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the god of wine.
The concept of “dramatic performance” developed slowly over time. Originally, there was only the Chorus, a group of singers/dancers accompanied by an aulos (a pip
- e). They sung and danced a dithyramb, a song in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine.
- (As we all know, wine and dancing are two peas in a pod!)
In the 6th century BCE, Thespis decided to incorporate spoken verse into the song and added an actor to interact with the Chorus. This actor could take on the rol
es of many characters with the aid of different masks. Thus “dramatic performance” was born.
___________ is thus credited with being the “father of Tragedy.”
At the end of the 6th century, Aeschylus (c. 524-456 BCE) added a second actor to prometheus bound. This greatly expanded the dramatic potential as the two actors
, who each could take on multiple roles, could interact with each other to create conflict.
When you read Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, pay attention to who is “on stage.” You will notice that there is
only a maximum of two actors and the chorus at any given time.
It is likely that the Chorus in particular may puzzle you. In Aeschylus’ plays, the Chorus is equally important as the actors. The Chorus fulfills a number of functions, including:
- advising the characters portrayed by the actors
- reflecting public opinion
- heightening dramatic tension
- reflecting upon what has happened in the play
Aeschylus wrote tragedies to be performed at the “City Dionysia,” a festival to Dionysus held in Athens at the end of March, six months after the wine harvest when the new wine was ready to be opened and tasted! The festival was thus
- a celebration of Dionysus and his fruits.
- At the same time, it was a celebration of the city of Athens and its greatness.
- had two unique aspects of trajedy at their core.
As a Dionysian rite, these tragedies captured the spirit of Dionysus, a strange god, almost barbaric, who could
turn the world on its head and drive normal, sane individuals to frenzy and madness.
Dionysus, a strange god,
As a civic function, these tragedies captured the spirit of Athens and her people. Athenians were tremendously
proud at having sloughed the yoke of tyranny in the 7th century BCE and at having established democratic reforms and institutions.
Tragedies celebrated this
- democratic spirit and
- the greatness of Athens.
Prometheus Bound was probably
part of a trilogy which culminated in his release.
"The play ""Prometheus Bound"":
- Zeus is now _________, and, like any new ruler, is busy ___________. "
- "consolidating his power
- crushing all dissenters."
"The play ""Prometheus Bound"":
- The only Titans on Zeus' side were…"
- "Prometheus and
- his mother"
Who was the father of Kronos (Cronus)
"Zeus' father, who had overthrown his own father _____.
"The play ""Prometheus Bound"" is set after the Olympian gods, led by ___, have overthrown the _____, the older race of gods led by ______, Zeus' father, who had overthrown his own father _____.
- Kronos (Cronus),
- Ouranos (Uranus)"
Compare the depictions of Zeus and Prometheus in the two texts of Hesiod and in Aeschylus. What might account for the different representations?
Hesiod depicts Zeus as glorious zenith of
creation and bringer of cosmic order and dispenser of divine law.
Aeschylus: depicts Zeus as .
oppressive tyrant over gods and men
This play is unusual in that it takes place
- "outside the realm of the polis,
- at the edge of the known world,
- outside the realm of civilization.
- Consider the significance of this setting."
Words to watch for:
binding, constraint, necessity, limit, new, tyranny
The god Might's antagonism towards Prometheus represents an important pattern in Greek thought wherein
force is opposed to guile; note Prometheus' account of this.
In general, how does Zeus come off in Prometheus Bound? Note that he is called
What effect does the constant reference to Zeus as the Father have in Prometheus Bound?
The chorus consists of the daughters of
- Contrast their attitude to Prometheus with the characters in the first scene."
Why introduce Io here at line 561? What is the function of this scene for the play as a whole?
Prometheus lays out Zeus' possible futures: either
- "mate with a goddess who will bear his conqueror or
- release Prometheus and learn the future before it is too late. That the descendant of Io will release Prometheus is Heracles (""a man renowned for archery"")."
Why is Prometheus being punished?
Prometheus gave fire to men.(To Aeschylus, there is more to it than just that)
Note now that Zeus punishes him not for stealing fire but for _______. Has Prometheus crossed a line so that he now shows himself to be ______________?
- "this refusal.
- excessively prideful and foolishly stubborn"
Zeus is bullying Prometheus ___________ The drama closes with Hermes' announcement of Prometheus' full punishment because Prometheus has ___________.
- "into giving up his secret.
- refused to divulge his prophecy to Zeus."
Like his father and grandfather, Zeus does not want the trend of
generational struggle between father and son to continue.
Prometheus holds the
secret about which son it will be that will challenge Zeus for cosmic supremacy.
Contrast Prometheus’ punishment (_________________) against Io’s punishment (____________). Both are opposite, but equally torturous to the sufferer. Each sufferer desires the other’s punishment.
- "forced stationary imprisonment in a hellish environment
- permanent wandering over all ends of the earth"
Role of men:
almost entirely absent, mere pawns in the cosmic game of supremacy.
Prometheus as __________ vs. Zeus as __________
- "champion of man
- destroyer of man"
Prometheus is a
- "trickster figure, and in mythologies throughout the world the tricks of the trickster often lead, in the end, to benefits for man and society.
- Prometheus’ tricks are a curse to the gods but a blessing to men"
Consider how the drama would have appeared visually, as a production in Athens, including such possible aspects as
spectacular costuming, and the contrast between static and mobile characters.