Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Infamous Eagle

Toward the end of Prometheus Bound Hermes describes the further punishment that P. will suffer. First, he tells us, Zeus will shatter the cliff with lightning, and entomb his body (reminiscent of Typhos) while he remains chained. It is only then that we finally hear about the infamous eagle which will repeatedly devour P.'s liver (1020-1025):
μακρὸν δὲ μῆκος ἐκτελευτήσας χρόνου
ἄψορρον ἥξεις εἰς φάος: Διὸς δέ τοι
πτηνὸς κύων, δαφοινὸς αἰετός, λάβρως
διαρταμήσει σώματος μέγα ῥάκος,
ἄκλητος ἕρπων δαιταλεὺς πανήμερος,
κελαινόβρωτον δ᾽ ἧπαρ ἐκθοινήσεται.

[And after a long period of time you will come back into the light, and then the winged dog of Zeus, the bloodthristy eagle, will violently shred great chunks of your body, an unwelcome feaster creeping all day long, and will eat at your chewed-black liver.]

The word δαφοινός, according to Griffith, can be taken in three ways. It could mean blood-red or tawny as at Euripides Alcestis 581, where it is used of lions, or at Iliad 2.308: δράκων ἐπὶ νῶτα δαφοινός, a blood-red serpent on the back. This might simply refer to a golden eagle. It could also imply blood-spattered, something like Iliad 16.159: παρήιον αἵματι φοινόν, jaw red with blood. It might also imply blood-thirsty or murderous (see LSJ under φοίνιος II). For this Griffith cites the Hesiodic Shield of Heracles at line 250, where the Κῆρες δαφοιναί are given the description: πᾶσαι δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἵεντο αἵμα μέλαν πιέειν, they were all eager to drink dark blood. There is probably no need to try to pick one of these over the others: all of them contribute nicely to the image here.


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