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Is the punishment of Prometheus in Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound just or unjust How does the play itself define justice - Essay Example

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Is the punishment of Prometheus in Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound just or unjust How does the play itself define justice

To be just is to act in total obedience to the will of Zeus, because men are not free, but only Zeus is: “Why, all things are a burden save to rule/ Over the Gods; for none is free but Zeus” (Aeschylus). On the other hand the play also points to another conception of justice, and that is justice in reference to how men and gods honor the value of friendship, and in the way actions of gods and men favor the development of men, the intellect, and human reason, over the arbitrary whims of a god like Zeus who has no regard for any of that. In this second sense then one can say that the punishment of Prometheus, who gave men the gifts of fire, hope, and the many different arts that have helped human civilization progress against blind and furious nature, and who helped Zeus besides in Zeus’ battle against the Titan, that that punishment is unjust. The rest of the paper develops this idea (Aeschylus; Allen; Irby-Massey). II. On the Justice of the Punishment Meted on Prometheus by Zeus In the beginning of the play we see that Prometheus was being punished, and that continuing punishment throughout the play also consisted in his public humiliation. The continued messages that Zeus sent to him while tied to a rock, through Zeus’ messengers in a way is also a form of punishment, of the gods sending messages to the chained intellect and human power. The crime, of course, consists in Aeschylus making use of his intellect and his developed abilities to give men not only hope but also the gift of fire, and with it we see later in the play that Prometheus further gifted man with the knowledge to better himself and his society, through the medical arts and the other beneficial sciences. This is a sin to Zeus and the gods, who seemed intent to keep men in an inferior and totally supplicated state in relation to them, totally dependent and obedient to whim. On the other hand, Prometheus’ gifts to men threatened to make them independent and in control of their fates, even in control of nature and its whims, as proxy of the gods itself. The continuing sin moreover is the defiance and the pride of Prometheus against his punishment and against Zeus himself and his agents. Instead of currying the favor of Zeus and asking for his mercy, Prometheus chooses to stand defiant and to find his comfort in the company of his friends. We see here two conceptions of justice, one in the eyes of the gods and the faithful and obedient servants of the gods, who see justice as what they see as fitting, what they want. Justice is the will of the gods, and the place of men is to obey that will, no matter how arbitrary and whimsical. The second conception of justice on the other hand takes into consideration human welfare, human progress, and values such as friendship and loyalty to friends, the trust in the wisdom of men and the capacity of men to better themselves. Justice in this second sense is also friendship with men and caring for their independence and capacity for self-reliance. Hence we make sense of the fire from Prometheus as in keeping with this intent. In this second sense it is the actions of Prometheus which are just and the actions of Zeus, who went against friendship values and who punished Prometheus, even though Prometheus helped Zeus to ...Show more

Summary

Justice in ‘Prometheus Bound’ by Aeschylus Table of Contents I. Introduction 3 II. On the Justice of the Punishment Meted on Prometheus by Zeus 3 Works Cited 10 I. Introduction The paper answers the question of whether or not the punishment meted to Prometheus in the play ‘Prometheus Bound’ by Aeschylus is just or not, and explores the meaning of justice as the play defines the concept…
Author : johnathonwittin
Is the punishment of Prometheus in Aeschylus Prometheus Bound just or unjust How does the play itself define justice essay example
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