"Prometheus Bound"

"Prometheus Bound"

An excerpt from Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus


Ah me! Ah me!

Fair progeny

That many-childed Tethys brought to birth,

Fathered of Ocean old

Whose sleepless stream is rolled

Round the vast shores of earth

Look on me! Look upon these chains

Wherein I hang fast held

On rocks high-pinnacled,

My dungeon and my tower of dole,

Where o'er the abyss my soul,

Sad warder, her unwearied watch sustains!"

Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus



"Prometheus Bound" Peter Paul Rubens

In the tragic tale of Prometheus' fate being bound to the rocks and have his liver eaten daily by birds we see the idea of regeneration only to be destroyed again. A theme that occurs in many myths ,and is similar to the fate of Sisyphus in its monotonous suffering, is the theme of regeneration and destruction.  Our lives are filled with this theme due to the nature of our universe where entropy and life battle to keep a state of equilibrium. We can also see this theme every day when we take our regenerative rest at night only to wake for another day of toil. In my painting of Prometheus Bound I chose the time just before dawn when his liver is almost fully restored, but he can see the birds gathering to await their daily feast. That is the liminal time when former pain has healed and he has but moments to enjoy feeling whole again before being torn apart for another day. Now I would like to take a look at the "Sin" of Prometheus. In the myths of Prometheus(Which meant Forethought in ancient Greek) we are told that in the beginning man did not have fire but cowered in the dark and only the gods had access to this privilege. Prometheus was a lesser god in Olympus but he had a history of siding with man's plight. Feeling compassion for the pitiful humans he looked for an opportunity to steal some of the Eternal Flame that was kept on the alter of Olympus. Knowing he would face the wrath of Zeus he concealed the piece of the fire in his chest and stealthily slinked away to give man his greatest gift since being given precious Pneuma.

"Prometheus I" Ezekiel Schmitt

Zeus eventually caught him and punished his impudent rebellion against the gods by having Hephaestus fasten his chains to the rocks. Prometheus' sin was one of self sacrifice to better the lot of mankind. It was a sin he knew must be committed if we were to evolve. How many are like Prometheus in their pursuit of the good for all sin against authority willingly in order to further the rest of us. I can think of many examples but one that is prominent in my mind is the story of Galileo Galilei who was arrested by the Catholic Church for his theories about heliocentrism( Earth revolving around the sun). He stood up for the truth of his ideas when many bowed to the authority of the church. We need these Promethean heroes more and more in our conforming society to rebel and bring us the fire of the gods.

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