AeschylusÐ²Ð‚™ tragedy, Prometheus Bound, is an interesting example of AristotleÐ²Ð‚™s tragedy because it encompasses a godÐ²Ð‚™s own reversal leading to suffering brought upon his fellow gods. Prometheus Bound is the story of the god Prometheus and the events that follow after he disobeys the new ruler, Zeus, by granting gifts of survival, namely fire, to humankind. Catharsis is found in the play because the audience pities Prometheus for having to suffer for an act of kindness. Prometheus Bound combines hamartia with catharsis because of the intentions of the hero and its elements of AristotleÐ²Ð‚™s tragedy.
PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ hamartia is brought on because of his error in judgment by granting the gift of fire to the humans against ZeusÐ²Ð‚™ will. Prometheus was a god that created mankind and, in order to ensure its survival, tried to protect them. His hamartia fits in AristotleÐ²Ð‚™s definition of tragedy because Prometheus is the perfect example of a god in ultimate happiness on Mount Olympus literally falling to Earth to be chained to the side of a mountain. Hermes references PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ hamartia as the source of his downfall by saying, Ð²Ð‚ÑšOnly your own folly will entangle you in the inextricable net of destructionÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (52). Prometheus has no proud characteristic like hubris but merely makes a mistake by disobeying the ruler of the gods. Prometheus is morally innocent because he committed a selfless, kind act but must be punished for failing to recognize what his actions would cause.
Every tragedy, according to Aristotle, must contain a reversal, discovery and suffering and, in Prometheus Bound, PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ reversal is the unintended results his action causes followed by his discovery. Prometheus intends to help mankind by committing a selfless act but instead causes his own destruction. The situation is ironic because Prometheus gets in trouble for doing something good but suffers because the people he aides are the ones who cannot help him. In the beginning of the play, the character Strength that carries him to the mountain says, Ð²Ð‚ÑšStay there, and swell with upstart arrogance; and steal the privileges of gods to give to mortal men. How are your mortals going to cut this knot for you?...Wisdom is just the thing you want if youÐ²Ð‚™ve a mindÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (23). PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ hamartia causes this reversal because his error in judgment results in an unintended way. PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ discovery is part of the plot as the audience, and not necessarily Prometheus, realizes that Prometheus has caused the action of the play because of too much love for his creation. His physical and emotional ties to mankind cause him to ignore the reality of the gods and ignite ZeusÐ²Ð‚™ wrath.
The final step of the character in a tragedy is defined by Aristotle as his pathos, or suffering, and in Prometheus Bound, Prometheus suffers greatly for his hamartia. PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ and most other tragic charactersÐ²Ð‚™ suffering is pitied because their hamartia is usually an unintended act and, in this situation, PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™ mistake was a morally innocent one. PrometheusÐ²Ð‚™
Analysis of Prometheus Bound
- Length: 1443 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Like other works of the Classical Age, Prometheus Bound doesn't begin in the beginning but leaps in medias res ("into the middle of things"), just as Prometheus, a defiant demigod, is brought in chains to be fettered to a desolate mountain crag. For the modern reader - as opposed to an Aeschylian audience, who would have already been familiar with the plot - a bit of background is in order.
Prometheus was a god from the old order, the Titans, who had now all been overthrown by a group of young upstarts, the Olympians (all except for Prometheus, that is). Rather than go down in honor, this half-god Prometheus, in order to avoid further violence, chose to desert the Olympian forces. In fact, he was instrumental in Zeus' usurpation of the throne from the old Titan king Chronus. In the new order, Zeus stood as chief god.
Now one of Zeus' first objectives was to destroy the rice of men, who, until then, had been a primitive, unenlightened and miserable lot. Zeus' intent was to replace mankind with a new, more noble race, servile to the gods' every whim.
When the destructive proclamation went out, however, Prometheus alone objected to Zeus' heartless proposal. He saw in man a spark of divine promise that even the gods might envy, and in order to save the human race, he willingly and courageously committed a crime: he brought fire down from heaven and taught the mortals how to use it. Furthermore, he tutored them in practical arts, applied sciences and philosophy, so that he might edify, ennoble and empower them.
