In those days when Prometheus had just given fire to men and when he was first bound to the rocky peak on Caucasus, he had a strange visitor. A distracted fleeing creature came clambering awkwardly up over the cliffs and crags to where he lay. It looked like a heifer, but talked like a girl who seemed mad with misery. The sight of Prometheus stopped her short. She cried,
This that I see----
A form storm –beaten,
Bound to the Rock.
Did you do wrong?
Is this your punishment?
Where am I?
Speak to a wretched wanderer.
Enough – I have been tried enough –
My wandering – long wandering.
Yet I have found nowhere
To leave my misery.
I am a girl who speaks to you,
But horns are on my head.
Prometheus recognized her. He knew her story and he spoke her name.
I know you, girl, Inachus’ daughter, Io.
You made the god’s heart hot with love’
and Hera hates you. She it is
Who drives you on this flight that never ends.
Wonder checked Io’ s frenzy. She stood still, all amazed. Her name – spoken by this strange being in this strange, lonely place! She begged,
Who are you, sufferer, that speaks the truth
To one who suffers?
And he answered,
You see Prometheus who gave mortals fire.
She knew him, then and his story.
You – he who succored the whole race of men?
You, that Prometheus, the daring, the enduring?
They talked freely to each other. He told her how Zeus had treated him, and she told him that Zeus was the reason why she, once a princess and a happy girl, had been changed into..
A beast, a starving beast,
That frenzied runs with clumsy leaps and bounds.
Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera, was the direct cause of her misfortunes, but back of them all was Zeus himself. He fell in love with her, and send
Ever to my maiden chamber
Visions of the night
Persuading me with gentle words:
“Oh, happy, happy girl,
Why are you all too long a maid?
The arrow of desire has pierced Zeus
For you he is on fire.
With you it is his will to capture love.”
Always, each night, such dreams possessed me.
Io told Prometheus..
He drives me all along the long sea strand,
I may not stop for food or drink,
He will not let me sleep.
Prometheus tried to confort her, but he could point her only to the distant future. What lay immediately before her was still more wandering and in fearsome lands. To be sure, the part of the sea she first ran alongin her frenzy would be called Ionian after her, and the Bosphurus, which means the ford of the cow, would preserve the memory of when she went through it, but her real consolation must be that at long last she would reach the Nile, where Zeus would restore her to her human form. She would bear him a son named Epaphus, and live forever after happy and honored.