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Prometheus bound with the eagle; left his brother Atlas ( laconic black-figure drinking bowl by the Arkesilas painter from Cerveteri , around 560/550 BC, Vatican Museums , Museo Gregoriano Etrusco 16592)

Prometheus ( Greek Προμηθεύς Promētheús , the forerunner ', the forebearer'; emphasis Latin and German Prométheus, [ pʁoˈmeːtɔɪ̯s ] listen ? / I ) is a figure of Greek mythology . The Prometheus saga is one of the best-known literary subjects. Audio file / audio sample

Prometheus belongs to the titan family of gods . Like all beings, he is subject to the rule of the god father Zeus . In the case of an animal sacrifice, he uses a ruse to deceive Zeus; he leaves him only the worthless parts of the sacrificial animal and keeps the edible meat for the people, since they are his protégés. As a punishment, the enraged Zeus refuses mortals possession of the fire. Prometheus then steals fire from the gods and brings it to people. That is why he is tied up on the orders of the father of gods and forged in the wasteland of the Caucasus Mountains . There an eagle visits him regularly and eats his liver, which is then constantly renewed. Only after a long time does the hero Heracles relieve the titan from this torment by killing the eagle with an arrow. Eventually, Prometheus is pardoned by Zeus and regained his freedom.

As a fire bringer and teacher, Prometheus is the originator of human civilization. According to a variant of the myth, as a demiurge he designed the first people out of clay and endowed them with properties. In doing so, however, mistakes were made, the consequences of which are inadequacies that humanity has suffered from ever since. In the mythical tradition, a brother of Prometheus who was involved in the work of creation, the unwise "afterward thinker" Epimetheus , is responsible for these defects . Epimetheus causes great disaster by getting involved in the seductress Pandora , sent by Zeus, against the advice of his prospective brother .

In Hesiod's oldest ancient tradition , Prometheus is a cunning and haughty deceiver who is rightly punished for his iniquity. The tragedy The Fettered Prometheus, ascribed to the poet Aeschylus , paints a very favorable picture of the Titan . The playwright glorifies Prometheus as a benefactor of humanity and an opponent of the tyrannical Zeus.

Even in antiquity, the fate of Prometheus was an impressive literary subject and a popular motif in the visual arts . Numerous poets, writers, painters, sculptors and composers have worked on the subject since the Renaissance . The myth has also given rise to many philosophical reflections. From a religious-critical point of view, Prometheus is the archetype of the courageous rebel who initiates liberation from ignorance and religiously based oppression. In the modern age he is a symbol of scientific and technical progress and the increasing control of man over nature. Therefore, it is judged differently depending on the historical-philosophical location: For progress optimists it represents an allegory of the emancipating humanity; Critics of civilization, on the other hand, consider the “Promethean” impulse to be ambivalent or questionable and problematize the human urge for god-like power that is as limitless as possible.


Prometheus does not appear in Homer's gods . The oldest surviving version of the myth is found in the works of the epic poet Hesiod, written in the late 8th century BC. Were created. The free literary design of the material in the Athenian poetry of the 5th century BC is based on Hesiod's statements. These earliest written versions of the saga were groundbreaking for the future.

The oldest surviving figure of the myth in Hesiod

Hesiod treated the myth in detail in his theogony and in the poem Werke und Tage . In doing so, however, he did not stick to the chronological sequence and only hinted at some. He concentrated on the effective painting of individual scenes, because the main features of the mythical plot were already familiar to his audience.

According to Hesiod's account, Prometheus is one of the four sons of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Clymene . His mother is one of the three thousand daughters of the water god Oceanus , whom Hesiod also counts among the Titans, and Tethys , the sister and wife of Oceanus. The brothers of Prometheus are the defiant Atlas , the violent and fame-hungry Menoitius as well as Epimetheus , the "after-thinking", whose name indicates his folly: Epimetheus acts before he ponders. He is thus the opposite of the prudent “foresight” Prometheus, whom Hesiod characterizes as a skillful, cunning planner. A master of shrewd thought and foresight, Prometheus contrasts with his unreasonable brother.

The god father Zeus has ruled the whole world since he defeated a group of titans together with his brothers Poseidon and Hades in a gigantic battle, the " Titanomachy ". He demands that people regularly sacrifice farm animals. Prometheus as the protector of humanity would like to spare her the burden of sacrifice.

At a meeting in the city of Mekone ( Sikyon ), Zeus makes an agreement with mortals on the obligation to make sacrifices. A part of every animal slaughtered is to be offered to the gods. On behalf of humanity, Prometheus makes the first sacrifice in Mekone as a decisive model for the future. To help his protégés, he uses a ruse. He slaughters a cow and divides it into two piles, a larger one from the bones, which he artfully piles up, and a smaller one from the meat. He covers the small pile with the skin, the large pile with a layer of fat. Then he fraudulently asks Zeus to choose the group that he likes better. The father of gods realizes that he should be outwitted, but pretends to be deceived. According to his will, the cunning should first be carried out and then find the appropriate punishment. So he chooses the big pile and removes the covering. He gets angry at the sight of the bones. It is now agreed for all future times that only the inedible parts of the sacrificial animals must be offered to the gods and that the meat should be used for human consumption. Out of anger at the deception maneuver, the father of the gods refuses people to use fire. This makes it impossible for them to use firewood and blocks the way to a civilized life, and they cannot enjoy their share of the cattle.

Now Prometheus intervenes again. In order to still provide people with fire, he steals some embers in heaven, hides them in the hollow, dry stalk of the giant fennel and brings them to earth. A fire that can be seen from afar lights up there. With this, Zeus is confronted with a fait accompli; what happened cannot be undone. At the sight of the flames, the god father is seized with violent anger.

The outwitted sky ruler decides to take revenge on both humanity and the defiant Titan. Delighted by his own plan of revenge, he bursts into laughter. First he orders the technically and artistically gifted blacksmith god Hephaestus to create the figure of a very beautiful virgin out of earth and to give her life. Then the new creature is richly adorned, each of the Olympian deities endowing it with a special gift or skill. The virgin receives everything that belongs to perfect beauty and grace, but also cunning and a deceitful character. She is called Pandora - "the one who has all gifts". On behalf of Zeus, Hermes , the messenger of the gods, brings Pandora to the foolish Epimetheus, who receives her, although Prometheus has warned him never to accept a gift from Zeus. The doombringer opens the proverbial “ Pandora's box ”, a closed vessel that contains all the evils from which people have hitherto been spared, as well as ἐλπίς elpís 'expectation' or 'foresight'. It is a jug or a barrel with a lid. As soon as Pandora lifts the lid, the evils float out. Only elpís remains in the vessel, which is closed again. Since then, mankind has been plagued by innumerable plagues - especially diseases. One of the new evils is that men suffer much grief from bad women who, with their selfishness and laziness, are a burden to their husbands.

Prometheus faces an even harsher punishment. Zeus has him chained to a post or a pillar and sends him an eagle, which eats his liver every day, which in turn renews itself at night, since the Titan is immortal. Later, however, the hero Heracles , a son of Zeus, puts an end to the torture by killing the eagle. He acts with the approval of his divine father, because Zeus grants his famous son the additional glory of this act, and that is more important to him than his grudge against the stubborn Titan. However, Prometheus is not released from his fetters in Hesiod; the penalty of being chained remains, it is evidently eternal.

According fragments of a now largely lost, traditionally attributed to Hesiod woman catalog is Deucalion , hero of the Greek flood forecast , a son of Prometheus.

The background of Hesiod's understanding of myth is the special position of humans in the cosmos. From the point of view of the poet, humanity has emerged from a close bond with the world of gods and from a primeval paradisiacal state and has come into a form of existence that is determined by the hardships of work. Prometheus' ruse stands for distance from the gods. The result is that humans become independent, the creation of their own human lifeworld, which of course remains classified in an overarching cosmic law.

Remodeling in the dramas of the 5th century BC Chr.

Aeschylus , one of the most successful playwrights of Athens' cultural heyday, brought the legendary material to the stage several times. First he wrote a satyr play , a cheerful play about fire robbery called Prometheus the Firelighter , which is lost today. It formed the conclusion of a tetralogy , a group of four dramas consisting of three tragedies and the satyr play, with which Aeschylus in 472 BC. BC won the annual poetry competition . Later, The Liberated Prometheus was written , a serious play about Heracles' act of liberation. Only fragments of this stage work by Aeschylus have survived, which at least allow a partial reconstruction of the plot. In addition, the work title Prometheus the fire bearer has come down to us; in research it is controversial whether it refers to the satyr play or to another, unknown drama of Aeschylus. The tragedy Prometheus Bound (Promētheús desmṓtēs) , in which the punishment of the titan is depicted, is completely preserved. It is traditionally ascribed to Aeschylus, but in ancient studies the question of its authenticity has long been controversial and is still unresolved. One hypothesis is that Aeschylus' son Euphorion wrote the drama, perhaps based on a draft left by his father, and passed it off as his work.

The liberated Prometheus

Heracles (left) frees Prometheus. Black-figure vessel , around 490/480 BC Chr., Louvre , Paris

In this now lost play of Aeschylus, the chained Prometheus is visited by the earth goddess Gaia after the reconstructed sequence . She wants to help him get a pardon. The tormented man wishes in vain for death; as God he is immortal. Only after long suffering from the torture of the eagle does Heracles appear and kill the bird of prey, but he does not dare to loosen the captive's chains without the permission of the Father of Gods. The liberation is made possible by another development: Prometheus has learned that Zeus is threatened. The father of the gods intends to marry the nymph Thetis because he is moved by her beauty. However, one prophecy that Prometheus heard is that Thetis will give birth to a son who will surpass his father. Such a son could overthrow the world ruler Zeus, just as he once overthrew his father Kronos . Prometheus warns Zeus, whereupon he renounces the planned marriage and pardons the convict out of gratitude. There is reconciliation, the Titan is freed from his bonds and returned to his former state.

Prometheus bound

The beginning of the tragedy Prometheus bound in the manuscript Vienna, Austrian National Library , Cod. Phil. Gr. 197, fol. 145r (first half of the 15th century)

The action takes place in a barren area of ​​the Scythian country . Prometheus is brought there as a prisoner. Hephaestus is assigned to forge him on a rock. He expresses his sympathy for the convict, but cannot defy Zeus' order. His assistants are Kratos and Bia , whose names mean "power" and "violence". In the brutal bondage, which is described drastically, the merciless Kratos drives the hesitant Hephaestus on.

The lonely Prometheus breaks out in bitter complaints about his fate, which he has to suffer because of his love for people. Soon the Oceanids arrive , the winged daughters of Oceanus, who pity the cruelly tormented man and lament the hard-heartedness of Zeus. Prometheus describes the prehistory to you. It began with the conflict between Zeus and the Titans, who refused to bow to his claim to power. The Titans trusted in their immense fighting power and disregarded the advice of Prometheus, who foresaw their defeat and recommended a cunning course of action. In order not to succumb with them, Prometheus switched sides. He joined Zeus, advised him wisely and made a significant contribution to securing his rule. But as soon as the victor was in sole possession of power, he turned out to be ungrateful and turned against the protégés of his helper: He planned the annihilation of humanity. However, Prometheus was able to prevent this from happening and, moreover, brought fire to mortals. For this he must now suffer the cruel revenge of the ruler. But Prometheus knows of a future attack that will bring about the downfall of the tyrant if he is not warned in time. He only wants to reveal his secret in return for his release, and moreover he demands compensation for the injustice suffered. Now the helpful Okeanos, who is friends with Prometheus, appears. He advises compliance and offers himself as a mediator, but is rejected by Prometheus. Then he makes his way home.

