Prometheus Bound centers on a battle for power between Prometheus, the hero, and Zeus, the king of the gods. Doesn't seem quite fair, does it?: Prometheus spends most of his time chained to a rock, while Zeus is the master of the universe, with the ability to hurl fire and lightning, cast Prometheus into the depths of the earth, and command the other gods. But "other gods" is the key here: even if Hephaestus and Oceanus and Power and Violence hop to it to do Zeus's bidding, Prometheus refuses. No matter what, Prometheus stays true to himself—and keeps his secret knowledge hidden. Is that real power? Or is Prometheus just as naïve as a college freshman on a hunger strike?
Questions About Power
- According to the play, does might make right, right make might, or neither?
- Who is the most powerful character in the play? Why? Where does that power come from?
- The play begins with a personification of the god of Power. Why does he only appear at the beginning of the play?
- Though he is one of the most important figures in the play, Zeus never appears onstage as a character. Why might the playwright have chosen to leave him offstage? Is he more powerful as an invisible, menacing figure?
Chew on This
Ultimately, Prometheus's knowledge of the future makes him more powerful than Zeus.
Zeus ends up seeming more powerful than Prometheus because he remains offstage.