Oceanus Essay

1263 words - 5 pages

SummaryOceanus, the Titan representing the ocean the Greeks believed circled the entire world, enters on a flying beast. Getting straight to the point, Oceanus expresses his friendship for Prometheus, offers his pity, and insists on going to Zeus immediately to bail Prometheus out. Meanwhile, he suggests, Prometheus should keep silent and stop provoking Zeus. Prometheus refuses this offer categorically, replying that Oceanus can achieve nothing by standing up for him. When Oceanus persists, Prometheus says that he would rather not have anyone suffer at the hands of Zeus on his behalf, since it already pains him that his brothers suffer Zeus's wrath. Oceanus asks whether Prometheus does not know that words are best for healing, but Prometheus responds that words only heal when spoken at the proper time. If Oceanus interferes, he will only bring Zeus's wrath down on them both. With this, Oceanus departs.The Chorus again repeats that they shed tears for Prometheus, and that the entire world that was old before Zeus mourns for the suffering of Prometheus and his Titan brothers at the hands of the new tyrant. They say they have seen only one other Titan bound and tortured in this way: Atlas, who holds the world. Prometheus replies by summarizing all he has done for humanity. He taught human beings how to use numbers and language so they could remember what they have learned. He showed the paths of the stars and taught the use of ships. He also first harnessed animals so that they could do the work of human beings. Prometheus also introduced medicine and prophecy and divination through dreams, birds, sacrifice, and fire. Finally, he showed how to draw metals from the earth. Prometheus insists that he is responsible for all the arts of humanity.The Chorus suggests that Prometheus helped humanity too much without thinking of himself, but he replies that his suffering is necessary, and he must bow to necessity like everyone else including Zeus. Here Prometheus comes close to revealing his secret prophecy, but then explains that he cannot reveal it to the Chorus because it will free him in the end only if he keeps it secret. The Chorus affirms their commitment to following the laws of Zeus and sings that Prometheus should not have helped creatures who cannot help him back.Finally, they contrast the mournful songs they sing for him now with the songs they sang before to celebrate his marriage to their sister Hesione.AnalysisThe exchange between Oceanus and Prometheus demonstrates further features of Zeus's servants, as well as Prometheus's character. Oceanus's sincerity in offering to help Prometheus does appear questionable. Prometheus, in any case, treats it with some sarcasm and is fairly terse in dismissing his would-be savior. Oceanus, meanwhile, does not get off his flying beast, and as he leaves even comments how eager his animal is to return home. Clearly Oceanus is drawn to offer help because of his bonds of kinship-Prometheus is a fellow Titan.At...

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