A New Translation by Joel Agee -- Commisioned by The J. Paul Getty Museum
I did not have any plans to read an Ancient Greek drama this month, I read a number of them in the long ago, but when I was offered a review copy of a new translation of Prometheus Bound done by Joel Agee published by The New York Review of Books and commissioned by The J. Paul Getty Museum I felt the pedigree was just to high to pass up.
Aeschylus (525 to 456 BC) was the first Greek Dramatist, proceeding Sophocles and Euripides. There is now, as detailed by Joel Agee in his very interesting and informative introduction, scholarly controversary existing over who really wrote Prometheus Bound, some put the first performance date as 430 BC but no one has been put forth as an alternative author. I guess this matters most to scholars.
What has come down through history as Prometheus Bound is 11 fragments of a full drama. The basic plot has passed into the common literary consciousness. Prometheus stole fire from the Gods so Zeus had him bound to the side of a mountain. The drama, as were all Greek Dramas, is simultaneously making religious and political statements. Prometheus represents the liberation to humanity that knowledge of nature, of science, can bring to humanity. Zeus wants humanity kept in total thrall to the capricious forces and whims of the Gods and this conflict drives the drama.
Reading the fragments was a deeply moving experience, like being at the very start of one of the great streams of western literature. There are many themes in Prometheus Bound that would make for interesting class room discussion.
I would love to see this preformed one day.
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