Prometheus Unbound (Aeschylus)

Prometheus Unbound (Aeschylus)

Prometheus Unbound (Ancient Greek: Προμηθεὺς Λυόμενος, Promētheus Lyomenos) is a fragmentary play by the Greek poet Aeschylus, concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity (theft of fire), for which he is subjected to eternal punishment and suffering at the hands of Zeus. It inspired the play of the same title by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

It is thought to have followed Prometheus Bound in the Prometheia trilogy attributed to the 5th-century BC Greek tragedian Aeschylus. The text of the Unbound is lost to us except for eleven fragments preserved by later authors.[1] Nevertheless, these fragments, combined with prophetic statements made in the first play, allow us to reconstruct a broad outline of the play. Based upon a lengthy fragment translated into Latin by the Roman statesman Cicero, it has been argued that the play opens with Prometheus visited by a chorus of Titans. Though Zeus had imprisoned them in Tartarus at the conclusion of the Titanomachy, he has at long last granted them clemency. This perhaps foreshadows Zeus's eventual reconciliation with Prometheus in the trilogy's third installment. Prometheus complains about his torment just as he had to the chorus of Oceanids in Prometheus Bound. As the dramatis personae of Prometheus Bound erroneously lists Gaea, it has been suggested that she is next to visit Prometheus in this play, in a sympathetic role that echoes Oceanus' turn in the first play. Finally, the faulty dramatis personae mentioned above and several fragments indicate that Heracles visits the Titan just as Io had in Prometheus Bound. Heracles frees Prometheus from his chains and kills the eagle that had been torturing Prometheus by eating his regenerating liver every day.[2] Again mirroring events in the previous play, Prometheus forecasts Heracles' travels as he concludes his Twelve Labours. The play thus concludes with Prometheus free from the torments of Zeus, but the Titan and Olympian have yet to reconcile. This play was presumably followed by Prometheus the Fire-Bringer.

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