Prometheus has given fire and useful arts to humanity. For this, and for not revealing to Zeus which among his consorts will give birth to the son that destroys him, Zeus orders his henchmen Force and Violence and the god Hephaestus to chain Prometheus to a rock. Prometheus’ punishment reveals Zeus’s insecurity as founder of the new Olympian dynasty.
Io, a nymph who is another victim of Zeus, appears in the form of a heifer. To avoid discovery of his affair with Io, Zeus had transformed her thus, but his wife Hera had known of the seduction and sent a stinging gadfly to pursue the maiden. Prometheus tells Io of the sufferings she must yet face and how Hera, will continue to persecute her before she ultimately finds contentment.
Hermes, traditionally Zeus’s messenger but here his lackey, enters arrogantly to demand the consort’s name from Prometheus. Prometheus bravely refuses, though his decision will mean punishment from Zeus’s eagle, which will daily devour the Titan’s liver. The final scene contains violent earthquakes, windstorms, thunder, and lightning, all meant to terrify the unyielding Prometheus.
The play concludes as Prometheus asks his goddess-mother to witness the injustice of his sufferings, though it seems Prometheus and Zeus resolved their arguments in the final plays of the trilogy. Prometheus, by modern interpretation, can be a savior, creator, victim, prophet, angel, thief, or rebel. In the Middle...
(The entire section is 503 words.)