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Prometheus Bound

Prometheus Bound


by Aeschylus

Prometheus Bound Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

POWER. Strike harder, squeeze him, don't leave any slack! He's very clever at finding ways out of impossible situations.

HEPHAESTUS. Well, this arm is fixed so it can hardly be freed.

POWER. Then pin down that other one safely too, so that he'll learn, this intellectual, that Zeus is cleverer than he is.

HEPHAESTUS. [as he finishes clamping the arms] I've got to do it; you needn't keep ordering me.

POWER. I most certainly shall order you, in fact I'll hound you on. Now put the armpit-bands around his rib-cage. (54-71)

Hey, at least Hephaestus and Power take pride in their work. As they nail Prometheus up, they make us focus on the most basic fact about this play: that the protagonist spends the whole duration chained up. But the added dimension is that even Hephaestus doesn't think he's acting freely; instead, he feels that Power and Zeus are compelling him to act as he does. This sets up another one of the play's key themes: the question of who's really free—the man in chains, or the ones who are being forced to tie him up?

Quote #2

PROMETHEUS. [L]ook, see in what bonds I am pinned to the topmost cliffs of this ravine to keep an unenviable watch! (136-144)

And he just won't let it go. Prometheus may be mentally free, but he sure does seem to see himself as chained up.

Quote #3

PROMETHEUS. Such contrivances have I invented for mortals, yet, wretched that I am, I have no device by which I can escape from my present sufferings.

In this exchange, Prometheus reveals what he sees as the key irony of his situation. Even though he used his cleverness help humans, he can't escape his own present imprisonment. Part of his frustration here seems to be that his talents are all chained up, too.

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