Prometheus Bound Post

We talked about how Prometheus’s name means, “foresight,” which is proved true when he tells Io of her future and explains why he was so willing to take Zeus’s punishment. Clearly he has an accurate knowledge of things yet to be, so why does the supposedly all-knowing Zeus insist on, “following protocol” so to speak and going along doing exactly what Prometheus expects him to do? Zeus “commands” Prometheus to tell him what he’s seen in the future to unseat him from power, which quite frankly seems the wrong way to go about it. If I was an all-powerful god who was just told that I’d be booted off the throne in some vague way I would be a lot more hospitable to Prometheus than keeping him in chains. I find it hard to fathom that Zeus would be so blind to the power Prometheus has if he knows the future, and am surprised he didn’t make more of an effort to keep relations a little warmer.

On another note: I find it superbly ironic that Zeus chooses to punish Prometheus by having his liver pecked out every day by birds. This punishment is inspired by nature, yet Prometheus is a Titan, a.k.a. a nature force. Perhaps it was just by chance that Zeus picked that specific punishment, or perhaps he meant it specifically to be humiliating. The same thing happened with Atlas’s and Io’s punishments, using Nature to punish the Nature gods, so I think Zeus and Hera may have chosen those types of punishments specifically for them.

So is there method to Zeus’s madness? We know that Prometheus has a strategy (of sorts), and knows all the moves Zeus is supposed to make, so why is Zeus is barging ahead and using brawn rather than brains? If we look at the Olympian gods as forces of Civilization and the Titans as forces of Nature like we did in class, it could be seen as an allegory for the way civilization has conquered the natural world over the years by pure force; Zeus, Civilization, has used chains, tools of civilization, to bind Prometheus, but that might be a stretch.


4 thoughts on “Prometheus Bound Post”

  1. If Prometheus has the gift of foresight, why did he not see what would have happened if he gave mankind fire? Is it possible that he could have found some other way to help mankind? I would suggest that he would have wanted to be remembered and so went ahead and gave man fire anyway, but this seems a bit too high a price for fame. Also, is it possible that the reason Zeus was so harsh was that Prometheus would not tell him more explicitly about the person who would unseat him from power, and not simply because Prometheus gave man fire? Did Prometheus maybe see a different, less horrible punishment that he was willing to take to help mankind, before refusing Zeus’ demands that he tell him who would eventually take his power away?

    1. I completely agree with Meagan with how Zeus was extra harsh on Prometheus not only because of helping mankind but also because he wouldn’t tell him about the person who would take him from power. However, I also think that Zeus was extremely upset with Prometheus because he explicitly told him not to give man fire because they were happier without it. By Prometheus being told not to do this and then going ahead and doing it, would make Zeus even more mad. The God’s do not like it when they are not obeyed because they feel as they are superior and control everything. Do you think Prometheus being told not to do something, made him want to do it even more? Was Prometheus’ actions done to be a hero and help mankind or just to mess around with the Gods?

      1. Hi Jess-

        Your questions remind me of the class discussion we had the other day. Maybe Prometheus’ heroic quality lies in the fact that he acted on his own accord, without regard for what was going to happen next, even though he probably knew what would happen in the future. Our speculating on his possible enjoyment and being satisfied with his actions (messing with the Gods) only further add to that possibility. In that regard, he is like the other Greek hero we mentioned in class who cheated in the olympics, wrecked a schoolhouse, and disappeared. Greek mythology esteems virtue to those who possess qualities that others don’t, and the quality here might be fearlessness or audacity. The ambiguity that exists in the possible motivations behind Prometheus’ actions undeniably make him a hero, so maybe we aren’t meant to know what he was truly thinking.

  2. I never thought of how ironic Prometheus’s punishment was until reading your post. Although it is never said for sure, I completely believe that Zeus made this punishment special for Prometheus. I know that Zeus’s animal companion/symbol is an eagle which is why an eagle specifically eats the liver, but the fact that his punishment is inspired by nature and Prometheus himself is a force of nature is just too ironic. I also agree with your reasoning for the nature inspired punishment for a force of nature is meant to be extremely humiliating. Prometheus says himself in a long rant how Zeus hung him on the high cliff for Prometheus’s enemies to see and mock him. I enjoyed seeing this irony that you brought up in your post and now see Zeus as more clever than before.

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