Classical Mythology Images and Insight, Third Edition

Following is an outline of the chapter along with the main learning objectives.  To help coordinate your studies, this outline and the learning objectives are organized to match your textbook.  This organization is also utilized in the chapter review section.

Part 1:  Key Themes

  1. You should be able to discuss the transformation of the characters of the God Prometheus and the God Zeus in terms of  the legacy of Hesiod's epics in the later work by  Aeschylus; The God Prometheus is transformed from a wily trickster to a savior of humanity and the transformation of the God Zeus into an amoral power alienated from wisdom.

  2.  You should be aware of the contested authorship of the trilogy of plays starting with "Prometheus Bound" (the other two parts existing only in fragments), they are commonly recognized as the work of Aeschylus, but could be by his son, considering the difference between the trilogy and Aeschylus'' other works -- especially in terms of the change in the character of the God Zeus (who goes from being wise and just to a figure without justice or mercy).


Part 2: A Transformation of the Prometheus Myth 

  1. You should be aware of the concepts surrounding the issues of the God Prometheus' crime -- giving the fire of Creation to humanity and defying the will of the King of the Gods and Goddesses, Zeus.

  2. You should be able to discuss the cultural implications between the trickster character of Hesiod's Prometheus and the Hero of Aeschylus' trilogy; though in both the God Prometheus is the benefactor of humanity, the God Prometheus becomes a savior who ignores the God Zeus' plan for the extinction of humanity, to descend into darkness and ignorance and perish.

  3. You should be able to discuss the significance of the gift of fire, both in terms early myths regarding survival and civilization and later cultural implications relevant to the audiences contemporary with the Greek Tragedies.

  4. You should be able to discuss the God Prometheus role as representing the human mind; as the (much later) English poet Shelley wrote -- the mind remains free, even in the face of physical bondage, such as oppressive rulers.

  5. You should be able to discuss Aeschylus' theme for the trilogy in terms of the tension between two perceptions of right: the rebel championing the rights of the oppressed and the legitimate authority that is vested by the community to protect the stability of the culture.

  6. You should be able to discuss the God Prometheus in terms of his links with the Goddesses Gaea -- the God Prometheus is a second-generation Titan in some myths (as well as appearances of the Goddesses Athene and Themis), as a male counterpart; you should also consider the significance of the chorus being comprised of the daughters of the God Ocean (who eventually take the God Prometheus' side even though it is against the King of Gods, Zeus).

  7. You should be able to discuss the God Zeus in terms of the evolution of his character, from a raw power,  despotic, untempered by wisdom or compassion into an image of the protector of divine law; consider also that this evolution is a means to escape the fates of the Gods Chronos and Uranus -- the familial pattern of patricide.

  8. You should be able to discuss the concept of evolution as a cultural force: in terms of the cultural implications about the audiences contemporary to the play's creation/production  -- the concept of Gods and Goddesses that are vulnerable, not omnipotent or omniscient, and are also tied to the underlying theme of inevitable change.

  9. You should be able to discuss the character of the Centaur Chiron in terms of his role in Aeschylus' trilogy in terms of his offer to take the place of the God Prometheus, considering the requirement of the God Zeus that the God Prometheus could only be released if another god offered to take his place, thus taking the God Prometheus part in the salvation of humanity (and the wounding of Chiron by the Hero Hercules who accidentally wounds Chiron, inflicting an eternal injury).

  10. You should be able to discuss the significance of  the character of IO, (a young woman raped by the God Zeus and punished for it by the Goddess Hera, by sending a stinging gad-fly to pursue Io, relentlessly driving her to madness) in terms of: the vulnerability of humanity to the ravages of despots when no law restrains them; the God Zeus who aggressively, sexually interacts with mortals but does not protect them from the unreasoned anger or punishments of other Gods and Goddesses -- exhibiting what might be thought of as cowardice in the face of the Goddess Hera's fury.

  11. You should be able to discuss the lasting image in the finale of Aeschylus' play, that of the God Prometheus sentenced by the God Zeus to wear a collar of rock -- because the God Zeus had made a promise on the sacred water of the River Styx that he would never release the God Prometheus from the cliff, and the collar is a rock fragment of that cliff; you should consider the symbolic aspects of that permanent, tangible reminder of the God Zeus' superior authority in terms of the harnessing of the human mind.
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