The Suppliants

by Aeschylus
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What do the chorus of suppliant women in The Suppliants have in common with Prometheus?

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Defiance is the key word here. The chorus of Danaids, like Prometheus himself, defy established standards and moral norms through their extraordinary actions. Just as Prometheus defied the gods in stealing fire from them and giving it to humanity, so the chorus of young women in The Suppliants defy the customs of Athenian society by refusing to participate in forced marriages to their Egyptian cousins.

At that time, women had no rights to speak of, not even when it came to their choice of husband. They were expected to do as their menfolk told them to do and silently put up with the consequences. But not the chorus of Danaids in The Suppliants. Fearing a fate worse than death, they flee from Egypt, seeking protection from King Pelasgus of Argos.

Once the fifty maidens reach the city, a further parallel between the Danaids and Prometheus can be observed. Prometheus achieved lasting renown among the people for giving them the gift of fire. And the Danaids are similarly lauded by the people of Argos for bravely escaping the clutches of their Egyptian cousins. For it is the people of Argos who decide that the Danaids will stay within their city walls, safe and protected from their irate cousins.

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