(1851) is a blank verse translation by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
of the Greek tragedy by Aeschylus
. Browning first published a translation of Aeschylus' drama in 1833 under the encouragement of Hugh Stuart Boyd
, a scholar of Greek who had gone blind by the time he met her. In 1850, Browning retranslated the play, published the thoroughly revised version in 1851.
Events in the drama focus upon the binding of the immortal Titan Prometheus as punishment for aiding mankind, against the wishes of the supreme god Zeus, who had determined to destroy the human race. During the play, Prometheus is visited by the god Oceanus and his daughters, the Ocean nymphs, who express sorrow and sympathy over the Titan's predicament. The underlying theme of the play examines the justness of suffering and the apparent arbitrariness of the supreme god's actions in assignment of eternal punishment upon Prometheus.
WE reach the utmost limit of the earth,
The Scythian track, the desert without man,—
And now, Hephæstus, thou must needs fulfill
The mandate of our father, and, with links
Indissoluble of adamantine chains,
Fasten against this beetling precipice,
This guilty god! Because he filched away
Thine own bright flower, the glory of plastic fire,
And gifted mortals with it,—such a sin,
It doth behoove he expiate to the gods,
And learn free service to the rule of Zeus,
And leave disused his trick of loving man.
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Published January 13, 1898 on the front page of the Paris daily, L'Aurore, J'accuse was written by Émile Zola, an influential French novelist, as an open letter to Félix Faure, President of the French Republic, and accuses the government of anti-Semitism in the Dreyfus Affair.
Would you allow me, in my gratitude for the benevolent reception that you made me one day, to draw the attention of your rightful glory and to tell you that your star, if happy up to now, is threatened by great shame, by the most ineffaceable of blemishes?
You have remained healthy and free of base calumnies; you have conquered hearts. You appear radiant in the apotheosis of the patriotic festival that the Russian alliance was for France, and you prepare to govern the solemn triumph of our World Fair
, which will crown our great century of work, truth and freedom. But what a spot of mud on your name—I was going to say on your reign—is this abominable Dreyfus business! A council of war, under order, has just dared to discharge Esterhazy, completely without any truth, any justice. And it is finished, France has this stain on its cheek, History will write that it is under your presidency that such a social crime could be committed.
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Featured April 2009