Questo numero doppio 2012-2013 di Aevum antiquum raccoglie le versioni scritte, ampliate e talora profondamente rimaneggiate, degli interventi tenuti nell’ambito di due Giornate di Studi presso la sede di Brescia dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore negli anni accademici 2012/2013 e 2013/2014, nell’intento di approfondire la fortuna di un personaggio mitico, Prometeo, che è andato ben oltre le caratteristiche delle opere letterarie antiche che l’hanno consacrato, fino ad assumere la funzione di autentico codice culturale collettivo.
The comparative method has shown that the motif of theft of fire appears in a large number of narratives from all over the world. The Greek myth of Prometheus, then, is part of a broader framework of ethnological narratives that feature the character of the trickster. While Prometheus gives people the fire, Hermes teaches them how to obtain it, introducing a significant cultural progress. Some elements of the episode of the theft of fire link Loki, the Nordic trickster, to Prometheus. As demonstrated by Ugo Bianchi, various folk tales from all over the world show striking typological, psychological and religious similarities with stories and teachings of great historical dualisms. The myth of Prometheus, as founder of aspects of actual reality, is therefore expression of a dualistic conception.
In his double narration of myths related to Prometheus, Hesiod proves to rework traditional narratives in different ways. This is particularly true with regard to the Pandora of the Works and Days, in which the author is probably overlapping two different figures: the ‘beautiful evil’ sent by gods to men, and the progenitor of the female gender. In this context are of great importance Hesiod’s false etymologies, whose purpose is to accredit its own version of the myth: for example, about Prometheus / Epimetheus or about Pandora.
This paper offers a survey of the fragments of Prometheus Unbound, a lost tragedy attributed to Aeschylus in antiquity, which was a sequel of the preserved Prometheus Bound. Aeschylus’ authorship of both dramas has been denied by modern scholars.
The paper offers a survey of the surviving fragments of Aeschylus’ lost satyr-play Prometheus (staged in 472 BC), including those assigned to the play by conjecture. The analysis of the content (especially of the papyrus fragments grouped under nr. 204 Radt) confirms the view that the drama focused on the theft of the fire by Prometheus; but probably aetiological elements, concerning the invention of the torch-race and the role and behaviour of the messengers, were also involved in the action. If so, they reflect perhaps impressive contemporary events of the Persian Wars, like extraordinary performances by running messengers as Phidippides or the beacon system used by Mardonius to deliver messages to the Great King across the Aegean Sea. The subtitle Pyrkaeus (Fire-Lighter) given by Pollux is not necessarily a mistake of the lexicographer (or his source) and may have been suggested by a particular scene of the drama, even if one accepts the identification of the play with the Pyrphoros (Fire-Bearer) listed in the Medicean Catalogue; at any rate, the possibility that the two plays were distinct and the latter was a tragedy cannot be ruled out.
This paper is intended to offer a reappraisal of an important, but underestimated dialogue of Lucian, especially with regard to its intertextual relationship with classical authors (Hesiod, Aeschylus, Plato) and to its place in Lucian’s ideology, literary programme and corpus.
In this essay the Author tried to offer a systematic survey of the presence of the myth of Prometheus in Latin poetry. Analysing and comparing the most significant quotations, he looked for the aspects of the myth which Latin poets, their clients and their public liked the most, and, otherwise, which they tried to overlook, disguise or hide. When possible, the results were compared with the Greek sources of the myth, with the quotations in Latin prose, and with different kinds of artistic expression (theater, plastic arts). Sometimes, the analysis of the passages directly or indirectly regarding Prometheus (especially in the case of Catullus, Horace, Vergil and Ovid poems) allows us to examine in detail the manifold hermeneutical standpoints about the whole poem which is being discussed.