The Oceanids' lawsuit set in again. The shackled Titan describes the extent of his benefits for humanity, which only received the foundations of civilization thanks to his teaching. He taught people all knowledge and skills, including arithmetic and writing, the taming of farm animals, seafaring, mining and the art of healing. Now he trusts in “necessity”, in the power of the goddesses of fate , the Moiren , to which even Zeus is subject. According to him, it will bring about a turning point when the time comes.

In the next scene Io appears , a king's daughter who was desired by Zeus and therefore has to suffer badly from the jealousy of his wife Hera . She is on the run. She describes her sad fate in detail. What she has in common with Prometheus is that she is also an innocent victim of divine arbitrariness and cruelty. Prometheus predicts the wanderings and hardships ahead of her, but also gives her hope for a future turning point. He speaks of his secret, the impending overthrow that nobody but himself can prevent. This knowledge gives him, the outwardly helpless, a hidden superiority over the ruler of the world.

The last scene begins with the appearance of the messenger of the gods Hermes. Zeus has learned that his prisoner is keeping an important secret and wants to force him to reveal it. The messenger tries in vain to persuade the defiant titan to give in. Prometheus insists that he must be released beforehand and assures that no blow or torture can bow him. Hermes then threatens to aggravate him: if Prometheus continues to be silent, he will first be buried alive under a rock for a long time; then he is to be brought out and tormented by the eagle, which every day will greedily tear a rag out of his body. But even this threat cannot change the prisoner's mind, and the Choir of the Oceanids declares its solidarity with him. Then the earth sways, lightning and thunder herald the beginning of the new divine punishment. Before Prometheus sinks, he calls on Aither , Heaven, to witness that he is suffering unjustly. With this exclamation the tragedy ends.


The two dramas differ greatly in their conception and in terms of the intended effect. In the Liberated Prometheus , Aeschylus expressed his belief in a gracious world leader and his ideal of unity. He wanted to show the audience the convict's willingness to reconcile and warn the author of his sufferings and to glorify the reward of this devotion through the generosity of the pardoning God. A completely different perspective determines the plot of the bound Prometheus . In contrast to the conciliatory liberation drama of Aeschylus, this tragedy is marked by merciless severity. Here Zeus appears as a cruel, vengeful and foolish despot , and Prometheus is his indomitable adversary. This Prometheus is a noble ideal figure: with foresight he gives wise advice, in the struggle for justice he remains steadfast even under the heaviest stress; unselfishly he sacrifices himself for humanity, which owes everything to him. Obviously, he has the whole sympathy of the poet. The rule of Zeus is explicitly referred to as tyranny several times , even the henchman Kratos blatantly calls it that. The father of gods is portrayed as a sinister usurper ; he is a despot who has only recently come to power by force, who has neither legitimacy nor rulership virtues. As a typical tyrant, he is brutal, suspicious and unjust and has no true friendship.

Dealing with the legendary material is free in both works and is determined by the requirements of the dramatic effect, the mythical tradition is expanded by additional actors and motifs. The newly introduced motif of Zeus threatening danger, against which Prometheus can warn him, plays an important role in both pieces, but in very different ways. The plot of the Liberation Drama needs this addition because it offers a version of the myth that differs greatly from Hesiod's version: Prometheus is not only released from torture, but is completely pardoned. To make this change of heart of Zeus plausible, the poet added the saving warning: Titan points out the danger to the father of gods without asking for anything in return, thus making him grateful and gracious. The protagonist behaves completely differently in the Shackled Prometheus : There Prometheus keeps his knowledge secret and sees it as a means of pressure against Zeus, while Zeus tries to intimidate him with terrible threats. Secret knowledge turns the outwardly defenseless prisoner into an equal opponent of the world ruler; each of the two has the fate of the other in hand. The contrast between the two tragedies is evident in the different handling of this motif.

In addition to linguistic, stylistic and technical arguments, the massive, fundamental criticism of God in the Bound Prometheus supports the hypothesis that this work does not come from Aeschylus, but from an unknown author of the late 5th century BC. BC, who took up the concept of the famous tragedian and transformed it into his mind. Everything in the play is designed to instill outrage in the audience at the arbitrariness and cruelty of the ruler of heaven and to justify resistance to him. This contradicts the basic attitude of the pious Aeschylus, who considered the rule of the gods to be legitimate and just. The authenticity of the tragedy, however, is supported by the fact that the traditional attribution has been passed down unanimously and was never doubted in antiquity.

With the plan of Zeus foiled by Prometheus to destroy humanity, the "Deucalionic Flood", a deluge , is obviously meant. Accordingly, the author of Prometheus Bound knew a version of the Deucalion saga, according to which Prometheus enabled his son Deucalion to survive the flood through clever advice.


His appearance as a figure in Attic comedy testifies to the popularity of Prometheus among the population of Athens . His shrewdness probably earned him sympathy in broader circles. In the 414 BC Chr. Listed comedy The birds of Aristophanes he presents himself as a philanthropist who, as is well known, hates all gods. He advises people how to negotiate with Zeus, who is being harassed by other gods and is in trouble. Here the traditional role of the titan as a defiant hero is reversed: Fearful and nervous, Prometheus hides under a parasol from the gaze of Zeus, who may be looking down from the sky.

Plato's utilization of the material

Prometheus (middle, seated) creates man. Roman sarcophagus , around 300, National Archaeological Museum , Naples

In his dialogue Protagoras, the philosopher Plato had the sophists Protagoras tell a myth about the origin of mankind. According to this story, Prometheus and Epimetheus were instrumental in the creation of earthly living beings on behalf of the gods. They should provide the various creatures with everything necessary for life support. Epimetheus took on the task of allocating the means and properties necessary for protection and food procurement to the individual species. He endowed some animal species with speed, others strength and defensiveness, others the ability to escape by flying or to hide well; He gave the prey animals great fertility so that they would not be exterminated. With thick hair, he prepared for bad weather. So he used up the available funds completely. When Prometheus finally checked his brother's work, he found that Epimetheus had forgotten about humans. This had remained naked and defenseless. Prometheus was forced to steal fire and technical knowledge from the gods in order to enable people to survive. Inaccessible to him, however, was the knowledge of social coexistence and the organization of a state community, which was kept in the castle of Zeus and was therefore denied to the people until further notice.

With Plato, Prometheus is not a rebel, but an agent of the gods. He is forced to commit the theft; the culprit is actually not himself, but his brother who failed. This largely hides the conflict between Zeus and the Titan. This representation corresponds to Plato's understanding of piety; the gods must not be accused of unethical behavior. Plato presumably used material from the historical Protagoras for the explanations of his dialogue figure, but it is unclear to what extent he reproduced authentic ideas of the sophist in the mythical story.

Later Greek literature

In the 3rd century BC The poet Apollonios of Rhodes wrote the epic Argonautica , in which he told his version of the Argonaut saga. According to this myth, the Argonauts, a band of heroes, sailed on the ship Argo from Thessaly to Colchis on the east coast of the Black Sea in order to capture the Golden Fleece . As they neared their destination, they saw - according to Apollonios - the Caucasus Mountains , where Prometheus was chained to the rocks. Then they saw the eagle fly over their ship, and soon afterwards they heard the cry of pain from the titan whose liver was torn out. In Colchis they got the help of the magical king's daughter Medea . This provided them with the magic remedy "Prometheion", an herb that gives tremendous power at times and makes it invulnerable when rubbed in with it. It grew where the eagle in the gorges of the Caucasus let the blood of Prometheus trickle down.

The historian Diodorus , who in the 1st century BC Was active, the legend interpreted euhemeristically as a mythification of historical events. According to his interpretation, Prometheus was not a god, but a person who administered a district in Egypt as governor. When the Nile, which the Egyptians called the “eagle” because of its raging force, flooded the governor's territory after a dam broke, the governor wanted to kill himself out of grief, but the able Heracles repaired the damaged dam and thus prevented Prometheus from suicide . From this process, poets later made the myth of the eaten eagle and the liberation of the titans. Diodorus also explained the mythical fire theft in this way: the historical Prometheus was the discoverer of the "firewood", the form of the lighter at the time. According to a different version of the flood story, Prometheus was a king of the Scythians who failed to prevent a river from being flooded, after which he was imprisoned by his subjects; Heracles solved the problem by diverting the river and freeing the king.

In the early Roman Empire , an unknown author wrote the Handbook of Greek Mythology known as the Apollodore Library . It contains a number of information about Prometheus. The Oceanid Asia is named here as his mother . Prometheus appears in this tradition as the father of the hero Deucalion, whom he advises at the time of the "Deucalionic Flood". On the advice of his father, Deucalion builds the ship with which he survives the flood.

The satirist Lukian of Samosata wrote the dialogue Prometheus in the 2nd century , in which he humorously redesigned the mythical material. Hermes and Hephaestus are assigned to tie up the titans in the Caucasus. After finding a suitable snow-free rock and doing their job, they still have to wait for the eagle to arrive. The three gods spend the waiting time having a funny conversation in which the bound Prometheus takes the lead role. You fake a rhetorical argument in court. Hermes, who is himself a cunning thief and god of thieves, accuses the convict of victim fraud and fire theft and accuses him of having created human beings on his own initiative. The creation of man appears here as a completely independent achievement of the titan. Prometheus gives a long defense speech in which he refutes the charges so brilliantly that Hermes has no answer. In particular, he justifies his creation of humanity. The existence of mortals is very beneficial to the gods. Only through the smallness of mankind is the greatness of the gods put into perspective, and preoccupation with mortals drives away immortals boredom. Lukian's work has the character of a rhetorical exercise steeped in witty irony. Another part of the Prometheus legend, the pardon, is the subject of the first dialogue of Lukian's Conversations with the Gods , a collection of conversations in which the satirist made fun of the myths. In this short text, Prometheus successfully negotiates his release with Zeus.

In the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Julian adopted the Platonic version of the myth according to which Prometheus, as the commissioner of the gods, ensured the salvation of mankind. Julian interpreted the creation of fire allegorically as equipping man with reason.

Latin literature

The reception of the myth in Latin literature began with the tragedy Prometheus by the Roman poet Lucius Accius , who wrote in the 2nd and early 1st centuries BC. Lived. Except for two tiny fragments, nothing of this work has survived.

The scholar Marcus Terentius Varro wrote in the seventies or sixties of the 1st century BC. A Menippe satire in dialogue form with the title Prometheus liber (The Free Prometheus) , of which fourteen short fragments have survived. It can be seen from them that above all the role of the titans as the creator of man was thematized from a philosophical and cultural critical point of view. Varro apparently had Prometheus explain the work of creation and described the cultural decline that, in his opinion, had occurred later. In view of this decline, the work of Prometheus appeared to the Roman writer as questionable.

In 45 BC In his Tusculanae disputationes , Cicero discussed the philosophical question of whether pain was an evil, which the Stoics denied. Among other things, he cited the torment of Prometheus as an example and cited a poetic lament by the tortured person. It is a Latin rendering of a passage from Aeschylus' Liberated Prometheus . Cicero probably composed the verses himself.

