PROMETHEUS UNBOUND by A D Hope
Still fettered, still unconquered, still in pain,
Bold in his hope and steadfast in his right
The Friend of Man on the Caucasian height
Saw one vast flash to northward blast the plain.
As Hermes, swooping down, struck off the chain
And raised him, smiling, in that dazzling light,
‘Does the old tyrant, then, repent his spite,’
He asked, ‘or has Zeus ceased at last to reign?’
‘His wisdom is not mocked,’ the god replied,
‘Nor alters nor repeals the great decree.
These are his words: “Go set the Titan free;
And let his torment be to wander wide
The ashes of mankind from sea to sea,
Judging that theft of fire from which they died.”’
If I remember the rightly, the title of this poem is taken from a painting of the legend. I can't remember why Prometheus was unbound (or if he was) in the legend, but am I right in concluding that in this poem Hope postulates him being released to wander to see the consequence of his theft of fire for mankind, ie that it has led to makind destroyed itself and the world with atomic bombs. Or is it just the end of the original legend?
According to Wiki [en.wikipedia.org] both Aesculus and Shelly wrote plays called Prometheus Unbound.
And in Greek legend it was Hercules not Hermes who freed him.
In Hope's poem it certainly sounds as if he wants us to read it as we are destroyed by war.
From my understanding, heracles released him as he would anyone in such a situation.
Thanks Linda and Johnny - instead of trawling paintings, I'll go back to my Greek Legends. I love Hope, he leads me on such nice journeys, but I have little time to follow them at present, so short cuts from e-mule are a real Godsend.