Cronus’ son, whom you dethroned O Zeus
Into exile: preserving for your use
His throne, his kingdom of the worlds of men
Not dreaming that the cycle might again
Repeat itself: the son usurp the sire.
For who could counter Zeus’ lightning fire?
Yea who? But someone may: this is Zeus’ thought
As Cronus feared: although it served him nought.
So, although Zeus be powerful, supreme
And lives in grandeur like a fairy-dream
To live and work upon Olympic heights
Disporting with the gods who fought his fights
Against the Titan overlords of earth
Against he who devoured sons at birth –
His doubts remain. Prometheus’ second-sight
In striking visions foretold that his might
Would overthrown be. By who? And when?
The Titan wouldn’t say: protecting them
Those tribes of men he knew that Zeus would slay
At once if that prolonged imperial sway.
Prometheus – the ever-friend of man
Their teacher, helper, advocate began
Making excuses plausible. But Zeus
Would have them them not. Spurning all thought of truce
With base dissembling, ordered that he speak
All that he knew: what future for Zeus bleak
Did Fates ordain? What prophesy of him?
Prometheus’ lips were silent – and the silence grim.
He knew what Zeus would do: was not his sire
And brothers wrapped in chains by Zeus’ ire>
Another – dearest Atlas – the whole world
Upon his back still bears. And Zeus had hurled
His Titan kin to Tartaros in chains.
The Titan knew Zeus’ guile. And thus retains
His mute defiance: locked within his heart
The prophesy which Fate would him impart
To trusted mortals at a proper time
To those who reverence his words sublime.
For Fate him shewed – he saw! – Zeus thrown down
By someone low of birth, without renown
Born like a Son of Man, yet Son of God
Who Zeus – and every god – did then down-trod
And nullified their powers with his own
And made the world a footstool for His throne
Their glories all eclipsed by His alone.
Enraged, Zeus threw the Titan from the rock
From Olympus. The world beneath that shock
Was rent. Zeus’ anger rose with one desire
To pin the Titan down with levin-fire!
He’s soon subdued – the supine foe you made
A captive. Carried to Caucasus, laid
Enchained to mountain roots. Each day your bird –
Jove’s eagle – came. Unless he spoke the word
Revealing everything from you concealed
His torture would continue unrepealed.
The eagle’s beak would tear open his skin
To tear his liver, dripping, out again
Each day. The Titan’s ichor on the stones
Dropped as he writhed and filled the air with groans.
Prometheus would amply then repent
And tell Zeus all his vision heaven-sent!
Prometheus was stronger than Zeus knew:
And kept his secret hidden, safe and true
Locked deep within his mind. Zeus never found
Out any more. At times on hallowed ground
Atop Olympus, doubts and fevered dreams
Would plague his rest. One night to him it seems
His might deserts him. No crown on his head!
Another wears it enthroned in his stead!
Awake in dire alarm – Zeus in the night
Would pace. And ponder. What his cause for fright?
None to his certain knowledge. Nagging doubt
Arises: so what is this all about?
And patient time thus lulls him to forget
Prometheus – still chained below. And yet
The Fates are active: weaving many threads
Of gods and men. Ordaining where they’re led
Until their time is done. Atropos’ shears
At once ends struggle, and regret, and fears.