At the time of Emperor Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD) lived the scholar Gaius Iulius Hyginus , whose works probably include the mythographic handbook Genealogiae and the astronomical-mythographic handbook De astronomia . The Genealogiae were previously attributed to a presumed later author of the same name, who was called " Hyginus Mythographus ", and are also known under the title Fabulae . The basics of the saga are summarized in both writings, very briefly in the Genealogiae and more detailed in De astronomia . In Hyginus, an embellishment of the liberation story has come down to us, according to which Prometheus had to wear a finger ring made of stone and iron as a symbolic bondage to commemorate his punishment after his pardon by order of the god father. The only source in the Genealogiae is Aethon (Greek Aíthōn ) as the name of the eagle . Another summary of the material comes from the late antique grammarian Servius , who went into the legend in his commentary on Virgil's Eclogues . He portrayed Prometheus as an extraordinarily astute connoisseur of the stars, who studied the heavens in the Caucasus and then taught the Assyrians his knowledge in this area. Like Hyginus, Servius also told of the finger ring.

The poet Ovid did not go into the myth in his Metamorphoses , which he completed in the first decade of the first century. When dealing with the creation of the world, however, he mentioned a version according to which Prometheus mixed the earth, which "preserved heavenly seeds", with rainwater and formed people from it in the image of the gods.

In the second half of the 1st century, the poet Gaius Valerius Flaccus also went into the mythical events surrounding Prometheus in his epic Argonautica , which describes the Argonautical voyage. With him, the Argonauts indirectly witness the act of liberation of Heracles (Hercules in Latin), whose spectacular effects on the surrounding nature they perceive without knowing who is acting and what is going on.

For the Christians, the mythical tradition posed a challenge because it ascribed an essential role in the creation of man to a subordinate and moreover recalcitrant deity. The church writer Tertullian , who described God as the true Prometheus, turned against this idea in 197 . In contrast, the late antique church fathers considered Prometheus to be a human being. In the early 4th century Laktanz referred to him in his Epitome divinarum institutionum as the originator of the hideous cult of idols; he made the first idol. His three-dimensional image of man was so lifelike that even his contemporaries and later the poets falsely called him the creator of “living” people. Another explanation of the creation saga was given by the church father Augustine in the early 5th century : Prometheus was considered to be such an outstanding teacher of wisdom that he was trusted to have the ability to create people from clay. Augustine referred to a tradition according to which Prometheus was a contemporary of the prophet Moses . The late antique mythographer Fulgentius also undertook a Christian reinterpretation of the legend in his work Mitologiae . He interpreted the speaking name of the “pioneer” Prometheus as a designation for God's providence and interpreted the divine fire brought down from heaven as the human soul breathed in by the divinity.

Cultural and historical backgrounds

The descriptive names “Prometheus” and “Epimetheus” seem to indicate that the “foresight” was not an ancient god, but a personification of the abstract concept of foresight with his brother as a contrasting figure. With the future in mind, he was an embodiment of both cunning and cleverness. But it is also possible that “Prometheus” was originally an epithet of an ancient deity, which later prevailed while the actual name was forgotten.

The oldest part of the legend includes the importance of fire robbery as the beginning of civilization. The aspect of civilization was worked out in the course of development and increased in importance within the mythical tradition; the mere thief became a knower and enlightener. The creation of humans was added as a younger special motif. With the expansions of the myth, the role of the protagonist increased considerably in importance.

Two contrary tendencies can be identified in the myth and its historical development: On the one hand, Prometheus appears as a deceitful and defiant adversary of the highest deity, who is rightly punished for his rebellion, on the other hand, as a disinterested benefactor and teacher of humanity and as a tragic hero who becomes a victim divine vengeance and arbitrariness. Accordingly, the ancient assessments of his deeds and his fate are different and sometimes sharply contradicting one another. They express different ideological basic attitudes and are at the same time symptoms of cultural and historical change.

In the oldest traditional representation of the myth, the pious conviction dominates that it is a sacrilege to stand against the divine ruler of the world. Hesiod's contemporaries viewed the consequences of such a fateful mistake with a shudder, the view of the ruling Olympian gods being decisive. This judgment of mythical events was still represented in much later times; it was articulated by the poet Horace in the Augustan epoch . From the 5th century BC However, the opposite attitude, the sympathy and solidarity with the persecuted human benefactor Prometheus, was also emphatically asserted. This development reflected the strengthening of a trend critical of religion and the emergence of an independent reflection on the validity of ethical norms. The Prometheus myth offered the opportunity to question or even openly dispute the justice of the divine control of the world. In the “ classical epoch ” of Greek cultural history, the traditional behavior of the Olympian gods was no longer considered to be above human criticism in some circles of the educated upper class. The author of Prometheus Shackled was not afraid to call Zeus a tyrant. In his democratically governed hometown of Athens, the accusation of tyranny was the sharpest form in which one could criticize the exercise of power.

A major factor in distancing ourselves from traditional religious beliefs was in the second half of the 5th century BC. The influence of the sophistic movement , which appeared as an educational movement and which is also noticeable in Prometheus . In addition, during the heyday of Athens there was pride in the cultural achievements and achievements whose beginnings were associated with the name of Prometheus. Who in the following time - like Plato in the 4th century BC BC - wanted to hold onto the concept of a good world order and a wise, benevolent divine providence, had to mitigate or downplay the conflict between Zeus and Prometheus. As part of the cultural change, the mythical material was redesigned and reinterpreted.

In some cases, the assessment of the civilizational aspect reflects the viewer's view of history. Those who, like Hesiod, were culturally pessimistic , believed in the ideal world of an early golden age and primarily perceived the course of history as a process of decay, tended to have an ambivalent or negative assessment of the beginning of civilization. The judgment of the anti-civilization cynics was also very negative . They saw the fire robbery as the beginning of an undesirable development that had led to effeminacy and an addiction to pleasure. On the other hand, those who, like the author of the Bound Prometheus , cultivated an optimism for progress and considered the original state of humanity to be poor and animal-like, saw in Prometheus the great benefactor to whom all significant achievements were to be owed.

Prometheus (left, seated) creates man; Athena standing next to him. Roman sarcophagus, around 240, Louvre, Paris

The origin of Prometheus' role as a craftsman and creator, who first created animals and then the first humans from clay, is unknown. In any case, very old legendary material is used here, whereby the function of an ancient creator deity was transferred to Prometheus. Sometimes it was said that he only formed the human body and that the goddess Athena provided the inspiration for it , and sometimes he was considered the sole creator of the whole human being. The earliest evidence of this branch of the myth can be found in "Aesopian" fables - attributed to the narrator Aesop - which, however, only exist in a later tradition and therefore cannot be grasped in their original form. If Aesop was actually the author or narrator of at least one of the fables, this material was already in the 6th century BC. Widespread; but it is only documented from the 4th century BC. In an Aesopian fable the motif also used by Plato occurs that first the animals were formed and then there was not enough material left for the people. Inadequacies in human nature and the occurrence of homosexuality are traced back in the fable literature to inattentiveness that Prometheus undertook in creation.


Prometheus seems to have enjoyed cultic worship only in Athens on a larger scale. According to a controversial hypothesis, he was the patron god of many craftsmen, especially potters. In the Akademeia mentioned grove in northwestern Athens outside the city walls was in the 5th century BC. A Prometheus altar. From there a torch relay went out into the city, which had a competitive character and took place annually on God's feast day. The festivities served to visualize and probably also the ritual renewal of the act with which Prometheus had brought the fire.

Prometheus is freed by Heracles (right); left the hunted eagle. Relief (around 150) in the Museum of Aphrodisias


Greek, Etruscan and Roman artists and artisans - especially vase painters , sculptors and gem cutters - created numerous images of scenes from the Prometheus legend. Usually the Titan appears as a man of mature age, usually bearded. When tied up, he is usually naked. The fluctuating popularity of individual motifs over the course of time reveals changes in public taste. The oldest pictorial representations date from the middle of the 7th century BC. They all show the punishment; the eagle flies or devours the liver of the chained man. In the 6th century BC The subject of the killing of the eagle was very much valued in BC, then it took a back seat for a long time. Punishment and liberation attracted considerable interest among the Roman art public.

The act of fire theft received very little attention in the visual arts. Prometheus was more often depicted as the bringer of fire, usually in a scene that probably stems from the now lost satyr play of Aeschylus: He does not give the precious property to people, but to satyrs .

Prometheus (right, seated) creates humans and animates them by touching them with two fingers; left Athena. Marble relief from a Roman sarcophagus, 3rd century, Louvre, Paris

A popular motif from the Hellenistic epoch was the titan's creative activity. It was customary to portray his mighty figure together with one or more small-figure people. The first images can be found on gems from the second half of the 4th century BC. In the Roman Empire the composition was expanded: the goddess Athena was added as a contributor. She inserts the soul in the form of a butterfly into the human body modeled by Prometheus.

In the Roman sarcophagus sculpture of the Roman Empire , myth was a valued subject, with the creation of man being the foreground. A Prometheus sarcophagus created around 220 depicts the individual scenes of the storyline. On a sarcophagus fragment from the 3rd century, Prometheus brings a human figure to life by touching it with an outstretched middle and index finger; this type of animation was adopted in a relief representation of the biblical act of creation on a Christian sarcophagus from the beginning of late antiquity. There are also other iconographic similarities between the Prometheus sarcophagi and a group of Christian sarcophagi from the 4th century.

Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

In the Middle Ages, the educated people of Western and Central Europe knew relatively little about the myth, because the main sources (Hesiod, Tragedy, Plato, Lucian) were not accessible to them; after all, some scholars knew a considerable part of the material handed down in ancient handbooks. Prometheus was understood as a historical person. He was considered a great explorer, and the first plastic images of the human body were ascribed to him. His role as a philanthropic opponent of the deity, which did not fit well into the Christian worldview, was largely ignored. In mythography, the legend was interpreted symbolically. Prometheus appears there as an extremely clever naturalist, and the eaten eagle symbolizes the toil of excessive exertion in exploring the movements of the heavenly bodies. It was believed that the story of fire theft in heaven came about because Prometheus discovered the cause of the lightning strike; thanks to his understanding of this heavenly fire, he introduced the use of fire.

A special case is the scholar Alexander Neckam , who wrote a grammatical and lexical manual with the title Corrogationes Promethei (Collections of Prometheus) around 1200 . There he described himself as the new Prometheus; he saw himself as a bringer of culture who gave various lessons to the uneducated with his work. With this self-description, a human was the first to claim the role of the titan. This shows the beginning of a development that led to Prometheus becoming a figure of identification, a pattern for human history and the current life of people.

In the early Renaissance , the Italian humanists showed interest in the material from around the middle of the 14th century. Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374) knew a version of the myth in which Prometheus is tormented not by an eagle but by a vulture; it is a variant that has already been attested in the Roman Empire and has been received several times in modern times. Petrarch believed that the legend has a historical core, which consists in the fact that Prometheus visited the solitude of the Caucasus in order to solve the riddles of the world in a tireless curiosity. The eating bird symbolizes the exertion of the researcher, which weakens him. This view was also of Petrarch's friend Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), who presented a detailed description and novel interpretation of the myth in his work Genealogia deorum gentilium . Boccaccio assumed a "twofold" Prometheus, since two different people are mixed up in the mythical tradition. The first Prometheus was God as the creator of the "natural" man. He breathed life and intellect into his creature, but gave him no education. Hence the natural man was ignorant and lived like an animal. The originator of civilization was the second Prometheus, a wise man who decided to end the barbarism of humanity. The fire should be understood as the clarity of the knowledge that this bringer of culture obtained from God and brought to people. With the founding of civilization, he had, as it were, recreated man. In reality, the second Prometheus was not chained to punishment in the Caucasus after the “fire” had been procured, but had stayed there voluntarily before his great deed to do solitary studies. The tormenting eagle meant the exhausting thoughts with which he had troubled himself there. Boccaccio's consistently positive image of the humanized cultural hero Prometheus proves him to be the forerunner of later Renaissance humanists such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola , who glorified the spirit of the wise, creative and, in this respect, divine human being. The writer Filippo Villani , a younger contemporary of Boccaccio, thought similarly . He saw in Prometheus the symbol of the important artist. The visual arts imitate nature and are thus a re-creation based on the example of God's work. This idea is the basis of the ancient legend of the creator Prometheus.

