Prometheus Bound

by Aeschylus

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One of the questions raised by Prometheus Bound pertains to the meaning of justice and the power to make and enforce laws. Most readers would agree that Prometheus does no wrong in helping a suffering humanity which Zeus seems prepared to allow to perish. From Zeus's point of view, though, Prometheus seems a rebel, going behind his ruler's back and against his wishes. Have you encountered a similar situation in literature, a story from the news, or an episode from your life, one in which two different value systems compete to create an ethical dilemma? How would you make such a decision? More specifically, what criteria would you use to help you arrive at an ethical decision?

Consider the issue of gender in Greek mythology and the ways it presents images of men and women. For example, both Prometheus and Io suffer because of Zeus, but the Titan, active, suffers as a consequence of his action, while Io, passive, suffers because Zeus finds her sexually attractive. Compare Io to Earth, who seems knowing and sympathetic. Or research other versions of the Prometheus myth. Based on further research into classical culture, how do Greek myths represent women? Men?

In addition to fire, Prometheus Bound says that the Titan brought many gifts to humanity, including mathematics, language, medicine, and agriculture. Myths like this serve to explain the origins of a society, how it began and evolved. Study the role of mythology in creating social and cultural identity and as a vehicle of history and spirituality.

Consider the the tale of Prometheus Bound from Zeus's point of view. How might he view Prometheus's rebellion, his interference with humanity, his threats? Can you present an image of Zeus that justifies Prometheus's imprisonment?

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