Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book 9: Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus

Title:  Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, translated by James Scully and C. John Herington

Pages:  117 total.  The play itself consists of about 54 pages.

How it was obtained:  I don't remember.  I got it used somehow, from either a library or the used book store in Columbia before we moved.  I think it was the used book store.

Time spent on the "to read" shelf:  A year or two.

Days spent reading it:  1 day.

Why I read it:  I actually liked the Greek tragedies we read in High School.  I also think that Prometheus is an interesting character, so I thought this play might be interesting.

Brief review:
I really liked this play.  In the beginning of the story Prometheus is bound by Hephaistos to a rock to serve as his punishment for giving mankind fire.  Prometheus has a number of conversations with people as they wander by in their travels.  These make up the major movements of the play.

The themes of his conversations include:  Suffering, usurping power, tyranny, human culture, hope, civil disobedience, restoration, fate, brute force vs. cunning thought, and a host of other themes.

Some interesting elements about Prometheus in Greek mythology:  

Prometheus is the god who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humanity.  Fire seems to also include self awareness and human culture, because that's what else Prometheus claims to have given to mankind.  Prometheus also claims mankind once foresaw their own deaths, but that he overcame their visions by giving them the gift of hope.

Prometheus Bound is apparently a part of a trilogy.  We only have scraps from what was perhaps the sequel, Prometheus Unbound.  It is a shame that we will never see the full story arch that Aeschylus prepared for Prometheus.

I enjoyed this short play.  If you enjoy Greek drama, this is a must read.  If you do not appreciate Greek drama, this one will probably not warm your hearts to it.  Further, I appreciated the notes and introduction to this play as well.  I read them after I read the play, and felt like they enhanced my experience of reading instead of bogging it down.  This was one play I am glad I got the chance to read for myself.

Favorite quote:  It's easy enough for the bystander, who's not bogged down in sorrow, to advise and warn the one who suffers.  Myself, I knew all this and knew it all along.  Still, I meant to be wrong.  I knew what I was doing.  Helping humankind I helped myself to misery.

Stars: 4 out of 5.

Final Word:  Captivating.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

strangely, I totally missed this when you first posted. Interesting.