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Why is the Prometheus myth important for Romanticism?

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nastasja | Student | eNoter

Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:11 PM via web

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Why is the Prometheus myth important for Romanticism?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 4, 2011 at 12:34 AM (Answer #1)

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On some levels, the myth of Prometheus is important for Romantic thinkers because it affirms the power of the individuals.  In Greek Mythology, the mortals were completely subservient to the immortal Gods.  Humans were rather insignificant in terms of the power relationship in the likes of Zeus, Hera, Apollo, and Athena.  In the myth of Prometheus, this relationship is altered, as an immortal, Prometheus, helps the human beings achieve something that the Gods possess.  Fire and the knowledge to use it is an element from the Gods to the mortals.  The myth endorses the potential power of the individual.  It is in this light that the Romantic thinkers embrace Prometheus.  The fact that individual subjectivity is worthy of receiving primacy, and the fact that individuals do possess some capacity on the same level as the divine are Romantic elements.  Romantic thinkers were convinced that individual subjective consciousness, the notion of "self," should not be repressed nor should it be contained.  It is in this light that Romantic thinkers would have found the myth of Prometheus important.  Additionally, the character of Prometheus is one that appeals to the Romantic thinker. The Romanticist, convinced that how the world should operate is distinctly different from how it is, would believe in the Prometheus myth.  As a character, Prometheus sacrifices greatly for his creation, mankind.  Due to this, he is made to suffer, yet does not show regret for his sacrifice for humanity, a characteristic appealing to Romantic thought.

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