This study proposes an analysis of the main modes of representation of the myth of Prometheus in the Greek and the Roman world, with focus on the different contexts of production and assimilation in respect of vase, sculpture, painting and mosaic iconography. It consists of two parts. The first part aims to inquire about the Greek Prometheus, by going through the essential themes of the myth as recorded by the figurative documentation: the punishment and the liberation; the relationship between Hera and Prometheus; the complex semantic relationship between Titan and the satyrs; the representation, either express or suggested, of the Caucasus, bearing an original schema which will be largely reproduced in the Roman age. The gift of fire is the quid proprium, more or less disclosed and variously expressed, of the Greek iconography of Prometheus, in respect of which certain articulated valences of a funerary, sacred, theatrical, cultural and political nature have been unfolded. The famous theme of punishment and liberation is also recorded in the Roman documentation but here the core is the mud, which is intended as the essential and substantial material of the anthropogony. The second part of the study is divided in two sections, with the purpose of investigating, respectively, the modes and the reasons for the re-proposition of the punished and released Prometheus and the processing of the new theme of Prometheus figulus, who is firstly dealt in the ‘italic’ gems and then demanded in the imperial age, particulary by a certain senatorial and intellectual élite.
Among several references to Prometheus which can be found in Western civilization between late Middle-Ages and Renaissance, the works of Giovanni Boccaccio (as a mythographer), Piero di Cosimo (as a painter), and Francis Bacon (as a philosopher), far from being simply summaries of traditional themes, offer original versions of the Promethean symbol.
This paper focuses on the two most significant works that the young Goethe dedicated to the figure of Prometheus: a poem and a dramatic fragment. Both of them are very important and significant documents of the Sturm und Drang rebellion against the cultural, artistic and religious traditions that characterized the context in which Goethe grew up and in which he became aware of his identity as an artist. On the one hand we see the artistic genius who refuses any form of constraint or rule and acts as a titan, on the other hand, thanks to these texts, it is possible to detect the first signs of an artistic and human evolution that will lead Goethe away from the arrogant titan to the classical ideal of harmony, measure and awareness of human limits.
The article surveys the interest of some British Second Generation Romantic authors in the myth of Prometheus, showing interconnections (both textual and biographical) between the interpretations of Byron, P.B. Shelley and Mary Shelley. This discussion is followed by a text of P.B. Shelley’s hitherto unpublished translation of Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound (Bodleian MS. Shelley adds. c. 5. fols. 73-84).
Beethoven’s encounter with Aeschylus’ poetry is characterised by the culture of his time in its Enlightenment aspects and in some ‘anticipations’ typical of the first Romanticism. Prometheus character fascinates the musician because of his philanthropic merits and his heroic temperament as opposed to the ‘tyrant’ Zeus. Moreover The Creatures of Prometheus mark a turning point in Beethoven’s production both in his musical and in his existential choices; the example of the Titan reproposes the ancient theme of man hit by an implacable fate and witnesses – in the course of a lifetime – the privileged relationship that Beethoven had with the Greek culture: with the Greek tragedy in general and with the Aeschylus one in particular.
Elizabeth Barrett translated Aeschylus’ Prometheus twice: the first version was published in 1833 (Prometheus Bound and Miscellaneous Poems), whereas the second in 1850 (Poems). This paper analyzes the preface which Elizabeth Barrett wrote for the 1833 edition and which is a very interesting essay, both erudite and poetical. One of the aims of the preface is to give reasons for her translation: her version of Prometheus is accounted for by her observations on the theory of translation – especially by the defence of individuality and multiplicity –, and by her conception of classics as necessary tools in contemporary aesthetics. Secondly, Barrett recognizes Aeschylus’ excellence and, in particular, the Prometheus’ superiority upon his other tragedies in the fact that the Titan is the only heroic character with whom the reader identifies emotionally and exclusively. The last and most important contribution of the preface lies in the fact that it provides a justification for Barrett’s decision to include, after Aeschylus’ translation, her own poems: she accomplishes this in asserting the right of making her personal voice heard.
