Aeschylus twice relies on ironic foreshadowing. Hephaestus comments that the man who can free Prometheus has not been born. Though Hephaestus means only that human beings are too weak to free Prometheus, his statement is in fact literally true. The Greek audience watching the play most likely knew that in the end Hercules, who has not been born yet, frees Prometheus. In another ironic comment, Kratus mockingly tells Prometheus that he will need foresight to escape from his imprisonment. Prometheus's name actually means foresight, and Kratus's remark is meant to ridicule the uselessness of foresight as well as the powerlessness of Prometheus. As we will soon see, however, Prometheus's foresight is exactly what he counts on to secure his eventual release.

Prometheus's crime is not as simple as it first appears. It is true that he is punished primarily for stealing fire and giving it to mortals. Comments by all three speakers here make clear that Prometheus is also being punished for loving humanity. Mythical accounts differ, but some suggest that Prometheus actually created human beings. As he reveals later in the play, he has also taught them almost everything of value. According to Hesiod, the earliest known writer of Greek myth, Zeus planned to destroy humanity by demanding that parts of animals slaughtered for food be sacrificed to him. Prometheus wrapped the bones in fat to make them look appetizing and tricked Zeus into accepting this part as his sacrifice while human beings kept the meat. This support for human beings in clear opposition to Zeus is the underlying reason for Prometheus's punishment. Finally, as Hephaestus emphasizes, Prometheus has betrayed his fellow gods by stealing the power of fire from them and giving it to undeserving mortals. Besides violating the laws of the gods, Prometheus has also disturbed the universal balance of power.

Kratus draws our attention to the most important conflict of the play: that between thought and force. Prometheus the thinker is bound by the brute strength of Zeus's agents. Kratus mentions that Prometheus is cunning and must be secured tightly to the rock to ensure he cannot escape. The power of Zeus is clearly contrasted with the seemingly useless forethought of Prometheus.

Aeschylus emphasizes the importance of necessity and its relation to time. Human beings are referred to as "creatures of a day," and so clearly inferior to the immortal gods. But while Zeus is immortal, he is not therefore an eternal ruler. Zeus's father Chronus overthrew his own father Uranus, and Zeus in turn overthrew Chronus. Chronus, like Prometheus, was one of the Titans and belonged to the older ruling class. Zeus is one of the younger gods, and the fact that he is a "new" ruler is mentioned repeatedly. The newness of Zeus's reign suggests that his position is not as stable as he would like to believe. Prometheus reveals that he has knowledge of the future and can see the extent of Zeus's power through time. As Prometheus tells us, the ultimate power is not Zeus, but necessity. Even the gods must live out their fate, and all they do is preordained. The important message here is that the passage of time is governed by necessity, by which both the mortals and the immortals are trapped. The gods may be superior to human beings, but the gap between them is not as wide as Zeus believes.

At the end of his first monologue, Prometheus hears the rustling of something approaching on wings. Having the gift of prophecy, Prometheus most likely knows that Zeus will in the future send an eagle to gnaw on his liver. Knowing this, Prometheus has reason to be afraid of anything approaching on wings. The threat of someone approaching from the sky is repeated throughout the play. Besides the Chorus, Oceanus and Hermes fly in from above. The sky is also the seat of Zeus's power, and he throws lightning bolts from above. The threat from above is particularly sharp for Prometheus in contrast to his own position. He is chained to the rock and cannot move, while others—whether friends or enemies—are free to fly around him.