But these saving acts were deemed highly treasonous; such knowledge in the hands of mortals threatened to put them on an equal footing with the gods themselves. Furious, Zeus commanded the Olympian blacksmith god of fire, Hephaestus, and the gods of Might and Force, Kratos and Bia, to seize Prometheus and shackle him to a barren mountainside. But Hephaestus approached his task halfheartedly. He had been taught to respect deity and he sympathized with Prometheus - after all, it didn't seem right that a divine being should suffer such abuse. The exchange between Hephaestus and Might (Kratos) showed clearly their separate sentiments.
Compassion will not move the mind of Zeus:
All monarchs new to power show brutality ....
How bitterly I hate any craftsman's cunning now! ...
Prometheus! I lament your pain .
How to Cite this Page
| Character Analysis: Zeus and Prometheus Essay - Basically we have two myths here, each about Prometheus. The stories basically both agree that Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man against Zeus’ approval. Though Prometheus is considered a trickster and stole fire, his real crime is a disobedience to Zeus. However, in that statement it is hard to consider caring for man or humans a crime. It is obvious in both stories that Zeus’ reign is sovereign, and Prometheus went against Zeus’ sovereignty. However, what Prometheus did was good for the human race.... [tags: Mythology ]|
:: 1 Works Cited
| Mary Shelley´s Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus, an Analysis of the Subtitle - ... Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley being the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin was, as a matter of course, part of the educated class and as a consequence aware of diverse scientists4. Shelley’s inspiration to write “Frankenstein” may have been triggered during an excursion with her Husband. In 1817 Mary and Percy Shelley visited Castle Frankenstein, on the Rhine, where they heard a story about a resident who lived 100 years ago. It seemed that he was a scientist5 and has tried, by using alchemy, to bring corpses back to life.... [tags: greek myth, victor]|
:: 8 Works Cited
| Shelly versus Shelley: Critiques of the Romantic Ego Essay examples - Both Percy and Mary Shelley had written a different interpretation of the Prometheus myth; with Percy’s Prometheus Unbound and Mary’s Frankenstein. Both of these works had examples that showed how the characters projected themselves into other beings. It could be interpreted that Mary had the intention to criticize the way a strong feeling of wishing something that is beyond the laws of the natural world to happen is without regard for the consequences that could occur as a result. These outcomes cannot be planned or controlled.... [tags: Prometheus Myth, Frankenstein, Literary Analysis]|
:: 2 Works Cited
|Sophocles' Antigone, Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, Jean Anouilh's Antigone and Ridley Scott's Blad - Sophocles' Antigone, Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, Jean Anouilh's Antigone and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner The representative population of a community is not comfortable when confronted by an individual who defies the laws that bind them. Whether or not the laws or the powers behind them are just, the populace must deal with any challenge to their authority. In some cases, the community, fearful of a powerful regime, will side with that power and avoid the risks associated with rebellion.... [tags: Prometheus Bound Antigone Blade Runner]||3205 words|
| Overview: Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus Essay - Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound portrays a greek god detained by a superior for disobedience against the latter’s rule. On the other hand in Euripides’ Hippolytus portrays lust and vengeance of the gods and the extent that they can go to to avenge it. In Prometheus Bound, all the characters are keenly aware of the power of Zeus: his name is invoked as the one who decided on the punishment for Prometheus and his wrath is sensed by the others. For example, Prometheus describes Zeus as “hard-hearted” and “in constant anger with an unbending mind”.... [tags: Zeus, euripides]|
:: 1 Works Cited
