In Prometheus Bound, all the characters are keenly aware of the power of Zeus: his name is invoked as the one who decided on the punishment for Prometheus and his wrath is sensed by the others. For example, Prometheus describes Zeus as “hard-hearted” and “in constant anger with an unbending mind”. Under Zeus’s rule, Prometheus stole fire and then gave this element to humans, thereby upsetting the existing paradigm Zeus ruled. Zeus is a “tyrant” who trusts not his “family or friends”. Prometheus insightfully recognizes that Zeus’s leadership is tyrannical. While Ocean agrees with Prometheus’s assessment of Zeus as he says “our king’s a harsh one, and his rule unchecked” but at the same time there are other characters who do not hold this same opinion. Hephaestus for one, is unable to support Prometheus’s lamentation about Zeus’s excessive power and so does Hermes, son of Zeus, owing to his family loyalty. Hermes supports Zeus’s actions and affirms the Prometheus “wronged the gods in furnishing honors to mortals” which implies that to hold the element of fire is a right born solely by Zeus, Hephaestus and other worthy gods.
On the other hand, Zeus is a strong, albeit authoritarian leader for both the other gods and mortals. Zeus is required to rule, sometimes absolutely, and when someone under his rule commits an act of treason, he is required to address the issue. When Zeus the leader acts forcefully, the rest of those under his reign will get the message. Prometheus’s act of handing o...
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... she make an exception for Hippolytus. But by the end of the play she vows revenge against Aphrodite. “Cypris shall find the angry shafts she hurled against you for piety and innocence shall cost her dear. I’ll wait until she loves a mortal next time and with this hand-with these unerring arrows i’ll punish him.”
In both the plays the common theme that we can observe is that gods dont consider mortals important enough to either give them an important element that can make their lives easy, nor do they attach importance to a human life. The gods even amongst themselves have a complicated relationship. Their power has bounds amongst themselves but in the case of humans they exercise their power without any considerations or limitations.
Grene, David., and Richmond Alexander Lattimore. Greek Tragedies. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
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