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Summary

Kratus and Bia carry Prometheus to a mountain in the Caucasus. Hephaestus follows them. Kratus
explains that this is where Prometheus must be chained to a rock on the orders of Zeus in
punishment for giving fire to human beings. Prometheus is expected to learn to like Zeus and stop
liking humans. Hephaestus, whose job it is to bind Prometheus to the mountain, groans that he finds
it difficult to do this to a fellow god. He explains, however, that he has no choice but to obey Zeus.
Prometheus must be punished for stealing fire from the gods and unjustly giving it to mortals. He will
remain there for a long time because his liberator has not been born yet. Hephaestus mentions that
Prometheus will be unable to soften Zeus's heart for a long time, since Zeus is harsh like all new
rulers.



Kratus urges Hephaestus on, asking why Hephaestus does not hate the enemy of the gods.
Hephaestus explains that friendship binds them, but Kratus replies that the word of Zeus should have
the most weight. Hephaestus mourns that as the blacksmith he has been given this task and accuses
Kratus of being heartless and ruthless. Kratus replies that the punishment has nothing to do with
Hephaestus's talent as blacksmith, but that Prometheus alone brought it on himself. There is no
point in pity or reluctance since the punishment must be carried out regardless. One should be afraid
of disobeying Zeus, and questioning Zeus's orders is dangerous. Once Hephaestus has finished
attaching the bonds, Kratus tells Prometheus that he was foolish to help mortals because now they
cannot help him. Hephaestus, Kratus, and Bia leave.



Analysis

Kratus's name means "force" or "might" in ancient Greek, while Bia means "violence." Greek myth
commonly personifies abstract concepts, as well as forces of nature, as gods. In Aeschylus's hands,
however, the names are part of his wider poetic scheme. Zeus himself never appears, but is
constantly referred to. Possibly there were restrictions on representing Zeus, greatest of the gods, as
a character on stage. Zeus's absence and his replacement on stage by Force and Violence, add to the
effect of the drama.


. No matter how strong his suffering, he will not speak to his oppressors. Besides telling us the reason
for Prometheus's punishment, the first dialogue introduces us to an important distinction between
Kratus and Hephaestus. While both must follow Zeus's orders, Hephaestus does so against his own
will while Kratus carries out Zeus's orders without thinking. The two gods are archetypes of servants:
the willing and the unwilling collaborators.

Aeschylus's uses the opening dialogues to clearly paint the scene of the action. Kratus refers to the
area as "the world's limit an untrodden desolation." References are made to the high rocks, the hot
sun, and the night cold. As soon as he speaks, Prometheus immediately invokes the surrounding
elements: the ocean, the earth, the wind, and the sun.


Aeschylus twice relies on ironic foreshadowing. Hephaestus comments that the man who can free
Prometheus has not been born. Though Hephaestus means only that human beings are too weak to
free Prometheus, his statement is in fact literally true. The Greek audience watching the play most
likely knew that in the end Hercules, who has not been born yet, frees Prometheus. .

Prometheus's crime is not as simple as it first appears. It is true that he is punished primarily for
stealing fire and giving it to mortals. Comments by all three speakers here make clear that
Prometheus is also being punished for loving humanity. Mythical accounts differ, but some suggest
that Prometheus actually created human beings. As he reveals later in the play, he has also taught
them almost everything of value.

Kratus draws our attention to the most important conflict of the play: that between thought and
force. Prometheus the thinker is bound by the brute strength of Zeus's agents. Kratus mentions that
Prometheus is cunning and must be secured tightly to the rock to ensure he cannot escape. The
power of Zeus is clearly contrasted with the seemingly useless forethought of Prometheus.

Aeschylus emphasizes the importance of necessity and its relation to time. Human beings are
referred to as "creatures of a day," and so clearly inferior to the immortal gods. But while Zeus is
immortal, he is not therefore an eternal ruler.

At the end of his first monologue, Prometheus hears the rustling of something approaching on wings.
Having the gift of prophecy, Prometheus most likely knows that Zeus will in the future send an eagle
to gnaw on his liver. Knowing this, Prometheus has reason to be afraid of anything approaching on
wings. The threat of someone approaching from the sky is repeated throughout the play. Besides the
Chorus, Oceanus and Hermes fly in from above. The sky is also the seat of Zeus's power, and he
throws lightning bolts from above. The threat from above is particularly sharp for Prometheus in
contrast to his own position. He is chained to the rock and cannot move, while otherswhether
friends or enemiesare free to fly around him.

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