Prometheus Bound

by: Aeschylus

Themes

Main ideas Themes

Fire

Fire is a very obvious and transparent symbol. It is important, however, that it has the status of a symbol. At the time Prometheus Bound was written, the myth of Prometheus's theft of fire and his punishment was well known. Aeschylus, however, does not dwell on the fire itself, either as cause of Prometheus's punishment or as an item of human value. We can note that Prometheus's theft of fire, while presented as the immediate reason for his punishment, is overshadowed by his further offences, such as defiance to Zeus and his extreme love for humanity. Similarly, Prometheus lists a number of gifts he has given to humanity, fire being only one of these. Interestingly, almost all of the skills Prometheus has taught to humanity do not rely on fire. Fire, then, is presented not as a literal ground of all human progress, but as a symbol of all technological and artistic advancement.