Prometheus as the creator. Illumination by Leonardo da Besozzo, 1435/1442. Collezione Crespi, Museo Diocesano, Milan

The philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499), who followed the tradition of ancient Platonism , interpreted the torment of Prometheus, tormented by the vulture, as a symbol of the general situation of man. As an earthly being, he was tied to matter, tried in vain to solve the world riddle and suffered from his spiritual inadequacy. It is true that man has come into possession of the heavenly fire of reason, but it is precisely this that makes him unhappy, since the ultimate truth remains hidden from him. Ficino's patron , the Florentine statesman and poet Lorenzo il Magnifico (1449–1492) , expressed a similar opinion . He glorified the mythical Golden Age , which Prometheus put an end to because he wanted to know too much. With his inordinate curiosity for research, he had worried humanity and deprived it of its former happy way of life.

Early modern age

In the early modern period , the reception of the mythical tradition was shaped by a greatly expanded source base and by the examination of the symbolism of the creator of culture and the founder of civilization. The traditional interpretation tradition split up into various branches through transformations and reinterpretations. The continuing fertility of the material was evident in a wealth of literary and artistic adaptations.

The judgments about Prometheus fluctuated between the glorification of his abilities and achievements and sharp rebuke for his cockiness and the consequences of the cultural and historical course that was ascribed to him. Criticism was sparked on the one hand by his role as the initiator of a process of civilization that was perceived as problematic, and on the other by his self-confident demeanor towards the ruling deity. In the emblematic the severe punishment was presented as a consequence of his audacity and used as a deterrent example; the lesson from this is that man should not try to penetrate God's secrets out of presumptuous curiosity. In the late 18th century, the movement of Sturm und Drang led to a new appreciation of the figure of the titan, who as a rebellious genius now corresponded to the taste of the time and was accordingly glorified.

Prometheus as the creator of the first man. Illumination in a manuscript of Ovid's Metamorphoses in French translation. Oxford, Bodleian Library , Douce 117, fol. 9r (first half of the 16th century)

The modern reception received a significant impetus, although it did not have a broader impact until late, from the rediscovery of Prometheus, who was bound outside the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages . The most important manuscript from Constantinople reached Florence as early as 1423, and in 1518 the first print of the original Greek text appeared. Latin translations followed from 1555. Nevertheless, the humanists of the 16th century paid little attention to this drama, it did not suit their taste. They often drew their knowledge from mythographic handbooks. In the 17th century, interest in the legend decreased significantly. It was not until the second half of the 18th century that Prometheus was translated into Italian, English, French and German.


The humanist philosopher Charles de Bouelles presented in his work De sapiente Prometheus in 1510/1511 as the archetype of the wise, of the human being in the true sense of the word, who, thanks to his intellect, rise above his original natural state, explore the entire world and go to heaven - the spiritual world - obtain the most precious of all, the fire of wisdom, which he then bring to earth. Also Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525) identified the mythical figure of the philosopher and naturalist who dedicate themselves exclusively to the science and the struggle for the solution of the riddle torments suffer as the ancient hero both for his mental hardship and by the contempt and the persecutions he was exposed to in an uncomprehending environment.

Giordano Bruno wrote in a satirical dialogue published in 1585 that Prometheus had stolen fire to kindle the light in reason. This myth is a metaphor for the same subject as the biblical story of Adam , who stretched out his hands to pluck the forbidden fruit from the tree of science . Bruno believed that knowledge was obtained by “hunting” or “stealing” it. For this it is necessary that humans break the divine prohibition and dispute the deity's claim to exclusive knowledge. Not the donkey-like patience and obedience of Christians, but the hunting virtues of attention and quick access led to success.

Francis Bacon dedicated the chapter Prometheus, or The Situation of Man , to the titans in his book on ancient wisdom, published in 1609. From his point of view, he described in detail the meaning of individual episodes of the myth, the main aim of which is to show people as the center and purpose of the entire universe. Bacon started from a version of the Prometheus saga that has been handed down in ancient sources, but only became known to a wider public through the mythographic handbook by the scholar Natale Conti, printed in 1551 . According to Bacon's rendering of this extension of the legend, after Prometheus showed them the use of fire, people turned out to be ungrateful: they went to Jupiter (Zeus) and accused their benefactor to him. When the godfather and the other gods heard of the theft, they were by no means angry, but were even delighted with what had happened. Not only did they let people down, they gave them another gift: eternal youth. In excessive joy, people loaded this gift on the back of a donkey, which made its way home with it. On the way the donkey was very thirsty. He got to a spring, but it was guarded by a snake who only allowed him to drink on the condition that he gave it what he was carrying on his back. The poor donkey consented, and so the people lost their eternal youth. - Bacon saw the Prometheus myth as a symbolic representation of the human condition. He interpreted the accusation brought against the fire-bringer by Jupiter as a justified complaint of the people about the inadequacy of the previous scientific knowledge, which needed improvement. This shows the human dissatisfaction with what has already been achieved, the rejection of standstill and the continuous pursuit of new inventions. This will to progress made Jupiter happy and led to the further gift, because such an attitude is rewarding. For Bacon, the donkey as a lazy animal symbolizes the slowness of scientific progress based on mere empirical knowledge without theoretical insight. Humans would have made the mistake of loading the gift of the gods on a clumsy, dull beast of burden.

In the second edition of his work De cive , published in 1647, Thomas Hobbes drew on myth for his constitutional argument. He saw in the gods father the representative of the original and superior form of government, the monarchy . With the fire theft and the creative activity of the titans the introduction of the younger forms of government aristocracy and democracy is meant. These came about because the inventive human mind (Prometheus) borrowed the legislation and the judiciary of the monarchy (Jupiter) through imitation (fire robbery) and with this "fire" created an aristocratic or democratic collective (the creature of Prometheus) . The authors and promoters of this overthrow would be punished like Titan: Instead of living safely and comfortably under the natural rule of kings, they would have to constantly suffer from the worries and conflicts that would arise from their state orders.

The French enlightenment of the 18th century thought little of mythology and therefore dealt with the figure of Prometheus relatively rarely and only in passing. None of them - with the exception of Voltaire - saw in the Titan the representative of a revolutionary spirit.

In 1750 Jean-Jacques Rousseau made a devastating judgment on the deed of Prometheus in his treatise on the sciences and the arts, which was critical of civilization. He found that the advancement of the sciences and arts had corrupted morals, and through luxury and effeminacy weakened and unhappy people. The fruitless thirst for knowledge produced nothing but evils. Instead of virtues, talent would be honored. Prometheus, the inventor of the sciences, is a god hostile to human leisure, whom the Greeks had taken over from the Egyptians. They would have judged him unfavorably, as the legend of his punishment suggests.


Poetic reception in the 16th and 17th centuries

In the poetry of the Renaissance the legend was usually addressed in the conventional sense, and only in passing, often without reference to a symbolic background. The torment of the punished titans served as a truism when depicting all kinds of suffering. In love poetry in particular, it was used to portray the plight of an unfulfilled love through a drastic comparison, with the eagle or vulture playing the role of agonizing passion. The coveted woman was compared with the bad luck charm Pandora or with the stolen fire. Poets who used the material in this context include Pierre de Ronsard , Joachim du Bellay and Maurice Scève . In another interpretation, Ronsard equated Prometheus allegorically with the biblical Adam, that is, with human nature, which was redeemed by Christ like the ancient sufferer of Heracles. The poet identified the eagle here with the inexorable Old Testament law, which was overcome by the grace of Christ. Rémy Belleau dedicated a long poem to the lament of the bound Prometheus about the injustice of his punishment.

Prometheus only appears occasionally in Renaissance poetry as a model of poetic creativity or as the founder of poetry. According to the description of the Latin humanist Marco Girolamo Vida in his Poetics , published in 1527 , mankind owes its mythical benefactor not only fire, but also poetry. George Chapman took up this motif in 1594. He portrayed Prometheus as a creator who created man according to his own concept without outside help. Such are the ingenious, superhuman poets who conjure up a world out of their imagination; they are "Promethean Poets".

In contrast, Luís de Camões painted a gloomy picture in his Portuguese epic The Lusiads (1572). He accused Prometheus of having, as a creator, planted evil passions in man, one of the consequences of which were wars. Camões complained that the Promethean arrogance among humans could not be eradicated.

In the second book of his epic The Faerie Queene, printed in 1590, Edmund Spenser introduced Prometheus as the creator of man, who put together a body from parts of many different animal species. Then he stole the fire in heaven in order to animate his creature, which he called elf , with it.

The Spanish poet Pedro Calderón de la Barca used the material in his comedy La estatua de Prometeo (The Statue of Prometheus) , which appeared in 1677. The focus is on the contrast between the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus. Epimetheus is a hunter, an uneducated man of strength who worships the warlike goddess Pallas . Prometheus, on the other hand, strives for philosophical knowledge and dedicates himself to the cult of the wisdom goddess Minerva , the sister of Pallas. After the failure of his plan to have an instructive and civilizing effect on the raw population of the Caucasus, Prometheus withdrew into a cave and turned to art. He creates a statue of Minerva. His brother is enthusiastic about the beauty of the sculpture and wants to dedicate a temple to this goddess. With this, however, Epimetheus arouses Pallas' jealousy. She orders him to destroy the statue. However, Epimetheus decides not to destroy the admired work of art, but to steal it, hide it and keep it for himself. In the cave he meets Prometheus. Thanks to Minerva's favor, he has since been allowed to go to heaven and stolen a ray of sunshine there. With the stolen heavenly light, he now brings the image of the goddess to life. Pallas then resorted to a ruse: the animated statue that bears the name Pandora receives the vessel of doom. The evils escape and discord immediately sets in. Two hostile parties form among the Caucasians, a war threatens. Epimetheus is in love with Pandora, but she rejects him, her inclination is Prometheus. Finally the god Apollo appears and brings about a reconciliation. Prometheus marries Pandora. - With this cheerful piece, Calderón wanted the audience to see the entanglements that result from the pursuit of higher values ​​and its tension with passion.

Interpretations and literary controversies of the Enlightenment period

In 1710, the influential early Enlightenmentist Shaftesbury described his ideal of an author who really deserved the title "poet". Such a poet is "indeed a second creator, a true Prometheus under Jupiter". Like the deity as the highest master craftsman or general creative nature, he creates a coherent, well-balanced whole. The thesis of the poet as Prometheus and the second creator under Jupiter became common in the 18th century.

Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical poem called Prometheus in 1724 . In Swift's satire, a hanging gold chain is attached to the heavenly throne of Jupiter, which extends to the earth and at the lower end of which all human concerns hang. Prometheus steals this chain, replaces it with a brass chain and mints coins from the gold. From this time on the people no longer make sacrifices to Zeus. Then the evildoer is tied up with his own chain on Jupiter's command and his liver is given to the vultures to eat. Swift himself revealed the current reference: by Jupiter he meant King George I and by Prometheus the corrupt mint master William Wood, whom he wanted a punishment like that of Prometheus, with crows taking over the role of vultures.

Voltaire processed the subject in his “philosophical” opera libretto Pandore , published in 1748 , in which Prometheus challenges the tyrant Jupiter. The heavenly ruler refuses out of resentment to animate the statue of Pandora made by Prometheus. Then the titan procures the heavenly fire and carries out the animation itself. Pandora immediately falls in love with her creator. The jealous Jupiter lets her kidnap her into his realm, but he fails to win her favor. Prometheus rebels and tries to storm the sky with the titans in order to free the kidnapped woman. The plan fails, but Pandora is allowed to return to her lover. She received the fateful box from Jupiter. Against the will of Prometheus, she opens it in his absence, whereupon the evils escape. The disaster spreads, but the couple still have love and hope. Lovers will live on the edge of the abyss, but love will cover the abyss with flowers. Earth and heaven are forever separated. - With the theater work critical of religion, Voltaire wanted to express his cautiously optimistic assessment of the future of a self-determined humanity.

In contrast to Voltaire, who campaigned for emancipation from religious tutelage, the contemporary playwrights Pierre Brumoy and Jean-Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan treated the material from a Christian perspective. Using their versions of the mythical events, they wanted to show the evil consequences of idiosyncratic disregard for the divine world order.

Christoph Martin Wieland fought Rousseau's cultural theory with literary means. In his contributions to the Secret History of the Human Mind and Heart , published in 1770, he inserted a fictional story: In a dream the author meets Prometheus who is bound and who asks him what has become of his creatures, the people. Among other things, Wieland reports to him about Rousseau's thesis that the condition of mankind will only improve when it gives up civilization and returns to the "state of nature". They both make fun of it. Prometheus reveals the reason for which he created man: he had the idea of ​​populating the earth because he just had nothing better to do. It was just a game. In 1779 Wieland dealt with the same subject in his satirical singspiel Pandora , in which he assigned Prometheus the role of the creator, who "out of sheer boredom" created people for his own entertainment and who is later angry about the calamity into which his creatures get themselves have involved. With this work, too, Wieland protested against the idealization initiated by Rousseau of an allegedly optimal primal state of humanity. His Prometheus wanted to bring people perfect happiness, but with this intention he made them so good-natured, simple-minded and homogeneous that their life was dull and monotonous. They knew no challenge and no development. So he couldn't take it anymore because of boredom and left them.

storm and stress

For the Sturm und Drang movement in German literature, Prometheus became an outstanding representative of their attitude towards life from the 1760s onwards. As a rebellious genius of tremendous creative power, he embodied the ideal of the aesthetic of genius , which this current, characterized by a youthful spirit of optimism, had in mind. He was considered a role model for a human race that emancipates itself from traditional authorities and their claims to power and strives for unrestricted self-determination socially, politically and spiritually. At the same time, he was viewed as the archetype of the autonomous artist or author personality, who self-confidently frees himself from the shackles of conventional aesthetic norms, dares great things, remains true to her individual nature and destiny and creates her works creatively like a god. According to the conviction of the “strikers and drivers”, such a brilliant author or artist creates his own art world as Prometheus creates the human world. One thought primarily of the poet's genius.

The impetus to statute Prometheus as a symbolic figure of the new trend was given by Johann Gottfried Herder in his attempt at a history of lyrical poetry in 1766/67 , where he declared that every people had their Prometheus, who had stolen the spark of fire of genius from heaven; poetry is of divine origin and natural to all nations. Taking up Shaftesbury's thoughts, Herder stated in 1769 that a real poet created his works “as the second Prometheus” and as such was a “creator of immortal gods and mortal people”.

Handwritten manuscript of Goethe's Prometheus hymn, version from 1777, in the Goethe and Schiller Archive , Weimar

In 1771, in his speech Zum Schäkespears Tag, the young Goethe paid tribute to Shakespeare with the words: "He competed with Prometheus, reproduced his people, train before train, only in colossal size." In the period between 1773 and early 1775, Goethe wrote two works, in which he made his understanding of the myth literary: the drama fragment Prometheus and a poem of the same name , which is usually referred to as the "hymn" or "ode". In the drama fragment, in spite of his father Jupiter, Prometheus has withdrawn from the heaven of gods in order to create the statues from which the human race is to arise. Mercury and Epimetheus try in vain to persuade him one after the other to obedience and return. He sharply rejects a tempting offer from the Olympian gods because he does not want to be anyone's servant. The goddess of wisdom Minerva appears and initially wants to convey, but finally she is so deeply impressed by the rebel's ideal of freedom that she becomes his helper: She leads him to the “source of life”, where the statues are animated. Mercury reports indignantly to Jupiter of Minerva's “ high treason ” and of the creation of living people, but the Father of Gods does nothing about it, because he is certain that this “worm race” will be subject to him, the ruler of the world, in the future. Prometheus, however, proudly and stubbornly countered Jupiter that he had shaped people in his own image - "to suffer, cry, enjoy and be happy / and disregard yours / like me!" The main motif of the drama is Prometheus' experience of himself as an autonomous subject. His conflict with Jupiter is staged as a confrontation between an unjust, authoritarian father and his freedom-loving son - a topic popular with Sturm und Drang. The unmasking and dismantling of the tyrannical father god is combined with the self-deification of the ingenious, creative son. Goethe's Prometheus hymn expresses the same ideas . His design of the mythical material was also a rejection of obedient authorities of his time, of the Christian image of God and the princes' claim to power. However, Goethe's subtle irony can also be seen in the drama fragment. From the author's point of view, Prometheus rightly strives for an individual, free life, but - like Jupiter - he is caught up in the one-sidedness of his self-esteem. With his self-importance and his contempt for others, he isolates himself from the wholeness of the cosmos. He distances himself from a whole that sooner or later inevitably has to relocate himself. Goethe ironizes the absolute self-imposing creative self-glory.

Early classical and early romantic

After the end of the era of Sturm und Drang, Herder came back to the myth several times. In 1795 he wrote the Dialogue Foresight and Foresight , in which Prometheus and Epimetheus retrospectively discuss their different attitudes and approaches. Seven years later, Herder wrote the dramatic poem The Unleashed Prometheus , in which he portrayed the titan's ordeal as a triumph of perseverance. Here the work of the rebel finally finds the approval of the gods, "pure humanity" as the greatest gift of gods is realized.

An echo of Herder's optimism can be found in August Wilhelm Schlegel's early romantic poem Prometheus , written in 1797 . It begins with a wistful reminder of the peace and happiness of the past Golden Age , with the end of which a terrible decline began. Since the old human race can no longer be saved, Prometheus creates a new one. In his words, the “golden childhood” of humanity, which “passed in the soft lap of lust”, must not return. What is needed now is creative effort; In the hard struggle against seemingly overpowering obstacles, the person who trusts in his inner strength has to prove himself. In order to animate his creature, Prometheus procures fire. His mother Themis , who is culturally pessimistic , confronts him, warns him of the fateful consequences of his deed and predictively describes his future punishment by Zeus. He counters their gloomy predictions with his hope of human development. In man he sees the free being, who strides through errors to perfection and “was only created to create”.

Visual arts

Prometheus was a very popular subject in the fine arts of the early modern period. Usually one of the well-known scenes was picked out of the mythical event. Titan appears as the creator of man - partly with the fire with which he animates his creatures - u. a. on frescoes by Domenico Beccafumi (1524/25) and Giovanni Francesco Barbieri , called "il Guercino" (around 1616), a drawing by Parmigianino (around 1524/1527), a ceiling painting by Francisco Pacheco (1603) and oil paintings by Pompeo Batoni ( 1740/43) and Franz Anton Maulbertsch (around 1788). He is depicted as the bearer of fire in a painting by Jan Cossiers (around 1636/38). By far the most numerous are depictions of punishment; Prometheus can sometimes be seen with Vulcanus (Hephaestus), most often with the eaten eagle. Motifs of this kind show u. a. an emblem in the emblem book by Andrea Alciato (1531, with an eagle), a fresco by Benvenuto Tisi "il Garofalo" (1540, with an eagle), oil painting by Gregorio Martínez y Espinosa (between 1590 and 1596, with an eagle), Peter Paul Rubens ( Completed in 1618; the eagle painted by Frans Snyders ), Dirck van Baburen (1623, Prometheus and Vulcanus), Jusepe de Ribera (around 1630/31, with eagle), Theodoor Rombouts (before 1637, with eagle), Paulus Moreelse (around 1634 / 38, with eagle), Jacob Jordaens (1642, with eagle), Gioacchino Assereto (before 1649, with eagle), Jacques de l'Ange (around 1640/1650), Salvator Rosa (around 1648/1650, with eagle), Frans Wouters (before 1659, with eagle), Luca Giordano (around 1660, with eagle) and Francesco Foschi (before 1780, with eagle), drawings by George Romney (around 1778/1779), John Flaxman (1794) and Richard Cosway (around 1785/1800, with eagle), bronze sculptures by Philippe Bertrand (1703, with eagle) and François Dumont (1710, with eagle), a bronze statuette by Giovanni Battista Foggini (before 1716, Prometheus un d Mercury with an eagle) and a marble sculpture by Nicolas Sébastien Adam (1762, with an eagle). Liberation was chosen as a topic less often; it is the subject of paintings by Nicolas Bertin (1703) and Johann Heinrich Füssli (1781/1785) and a bronze statuette by François Lespingola (around 1675/1700). Several motifs from the Prometheus saga combine two chest pictures (cassoni) by the painter Piero di Cosimo that were created between 1510 and 1515 . On a ceiling fresco by Francesco Morandini “il Poppi” (1570), Natura, the personification of nature, presents Prometheus with a gift with which she presumably appoints him master of the arts and gives him the creative role. Tapestries from the 16th century do not present Prometheus in an antique style, but in contemporary costume.


In early modern music, the reception of the myth was low. In the Masque The Lords Mask by Thomas Campion , published in 1613, the Promethean human creation is the theme. In 1669 Antonio Draghi's opera El Prometeo was played in the imperial palace in Vienna . Giovanni Battista Bassani created the opera Prometeo liberato , which premiered in 1683 . Georg Christoph Wagenseil composed the serenade Il Prometeo assoluto ( Prometheus liberated , first performance 1762) and John Abraham Fisher the overture for the pantomime Prometheus (first performance 1775).


The modern reception of the myth was initially based on the view of Sturm und Drang. In the 19th century, especially in the Romantic era , the Promethean rebellion against the claim to power of a questionable established authority was glorified and related to the present. The associated motif of emancipating mankind from their initial ignorance and helplessness also developed a strong fascination. Philosophers, poets, writers and artists made use of the possibilities of interpretation and design offered by the material. The name Prometheus stood for scientific and technical progress, knowledge and civilization, at the same time for the rejection of oppressive religious dogmas and for the political fight against tyranny. The ancient mythical figure became a symbol for man, for his powerful rebellion and his struggle against adverse powers. Progress optimists celebrated the triumph of the “Promethean” man, who constitutes himself as an autonomous being and takes his fate into his own hands. For some authors, Goethe's picture of Prometheus from the time of Sturm und Drang was groundbreaking. The Young German movement of the 1830s referred to it and drew revolutionary political consequences from it, which Goethe himself shied away from.

