Prometheus Bound

by: Aeschylus

Important Quotations Explained

My poor friend, give up this angry mood of yours and look for means of getting yourself free of trouble. Maybe what I say seems to you both old and commonplace; but this is what you pay, Prometheus, for that tongue of yours which talked so high and haughty: you are not yet humble, still you do not yield to your misfortunes, and you wish, indeed, to add some more to them; now, if you follow me as a schoolmaster you will not kick against the pricks, seeing that he, the King, that rules alone, is harsh and sends accounts to no one's audit for the deeds he does.

This occurs in lines 316 to 328, and it is the first advice Oceanus offers Prometheus after appearing on the scene. Oceanus is a collaborator. Though he clearly does not fully approve of Zeus, he is unwilling to openly criticize the tyrant because he fears his power. Oceanus counsels Prometheus to follow the path that he himself is following: obey, and obey quietly. It is obvious from the beginning that Prometheus will not partake of any such advice, which adds to the feeling that Oceanus is offering his help only for the sake of appearances. We see throughout that Prometheus is too extreme and is punished, in part, for his excesses of defiance. Since Oceanus does not know the future as Prometheus does, it is natural for him to counsel Prometheus to drop this excess. Oceanus does not know that reconciliation will eventually come. The problem with Oceanus's advice is not that he advocates moderation, since moderation is the ancient Greek moral norm. The problem is that Oceanus advocates moderation not for its own sake, but out of fear. Oceanus is not a moral character; he is merely a prudent bureaucrat and, compared to the heroically defiant Prometheus, rather boring.