Wednesday September 19, 2012
Some important changes to the Prometheus Story in Aeschylus' Telling
-focus on time after the commencement of Prometheus' punishment rather than before
-most of the bits and pieces concerns his activities before and regards the 'after' as the
ending of his story
-may want to consider why he would want to do this (no one correct answer to this)
-emphasis on Zeus' cruelty
-seems as though it is almost played up (links to next point)
-more ambiguous in text, Prometheus may have been 'over-extending' himself and his
-playing up Prometheus' defiance
-the depiction of Zeus helps Aeschylus' depiction of Prometheus as a rebel
-alteration of Io's history to the detriment of Zeus' image
-treated so shabbily because turns down Zeus' advancements
-addition of the chorus of nymphs and their final conversation (1253-1265)
-threatened them that they would be punished by being blasted by Zeus' lightening
should they linger in sympathy
-emphasis on the word 'choose' (it was Prometheus' CHOICE)
-total conversion, no longer on the fence or unable to make a stand
-tell Hermes that being treasonous is much worse than being chained
Why did the author choose to tell the story this way? What is the effect? What is he trying to say/do?
-something to think about whenever reading text
Shelley: Prometheus Unbound
Romanticism -places "an emphasis on feeling, individuality, and passion rather than classical form and order, and
typically prefer[s] grandeur, picturequesness, or naturalness to finish and proportion. Generally opposed
to classical." (OED, "romantic," adj. 7)
-movement towards nature and placing emphasis on it
-reaction against Enlightenment belief in scientific rationalism
-moving away from the belief that science explains everything
-heavily influenced by the French Revolution
-many writers romanticised the French Revolution
-Shelly operates under this
Percy Shelly (1792-1822)
-was against organized religion and what he saw as tyrannical government where there was a king as a
-believes that human beings are perfect and that the imperfect system placed upon these perfect
people is what causes all the bad traits and qualities to come out
-wants to return people to a natural order
-believes that people should not be placed under any system and that, should they be left to
their own devices, would flourish
-published in 1820
-Shelley expected it to sell no mre than 20 copies
-probably because it was so 'weird'
-subtitled "A Lyrical Drama": fusion of two genres, lyric poetry and drama
-means: a short poem expressing a speaker's thoughts and emotions in a specific
-can always sense voice and tone of the speaker -able to venture in their emotions
-getting in touch with someone else's voice as they are speaking
Summary Act I
Prometheus chained to Caucusus for "three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours" (1.12)
-Prometheus on one side, Zeus on the other and neither one can sleep
-Prometheus is giving Zeus a sleepness night
Prometheus wishes to hear the curse he played upon Jupiter long ago (1.53ff)
-his torture is still much better than what Zeus has to endure
-Zeus' throne is absolutely nothing to be envious about
-Prometheus says it not out of hate, but out of pity - he feels sorry for Zeus
-Although he used to feel hate, his misery has changed his mind
73 What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak.
-Cannot remember the words to the curse, thus cannot lift it.
No entity in this world dare speak the curse (1.130;1.140;1.180)
Prometheus conjures the Phantasm of Jupiter; Phatasm repeats the curse (1.272ff)
-two worlds, one of the living (level of existence that we see) and a mirror world where our
shadows dwell. Only after death are the shadows and bodies reunited
Prometheus regrets the curse (1.302ff)
282 - the more you torture us, the worse you'll be in the end
292 Heap on thy soul, by virtue of this Curse,
293 Ill deeds, then be thou damned, beholding good;
294 Both infinite as is the universe,
295 And thou, and thy self-torturing solitude.
296 An awful image of calm power
297 Though now thou sittest, let the hour
298 Come, when thou must appear to be
299 That which thou art internally;
300 And after many a false and fruitless crime
301 Scorn track thy lagging fall through boundless space and time.
-Calling all of Jupiter's ill deeds petty and useless
-Curses Zeus that he should fall through boundless space and time Prometheus.
302 Were these my words, O Parent?
302 They were thine.
303 It doth repent me: words are quick and vain;
304 Grief for awhile is blind, and so was mine.
305 I wish no living thing to suffer pain.
-Saying here that he feels repentant for having cursed Zeus
-Says that he cursed blindly but now he wishes for no living thing to suffer
Mercury arrives with the furies and asks Prometheus to reveal the secret of who shall supplant Jupiter
-sympathetic and tells Prometheus that he pities him
Prometheus refuses, and the furies begin to torture him by taunting him with the "evil" that results
from "the clear knowledge that thou waken'dst for man" (1.539-577; 1.625-631)
-tell him all the terrible things that go on in the human world and highlight the fact that it
because Prometheus tried to make their lives better
546 One came forth of gentle worth
547 Smiling on the sanguine earth;
548 His words outlived him, like swift poison
549 Withering up truth, peace, and pity.
-referring to Jesus
564 Drops of bloody agony flow
565 From his white and quivering brow.
566 Grant a little respite now:
567 See a disenchanted nation
568 Springs like day from des