In addition, however, opposing tendencies became noticeable, and from the late 19th century onwards, critical voices were increasingly voiced. The Promethean ideal of the unauthorized, creative individual who, thanks to his knowledge, takes on the role of the dethroned gods and creates a brilliant future, was questioned. Skeptics and cultural pessimists criticized the Promethean consciousness as questionable self-deification and problematic striving for limitless power. In the 20th century, the unconditional will to self-fulfillment embodied by Prometheus was increasingly perceived as ambivalent. Efforts were made to illuminate the opportunities and dangers inherent in the Promethean revolt.

Myth Research

Tales have arisen in many parts of the world according to which the human use of fire began with theft or fraud: the fire was stolen from a deity or stolen from heaven or fairyland, or knowledge of its creation was obtained by outwitting its original owner. Often the theft is described as the act of a legendary hero, a cunning cultural hero of the trickster type . The background to such narratives is the assumption of an antagonistic relationship between gods and humans. Humans did not come into possession of the precious good through the favor of the original divine owner of fire, but through the daring of a shrewd helper.

In older research, the correspondences between the fire sagas of numerous ethnic groups attracted a great deal of attention. As early as 1859, Adalbert Kuhn , a pioneer of comparative myth research, investigated the similarity between the Prometheus material and Indian legends. His hypothesis that this finding points to the dependence of the oldest Greek version on an ancient Indian myth met with considerable resonance. a. at Louis Séchan , but encountered opposition from Georges Dumézil . A comprehensive compilation and analysis of the material that has been handed down to us was published in 1930 by the ethnomathologist James George Frazer . Recent research has deviated from the assumption of a historical connection between the Greek and Indian traditions. However, it is expected that the oldest Greek creators of the myth found raw material from the Near Eastern-Anatolian cultural area, which they fundamentally reshaped for their purposes. In addition, there are striking similarities between the Prometheus saga and legends from the Caucasus region and the Scandinavian Loki saga. It is about the bondage and torture of a giant or god who is being punished. A historical connection is considered probable, an origin as a common starting point seems plausible, but there is a lack of reliable clues for a determination of the development of the legend material.

In his study Das Mutterrecht in 1861, Johann Jakob Bachofen brought the essential difference between Prometheus and Epimetheus into connection with the “contrast in the way of thinking of the mother peoples and the father sexes”. From Bachofen’s point of view, the material principle of the passive, formless, undesigned hyle dominates the matriarchally organized “mother peoples” , while the father sexes are dominated by the spiritual principle of the form-giving idea , the eidos . The externally determined Epimetheus represents the matriarchal preponderance of material and the unconscious natural necessity, while the human creator Prometheus represents the spiritual principle as a symbol of male creative power. The father principle, which points to the sun, arrives “through Promethean sufferings to final victory”.

Hans-Georg Gadamer examined the history and symbolism of the legend in his 1946 essay Prometheus and the Tragedy of Culture . He said that in the Prometheus myth "Western mankind interpreted itself in its own cultural consciousness" from early on. The story of the interpretation of this “fate myth of the West” is “the history of Western humanity itself”. According to Gadamer's interpretation, the essence of Prometheus' act is that, by bringing culture to people, he gave people the ability to help themselves, which was previously a prerogative of the gods. Thus culture itself was an outrage against the gods. The problem of the situation of humanity that has arisen as a result shows itself in a tragic contradiction “in the heart of human culture”: The “pride of human cultural will” is - according to Gadamer - “immoderate and desperate at the same time”, because man creates something wonderful, but the Impermanence cannot undo. This is where Gadamer sees the background of the Shackled Prometheus : “Cultural awareness is always cultural criticism”.

The religious scholar Karl Kerényi dedicated an investigation to the figure of Prometheus in 1946 in which he placed the legend in the context of the worldview of the ancient Greeks at the beginning of their intellectual history and understood the protagonist as a symbol of man. According to him, in the myth of the fire-bringer's actions and suffering, "the inevitable injustice is represented as a basic feature of human existence". It is inevitable because without the fire humanity would have perished; It is wrong because a person cannot lay claim to a good that does not belong to him. The confession of the unrepentant Prometheus to his deliberately and gladly committed deed and its consequences shows, according to Kerényi's understanding, the correctness of the “interpretation of Promethean fate as a self-chosen human existence”.

An important research topic is the question of the pre-Hesiodic original version of the myth. It is assumed that Hesiod used and transformed the material of an older, now lost story for his description. It was evidently a naively funny story, probably presented in epic form, in which Zeus played an unfavorable role. After this old quandary , the father of the gods was not only robbed while robbing fire, but also tricked by Prometheus when the victim was divided in Mekone. That displeased the pious Hesiod. Since Hesiod was offended by the duping of the divine world ruler at the sacrifice, he claimed that Zeus saw right from the start that cunning was involved. For him, however, the fact that Zeus was the one who was robbed during the fire robbery was unproblematic, because being deceived by secret sacrilege did not diminish the divine greatness in his eyes. He did not ascribe any omniscience in the sense of the Christian term to the father of gods, only he did not want to see him as a betrayed.

The sacrifice of Prometheus is interpreted differently by Hesiod. Jean Rudhardt rejects the common interpretation that it is the first sacrifice made to the gods. Rather, Hesiod's story is about the separation of gods and men, which, according to the myth, took place at that time; the first sacrifice was a later act of rapprochement between the two separate worlds that Deucalion performed after the flood. Jean-Pierre Vernant also emphasizes the aspect of divorce and alienation from gods and people, but he sees Prometheus as the founder of the victims.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel interpreted the myth in his Berlin lectures. Prometheus did not give people the "moral, legal", but "only taught the ruse to conquer natural things and use them as a means of human satisfaction". As a titan, he was one of the "old" gods. Therefore, in contrast to the new, Olympic gods, he was unable to convey something "more spiritual and moral" - the "state institution". The use of fire was initially only “in the service of selfishness and private benefit”. The never-ending pain caused by the gnawing vulture expresses the fact that the mere satisfaction of natural needs never leads to satiety, for the need always grows like the liver of Prometheus.

In Marxism , the myth, in the form it had received in Prometheus , was held in high esteem from the beginning. In the preface to his dissertation in 1841, Karl Marx wrote that Prometheus was "the most distinguished saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar"; his radical rejection of the world of gods is philosophy's own confession, "its own saying against all heavenly and earthly gods who do not recognize human self-consciousness as the supreme deity".

Arthur Schopenhauer interpreted Prometheus in 1851 as the personification of human precaution, of thinking about tomorrow. Man has this privilege towards animals, but he has to atone for it through the incessant agony of worry embodied by the gnawing vulture.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling († 1854) expressed himself in a late lecture on the meaning of the Prometheus figure. He regarded it as the embodiment of the thought "in which the human race, after having produced the whole world of gods from within, returning to itself, became conscious of itself and its own fate". Prometheus was "in his right", he could not have acted otherwise, because he was driven to do so by a moral necessity. But his punishment was also necessary, because “freedom and independence from God are only bought at such a price”. This contradiction cannot be lifted; the fate of mankind is "tragic by nature".

Friedrich Nietzsche found in 1872 in his work The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music that the innermost core of the Prometheus legend was the necessity of sacrilege, which the titanic striving individual had to do. According to Nietzsche's interpretation, fire theft poses “an embarrassing and insoluble contradiction between man and God” and moves it “like a boulder to the gate of every culture”. Humanity fights for its own culture; it achieves the best and highest of which it can partake through a sacrilege and then has to accept its consequences, a flood of sufferings and sorrows. The Prometheus Bound glorified the austere pride and active sin Titanic creator. For Nietzsche, the “astonishing depth of horror” of this tragedy lies in the fact that “the artist's desire to become, the serenity of artistic creativity defying every calamity is only a light image of clouds and sky” “that is reflected on a black lake of sadness”.

In 1938, the writer Alfred Döblin dealt in his cultural-philosophical essay Prometheus and the Primitive with “promethism”, the “technique and attitude of making fire, tools and weapons”, which he calls “external technology”, religious practices and measures, “internal technology "Faced. The internal technology tries to establish the connection between the individuals and the original state that existed before the individuation . Prometheus is the symbol of man who leaves this original state and then devalues ​​it as "primitive". With his “researching technical instinct” he hurries after nature, which is shrinking from him. With him there must be arrogance and tragedy. In his essay, Döblin analyzed the psychological and cultural-historical consequences of the predominance of the “Promethean instinct”.

In his 1946 essay Prométhée aux enfers (Prometheus in Hell), Albert Camus posed the question of the significance of myth for the present. According to his findings, his contemporaries were deaf to the great cry of the Promethean revolt. The ancient hero - according to Camus - gave people both fire and freedom, techniques and arts; from his point of view, machine and art belong together. The modern man, however, who surrenders one-sidedly to the fascination of technology and lets his mind die in the process, has not understood this. He betrays his benefactor Prometheus.

Herbert Marcuse described Prometheus in 1955 as the "archetype of the hero of the achievement principle". The cultural hero shows himself in this form, as in most cases, as the cunning deceiver and suffering rebel against the gods, "who creates culture at the price of permanent suffering". It symbolizes productivity, the restless effort to master life. Such productivity results in progress that is inextricably intertwined with hardship and oppression. In the world of Prometheus, Pandora appears, the feminine principle that stands for sexuality and lust, corrosive and destructive. The opposite pole to this “working world of culture” is the alternative reality for which Orpheus and Narcissus stand: joy and fulfillment. These two figures could never have become cultural heroes of the western world.

Ernst Bloch went into 1959 in his main work The Principle of Hope on the "unflowered belief in Prometheus". The "Prometheus Faith" is the religion of Greek tragedy, there is his temple and his cult. The Prometheus Bound was the Greek central tragedy. All Greek tragedy heroes have become the masks of the fire-bringer. However, this belief did not blossom because he lacked a social mandate and because his foundation got stuck in viewing the play.

The Marxist appreciation, especially formulated by Bloch, for the Promethean impulse in human history related both to the rebellion against inhuman ideologies and oppressive power relations as well as to the civilizational aspect. Bringing fire was seen as a reshaping of the human environment through the acquisition of scientific knowledge. Bloch saw the technical “reconstruction of nature” as the material basis of the hoped-for realization of his utopia of optimizing living conditions through socialist humanization. When the debates about the chances and risks of the stormy technological developments intensified in the second half of the 20th century, Prometheus served as a symbol for scientific and technical progress and for trust in its blessings. Also technology skeptics like Lewis Mumford , Günther Anders and Hans Jonas made of this symbolism use, but they combined so that other reviews than the optimists of progress. In 1979, Jonas opened the foreword to his main work, The Responsibility Principle, with the metaphor of Prometheus, finally unleashed, to whom science gave unprecedented powers and economy gave him the restless drive. This power must be curbed by ethics, otherwise it would turn into disaster. The promise of modern technology has turned into threat. In the more recent technology-critical discourse, “technical Prometheism” is denounced as an expression of a “naive, utopian belief in progress”. The “Promethean prestige” of technology leads to a misunderstanding of the dangers of high technology. Günther Anders coined the term “Promethean shame”. This is an expression of the "antiquity of man"; man has become the “court dwarf of his own machine park” and is ashamed of his inadequacy in view of the perfection of his equipment.

