The Humbling of Prometheus

In olden days when all the gods still walked
On mounts of Earth and played and laid and talked,
When every word was sure accounted for,
Reward and retribution held in store
To recompense with action every deed,
And misplaced word that malice dared to breed;
In those days cunning lifted up its eyes
And dared behold and beholding despise
The god of heaven, great and mighty Zeus,
And for this folly the god’s wrath did loose.

Fool Prometheus thought his wits could beat
The king of heaven, so he thought to cheat
Him of his portion, so he divided
Good from bad and by deceit misguided
Zeus the king, for the ox’s white bones he wrapped
And cased them in a coat of gleaming fat.
The portion of the bones in size outstripped
The marbled meat, whose portion size was clipped.
And Zeus, equitable, beheld the pair
And charged Prometheus they were unfair.

But Iapetos’ son, his reverence feigned,
Spoke the truth, deceiving when Zeus he claimed
The greatest of immortal gods to be;
And gave to Zeus the choice and bowed the knee.
But Zeus knew guile and the plan suspected,
And means devised that it be detected.
And Zeus the king, the fatted portion seized
And when he proved the trick he was not pleased,
And seethed in anger, and within he raged,
His wrath was fixed, and would not be assuaged.

And then as thunder did Zeus’ voice ring out
And sentence certain with no shred of doubt
He gave to Iapetos’ son the clever.
“Why, friend, your tricks, you forget them never!”
From wretched men, friends of Prometheus,
He withheld fire, and so punished them thus.
But Iapetos’ son, he again deceived,
And so the final punishment received.
And this time Zeus found a reward the worse,
A fitting, proper, and eternal curse.

For men he fashioned women to be wives,
To vex and to plague them all of their lives,
They’d help the men never when destitute,
But when men were rich, they’d share for to loot.
If men were crafty, avoiding this fate,
Then when they were old, no children would wait
On them, and feeble they’d suffer till death
Took from them their last and belabored breath.
And men loved the curse that Zeus had rendered,
To Love that’s cruel, they gladly surrendered.

But Prometheus, who was wise and kind,
He received his reward, for Zeus did bind
Him with chains around a mighty pillar,
And set an eagle to eat his liver.
And his liver grew again every night,
And so again each day befell this plight
Upon Iapetos’ son, whose knavery
Could not withstand the strength or bravery
Of Zeus the Thunderer and heaven’s king,
Who in might and wisdom did justice bring.