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Themes

If Prometheus Bound is full of torture and suffering (um, yes), it's also a play full of compassion. Oceanus and Hephaestus express compassion for Prometheus—but they think he's kind of brought it on himself by defying Zeus. Throughout the play, we see compassion for Prometheus, himself, but not necessarily with his cause. Of all the characters in the play, the Chorus comes the closest to being in sympathy with Prometheus in this way, when, at the end of the play, they stand in solidarity with him, despite Hermes's threats. But even they flee the scene once Zeus starts tearing up the heavens and the earth. Which brings us to our question: do rebels always stand alone?

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Which character(s) in the play display(s) the most compassion?
  2. Why does Prometheus reject the compassion of those who offer it?
  3. Prometheus's actions on behalf of humans seem motivated by compassion. Does he show compassion to anyone else in the play?
  4. Does Prometheus expect that Zeus will ever forgive him? Does he even want forgiveness?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Chorus of daughters of Oceanus seems to display the most genuine passion for Prometheus.

Even though Prometheus supposedly showed compassion toward humans, he shows very little compassion toward anyone else. Most of the time, he seems to prefer manipulating people.

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