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Kindness that cannot be requited, tell me, where is the help in that, my friend? What succor in creatures of a day? You did not see the feebleness that draws its breath in gasps, a dreamlike feebleness by which the race of men is held in bondage, a blind prisoner. So the plans of men shall never pass the ordered law of Zeus.
In lines 546 to 553, the Chorus offers this counsel to Prometheus having heard the list of his contributions to humanity. Like Oceanus, the Oceanids advocate subservience to Zeus out of fear of his power. Yet the Oceanids clearly show genuine sympathy for Prometheus. The point that the Chorus makes here is different from the one Oceanus had made in the first quotation above. He had simply suggested that Prometheus should give in to Zeus out of fear. The Chorus, on the other hand, suggests that Prometheus has acted wrongly only insofar as his action was pointless. He helped human beings, but this was useless for him since human beings cannot offer him anything in return, and since in the end Zeus will never accept humanity anyway. The Chorus is not suggesting that Prometheus should bow down in fear, but that he should pick his causes more wisely. The Chorus does advocate prudence, but it also advocates something more than that: acceptance of inevitability. Unlike Prometheus, the Oceanids do not have any definite picture of the future. As a result, they believe what it is natural to believe, that Zeus will remain triumphant and all his enemies will be destroyed. In light of such a belief, the Oceanids offer the advice appropriate to the situation.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Prometheus Bound!