School of Communication
Primary Subject Area
Prometheus Bound (ca. 430 B.C.), Aeschylus’s sweeping tragedy of suffering and injustice, has been the subject of critics for centuries because of its episodic structure and unique themes. Though, like much of the rest of Aeschylus’s corpus, it does not align with the criteria of effective tragedy according to the standards of Aristotle’s Poetics (ca. 330 B.C.), Aeschylus achieves the tragic by placing Prometheus in a state of suspension between his own divine nature and his affinity for humankind, a nearly unheard of stasis in a world where the chasm between gods and men was no small one. In receiving his punishment for giving men fire, Prometheus experiences the very suffering which he hoped to spare men, and chained to the edge of a cliff where an eagle descends to consume his daily-replenished liver, Prometheus cries out against the existential anguish to which he is unjustly condemned.