With the titan Prometheus, the benefactor of humanity, we have already met in Hesiod’s poem “Theogony”. There he is an intelligent cunning, who arranges the sharing of sacrificial bull meat between people and gods so that the best part gets to people’s food. And then, when the angry Zeus does not want people to cook and fry the meat they have received, and refuses to give them fire, Prometheus steals this fire secretly and brings people to the hollow reed. For this Zeus chains Prometheus to a pole in the east of the earth and sends an eagle to peck his liver. Only after many centuries, the hero of Hercules will kill this eagle and liberate Prometheus.
Then this myth began to be told differently. Prometheus became more majestic and sublime: he is not a cunning and a thief, but a wise seer. At the beginning of the world, when the older gods, the Titans, fought with the younger gods, the Olympians, he knew that the power of the Olympians could not be taken,
and offered to help the Titans with cunning; but those, arrogantly relying on their strength, refused, and then Prometheus, seeing their doom, went to the side of the Olympians and helped them to win. Therefore, the massacre of Zeus with his former friend and ally began to seem even more cruel.
Not only that, Prometheus is open and that will be at the end of the world. The Olympians are afraid that as they overthrew the Titans in their time, so too will they be overthrown by new gods, their descendants. How to prevent it, they do not know. Knows Prometheus; then Zeus and tormented Prometheus, to learn from him this mystery. But Prometheus proudly says nothing. Only when Zeus son of Hercules is not yet a god, but only a hero-worker-in gratitude for all the good that Prometheus has done to people, kills the torturing eagle and facilitates Promethean torment, then Prometheus in gratitude reveals the secret of how to save the power of Zeus and all the Olympians. There is a sea goddess, beautiful Thetis, and Zeus achieves her love. Let him not do this: fate is appointed, that the Thetis will have a son stronger than
his father. If this is the son of Zeus, then he will become stronger than Zeus and overthrow him: the power of the Olympians will come to an end. And Zeus refuses to think about Thetis, and Prometheus in gratitude frees him from execution and takes to Olympus. Thetis was also married to a mortal man, and from this marriage she had the hero Achilles, who really was stronger not only her father, but all the people in the world.
That’s why the poet Aeschylus made his tragedy about Prometheus.
The action takes place on the edge of the earth, in the remote Scythia, among the wild mountains – maybe this is the Caucasus. Two demons, Power and Violence, enter the scene of Prometheus; The god of fire Hephaestus must chained him to the rock cliff. Hephaestus feels sorry for his comrade, but he must obey the fate and will of Zeus: “You were sympathetic to people from above.” Hands, shoulders, Prometheus’s legs are shackled, an iron wedge is driven into his chest. Prometheus is speechless. The thing is done, the executioners go away, The authorities throw contemptuously: “You are the Craftsman, here you are, how to save yourself!”
Only left alone, Prometheus begins to speak. He refers to the sky and the sun, the earth and the sea: “Look what I suffer, God forbid, from God’s hands!” And all this because he stole fire for people, opened them the way to a worthy person of life.
Is a chorus of nymphs – Oceanide. They are the daughters of the Ocean, another titan, they heard in their naval distances the roar and clank of Prometheus’ shackles. “Oh, it would be better for me to languish in Tartarus than to writhe here in public,” exclaims Prometheus, “but this is not forever: by force Zeus will not get anything from me and will come to ask me for his secret in a humble and affectionate manner.” – “Why does he execute you?” – “For mercy to people, for he himself is merciless.” Oceanians are joined by their father Okean: he once fought against the Olympians along with the rest of the Titans, but he resigned himself, submitted himself, forgiven and peacefully splashed around the world. Let Prometheus be subdued, or else he will not be able to escape the worst punishment: Zeus is vindictive! Prometheus contemptuously rejects his advice: “Do not worry about me, take care of yourself:
No matter how much Zeus himself has punished the sympathizer for the criminal! “The ocean is leaving, the Oceanians are singing a compassionate song, remembering in it, and Prometheus brother Atlanta, who is just as tormented at the western end of the world, supporting the brazen sky with his shoulders.
Prometheus tells the choir how much good he did for people. They were as irrational as children, he gave them mind and speech. They were filled with cares – he inspired them with hopes. They lived in caves, frightened every night and every winter – he forced them to build houses from the cold, explained the movement of the heavenly bodies during the change of seasons, taught the letter and account to pass on knowledge to the descendants. He pointed out ore for them underground, harnessed bulls to the plow, made carts for earth roads and ships for sea routes. They died of disease – he opened them healing herbs. They did not understand the prophetic signs of the gods and nature – he taught them to guess both by bird cries, and by sacrificial fire, and by the insides of sacrificial animals. “Truly, you were a savior for people,” says the choir, “how did you not save yourself?” “The fate is stronger than me,” – answers Prometheus. “
In these memories of the past suddenly bursts into the future. On the stage runs in love with Zeus, the princess of Io, turned into a cow. Zeus turned her into a cow to hide the jealousy of her husband, the goddess Hera. Hera guessed this and demanded a cow as a gift, and then sent her a terrible gadfly, which drove the unfortunate around the world. So she fell, exhausted by the pain to insanity, and to the Promethean mountains. Titan, “defender and human defender”, she regrets;
He tells her what further wanderings are ahead of her across Europe and Asia, through the heat and cold, among savages and monsters, until she reaches Egypt. And in Egypt she will give birth to a son from Zeus, and the descendant of this son in the twelfth tribe will be Hercules, the archer, who will come here to save Prometheus – even against the will of Zeus. “And if Zeus does not allow?” “Then Zeus will perish.” – “Who will destroy him?” – “Himself, thinking up an unreasonable marriage.” – “What?” “I will not say a word more.” Then the conversation ends: Io again feels the tip of the gadfly, again falls into madness and desperately rushes away. Chorus Okeanid sings: “May the gods desire us: their love is terrible and dangerous.”
It is said of the past, it is said about the future; Now the terrible present is on the line. Here comes the servant and messenger of Zeus – the god Hermes. Prometheus despises him as a hanger of the hosts of the Olympians. “What did you say about the fate of Zeus, about unreasonable marriage, about the threatening death? Admit it, or bitterly suffer!” “It is better to suffer than to serve as a servant, and I am immortal, I saw the fall of Uranus, the fall of Crohn, and I see the fall of Zeus.” – “Beware: be to you in the underground Tartarus, where the Titans are tormented, and then stand here with an early wake in your side, and the eagle will peck your liver.” “I knew all this beforehand, let the gods rage, I hate them!” Hermes disappears – and indeed Prometheus exclaims: “The earth shook around, / And the lightning curls, and the thunder rumbles… / O Heaven, O Holy Mother, Earth, / Look: I suffer innocently!”