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Prometheus Bound | Study Guide


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Course Hero. "Prometheus Bound Study Guide." Course Hero. 9 Mar. 2018. Web. 7 Feb. 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. "Prometheus Bound Study Guide." March 9, 2018. Accessed February 7, 2023.


Course Hero, "Prometheus Bound Study Guide," March 9, 2018, accessed February 7, 2023,

Prometheus Bound | Exodos | Summary



Prometheus swears one day Zeus will make a marriage that will "hurl him out / Of throne and sovereignty into oblivion." And only he, Prometheus, can show Zeus how to avoid this. Although Zeus now sits confident on his throne, his thunderbolt will not save him. When the Chorus asks if Prometheus is not afraid to say such things, Prometheus asks what more can he fear. He cannot die, and he is prepared for the worst. The Chorus then warns him to bow to Nemesis (the spirit of divine retribution for hubris or overweening pride or upstart arrogance), but Prometheus says he will not fawn upon Zeus, who will not rule the gods for long.

Hermes, Zeus's messenger, enters and orders Prometheus to tell him about the marriage that will lead to Zeus's fall from power: "Now speak / No clever riddles, but set forth the detailed truth." Prometheus tells Hermes he and his fellow gods, newly in power, cannot imagine ever falling, but Prometheus has seen two rulers of gods fall from power, and expects to see the third fall even lower. Prometheus declares he cannot be intimidated. He tells Hermes to go back; he'll tell Zeus's messenger nothing. Hermes answers this very attitude is what landed Prometheus in his present plight. But Prometheus says he'd rather be chained to a rock than be Zeus's servant like Hermes is. They continue to taunt each other, Prometheus saying he detests the gods who let this happen to him and Hermes finally calling Prometheus insane and saying he would be unbearable if freed. Prometheus repeatedly calls Hermes an underling, and Hermes rebukes Prometheus for his arrogance. Prometheus says there is no way Zeus will induce him to reveal the secret until he frees him from his bonds. Nothing else Zeus can do will move him.

Hermes urges Prometheus to avoid Zeus's wrath, saying Prometheus is just being foolishly stubborn and should consider what will happen if he does not comply. First, Zeus will entomb him underground, and then, once he is returned to the light, Zeus's eagle will rip Prometheus's flesh and feast upon his liver all day. There will be no release until some god comes along who is willing to take Prometheus's pains on and descend to Tartarus. The Chorus urges Prometheus to stop being stubborn and to listen to Hermes's advice. Prometheus says he already knew what Hermes was going to say before he said it. Then Prometheus says to bring the punishment on: "It is no dishonor / For an enemy to suffer at his enemy's hands," he says. So let Zeus unleash lightning, thunder, hurricanes, and ocean waves and lift him and hurl him down to Tartarus, but he, Prometheus, cannot be killed. Hermes says Prometheus sounds like a lunatic and urges the Chorus to quickly leave this place.

The Chorus says it will stand by Prometheus. Then, before he exits, Hermes says they'll have only themselves to blame for what is to come. Prometheus then describes what ensues: the earth shakes; there is thunder and lightning; winds blow; and sky and sea rage. Zeus causes all of this menace. Prometheus cries out to Earth and the sky to witness what is happening to him. The rock collapses and the Chorus scatters.


Prometheus continues playing the role of the principled rebel refusing to fawn over the cruel, overconfident tyrant. He repeats it his knowledge of the future that gives him power over the thuggish regime of Zeus. Once again the audience sees knowledge will ultimately defeat physical force. Furthermore, Prometheus has seen regimes come and go, and from his perspective, Zeus's rule seems only temporary. The cautious Chorus, which urges him to curb his tongue, acts as a foil to the defiant Prometheus.

When Hermes enters, Prometheus scorns him for being a servant to the tyrant. Prometheus sees himself as a free and independent actor, disdaining to deal with a mere underling. He is holding on to his power over Zeus and will negotiate only with Zeus directly, which means he sees himself on the same level as Zeus. Prometheus retains this proud, defiant attitude to the very end. He is intent on preserving his honor, even if that means he must suffer. Interestingly, the Chorus, which had been urging Prometheus to curb his tongue and avoid incensing Zeus, now refuses to leave Prometheus's side, citing loyalty to a friend. As the final catastrophe occurs, Prometheus calls upon the earth and sky to witness the cruelty of the tyrant.

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