|Prometheus Bound Essay - Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound conveys the ambiguity of fate through its protagonist, Prometheus, and the abuse of his foresight. Despite being confined and tortured at the top of a mountain, Prometheus adamantly reassures himself that he will be set free. As Prometheus is in pain, he says it will be “smoothed quite away,” this prophesizes Zeus having to forcibly reconcile with Prometheus. This also proves Prometheus unrelenting in his efforts to face challenge. Zeus mistakes Prometheus’ intelligence for hubris, and this is why he plans to keep him shackled for eternity.... [tags: Mythology]||693 words|
|Comparing Prometheus Bound and Hesiod's Prometheus Essay - Prometheus Bound and Hesiod's Prometheus Prometheus Bound is quite different from other tragedies in that it is peopled entirely by gods. The play focuses on the story of Prometheus, and we have versions of this myth in Hesiod's famous works. There is reason to think that the author of Prometheus Bound was not only acquainted with Hesiod's version but actually drew on Hesiod directly in this play. This essay therefore aims to establish in what ways the author of Prometheus Bound seems to have drawn from Hesiod's version of myth, in what ways he has diverged from it, and what reasons he might have had for making these changes and innovations.... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]||3393 words|
|Heroism in Prometheus Bound and Paradise Lost Essay examples - Heroism in Prometheus Bound and Paradise Lost Heroism, the act of exhibiting noble or self-sacrificing conduct, and the appearance of heroism are two nearly indistinguishable manners. Their difference is the amount of depth contained, in definition. Heroism is an occupation. In determining if a character is heroic, the commentator must know the character’s intentions, manners, and desires. The appearance of heroism is a quality. To determine an appearance, the reader can use one piece of information to decide if a character appears heroic.... [tags: Papers]||631 words|
| The Fate of Prometheus Essay - The Fate of Prometheus “Ah me, alas, pain, pain ever, forever. / No change, no pause, no hope. – Yet I endure” (I, 23-24) – such are the words of Prometheus, when in desperation and overwhelmed by emotion, his thoughts dissolve in sheer agony and turn to himself, away from the Mighty God whose “ill tyranny” has nailed him to the “eagle-baffling mountain” (I, 19-20). In his essay, Prometheus: The Romantic Revolutionary, Northrop Frye observes that “pain is the condition which keeps Prometheus conscious” (96), because in reflection, he is confronted with himself, and his sense of self and being.... [tags: Prometheus]|
:: 4 Works Cited
| Essay on Prometheus - Prometheus Prometheus, the Titan of Greek mythology, was considered to be the most important Titan ever in all the myths. He helped the human race tremendously in his efforts to sustain an easier lifestyle. Mankind had great respect for him because of his advantages and gifts or abilities he gave them. Also, his battle against Zeus as a result of his love for man was very much appreciated. Prometheus was one of the most interesting Greek mythology figures in his time. He was a very kind, loving, generous, and courteous god to mankind.... [tags: Prometheus Greek Mythology Essays]|
:: 5 Works Cited
Prometheus Go Down Zeus Human Race Titan Spark Medias Throne Envy Chains
Might stood by complaining of Hephaestus' delay, and demanding full punishment:
Now do your work - enough of useless pitying.
How can you fail to loathe this god whom all gods hate,
Who has betrayed to man the prize that was your right? ...
The hammer! Strike, and rivet hurt against the rock! ...
Teach this clever one he is less wise than Zeus.
Now take your wedge of steel and with its cruel point
Transfix him! Drive it through his breast with all your strength!
Hephaestus had no choice but to comply with his orders; and tied with bonds "as strong as adamant," Prometheus was left alone on the jagged face of the cliff. Before departing, the mighty Kratos hurled one last taunt at the Titan god, asking how his human friends could help him now, and chuckling at the foolish Titans who had named him Prometheus, "the Forethinker." It seemed now, Kratos pointed out, that Prometheus required a higher intelligence to do his thinking for him.
The captive god called upon the wind, the waters, mother earth, and the sun to look on him and see how gods tortured a god. He was puzzled that he should be punished simply for loving mankind.
Next, Prometheus received separate visits from three characters - Oceanos (Prometheus’ brother), Io, and Hermes.