In 1979, Hans Blumenberg presented a detailed interpretation of the Prometheus legend and its survival in his book Arbeit am Mythos . He interpreted it as an attempt at human self-assertion against the "absolutism of reality". The intention behind the mythical explanation of the world is to overcome the horror in the face of the uncanny and monstrousness of the world and to make the terrible bearable. According to Blumenberg's interpretation, the myth satisfied the basic need for self-assertion by proclaiming that Zeus could neither undo the fire robbery nor break the will of the Titan. The irreversibility of the act of Prometheus offered people a certain security. It guaranteed them the permanence of their cultural heritage and thus alleviated the despair over the helplessness of mortals and the cruelty of fate. For Blumenberg, Prometheus' violation of the world order consists in the fact that he forced the previously despicable human race to be elevated to a world greatness.


In 1932 Sigmund Freud published his essay On Gaining Fire , in which he presented a psychoanalytic interpretation of the Prometheus saga. He saw the historical core of the myth in a defeat of the instinctual life as a result of the need to renounce instincts , which the turn to culture had required. According to Freud's interpretation, Zeus is here the representative of the instinctual life, which is actually overpowering but, under certain circumstances, has been cheated of its satisfaction. The harsh punishment of Prometheus expresses "openly the resentment that instinctual humanity had to feel against the cultural hero", because the enforcement of a renunciation of instincts evokes a lust for aggression.

Carl Gustav Jung took a different interpretation . According to his approach, psychologically, every step towards greater consciousness is a kind of Promethean guilt. Through the knowledge a fire robbery is committed against the gods, in that something that was the property of the unconscious powers is torn out of this natural context and subject to the arbitrariness of the consciousness. Jung interpreted the loneliness of the forged Prometheus in the Caucasus as the loneliness of those who have gained a new insight that expands their consciousness: Such a discoverer has approached a god-like state, but at the same time alienated his human environment. The agony of his loneliness is the gods' vengeance for the "usurpation" of knowledge, which - as in the biblical myth of the Fall - represents a violation of taboos .

In 1937, the philosopher Gaston Bachelard discussed the social and psychological aspects of fire use in his study Psychoanalysis of Fire . In doing so, he tried to make understandable the interest "which the in itself rather poor myth of the father of fire still encounters". Bachelard started from the observation that for the children the fire was "originally the subject of a general prohibition", and concluded that the social prohibition was "the first general knowledge that we have about fire". Reverence for fire is not natural, but learned, because first a social inhibition threshold is created that precedes natural experience. Therefore, the problem of personal knowledge of fire becomes the problem of cunning transgression, because the child tries to explore the forbidden phenomenon behind the back of his father. This is how the “Prometheus Complex” arises. Bachelard defined this as the totality of the strivings “which urge us to know as much as our fathers, to know more than our fathers”. The Prometheus complex is "the Oedipus complex of intellectual life".

Arno Breker's Prometheus in the Arno Breker Museum, Nörvenich

National Socialism

In the National Socialist reception of the myth, the glorification of heroic willpower was in the foreground alongside the aspect of creativity. As early as 1925, in the first volume of his program publication Mein Kampf , Adolf Hitler described the Aryan as the “Prometheus of humanity, from whose bright brow the divine spark of genius has always stuck out”. In the 1930s, the sculptors Arno Breker and Willy Meller created Prometheus sculptures. Meller's torchbearer figure was placed in the NS-Ordensburg Vogelsang on Sonnwendplatz. This muscular Prometheus figure was presented to the next generation of leaders of the NSDAP as the embodiment of the National Socialist ideal of leaders. The theater celebrated Hitler as the new Prometheus. Only as a powerful hero did the Titan come into focus, the punishment and the tragic aspect of the myth were faded out.


In the first half of the 19th century, romantic poets and writers took up the Sturm und Drang motif of the rebel Prometheus and redesigned it in their own way. The fire bringer symbolized the deification of man, the disempowerment of the biblical creator god, who was equated with Zeus, and the overcoming of the darkness of superstition and fear. In addition, the adversary of the established world order was portrayed as a social reformer. This trend continued in the second half of the century and around the turn of the century, the antagonist of the father of the gods was understood as a symbol of militant atheism and materialism. In addition, two different strands of reception asserted themselves: In some works a repentant Prometheus, disappointed by the results of his urge for emancipation and his thirst for knowledge, appeared, in others the Titan became the model of the lonely superior personality who finds fulfillment in its own wealth and no god needed. One means of illustrating the problematic of human conditions of existence was the description of the desperation of Prometheus, who went through everything and is then deeply disappointed with the world. In the 20th century the traditional motifs split up into a multitude of different reinterpretations and further developments.

A special form of reception was the idea, which was thematized in classical and romantic fiction, that Napoleon Bonaparte, with his titanic will to power and shape and his dramatic failure, was the modern Prometheus.

Dramatic literature

Decades after his first adaptations of the mythical material, Goethe undertook a new dramatic transformation of the ancient theme in 1807/1808 with his festival fragment Pandora - initially called Pandora's return - which he called a "fixed idea" that was always present to him. Here Prometheus appears as a contrasting figure to Epimetheus in a negative light and proves to be a bad luck charm. He is a man of action and power focused on technology and material production, while the dreamy Epimetheus devotes himself to aesthetic concerns. Goethe wanted to demonstrate the tension between these opposing attitudes.

Percy B. Shelley writing his Prometheus Unbound . Oil painting by Joseph Severn , 1845, in the Keats-Shelley House , Rome

The best-known romantic adaptation of the mythical material is the lyrical reading drama in four acts Prometheus Unbound (The Unbound Prometheus) , which the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote in 1818/1819 and published in 1820. In the first act Prometheus, who has been chained for three thousand years, describes his sufferings in a monologue. He once cursed the despot Jupiter, but then, in the course of time, gained insight and released his thirst for revenge; his own suffering taught him. After a fundamental change of heart, he now revokes the curse because he does not wish any living being to suffer. He resists Mercury's threats, who urge him to reveal the secret of Jupiter's impending danger. In the second act Asia, Prometheus' lover, waits for his liberation. This requires the intervention of the Demogorgon, a power of the underworld that carries out those changes in the state of the world that have been prepared and thus made possible by the earth's inhabitants through spiritual acts. Since Prometheus created the conditions for a universal turnaround with the withdrawal of the curse, Demogorgon can disempower Jupiter in the third act and redeem the cosmos from tyranny. Prometheus is freed by Hercules and unites with Asia. People remain exposed to life risks and impermanence as well as their own passions, but from now on they experience the hardships of existence in the awareness of their freedom with a fundamentally changed attitude. In the fourth act, elemental beings celebrate the work of redemption with dance and song. - Shelley's Prometheus embodies the will for freedom of oppressed humanity and their rebellion against tyrannical arbitrariness. The way to liberation does not pave the way for the will to overthrow and to seize power, but the knowledge that is bestowed on the hero, his turning away from hatred and the principle of retribution. At the same time, with the depiction of the role of Jupiter, the punishing and rewarding Christian creator God is rejected.

In the period that followed, a large number of authors created dramas, dramatic fragments and dramatic poems on the mythical theme. They include Hartley Coleridge (unfinished dramatic poem Prometheus , 1820), Alfred des Essarts (dramatic poem Prometheus , 1835), Edgar Quinet (Versdramen- trilogy : Prométhée, inventeur du feu; Prométhée enchaîné; Prométhée delivré , 1838), Leopold Schefer ( dramatic poem Prometheus and the night watchman , 1848), Paul Defontenay (drama Prométhée délivré , 1854), Édouard Grenier (verse drama Prométhée délivré , 1857), Richard Henry Horne (lyrical drama Prometheus the Fire-Bringer , 1864), Richard Paul (verse drama Der unleashed Prometheus , 1875), Charles Grandmougin (dramatic poem Prométhée , 1878), Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (verse drama Le mystère du progrès , 1878), Robert Bridges ( mask play Prometheus the Firegiver , 1883), Eugen von Jagow (verse drama Prometheus , 1894), Joséphin Péladan (verse trilogy La Prométhéide , 1895), Christian von Ehrenfels (verse drama tetralogy Der Kampf des Prometheus , 1895), Adolf Schafheitlin (dramatic G edicht Das Zeitalter der Cyclopen , 1899), Iwan Gilkin (dramatic poem Prométhée , 1899), Trumbull Stickney (verse drama Prometheus Pyrphoros , 1900), William Vaugn Moody (verse drama The Fire-Bringer , 1904), Mécislas Golberg (drama Prométhée repentant , 1904 ), Élémir Bourges (Drama La Nef , 1904 and 1922), Bernard Drew (dramatic poem Prometheus delivered , 1907), Reinhard Sorge (dramatic draft Prometheus , 1911), Vyacheslav Iwanowitsch Iwanow (tragedy Prometej , 1919), Victor Eftimiu ( tragedy Prometeu , 1919), Alberto Casella (dramatic poem Prometeo , 1923), Nikos Kazantzakis (trilogy of verses Promitheas , 1943–1945), Max Garric (tragedy Prométhée Olympien , 1947), James McAuley (mask play Prometheus , 1947/1948), Erich Brock (drama Prometheus , 1954) and Peter Hacks (drama Pandora , 1979). In many of the dramatic works of modernity, the image of Prometheus reflects the author's ideological convictions. The spectrum ranges from the repentant Prometheus, who sees his error and repentantly submits to the deity, to the steadfast and indomitable enemy of all worship.

The Polish poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid dealt with the creative activity of Prometheus in his work Promethidion, which was published in 1851 and comprised two verse dialogues and a prose epilogue . There Norwid expressed his conviction that it is the task of the artist to penetrate the everyday life of the people with his creative power and to transform social life.

The Swedish writer and poet Viktor Rydberg contrasted the titans with the " Eternal Jew " Ahasuerus in his dialogue poem Prometeus och Ahasverus (Prometheus and Ahasverus) in 1877 . Ahasuerus visits Prometheus who is bound. In the dialogue between the two unfortunate people, Prometheus appears as a representative of the principle of justice, which he opposes to the unjust rule of Jupiter. In this role he finds support and consolation. He relies on the “God of Eternity” speaking in his own chest. Ahasuerus counters this by saying that the abstract principle of justice is “meaningless and empty”. He advises humble submission, since only power relationships are real and law is defined by the ruler.

Heiner Müller wrote the drama Prometheus in 1967/1968 , an adaptation of the ancient Prometheus Bound , which was premiered in 1969 at the Zurich Theater. Müller let the contradictions and weaknesses of the titans emerge. Enduring the agony his protagonist suffers from is a form of “work”.


The writer Siegfried Lipiner wrote the epic The Unleashed Prometheus as a high school student , which was printed in 1876. This work was temporarily acclaimed by Nietzsche, who initially expressed himself enthusiastically. It earned the author a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, including Gustav Mahler , who thought he was a genius. Lipiner combined a Promethean with a Christian motif. In the encounter with Christ he made Prometheus ready to bring about a rebirth of all humanity through the greatest suffering. Behind this was the idea of ​​a pain experience that only the selected could experience, which Lipiner understood as an operative principle of salvation history.

The Swiss epic poet Carl Spitteler resorted to the traditional mythological reservoir of names without referring to the ancient tradition. The characters and fates of his figures are free creations of his own imagination. For two of his characters, a pair of brothers, he chose the speaking names Prometheus and Epimetheus because of their meanings "forward thinker" and "behind-the-scenes thinker"; he also made use of the common affective connotations of these names. In his first work published in 1880–1881, the epic Prometheus and Epimetheus in freely rhythmic prose, he described the fortunes of the two brothers, who were very differently inclined and who for him are not titans but people. It was not until 1924, the year the author died, that an abridged and revised version of the epic with the title Prometheus the sufferer appeared .

