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Prometheus Bound | Study Guide


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Prometheus Bound | Episode 2 | Summary



Prometheus explains to the Chorus he gave mortals the ability to reason and reflect: "At first / Mindless, I gave them mind and reason." They had eyes and ears but didn't understand what they were seeing and hearing; they knew nothing of houses but lived in holes like insects, and they didn't know how to mark the passage of the seasons. He taught them to understand the movements of the stars, to use numbers and letters and memory, to harness beasts under yoke and rein, to sail in ships, to use medicines, to make prophecies, to interpret signs and omens, and to dig up metals from the earth. In short he taught humans all arts and sciences.

However, the Chorus points out, he, like a physician unable to heal himself, cannot escape his suffering. The Chorus then expresses the hope Prometheus will be freed and will one day rival Zeus, but Prometheus says his fate is to be free only after much suffering, and even Zeus cannot avoid fate. When the Chorus asks about Zeus's fate, Prometheus tells them not to ask: keeping that secret will help him escape his current situation.


In Episode 2 Prometheus goes into detail about all he did for humanity: he not only gave them fire, but he gave them all the faculties that basically make them human. In a sense he helped to create humans out of what he describes as little more than insensate beasts. He gave them not only physical fire but the fire of the human soul. All he has done for humans reinforces his association with intelligence. It also associates the god with the kinds of skills and crafts he was associated with in his cult in Athens.

Once again the scene brings up the notion he is a suffering figure who has sacrificed himself for the good of humanity. He must suffer for many years to come, and this fate cannot be altered. Again, his knowledge of future events is key: it is what will secure his ultimate freedom. Prometheus knows he must endure his fate, but he also knows even Zeus is subject to fate.

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