Oceanus came with a plan. He would go before Zeus and convey his brother's sorrow and plead for forgiveness. He reasoned that if an apology were offered, and if the captive Titan subjected himself to Zeus' sovereignty, Prometheus might be granted a pardon. But Prometheus was outraged at this proposal; he was a god, and would not stoop to such an apology. Had not Zeus been the true traitor? Had he not betrayed and bound a fellow god? Oceanos begged his brother to allow him at least a word with Zeus on his behalf, but Prometheus dismissed his offer, calling it a "useless effort" and claiming that if Oceanos tried to intervene, he too would be in danger of punishment for siding with a rebel.
Before his reluctant withdrawal, Oceanos chastised his brother for his arrogance and warned that he would someday be sorry for it. Prometheus responded that he would rather suffer forever than beg for the forgiveness of Zeus.
Io, the daughter of Inachus, a river god, was the next to pass. Zeus had once tried to seduce the lovely Io, but Hera, his jealous wife, had discovered her husband's intentions and turned poor Io into a cow, left to wander about the earth, constantly pursued and tormented by the gadfly. Io complained about her unhappy fate. Prometheus only responded with fresh lamentations on his own misery. Finally, though, he offered Io some consolation: he revealed, through prophetic knowledge, the time and day when she would be restored to her true form. Io pled for Prometheus to tell her more, but he would divulge only this: Zeus would one day give her back her beauty, and she would bear Zeus a son. After three generations had passed, one of this offspring' s descendants (Hercules) would rise up and overpower Zeus, and finally free Prometheus from his mountain isolation.
No sooner did the Titan finish imparting this information, than the gadfly renewed his torment or poor Io, driving her off in a frenzy.
Now Prometheus had openly denounced Zeus and had predicted his downfall. This blasphemous invective did not go unheard by the chief god, who dispatched the messenger Hermes both to rebuke Prometheus and to inquire after the meaning of his prophecies.
This third visitor questioned Prometheus concerning the report that one of Zeus' own descendants would someday usurp him. Exactly who would bear the child? What would be the child's name? Prometheus, more bitter than ever, scornfully refused to answer any of these questions. Rather, in a brilliant and biting exchange, he belittled Hermes as nothing more than a puppet-slave to Zeus: "I'd rather suffer here in freedom than be a slave to Zeus as you are."
Hermes: Your words declare you mad.
Prometheus: Yes, if it's madness to detest my foes.
Hermes: No one could bear you in success.
Hermes: Alas! Zeus does not know that word.
Prometheus: Time in its aging course teaches all things.
Hermes: But you have not yet learned a wise discretion.
Prometheus: True, or I would not speak so to a servant.
With this, Hermes made off in a huff, quickly retreating from the revenge he knew would arrive forthwith on the proud captive; and indeed Prometheus' fate was soon sealed. The enraged Zeus sent a thunderbolt hurtling down to shatter the cliff, and with blasts of wind, opened an abyss-dungeon deep within the trembling earth. Thus damned, Prometheus was thrust down to this hellish punishment - until the time should come for his escape.
This simple yet compelling drama is almost devoid of action, but full of reflection and ideas. For this reason, it has enjoyed more success as a dramatic poem than as a play - a work to be read rather than staged.
It is quite natural for the reader to sympathize with Prometheus here, and to see Zeus as a pitiless, imperious young tyrant, more concerned with suppressing insubordination than with the general welfare of his subjects. We ought to remember, however, that Prometheus Bound is only the first in a trilogy. The Zeus depicted in the second play, Prometheus Unbound, is far less stern; he reconciles with Prometheus and frees him.
Those who denounce Governments and other institutions as oppressors of the individual have frequently used the plots of these plays as figurative evidence. For instance, a scientist who uncovers a principle that appears to contradict established religious or scientific tenets could identify with Prometheus when his findings are ridiculed or suppressed.
Prometheus, a god made subject to suffering by the pettiness of gods, is symbolic of man's petty inhumanity to man. Even as the figure of Prometheus, with the daughters of Oceanos around him, sinks out of sight, he cries out:
Ocean and sky are one great chaos!
So mighty a gale comes only from Zeus:
He sends it to rouse wild fear in my heart ....
O glorious mother, O sky that sends
The racing sun to give all thing s light,
You see what injustice I suffer!