Prometheus Bound (Dover Thrift Editions)

Prometheus Bound (Dover Thrift Editions)

Language: English

Pages: 64

ISBN: 0486287629

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Greek legend, Prometheus was the Titan who, against the will of Zeus, stole fire from the gods for the benefit of man. His terrible punishment by Zeus, and his continuing defiance of Zeus in the face of that punishment, remain universal symbols of man's vulnerability in any struggle with the gods.
In the epic drama Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus (c. 525–456 BC), first of the three great Greek tragic poets, re-creates this legendary conflict between rebellious subject and vengeful god. Chained for eternity to a barren rock, his flesh repeatedly torn by a ravaging eagle, Prometheus defends his championship of mankind, rejoicing in the many gifts of language and learning he has given man despite Zeus's cruel opposition.
Inspired by Prometheus's spirit, Aeschylus reaches beyond the myth to create one of literature's most gripping portrayals of man's inhumanity to man. How Prometheus clings to his convictions and braves his harsh fate give Prometheus Bound its extraordinary vitality and appeal. For over 2,000 years, this masterpiece of drama has held audiences enthralled. It is reprinted here in its entirety from the translation by George Thomson.

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shifting shapes, their long lives ran their course in meaningless confusion. They had no knowledge of brick houses built to face the sun. They knew no carpentry. Like ants, they burrowed underground and dwelt in sunless caves. They could not tell with certainty the approach of winter, or of flowery spring, or summer with its fruits. Their every act was without purpose, until I showed them the rising and the setting of the stars, not easy to discern. And numbers, too, the subtlest

again into the light, and Zeus’s wingéd hound, a scarlet eagle, will carve your body into ragged shreds of flesh. He will return, day in, day out, as an unbidden guest, to feast upon your blackened liver. And to this pain do not expect a limit or an end, until some god appears as a successor to take your tortures as his own and willingly go down into the gloom of Hades and the black depths of Tartaros. Make your decision in the light of that! These are no boastful threats but true

Classical Theater from August 29 to September 28, 2013. THIS IS A NEW YORK REVIEW BOOK PUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS 435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 www.nyrb.com Copyright © 2014 by Joel Agee All rights reserved. Cover illustration: Dirck van Baburen, Prometheus Chained by Vulcan, 1623; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Cover design: Katy Homans Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Aeschylus, author. [Prometheus bound. English] Prometheus bound / by Aeschylus

is at odds with the heartfelt emotion he professes as his reason for coming. But when he gets to the point, his words are disarming: “So tell me how I can help you.” Perhaps he is sincere, and perhaps he was sent by Zeus. The two possibilities are not incompatible. Whatever the case, Prometheus does not respond warmly. Okeanos is the prototype of the friend in high office who is eager to help but compromised by self-interest. He considers himself a realist and Prometheus the victim of his own

just give up his stubbornness, weigh his options, and make the only reasonable choice. Of all his arguments, this is the most insidious, because the most “reasonable.” Any character in a Greek drama depicting a justly ordered world would be well advised to take Hermes’ suggestion to heart. That is why the Chorus, terrified for their friend, implore him: “Heed his words! It’s shameful for the wise to dwell in error!” But the world of this play is a tyranny. Conventional wisdom has lost its

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