Summary

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 394

The play opens with Prometheus bound to the rock where Jupiter left him to have his flesh torn and eaten by birds, day after day. He said that Jupiter, the king of the gods, could not subdue Prometheus, no matter what he did. Mercury arrives to tell him to make...

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The play opens with Prometheus bound to the rock where Jupiter left him to have his flesh torn and eaten by birds, day after day. He said that Jupiter, the king of the gods, could not subdue Prometheus, no matter what he did. Mercury arrives to tell him to make peace with Jupiter; the Furies show him that now, instead of only being tortured by the birds, he has to live with knowing that Earth is under siege by evil from within men. They call Prometheus the "champion of Heaven's slaves" because he loves humanity. This is mental torture instead of physical torture and one that is much harder for him to endure. Still, he believes he can endure and insists that he doesn't want anything living—including Jupiter—to suffer.

Asia, Prometheus's love, and her sister, Panthea, discuss dreams that Panthea had. In one of them, Prometheus was set free, and this resulted in love coming back into the world. The two travel together until they reach the cave of the Demogorgon. When the Demogorgon asks what they want to know, it tells Asia and Panthea that Prometheus only wanted Jupiter to not only rule over men but give them freedom as well. Jupiter, however, released a series of ills into the world. Prometheus gave man fire—knowledge—and they were able to do a variety of things with this. This is why Jupiter punished him. The Demogorgon, Asia, Panthea, and the Spirit of Destiny go into a cloud; at this point, Asia grows in beauty and love until she is like a goddess.

Jupiter is holding court and explaining that he has finally gained all the power in the universe. He's won everything but the souls of men. The Demogorgon—a child of Jupiter—arrives and pulls Jupiter down from Heaven. To those watching, it looks like Jupiter fell in the embrace of an eagle. This restores free will to mankind.

Hercules unchains Prometheus. Once free, he declares that he, Asia, and her sisters will watch over mankind yet remain separate from them. He predicts that men will only grow in love and utility. The world becomes more lush, softer, warmer, and kinder now that Jupiter is dethroned. The moon is even thawed. The Demogorgon announces that Love rules all now, because Prometheus was freed and the world is better for it.

The Poem

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 908

Prometheus, the benefactor of humankind, is bound to a rocky cliff by order of Jupiter, who is jealous of the Titan’s power. Three thousand years of torture Prometheus suffers there, while an eagle continually eats at his heart and he is afflicted by heat, cold, and many other torments. Prometheus nevertheless continues to defy the power of Jupiter. At last Prometheus asks Panthea and Ione, the two Oceanides, to repeat to him the curse he had pronounced upon Jupiter when Jupiter first began to torture him. Neither his mother Earth nor the Oceanides will answer him. At last the Phantasm of Jupiter appears and repeats the curse. When Prometheus hears the words, he repudiates them. Now that he has suffered tortures and finds that his spirit remains unconquered, he wishes pain to no living thing. Earth and the Oceanides mourn that the curse has been withdrawn, for they think that Jupiter has at last conquered Prometheus’s spirit.

Then Mercury approaches with the Furies. Mercury tells the captive Prometheus that he will suffer even greater tortures if he does not reveal the secret that he alone knows—the future fate of Jupiter. Jupiter, afraid, wishes to avert catastrophe by learning the secret, and Mercury promises Prometheus that he will be released if he reveals it. Prometheus, however, refuses. He admits only that he knows Jupiter’s reign will come to an end, that Jupiter will not be king of the gods for all eternity. Prometheus says that he is willing to suffer torture until Jupiter’s reign ends. Although the Furies try to frighten him by describing the pains they can inflict, they know they have no power over his soul.

The Furies mock Prometheus and humankind, showing Prometheus visions of blood and despair on earth; they show him the Passion of Christ and humanity’s disregard for Christ’s message of love. Fear and hypocrisy rule; tyrants take the thrones of the world. A group of spirits appear and prophesy that Love will cure the ills of humankind. They prophesy also that Prometheus will be able to bring Love to earth and halt the reign of evil and grief. When the spirits have gone, Prometheus acknowledges the power of Love, for his love for Asia, his wife, has enabled him to suffer pain without surrendering.

While Asia, alone in a lovely valley, mourns for her lost husband, Panthea appears to tell of two dreams she has had. In one, she saw Prometheus released from bondage and all the world filled with sweetness. In the other dream she received only a command to follow. Just then the echoes in the valley break their silence, calling for Asia and Panthea to follow them. The listeners obey and follow the echoes to the realm of Demogorgon, the supreme power ruling the gods. They stop on a pinnacle of rock, but spirits beckon them down into Demogorgon’s cave. There Demogorgon tells Asia and Panthea that he will answer any question they put to him. When they ask who made the living world, he replies that God created it. Then they ask who made pain and evil. Prometheus had given knowledge to humankind, but humankind had not eradicated evil with all the gifts of science. They ask whether Jupiter is the source of these ills, the evil master over humanity. Demogorgon answers that nothing that serves evil can be master, for only eternal Love rules all.

Asia asks when Prometheus will gain his freedom and bring Love into the world to conquer Jupiter. Demogorgon then shows his guests the passage of the Hours. A dreadful Hour passes, marking Jupiter’s fall; the next Hour is beautiful, marking Prometheus’s release. Asia and Panthea accompany the Spirit of the Hour in her chariot and pass by Age, Manhood, Youth, Infancy, and Death into a new paradise.

Meanwhile, Jupiter, who has just married Thetis, celebrates his omnipotence over all but the human soul. Then Demogorgon appears and pronounces judgment on Jupiter. Jupiter cries for mercy, but his power is gone. He sinks downward through darkness and ruin. At the same time, Herakles approaches Prometheus. In the presence of Asia, Panthea, the Spirit of the Hour, and Earth, the captive is set free. Joyfully, Prometheus tells Asia how they will spend the rest of their days together with Love. Then he sends the Spirit of the Hour to announce his release to all humankind. He kisses Earth, and Love infuses all of her animal, vegetable, and mineral parts.

The Spirit of Earth later comes to the cave where Asia and Prometheus live and tells them of the transformation that has come over humankind. Anger, pride, insincerity, and all the other ills of humanity have passed away. The Spirit of the Hour reports other wonders that have taken place. Thrones are empty, and all human beings rule over themselves, free from guilt and pain. People are, however, still subject to chance, death, and mutability, without which they would oversoar their destined place in the world.

Later, in a vision, Panthea and Ione see how all the evil things of the world lay dead and decayed. Earth’s happiness is boundless, and even the moon feels the beams of Love from Earth as snow melts on its bleak lunar mountains. Earth rejoices that hate, fear, and pain have left humankind forever. Humanity is now master of its fate and of all the secrets of Earth.

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