Aeschylus’ Hymn to Prometheus

The hymn you will find just below is an adaptation from the Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. In the mid of the tragedy, the chained titan remember all he has done for humanity, all the goods he has brought to the “wretched race of men” as Hesiod would say. I’ve adapted this part of the tragedy as a Hymn. Yet I added bits of lore from multiple sources. These bits are my interpretation of the Kabeiric mythology and mysteries. Prometheus, as ancestor of mankind and bringer of the Fire and the Art, was part of them. But let me cut it short, and let the words sing themselves.

The Hymn

Here I come, Prometheus, son of Iapetus, of the Blood of Ouranos, to the eastern edge of my Mind
and of the known world, to praise your holy deeds.
I will speak of the friendly purpose that inspired your blessings.
We were witless before, and you made us have sense and endowed us with reason.

First of all, though we had eyes to see, we saw to no avail;
We had ears, but we did not understand;
but, just as shapes in dreams, throughout our length of days,
without purpose we wrought all things in confusion.
We had neither knowledge of houses built of bricks
and turned to face the sun nor yet of work in wood;
but dwelt beneath the ground like swarming ants, in sunless caves.
We had no sign either of winter or of flowery spring or of fruitful summer,
on which we could depend but managed everything without judgment,
until you taught us to discern the risings of the stars and their settings,
which are difficult to distinguish.

And numbers, too, chiefest of sciences, you invented for us,
and the combining of letters, creative mother of the Muses’ arts,
with which to hold all things in memory.
You, too, first brought brute beasts beneath the yoke
to be subject to the collar and the pack-saddle,
so that they might bear in men’s stead their heaviest burdens;
and to the chariot you harnessed horses
and made them obedient to the rein,
to be an image of wealth and luxury.
It was you and no one else who invented
the mariner’s flaxen-winged car that roams the sea.

Let me chant and wonder more at the arts and resources you devised.
This first and foremost: if we ever fell ill, there was no defence.
No healing food, no ointment, nor any drink,
but for lack of medicine we wasted away,
until you showed us how to mix soothing remedies
with which we now ward off all disorders.

And you marked out many ways by which we might read the future.
Among dreams you first discerned which are destined to come true;
voices baffling interpretation you explained to us,
and signs from chance meetings.
The flight of crook-taloned birds you distinguished clearly:
which by nature are auspicious, which sinister;
their various modes of life, their mutual feuds and loves,
and their consortings;
the smoothness of their entrails,
and what color the gall must have to please the gods,
also the speckled symmetry of the liver-lobe;
the thigh-bones, wrapped in fat,
and the long chine you burned
and initiated mankind into occult art.
Also you cleared our vision to discern signs from flames,
which were obscure before this.

Now as to the benefits that lay concealed beneath the earth:
bronze, iron, silver, and gold—
who would claim to have discovered them before you?
No one, I know full well, and who says otherwise likes to babble idly.
Hear the sum of the whole matter in the compass of one brief word:
every art we now possess comes from you, oh Prometheus.
Wretched you were, bound to the desolate crag of Caucasus.

Such are the arts you devised for mankind,
yet you had no cunning means to rid yourself
of the shackles of binding adamant
set upon you unwillingly by your kin,
Hephaestus, Lord of the Forge.
His own flower, flashing fire, source of all Arts,
you have purloined and bestowed upon mortal creatures.

Such is the prize you have gained for your championship of man.
For, god though you are, you did not fear the wrath of the gods,
but you bestowed honors upon us, mortal creatures, beyond our due.
Therefore on that joyless rock you had to stand sentinel,
erect, sleepless, your knee unbent.

O you bright sky of heaven, you swift-winged breezes, you river-waters,
and infinite laughter of the waves of ocean, O universal mother Earth,
and you, all-seeing orb of the sun, to you I call!
Be witness to the praise I offer
to he who bestowed upon us
all the Arts, the Cunning and the Reason.
And to him from which all these Blessings have a source.
To him siring over the eternal spark,
who keeps and rouses the creative fire.
To him who sits upon the anvil,
throne of the starry palace of creation,
amidst brazen stars, and golden maids.
He who carries Hammer and Tongs,
And creates the Cosmos we now behold.

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