Study Guide

Prometheus Bound Man and the Natural World

By Aeschylus

Man and the Natural World

Io is the only human to show up in Prometheus Bound, but conflict between man and the natural world is central to the play: basically, Prometheus gets on Zeus's bad side by helping humans to become more than beasts. The most important piece of knowledge Prometheus can impart to humans is the secret of fire—previously known only to the gods. Fire, in this play, doesn't merely make it possible to control the natural world; it will eventually help humans discover Facebook and Instagram. Hm, double-edged sword, indeed.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Prometheus claims that he gave humans all the technological knowledge that they possess. What do we learn about humans before Prometheus enlightened them? Did they ever exist in a state of oneness with nature?
  2. Does the play portray the natural world as friendly to humans, or hostile?
  3. Does Io's transformation into a cow represent any unity between humans and nature?
  4. How does humans' relationship to nature change after Prometheus shares his knowledge with them?

Chew on This

After Prometheus shares his knowledge with humans, they acquire power over nature similar to what the gods enjoy.

The play portrays nature as basically hostile to humans, but it also shows that humans can use technology to make nature more hospitable for them.