Essay on Promethean Motif

3036 Words May 14th, 2012 13 Pages
Promethean Motif

Humankind’s pursuit of knowledge is represented in the Prometheus myth. The punishment of Prometheus is a reflection of the double nature of knowledge: it can be used for the benefit or the destruction of humanity. The influence and legacy of the Promethean myth can be traced through history. It has been reused and recycled until it holds a distinctly familiar, yet strangely obscure grip on the imagination. There is no doubt that the Promethean tradition has become an everyday aspect of literary and artistic society: Shakespearean lines such as “Women’s eyes are the source of true Promethean fire” to “And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes, than is Prometheus tied to the Caucaus” illustrate this.
The great Romantic
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Hera is merely an extension of Zeus’s all encompassing power. During these scenes Prometheus is silent; he has turned his attention away from the outer world and is concentrating on his inner one: “turn your thoughts elsewhere; now is not the time to speak”. Meditation on his far off salvation appears to be his only comfort. Prometheus' struggle has become internalised, it is now a fight for the human spirit.
The struggle of the individual against a superior power is a very common emblem to us today. The history of this cultural myth can be traced back to human necessity; when in our embryonic stage of intellectual development we needed to make sense of our surroundings, in our effort to begin to explain the unexplainable the myth was born.
In the early nineteenth century, the Promethean figure became a central theme/ideal in English literature. Poets, like Lord George Gordon Byron, began writing in the revolutionary spirit of the times and using Prometheus as a symbol of protest against religion, morality, limitations to human endeavors, prejudice, and the abuse of power (Mayerson 46). Byron uses the character of Prometheus to create a poem that becomes a model for rebellion. He makes the Promethean myth a parable for the romantic imagination; Prometheus preoccupied Byron as a symbol of triumphant individualism. For Byron, capturing the imagination in art

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