Péladan’s Prométhéide was written in 1893 and published in 1895. In the Preface of the trilogy Péladan had quoted a letter of Émile Burnouf, a famous French scholar of ancient Greek literature, in which the latter testified that the play was philologically correct. Burnouf proclaimed his certainty that Aeschylus’s work was an esoteric introduction to mysteries, a mystical ritual which main goal was the revelation of religious truth to the public. As it is known, only one of the three Aeschylus’ tragedies on the Titan is left, Prometheus Unbound. Péladan pretended to have ‘restored’ the two lost tragedies, the Fire Thief and Prometheus released, and to have translated the only one we do have. Yet his interpretation of Aeschylus’ work is an esoteric one, in which he tries to balance the values of ancient Greek culture and the Christian Revelation: Péladan’s Prometheus is the creator and savior of humankind, the precursor of Christ. Prometheus’ sacrifice is interpreted by Péladan as an anticipation of Christ’s suffering for the salvation of mankind, as his Aeschylus ‘translation’ demonstrates: the Greek Prometheus suffers ‘for the destiny of his brothers’, while Péladan’s hero suffers ‘in his brothers’. His suffering is, furthermore, a ‘suffering for justice’, an expression that concludes the three Péladan’s tragedies and exhibits the deep sense of his work. His Prometheus is moreover a Symbolist character, without a realistic personality and without a real risk of dramatic conflict: an absolute character, indeed.
The paper focuses on Prometheus’ iconography, that had great spread in European art from the 1860’s and the first decades of the 20th century. The topic has been so far poorly deepened in a specific manner. After Baroque, that used to emphasize on gruesome and macabre aspects of Prometheus’ myth, the figure of the Titan partially went back to the top during Romanticism; but it is mainly in the Symbolist age that the myth was taken up with increasing frequency and intensity by the artists, often in the framework of its esoteric-theosophical (sometimes gnostic) interpretation. From this point of view, the figure of Prometheus assumes evident allegorical meanings, as emblem of man’s liberation from the restrictions of his condition: stealing fire from the gods becomes the paradigm for spiritual elevation, that is the aspiration to unburden from constraints and subordination to ascend towards Knowledge; hence Prometheus as a ‘great initiate’ (referring to the title of a famous book by Edouard Schuré). Moreover, this instrumental reference to mythology (not only Greek-Roman) is one of the most typical features of symbolist art, that loved charming and sometimes disturbing characters of ancient sagas, conferring them semantic and metaphorical values that transcended the traditional ones. The examined works are different and representative and they do not mean to retrace a complete repertoire: they range from well-known artists such as Gustave Moreau and Arnold Böcklin to Jean Delville and František Kupka, until the Italian Carlo Fontana and Filippo Figari.
Among the characters belonging to classical mythology Prometheus is a significant point of reference that accompanied Nietzsche’s philological studies and philosophical reflection since the years of his early adolescence to the full maturity. The reception of the Promethean myth follows two parallel and complementary directions: the theoretical and philosophical one, as an object of analysis in order to find some specific symbolic meanings, and the artistic and mythopoietical one, as an inspiration for the composition of dramatic works. The essay traces in a chronological way the reception of the myth of Prometheus in Nietzsche’s work focusing in particular on four moments: the one-act Prometheus (1859), the ninth chapter of The Birth of Tragedy (Prometheus as ‘mask of Dionysus’), the ‘Promethean’ fragments dated 1874, and some aphorisms extracted from The Gay Science (1882).
Observations about several Christological interpretations of Prometheus, especially from the beginning of the Romantic age to the first years of 20th Century. Among the authors taken into account are J.W. Goethe, P.B. Shelley, E. Quinet, E. Grenier, L. Ménard, M. Rapisardi, L.-V. Ackermann, F. Nietzsche, J. Péladan, I. Gilkin and S. Weil.
