Promethean Motif

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Promethean Motif

Humankind’s pursuit of knowledge is represented in the Prometheus myth. The punishment of Prometheus is a reflection of the double nature of knowledge: it can be used for the benefit or the destruction of humanity. The influence and legacy of the Promethean myth can be traced through history. It has been reused and recycled until it holds a distinctly familiar, yet strangely obscure grip on the imagination. There is no doubt that the Promethean tradition has become an everyday aspect of literary and artistic society: Shakespearean lines such as “Women’s eyes are the source of true Promethean fire” to “And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes, than is Prometheus tied to the Caucaus” illustrate this.
The great Romantic
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Byron’s verses mingle defiance and hope with melancholy and despair.
“Prometheus” begins with the apostrophized appellation Titan and a question, “What was thy pity’s recompense?” In other words, what was it that the Titan, Prometheus, gained in return for giving his attention to human suffering, “…things that gods despise”. The answer is the silent suffering of the rock, the vulture and the chain, for eternity. As punishment for his aid to humans, Prometheus must take on human qualities and suffering similar to that which the gods previously inflicted upon man (Dennis 145). Byron goes on to say later in the poem that the “precepts” (the principles of a course of action or conduct) turn Prometheus into a symbol/model for Man. The Titan’s response to his condition, his “precepts,”--Prometheus is silent throughout his suffering. He will not speak “…but in loneliness,” and even then, he is jealous should the sky listen in, nor will he utter a sigh for fear of the echo.
Why does Byron silence his Titan so? In Aeschylus’s "Prometheus Bound," the sentenced Titan is reprimanded by the Chorus about his far from silent speech (Dennis 145-146), “You are free of tongue, too free”. Dennis believes that rebellion against power (Zeus) can be thought, but not effected (146). Prometheus’ easy tongue is an expression of his powerless situation. For example, Prometheus says, “I care less than nothing for Zeus. Let
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