bleak ravine?
And yet I must; heart or no heart, this I must do.
To slight what Zeus has spoken is a fearful thing.
[to PROMETHEUS] Son of sagacious Themis, god of mountainous thoughts,
With heart as sore as yours I now shall fasten you
In bands of bronze immovable to this desolate peak,
Where you will hear no voice, nor see a human form;
But scorched with the s1m’s flaming rays your skin will lose
Its bloom of freshness. Glad you will be to see the night
Cloaking the day with her dark spangled robe; and glad
Again when the sun’s warmth scatters the frost at dawn.
Each changing hour will bring successive pain to rack
Your body; and no man yet born shall set you free.
Your kindness to the human race has earned you this.
A god who would not bow to the gods’ anger — you,
Transgressing right, gave privileges to mortal men.
For that you shall keep watch upon this bitter rock,
Standing upright, unsleeping, never bowed in rest.
And many groans and cries of pain shall come from you,
All useless; for the heart of Zeus is hard to appease.
Power newly won is always harsh.

STRENGTH: What is the use Of wasting time in pity?
Why do you not hate A god who is an enemy to all the gods,
who gave away to humankind your privilege?

HEPHAESTUS: The ties of birth and comradeship are strangely strong.

STRENGTH: True, yet how is it possible to
The Father's word? Is not that something you dread more?

HEPHAESTUS: You have been always cruel, full of aggressiveness.

STRENGTH: It does no good to break your heart for him. Come now,
You cannot help him: waste no time in worrying.

HEPHAESTUS: I hate my craft, I hate the skill of my own hands.

STRENGTH: Why do you hate it? Take the simple view: your craft
Is not to blame for what must be inflicted now.

HEPHAESTUS: True - yet I wish some other had been givesn my skill.

STRENGTH: All tasks are burdensome - except to rule the gods.
No one is free but Zeus.

HEPHAESTUS: I know. All this [Indicating PROMETHEUS] is proof Beyond dispute.

STRENGTH: Bequick, then; put the fetters on him
Before the Father sees you

HEPHAESTUS: Here, then, look!
The iron wrist-bands are ready.

[he begins to fix them]


David Grene
1942


Coming soon!


Theodore Alois Buckley
1897


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Strength.
We are come to a plain, the distant boundary of the earth, to the Scythian track, to an untrodden desert. Vulcan, it behooves thee that the mandates, which thy Sire imposed, be thy concern—to bind this daring wretch to the lofty-cragged rocks, in fetters of adamantine chains that can not be broken; for he stole and gave to mortals thy honor, the brilliancy of fire [that aids] all arts. Hence for such a trespass he must needs give retribution to the gods, that he may be taught to submit to the sovereignty of Jupiter, and to cease from his philanthropic disposition.

Vulcan.
Strength and Force, as far as you are concerned, the mandate of Jupiter has now its consummation, and there is no farther obstacle. But I have not the courage to bind perforce a kindred god to this weather-beaten ravine. Yet in every way it is necessary for me to take courage for this task; for a dreadful thing it is to disregard 6 the directions of the Sire. Lofty-scheming son of right-counseling Themis, unwilling shall I rivet thee unwilling in indissoluble shackles to this solitary rock, where nor voice nor form of any one of mortals shalt thou see; but slowly scorched by the bright blaze of the sun thou shalt lose the bloom of thy complexion; and to thee joyous shall night in spangled robe veil the light; and the sun again disperse the hoar-fiost of the mom; and evermore shall the pain of the present evil waste thee; for no one yet born shall release thee. Such fiuits hast thou reaped fiom thy friendly disposition to mankind. For thou, a god, not crouching beneath the wrath of the gods, hast imparted to mortals honors beyond what was right. In requital whereof thou shalt keep sentinel on this cheerless rock, standing erect, sleepless, not bending a knee: and many laments and unavailing groans shalt thou utter; for the heart of Jupiter is hard to be entreated; and every one that has newly-acquired power is stern.

Str. Well, well! Why art thou delaying and vainly commiserating? Why loathest thou not the god that is most hateful to the gods, who has betrayed thy prerogative to mortals?

Vul. Relationship and intimacy are of great power.

St. I grant it—but how is it possible to disobey the Sire's word? Dreadest thou not this the rather?

Vul. Ay truly thou art ever pitiless and full of boldness.

St. For to deplore this wretch is no cure [for him]. But concern not thou thyself vainly with matters that are of no advantage.

Vul. O much detested handicraft!

St. Wherefore loathest thou it! for with the ills now present thy craft in good truth is not at all chargeable.

Vul. For all that, I would that some other had obtained this.

St. Every thing has been achieved except for the gods to rule; for no one is free save Jupiter.


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