Elisabeth Barret Browning and, many years later, Simone Weil intepreted line 250 of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound (tufla;" ejn aujtoi'" ejlpivda" katwvikisa) as «I set blind Hopes to inhabit in their house», or (Weil) «aveugles espérances». Both linked «blind hopes» to the hope of immortality. This passage, and Hesiod’s ejlpiv" in Pandora’s episode, should be interpreted assuming the standard meaning of ejlpiv" in Greek, i.e. «expectation». Blind expectations point to the inescapable human destiny, death, but they make possible a true human condition, different from the life of gods insofar as human condition implies temporality. Facing Solon’s challenge to Croesus in Herodotus’ account, some Hellenistic philosophies, and particularly the Epicurean tradition, tried to answer the question denying it, therefore promising to transform human life into a ‘divine’ life. But Lucretius shows that this attempt is not human, confirming Prometheus’ gift as a necessary condition to make sense of one’s life.
In European literature of XIX and XX century the mythical struggle between Prometheus and Zeus has often been used as a pattern for analysing social conflicts and criticizing power systems. This paper focuses on the main contributions in English literature, particularly in the history of playwriting. A diachronic survey of the works of Thomas Hobbes, Percy Bisshe Shelley, Thomas Kibble Hervey, Joseph Lloyd Brereton, John Edmund Reade, John Lehmann, George Ryga and Tony Harrison concerning the Promethean tradition is here articulated with a typology built also on the ideological content [viz. 1) works inspired by Shelley and in general pre-Marxist ones; 2)Marxist-inspired works; 3) post-Marxist, i.e. revisionist works]. A special consideration is dedicated to Ryga’s Prometheus Bound (1978) and Harrison’s film-poem Prometheus (1998); the former is here first published in an Italian translation (see Appendix).
This contribution aims to retrace Greece – its myths and its thought – in Camus’ work. The first motive for Camus’ return to Greece can be found in the figure of Prometheus, the hero linked to the theme of progress and utopia, at the centre of modernity. Moving from his teacher’s – J. Grenier – rejection of Prometheus, Camus first discovers Sisyphus and then Helen, the triad underlying the Camusian myth of Mediterranean measure, and rebellion as measure. Greece and North Africa are idealized as the world of full Humanism, as the antidote to oppose the convulsions of the blind History plaguing Europe. Through the background of Camus’ coming to Greece, philosophical tensions and ideological divergences appear – the same tensions stirring the intellectual community in post-World War II Paris and crucially resulting in the end of the complicated friendship between Camus and Sartre.
The paper aims to explore and analyze Henry Bauchau’s Prométhée enchaîné. This ‘free adaptation’ of the ancient drama was first performed in 1998, and it constitutes an interesting chapter of contemporary rewritings of the Promethean myth. In the first part of the essay the modern text is compared with the stylistic and formal structure of the Greek drama: metrically uniform in lyric parts (but far from the variety of the model), it perfectly follows the plot’s development of the ancient text. Nevertheless some hints and some clues (passages freely translated or added sentences) reveal to the audience and especially to the reader a precise reappropriation of the ancient theatrical version. The Belgian psychoanalyst and writer reshapes the nature of the relationship between Zeus (designed as «Le Père») and Prometheus, who prophesizes a forthcoming time when this violent god, this «Grand Séducteur», will be transformed into a compassionate and partly Christianized one.
In the monologue Peter sagt: (2004), Elfriede Jelinek uses the myth of Prometheus in order to denounce the function of the media during the Second Gulf War. The speaking voice (‘Peter’s’) belongs to a man who is tortured and killed, and whose body (like Prometheus’) is bound to a bridge in Fallujah. The chained body is photographed in that position and so delivered to the unstable eternity of the web. The voice of Peter tells us of the decline of humanity and of the replacement of facts with their images (photographs, video). Jelinek’s monologue contrasts, ironically, with Goethe’s hymn to Prometheus (1794), which celebrates the autonomy of man and his emancipation. This article examines Jelinek’s work on the following topics: 1. the Greek myth of Prometheus as an archetypal image of violence; 2. the tragedy ‘Prometheus Bound’ by Aeschylus, 3. the Aristotelian notion of ‘katharsis’ in the age of the media, when the torture at Abu Ghraib has become entertainment.
