Prometheus Bound opens with a dialogue between Might, servant of Zeus and Hyphenates, who Zeus has pained with inflicting his punishment for Prometheus. This dialogue sets the premise for the rest of the story. Zeus is the overseer of all events and a force to be reckoned with as consequence for actions that will never escape his watchful eye. Zeus is indirectly present and embodied in Might, a character in which “the command of Zeus has its perfect fulfillment. ” p. 65. He conflicts with Hyphenates, whom feels unable to “bind violently a God who is his kin.
The quick succession of dialogue between the two characters is symbolic of a dispute between good (the bonds of brotherhood) and evil (torture and pain), giving Zeus, from the get-go , a condemnation for his actions. The idea of Zeus betraying his brother is further propagated when the Chorus exclaims that ‘there is no disease I spit on more than treachery. ” Prometheus “allied with Zeus” and helped him win the Autonomic, without the help of Prometheus, Zeus would not have been able to exploit his power the way that he did towards Prometheus in the end.
Zeus, uses his power to gain followers, additional power, then uses his might against those who support him. Treason, a capital crime has no consequence for Zeus and the extremely worse consequence for Prometheus. No matter how deserving Prometheus is of the punishment, its severity is unparalleled by those Who can be judged as equally wrong. Aside from Zeus’ actions as a tyrant, the institution of tyranny is under fire throughout the course of the play. Hyphenates states”… Every ruler is harsh whose rule is new. This testament to the power of a new king brings light onto he harshness of punishment imposed by a new king, This harshness is not based on the crime committed but rather the opinion of the tyrant at what the punishment should be, which under the microscope of Democracy is clearly wrong. Zeus, upon taking the throne to his father p. 80 begins kingship “that rules alone, is harsh and sends accounts to no one’s audit for… [his] deeds… ” Zeus is not personally responsible tort his actions but is tree to do as he wishes.
In context, Ocean’s tells this to Prometheus as warning that Zeus is a judge without deed for a jury and care must be taken because although he is the prototype for “justice and virtue” there is no justice for his actions and therefore no standard of right or wrong for the tyrant. Tyranny as a word in and of itself sis main character in Prometheus Bound. Hyphenates, Ocean’s and Prometheus use the word to describe Zeus and 10 relates Zeus’ rule to slavery in her speech p. Egg. Tyranny in and Of itself has a negative connotation that places one ruthless figure at the center of power without a system of governing other than the will of the ruler.
Aeschylus chose to use the repetition Of this word to describe wrongful aspects of Zeus’ power rather than the system as a whole. This gives tyranny a destructive, unyielding power needless Of rhyme or reason much like Zeus. Furthermore, Aeschylus was a tragic author “In the fifth century, the flourishing of the Greek city-states… ” The Greek city-states were centers for “great literature and art” and most importantly. Democracy. Democracy, not tyranny gave birth to Aeschylus and his attitude against tyranny is major evident throughout his writing,
The punishment that Zeus prescribes to Prometheus, is not surprising for his character in the context of historically wrong action and the nature of his rule. With much right however, it is condemned in the play, The Oceanside, children of the sea p. 65 arrive at the setting for Prometheus’ torture only to be immersed figuratively into a sea that clouds their eyes with a “mist of fear and tears”, P. 71. The fact that the Oceanside come in great numbers but cry as one in the “Chorus’ character is symbolic of the severity of Zeus’ punishment and its ability to bring even a multitude of God-born beings to tears.
Aeschylus establishes the severity of the punishment further by incorporating the story of Atlas, the Titan into the Oceanside’ song. “One God and one God only have [they] seen tortured and in bonds”. The crimes Of Atlas bore the same weight as those Of Prometheus but when considering criminal behavior, Zeus gave equally sever punishments to Atlas and Prometheus thus rightly implying a similarity in their wrongdoings. Atlas was punished in essence for siding with the Titans and therefore against Zeus and the Learning and Prometheus was punished for stealing from the
Gods to help mankind; also threatening the rule of the Zeus, although indirectly. The mortal threat to the power of the Gods however, is minimal in mention and minute in the shadow of importance given to the threat of Zeus’ wrath. Ocean’s warns, “a vein tongue is subject to correction” similar to the Chorus finding fear in Prometheus’ “free[doom] of tongue” p,72 that speaks against Zeus for much to the play. All but Prometheus maintain a vigilant watch on their mouth and words much like the hawk eventually does over Prometheus and his liver. , thee eventual and constant presence to the hawk over Prometheus is also a direct personification of Zeus’ unrelenting wrath and the looming threat that accompanies all of those in his realm. (81) The power of Zeus and the trivial threat of man is summed up best by the Oceanside who question Prometheus’ actions with wisdom that ” the plans of man shall never pass the ordered laws of Zeus. ” If man will never be a match against Zeus, then a betrayal to Zeus in the favor of man should bear no weight unless there is fear that one day man can stand up and beat the God.
The punishment that Prometheus endures, regardless of root or cause is severely uncalled for and presented more for the purposes of setting an example to those ever daring to defy Zeus. Rather than choosing just punishment scaled for the severity of the crime committed, Zeus is unforgiving under the fear Of one day losing his throne. Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound is more than just a recount Of a myth, it is in and of itself a different tale completely. It takes the characters and makes them into the ideals that they stand by. Their words and interactions evoke emotions, and pinions as well as presenting their own.
The important worldviews of crime and punishment, moral and immoral, democracy and tyranny and are all poked and prodded throughout the text. In the end, there is really no right or wrong answer to the questions posed in this story. Although, Aeschylus presents his views through the characters, condemning Zeus’ actions, the institution of tyranny, and the punishment of Prometheus, we are able to construct our own perceptions of right and wrong. This is done by understanding the story separately from emotion; a task not easily done, but beneficial it possible.