Friday, October 20, 2006

Indicative or Imperative?

In Prometheus Bound, toward the end of P.'s first speech, just after he has been chained to the desolate cliff, he hears something approaching on wings, and, not able to see that it is the chorus, he is struck with fear. In fact, his speech ends at line 127 (by Griffith's text) with the declaration: πᾶν μοι φοβερὸν τὸ προσέρπον, everything that approaches is fearful to me. The sound of beating wings is perhaps especially frightening, if P. is anticipating the arrival of vultures or eagles. At line 119, still unsure about the identity of his visitor, but certain that he is being watched, P. says:

ὁρᾶτε δεσμώτην με δύσποτμον θεόν

I had read ὁρᾶτε as imperative without a second thought, thus yielding: look at me, a god, imprisoned and ill-fated. But in his commentary, Griffith suggests that it is probably indicative rather than imperative. In this case it would read: you are looking at me, a god, imprisoned and ill-fated. The situation seemed to me to call for an imperative, but after thinking about Griffith's reading for a while, I have also come to prefer it. The indicative seems to convey a sense of self-consciousness and humiliation that is also manifest later in his interaction with Ocean. For instance, at line 298, in response to Ocean's arrival, he says: καὶ σὺ δὴ πόνων ἐμῶν ἥκεις ἐπόπτης; So you too have come as a spectator of my misfortunes? And just a few lines later, at 302: ἦ θεωρήσων τύχας ἐμὰς ἀφῖξαι καὶ συνασχαλῶν κακοῖς; What, have you come in order to see my fortunes and sympathize with my woes?


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