Kossi Efoui is an African playwright, journalist and novelist, born in Togo in 1962. In the early 90s, he took part in a non-violent movement against the regime: he had to escape his Country and, since then, he has been living in France. Thus, in his novels and plays, the most recurrent themes are the conflicting memories of his Country, the complex feelings of the exiled, the seeking of a new identity, the critical reflection on the role of African writers who live abroad after their Diaspora. Io (tragedy) (2005), in particular, freely adapts in the poetic form of a song, or prayer, the episode of Io in Prometheus Bound (see especially vv. 807-852): the story of her pilgrimage and sufferings, before she delivers in Africa her son Epaphos, entwines with the anonymous voices of contemporary African women, all victims of wars and ethnical conflicts, especially those who nowadays wander pregnant through the continent, after they have been abused and raped. So, the tormented Io may also be read as the personification of Africa as a whole. And the prophecy uttered to her by Prometheus, who promises her peace and bliss in Africa, may give hope to all these women and to their sons: born from violence, and yet loved as a promise of a better future for their mothers and for Africa.
In Portuguese and Brazilian literature from the end of XIX century to present day, the myth of Pro metheus has provided an archetype and a pattern for symbolizing the human condition and history to many works, which in general have been ignored by the main monographies about Prometheus. This article aims to provide a survey about this subject, with particular reference to theatre.
In this study I re-examine the ll. 654-659 of Sophocles’ Ajax. The hero shows the intention of going to the sea shore to purify his body and to appease Athena’s wrath. According to a general opinion the origins of impurity are due to his killing of animals when he was victim of the madness sent by Athena. Yet this motivation does not seem sound because the killing of animals is not a good reason to cause pollution. A new analysis of these lines and the comparison with the iliadic episode where the Achaean army celebrates a similar rite after the plague sent by Apollo and the restitution of Chryseid to her father (Il. I 312-317) require a different explanation. Ajax presents his project as the consequence of Athena’s wrath and of the sickness (nosos) sent by the goddess who corrupted his mind. Rites of purification are presented as necessary in order to eliminate any trace of dirt and to get a decisive rescue after the crisis.
Hippon. fr. 3.2 D includes the word kaues, a hapax legomenon in the Greek literary corpus. Modern scholarship has connected it to the Lydian kaues, meaning ‘priest’, and thus considers kaues a lexical borrowing. However, Greek did not need this borrowing, since it has its own word derived from the same Indo-European root as the Lydian kaues, namely kaue. Therefore, I argue that it is better to consider kaues a phonetic adjustment which Hipponax himself made on purpose. Indeed, the phonetic arrangement of kaues gives rise to multiple suggestions as shown by the metaphorical interpretations of the ancient scholarship.
The birth of a malformed being constitutes a particular problem within the Aristotelian reproductive theory that is considered, usually, as the teleological process par excellence. Any deformity interrupts the achievement of the telos, which is normally recognisable through the transmission of the essential form from the parents to the offspring. On the contrary, malformed beings are not a perfect formal repetition of their parents and, in turn, they do not replicate themselves in another being coming from them. This paper aims at examining the way in which Aristotle deals with this topic, developed, in particular, in The Generation of Animals (Book IV), within the theory of the genetic inheritance. According to this doctrine a malformation represents a deviation from the ideal and correct development of the reproductive process, when the matter provided by the mother, in the procreative mechanism, is not overwhelmed by the impulse of the paternal form. The issue of malformations highlights the presence of an irreducible element in the sublunary world, characterized by the so-called material necessity and the mechanical aspect of the nature, which, at times, can support or obstruct the teleological design of nature, becoming clear also in some imperfections. Nonetheless, the anomaly makes evident the presence of this element within the natural processes, which constitutes one of the fundamental assumptions of the physis.