Prometheus Bound

Definition

Theater

  • A tragedy by Aeschylus, the first part of a tetralogythat was first performed in about 460 BC. The work was controversialduring its day for presenting Zeus as a tyrant. The plot centres onPrometheus, bound to a rock for stealing fire from heaven for mankind.Although he faces the implacable power of Zeus and is tormented byan eagle that continually feasts on his liver, Prometheus remainsdefiant.

    Prometheus Bound is an unusually static play, featuringa motionless hero and little action; long expository speeches areexchanged between Prometheus and such visitors as a chorus of seanymphs, their father Oceanus, the "cow-headed" goddessIo, and Hermes. It also poses a number of questions about Greek stagingconventions. The play calls for a rugged mountain locale, which isdestroyed by an earthquake in the final scene. Some scholars believea special mountain-cliff set was built and tipped over during theearthquake scene, some think the skene was already in useat this early date and decorated to suggest mountains, while othersargue that the earthquake was conveyed by the spoken lines alone.

    Aeschylus continued the story in The Loosing of Prometheusand (it is thought) Prometheus the Firebearer, neither of whichsurvives. In these plays, Heracles shoots the tormenting eagle andfrees Prometheus, who is then reconciled with Zeus.

    Prometheus Unbound (1820) was the title of a closetdrama by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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