Prometheus is free

Summary of Prometheus bound

Athens in the fifth century BC

In the Persian Wars in the fifth century BC The Greek states successfully asserted themselves. With that went in the year 447 BC. BC the establishment of the Attic League, which Athens presided over. As a result of these events, the first democratic state order developed in Athens. However, the decisive power in the state remained the strategist Pericleswho ensured internal harmony primarily by eliminating his opponents.

The peace agreement with the Persian Empire was followed by a phase of external peace for Athens, which enabled a previously unknown economic, cultural and political upswing. During this time, poetry in particular flourished (Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides), historiography (Herodotus), the visual arts (Phidias), The medicine (Hippocrates of Kos) and philosophy (Socrates). Magnificent structures like the Parthenon were erected, and the Athenians saw themselves as the crown of mankind. At the annual festival of the Great Dionysia, the latest dramas were performed to edify the people and - depending on the success of the audience - awards were made.

Politically troubled times soon followed: in the years from 431 BC onwards. During the Peloponnesian War there were repeated clashes with neighboring states, especially with Sparta. Internally, however, the heyday continued: in terms of culture, Athens became a model for all of Greece and remained the most important spiritual center in the known world until the rise of Rome.


Like all ancient poets, Aeschylus also made use of the almost inexhaustible fund of myths of gods and heroes, for example those of Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey were collected. Important sources for the Prometheus myth were Hesiods Major works that Theogony and the poem Works and days. However, Hesiod had different priorities in dealing with the subject. Further elements of the myth can be found at Pindar, among others in the Isthmia.

Prometheus bound is the first part of a trilogy. In the second piece, The liberated Prometheus, Prometheus reappears from the underworld in the Caucasus. Some fragments of this piece have come down to us, among other things about the cruel attacks of the eagle. After Heracles kills the eagle, Prometheus is freed on Zeus ’orders - but only when someone else is willing to accept his punishment. The third piece in the trilogy has not survived. There is no clear indication of the content. It is with Prometheus fire bearer titled and probably deals with the customs of the Attic Prometheus festival. Aeschylus also included the story of Io and her descendants in the drama The asylum seekers away.

Impact history

Aeschylus significantly influenced the work of his famous successors Sophocles and Euripides. This was already the case in antiquity Prometheus bound as Aeschylus ’best and most important tragedy. However, voices were raised early on that his authorship was due to various discrepancies between Prometheus bound and other pieces. This question has not yet been conclusively clarified - Aeschylus' fame did not diminish the suspicion: After his death, his pieces were the first to be performed again - until then, new pieces had to be written for the Dionysia.

The Prometheus material has been picked up countless times over the centuries in the visual arts as well as in literature and music. The adaptations include works as diverse as the Sturm und Drang poem Prometheus of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1785), the satire The poorly bound Prometheus of André Gide (1899) and an opera in ancient Greek by Carl Orff (1968). The versatility of the Prometheus myth was made by Hans Blumenberg detailed in his work Work on the myth (1979) investigated. In philosophy, the story of the fire-bringer Prometheus served great minds like Plato, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche as a parable that can be used flexibly for the respective argumentation. To the philosopher Hans Jonas the modern interpretation of the Prometheus saga goes back to the fact that every technical innovation can also have dark sides and negative consequences. Against this background, the chemical element promethium was named after the ancient hero in 1945. The Prometheus motif was also used in the science fiction genre - so in Stanislaw Lems novel Solaris and in Ridley ScottsAlien-Prequel Prometheus - Dark Signs - picked up.