Prometheus Essay, Research Paper
Hesiod and Aeschylus both tell the tale of Prometheus, the god that stole fire from Olympus and gave it to man. Each author takes a different position on the matter: Hesiod condemns Prometheus and man, while Aeschylus celebrates them, which is evident in several characteristics of the myth. First, the role of the female in the relationship between man and gods in each myth is different. Hesiod, for example describes woman as an evil created by the gods to punish man for accepting fire. Woman was filled with desire for luxurious things and a treacherous nature to enable her to torment mankind. They named her Pandora. Pandora was given a gift of a box filled with all the evils in the world and was told not to open it. What does she do? She opens it. And released all the evils into the world, hope alone remained in the box. Aeschylus, on the other hand, uses the figure of Io as a sweet, innocent woman who was tormented by the gods and whose ancestor will free Prometheus one day. He doesn t even mention Pandora and the punishment of mankind. Io refused to sleep with Zeus and, in return she was exiled from home and was constantly hounded by the gadfly, the ghost of Argos. Argos pursued Io so that she constantly roams the Earth with no place to call home. A son descended from Io will free Prometheus from the rock he is eternally chained to. Woman is seen as the solution to the problem, whereas, in Hesiod, she is the cause of it. Secondly, The presentation of Zeus power is different in each myth. In Hesiod, Zeus is seen as a benevolent, just, and liberating presence, a step above all those who preceded him. Before Prometheus theft of fire, man could have produced enough grain in 1 day to feed him for the whole year. But because devious-minded Prometheus took advantage of Zeus goodwill, mankind was meant to suffer. Hesiod says that hope, the only thing left in Pandora s box, stayed because it was Zeus will. Aeschylus tells of an oppressive, unjust and fearful Zeus. Prometheus is not free to help mankind simply because its Zeus will. Hephaestus and the Chorus (the daughters of Oceanus) both pity Prometheus and express their opinions on how Zeus punishment is unjust. Prometheus warns Oceanus of Zeus wrath when he comes to visit, he fears that, if caught, his friend would suffer the same fate as he. The final difference between the two texts comes in the presentation of the human race. Hesiod sees mankind as an insect, almost a parasite. Prometheus is seen as devious because he helps this race of man thrive when it is against Zeus will. Zeus, in turn punishes mankind for Prometheus transgressions with woman. Aeschylus sees man as something worth fighting for, and Prometheus is their champion. Man is not punished in Aeschylus story as he is in Hesiod s. Prometheus does so much more to help mankind in this story: he gives them intelligence, fire, and, in this story, he gives them hope as well. Hesiod takes a view against Prometheus while Aeschylus defends him using the ideas of the woman, Zeus power, and the role of the human race to do it.