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SUMMARY OF AESCHYLUS'S PROMETHEUS BOUND The play opens with Prometheus being dragged on stage by Strength, Violence and

d Hephaestus who start to chain him to the rock. The scene is set by Strength who describes the barren landscape of the Caucasus Mountains and explains that Prometheus "the rebel" is being punished by Zeus for disobeying him by giving "all fashioning fire" to humans. Hephaestus says that he finds it hard to treat a fellow immortal with such harshness, but he realises he has no choice, he cannot disobey Zeus. He does his job with a heavy heart and wishes some other had his skills,but he does think that what Prometheus has done was "transgressing right" even though he sympathises with his suffering. He points out that "power newly won is always harsh". Strength sneers at him for being so soft and misguided, and for wasting his time feeling sorry for Prometheus. He warns Hephaestus not to make his sympathy too obvious or he could suffer himself. He drives Hephaestus on to do a thorough job. As they leave, he laughs at the idea of Prometheus being wise and asks where his humans are now when he needs them. Prometheus calls out to the heavens to witness how he has been wronged by Zeus for being "too good a friend to men". He hears a whisper in the air and senses an approach, wondering who comes to gaze at his torments. The chorus, daughters of Oceanus enters and reassures him that they are his friends, he does not need to fear. They are horrified to see his sufferings and say "These are new laws indeed by which Zeus tyrannically rules". They suffer with Prometheus in his pain. Prometheus now reveals that he knows some crucial information which could later on prevent Zeus's downfall, but he will not under any circumstances tell him. The chorus tells him that he is too defiant "There is too much freedom in your words".

Prometheus says that the day will come when Zeus looks to him for help. Asked by the chorus, he tells them how he sided with the gods against the Titans, his own race, and that it was he who appointed Zeus king of the gods. He says that he knew that it would be intelligence rather than brute force that would win out. He asks the chorus to witness the "black ingratitude" of Zeus and to mark that it is a disease of tyrants "too look on all friends with suspicion". He goes on to tell the tale of how he created humans and saving them from ruin. When pushed by the chorus, he admits that he also gave fire to mankind. The chorus are shocked "What? Men whose life is but a day, possess already the hot radiance of fire?" They tell him "Oh you were wrong - do you not see?" But rather than dwelling on this they try to think of some way of delivering him. He receives this idea with scorn, telling them that it's easy for one outside a situation to tell him what to do. "Wrong? I accept the word. I willed, willed to be wrong". Oceanus arrives and also receives a bad-tempered reception, even though he tells Prometheus how much he sympathises with him and how much he admires him. He offers any help he can give. His advice is to "know yourself and take upon yourself new ways to suit the time". Like the chorus, he urges Prometheus not to keep insulting Zeus and uttering threats with a "too proud speaking tongue". Prometheus warns him not to sympathise too much or he may be in danger himself. Oceanus tells him he is a "far more prudent cousellor of others than of yourself". He says he will go to Zeus to negotiate. Prometheus thanks him but tells him not to bother, to keep clear of trouble. He speaks of the other Titans who have suffered at the hands of Zeus, Atlas and Typhon (under Mount Etna who will one day burst out of there). Oceanus reminds him that "anger's a disease which words can heal" but Prometheus tells him that the time is not yet right, and accuses him of foolishness, urging him to go

home "Get out! Be what you are!" Oceanus points out that his winged horse will be glad to lie in his own stable tonight. In the first choral ode, the chorus weeps for the plight of Prometheus and lists all the tribes of the earth who mourn for him. Prometheus assures them that his silence is not out of stubbornness. He goes through all he has done for mankind, and lists the different skills he has taught them (see p. 34-35). "All human skill and science was Prometheus's gift". The chorus urge him to save himself now, but he says that Fate has ordained that this should not happen yet. In the next choral ode, the chorus prays that they may never be crushed by Zeus, that they will always worship the gods with the proper sacrifices. They tell Prometheus that he did not have enough respect for Zeus and respected "too highly the race of mortals.men who live for a daythe helpless infirmity, feeble as a dream which fetters the blind tribes of men". They remember sadly the glad songs they sang at Prometheus's wedding. Next, Io enters. She is a girl with cow's horns in a demented state, pursued by the "gadfly of despair". She cries out in distress and pain. She asks Prometheus to tell her of what is to come for her. He does not want to tell her as he thinks it is better if she does not know, but she is determined. First the chorus asks to hear Io's story. She tells of how Zeus seduced her in her dreams and her father, Inachus was forced to drive her out of the house. She was then given cows' horns and driven mad by being constantly watched by the 10,000 eyed Argus and chased by the gadfly. (This was all on account of Hera's rage.) The chorus is horrified by this cruelty.

Prometheus says there is worse to come for her at Hera's hands. He lists all of the places through which she must yet travel. "Does it not seem to you that this king of the gods in all matters alike is given to violence?" "You are unfortunate, Io, in your lover". He points out when Io wishes she were dead, that at least she has that option, while he does not. When he mentions the possibility that Zeus might fall, she is pleased and asks for more information. He says only that there is a union that might lead to his downfall, but he will not name the woman. He goes on to tell Io that it is a descendant of hers (13 generations on ) who will eventually set him free. (Herakles). He tells more of her journeys and mentions others of her descendants (the Danaeids, 50 sisters who will marry their 50 cousins, sons of Aegyptos. 49 of them will kill their new husbands, but one will not. Io leaves in an agitated state. In the next choral ode, the chorus says that the best rule by far is to marry in one's own rank, they pray that Zeus may never single them out, that marriage only works when it is with an equal. The love of the gods is destructive. Prometheus returns to the fact that he has information about a potentially disastrous union for Zeus, he is triumphalist about this and says that Zeus will eventually learn "how great a chasm lies between ruling and being ruled". The chorus accuse him of wishful thinking and urge him to be more cautious in his words. He says that for great Zeus he cares less than nothing and that he will never fawn upon him.

Hermes enters with a message from Zeus, to tell him what this union is that threatens him. Prometheus insults him, calls him a lickspittle, underling, and servile. He reminds Hermes that his friends' power is young and says that he will never quake before these "upstart gods". Hermes points out where this kind of talk has got him so far. Prometheus says he would rather be chained to a rock than to be servile. Hermes says he must be insane and points out "Now, you free and in power would be unbearable". He cannot believe that Prometheus has not got the common sense to follow a "profitable" course. Prometheus says that no torture will force the information out of him. Hermes says that "obstinacy in a fool has by itself no strength at all". He explains what further suffering Zeus has planned for him: He will be plunged down to the Underworld for a long age and then come back into the light when an eagle will devour his liver daily till one will come to deliver him. He urges Prometheus to take good advice and the chorus agrees with him. Prometheus, however, is adamant "I am one whom he cannot kill". Hermes considers him a lunatic and tells the chorus that they should leave while they can. But they make a passionate speech of loyalty, asserting that they would never desert a friend and despise anyone who would be such a coward. Hermes tells them they have been warned and as he leaves, the ground begins to shake and the earth begins to swallow up Prometheus whose final words are "You see how I am wronged!"