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Prometheus Bound | Study Guide


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Prometheus Bound | Quotes


He now must suffer, / Till he be taught to accept the sovereignty of Zeus.

Strength, Prologos

Prometheus is being punished for defying Zeus, who, as the new ruler of Olympus, is demanding absolute loyalty from all of his subjects. Prometheus's punishment is a public torture, so he will serve as a symbol of Zeus's might.


Power newly won is always harsh.

Hephaestus, Prologos

Hephaestus, who is being forced to chain Prometheus to the rocky cliff, says this about Zeus. As the new ruler of Olympus, Zeus rules in an exceptionally harsh manner.


All his wisdom is but folly before Zeus.

Strength, Prologos

Prometheus is known for being wise. His name means, "Wise-before-the-event." The play repeatedly refers to Prometheus's wisdom and his knowledge of the future. Here, Strength belittles Prometheus's wisdom since Prometheus has been subdued by the physical might of Zeus.


Fire has proved / for men a teacher in every art, their grand resource.

Prometheus, Prologos

Prometheus is known as the god who stole fire for humanity, but fire also stands for knowledge and skills of all sorts. According to the play, Prometheus is responsible for teaching all of the arts and sciences to humans.


These are new laws indeed / By which Zeus tyrannically rules; / And the great powers of the past he now destroys.

Chorus, Parodos

One of the hallmarks of a tyrant is discarding tradition and ruling by the tyrant's own law. According to the Chorus, Zeus is ruling by new laws and dishonoring tradition and those who held power in the past.


I am the miserable sport of every wind.

Prometheus, Parodos

Prometheus's punishment is to be chained to a rocky cliff where any passerby can witness and mock at his suffering. He wishes he were under the ground in Tartarus where no one could see him.


I ... shall yet be needed by the lord of immortals / To ... tell him who it is / Shall rob him of his power and his glory.

Prometheus, Parodos

Prometheus knows the secret he believes will one day secure his freedom from this suffering: he knows how Zeus's tyranny will be stopped in the future. In the play prophecy, or knowledge, ultimately overcomes brute force.


They despised cunning; in their pride of strength / they foresaw easy victory and the rule of might.

Prometheus, Episode 1

Prometheus had intended to give wise advice to his fellow Titans in their war against Zeus and the other Olympians, but they believed brute strength would win the day. Clearly, they were wrong. Now, Zeus is relying on brute strength to subdue his enemies, while Prometheus's only weapon is his knowledge of the future.


Of wretched humans he took no account, resolved / to annihilate them and create another race.

Prometheus, Episode 1

Of the gods only Prometheus prevents Zeus from fulfilling his resolution to wipe out the human race. And it is because of his compassion for humans he is being bound to the rocky cliff in Scythia as punishment.


Your plight is the inescapable / Reward, Prometheus, of a too proud-speaking tongue.

Oceanus, Episode 1

Oceanus, although professing sympathy for Prometheus, blames his predicament on speaking too proudly. He believes the gods must go along with the tyrant and not make waves.


At first / Mindless, I gave them mind and reason.

Prometheus, Episode 2

Not only did Prometheus give fire to humans, he effectively transformed them from mindless beasts into creatures with the capacity for reason.


What sin did you find in me, / To put on me such a yoke of torment, / plague me to misery and madness?

Io, Episode 3

Io addresses Zeus here, asking why she is being tormented so, forced as she is to wander from land to land, maddened and stung by the gadfly. Her predicament, caused by Zeus, is comparable to that of Prometheus's situation.


I would not change my painful plight, / on any terms, for your servile humility.

Prometheus, Exodos

Prometheus says this scornfully to Hermes, whom he calls Zeus's underling. Throughout the play Prometheus remains proud and defiant, and he says here he would rather suffer proudly than submit to Zeus.


Why are you not afraid to fling such taunting words?

Chorus, Exodos

Throughout the play the Chorus reflects the attitude and outlook of the typical citizen under the tyrannical reign of Zeus. Although the Chorus sympathizes with Prometheus, they continually urge him not to incite Zeus's anger.


There is no torture ... by which / Zeus can persuade me to reveal my secret, till / The injury of these bonds is loosed from me.

Prometheus, Exodos

Prometheus refuses to reveal the identity of the woman who will bear a son who will overthrow Zeus. This is the only leverage he has over Zeus, and it is the means by which he will one day gain his freedom from his current plight.

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