In Spitteler's epic, Prometheus, together with his brother, leaves the human community in youthful arrogance, because he wants “to be different from the many who swarm in the general crowd”. The two build houses in a quiet valley. They do not adopt any custom or follow any deity other than their own soul. The angel of God who rules the world has recognized the spiritual power of the outsider Prometheus and wants to make him king of all humanity. First, he asks the chosen one to give up his self-determination, to renounce the advice of his soul and instead to follow a “conscience” that he wants to give him. This conscience - rated negatively by Spitteler - is intended to teach him "-ness" and "-ness" - terms raised to norms - which should become his guiding principles. Prometheus refuses, he prefers to stick to the "beloved whisper" of his soul. Epimetheus, on the other hand, brings the angel the requested sacrifice and receives conscience from him. The angel then gives him royal rule, Prometheus has to go into exile. The short-sighted Epimetheus, however, is not up to the task. Complications arise under his government which place the world in extreme danger, and general confusion ensues. Finally, Prometheus intervenes as a savior. He alone can avert the disaster, because his soul gives him the necessary strength. After this is successful, the angel offers him the kingdom, but Prometheus refuses the offer and returns to his hermitage. - Spitteler's concern was to depict the tension between a far-sighted outsider and the deluded mass of the incompetent. In the epic, this contrast leads neither to self-denial and adaptation of the superior individual, nor to his assumption of power and monarchical rule; both would contradict its purpose. Prometheus can avoid both mistakes because he follows the voice of his soul.

The philosopher, writer and poet Rudolf Pannwitz also created a Prometheus epic . His 1902 published Prometheus in Hexametern , a youth work in the classical style, depicts the titan as a hero who overcomes his fate by overcoming and transforming himself.


The memorable motifs of the Prometheus saga found a varied echo in modern poetry. In particular, the punishment of the titans with their great symbolic power was taken up frequently. Many poets used the ancient myth in the context of their examination of modern conditions, for example when characterizing the "Promethean" personality and activity of Napoleon; others were more oriented towards the ancient tradition. Prometheus often served as a poetic symbol when poets lamented the harshness and injustice of fate or denounced tyranny and religious coercion or when they either celebrated the progress and emancipation of humanity or portrayed it as questionable. A popular topic was the rejection of religious ties and hopes and the turn to a purely earthly destiny of man. Some poets praised this approach to life, others portrayed the pursuit of inner-worldly fulfillment as in vain. Victor Hugo (1802–1885) showed a particular fondness for the Prometheus myth . He valued the titans as a martyr of freedom, as an enlightener, and as a symbol of progress and confidence in a better future for humanity.

Some of the more well-known modern lyrical works that focus on Prometheus include poems by George Gordon Byron ( Prometheus , 1816), Friedrich von Sallet ( Prometheus , 1835), James Russell Lowell ( Prometheus , 1843), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( Prometheus , or The Poet's Forethought , 1855), Louise-Victorine Ackermann ( Prométhée , 1865), Olegario Víctor Andrade ( Prometeo , 1877), Richard Dehmel ( The liberated Prometheus , 1891) and Johannes Robert Becher ( Prometheus , 1940).

In the GDR, where Goethe's hymn was part of the school curriculum, the myth offered poets the opportunity to poetically reflect on current experiences, views and suggestions. Partly the titan was seen as a representative of the “human being”, partly it was about the problem of the relationship between the inventive individual and society or about the loss of Promethean strength in everyday life. While conventional, affirmative poems were in the foreground in the early days and Titan was sung about as a proletarian hero, the ambivalence of technical and social progress came into focus later. In the spirit of such skepticism, Rainer Kirsch wrote in 1982: “The ancients extolled the creator Prometheus with great chants / Because he gave us fire; we swallow the smoke today. "

Novel and narrative

The writer Franz Fühmann , who lives in the GDR, wanted to retell the Prometheus legend as part of a collection of legends for young readers. From this project the project of a great youth novel developed, which remained unfinished. In 1974 the first part appeared with the title Prometheus. The titan battle . The estate of the author, who died in 1984, contained texts for the planned sequel, Prometheus II , which were published in 1996. In the novel fragment, Prometheus is expelled from the realm of the gods by Zeus, whereupon he turns to the earth and the creation of humanity. As a courageous rebel against an unjust ruler, Fühmann's Prometheus is a hero in the sense of real socialism . But his creation did not succeed because people are not ready to develop initiative and take responsibility. The publication of the novel ran into difficulties in the GDR, as it was considered politically explosive.

The Albanian writer Ismail Kadare wrote a story about the captivity and liberation of Prometheus. In the end, the liberated suspect that the people may not deserve his sacrifice. For him this is the cruelest torture, worse than the eagle's beak.

Special remodeling of the material

In some modern literary arrangements, the traditional conception of the ancient saga does not form the basis. Instead, only selected elements of the mythical tradition are transferred to conditions in other - modern or fictional - times or the mythical discourse as such is discredited through transformation. Alienation effects should stimulate further thinking.

Mary Shelley published her horror novel Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus in 1818 . Shelley's new Prometheus is the chemist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a monstrous human being in the laboratory, brings it to life and ultimately falls victim to his own creature, which rebels against him. Frankenstein is Zeus and Prometheus at the same time.

From another point of view, Giacomo Leopardi dealt with the creative activity of Prometheus. In his sarcastic dialogue La scommessa di Prometeo (The Bet of Prometheus) , written in 1824, the creator of man Prometheus claims that his creatures are the best invention of all time. He thinks he can prove this and makes a bet about it with the skeptical god Momos . To clarify the disputed question by sight, the two go to earth. There they encounter crimes three times that are so monstrous that Prometheus gives up.

The mythical material in André Gide's work Le Prométhée mal enchaîné ( The Badly Shackled Prometheus ) , published in 1899 by André Gide , belongs to the literary genre “ Sotie ” according to the author . It is a grotesque satirical story set in a fantastic setting full of absurdities. The title character Prometheus has freed himself from the bad bondage and is now in modern Paris. Zeus, who is a banker here, brings about the initial constellation through groundless but momentous action (action gratuite) , an encounter in a bar that changes the lives of those involved. He triggers a chain of events by slapping an unknown man named Kokles and anonymously giving another stranger, Damocles, whose address he received from Kokles, an envelope containing a 500 franc banknote. With this, Zeus sets the fates of the two men in motion: Kokles and Damocles, who - each in their own way - deal with what has happened, meet Prometheus in the bar and start a conversation with him. Zeus's action gratuite has far-reaching consequences for all three . Kokles loses an eye that Prometheus' eagle, which has flown into the restaurant, knocks out for him. Damocles, who wants to cope with his incomprehensible experience and settle his "debt", is so tormented by the puzzling nature of the process that he perishes because of the insolubility; he falls ill and dies. Prometheus goes through a learning process and passes on his findings. He explains the function of the eating eagle in human life. This is therefore what accompanies and "devours" a person, what takes possession of him and becomes an obsession. Everyone has their own personal eagle that they feed, for example their belief in progress, their sense of duty or a passion. The respective eagle gives the life story its individual character. It becomes the purpose of existence and gives people the right to exist. The history of mankind is the history of the eagle. However, as Prometheus now thinks, this does not necessarily have to be the case. After Prometheus had long devotedly nourished his eagle, he finally changed his posture fundamentally: He killed the bird and served its tasty meat to the guests in the restaurant. - With this outcome, André Gide turns against the traditional heroic image of Prometheus and ironizes every form of meaningful interpretation of the world, especially the worldview of Christians and that of progress optimists, who place their hopes on an idealized future.

Franz Kafka wrote a short prose text in January 1918, which was only published posthumously and is known under the inauthentic title Prometheus . Kafka claimed that there were four legends reporting about Prometheus and gave a brief description of their content. The first corresponds roughly to the ancient myth of punishment, but there is talk of several eagles; the other three are Kafka's own fiction. According to the second legend, Prometheus pressed himself deeper and deeper into the rock in pain until he became one with it; according to the third, the deed for which he was punished was forgotten over the millennia, even by himself. According to the fourth legend, one got tired of what had "become groundless": the gods tired, the eagles too, "the wound closed tired". - By stringing together his versions, Kafka countered the idea that the “truth ground” of the myth could be uncovered through correct interpretation. In his view, all legends are inevitably futile attempts to explain the inexplicable. With Kafka, myth is disempowered as a possible carrier of a recognizable meaning.

In 1972 Heiner Müller turned to myth again in his play Cement , which is set in the Soviet Union. At the end of the scene Liberation of Prometheus , a new version is told. Here, after three millennia, Heracles comes to Prometheus as a liberator. This is covered by the eagle excrement, which is its only food. Heracles can barely stand the deafening stench, so it takes a long effort to kill the eagle. Prometheus is not grateful to him, however, but weeps for the bird that was his only companion and breadwinner. He insults his liberator as a murderer and defends himself with a roar. Heracles has to forcibly drag him from the mountains. The gods try in vain to prevent this with a vortex of rocks. Prometheus protests to the gods, screaming loudly against the sky, that he is innocent of liberation. After their efforts fail, the gods eventually kill themselves. Prometheus now sits on the shoulders of his deliverer and assumes a victory pose.

Michael Scott let in 2010 published fourth part of the fantasy series The Secrets of Nicholas Flamel with the title The uncanny caller of spirits the human creator Prometheus. His Prometheus shows only a distant resemblance to the conventional figure.

Visual arts

The mythical subject continued to be taken up frequently in the visual arts of modern times. In the 19th century, traditional depictions dominated, with punishment being a very popular subject. In addition, however, the trend towards redesign and alienation began, which then spread in the 20th century. In the artistic examination of the motif of the creation of civilization, the ambivalence of technical progress came into view.

In his capacity as a creator of culture, Prometheus became a set piece for the decoration of the numerous museums and academies founded in the course of the 19th century. In Germany in particular there was a strong affinity for him as the patron of the arts and the initiator of all kinds of education. Representations of the titans were part of the standard repertoire of museum equipment and also adorned universities and technical colleges.

In the consciousness of the educated public, the aspect of the foundation of the arts and sciences was closely linked to that of human creation. In the creation of man, Prometheus was sometimes depicted with Athena (Minerva). The works of art whose subject is this act include ceiling paintings by Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1802) and Christian Griepenkerl (completed in 1878), several reliefs by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1807–1808 and later), a charcoal drawing and a fresco by Peter von Cornelius (1829/1830), a marble sculpture by Ludwig Schaller (1840), two drawings (1908) and a lithograph (1924) by Ernst Barlach and an oil painting by Otto Greiner (1909).

The fire robbery is depicted on a ceiling fresco by Giuseppe Collignon (1814). The fire bringer is shown in paintings by Heinrich Friedrich Füger (1817), Jean Delville (1907, with a shining star instead of a torch), Maxfield Parrish (1919) and Ludwig Valentin Angerer (2011/2016), a drawing by William Rimmer (first half of the 19th century). Century) and a bronze sculpture by Ossip Zadkine (1964). On a mural by José Clemente Orozco (1930), Prometheus tries to avert the flames falling over mankind from above - modern consequences of fire robbery. François Rude created the bas-relief Prometheus animates the arts from 1837–1840 . A painting by Josef Abel (1814) shows Prometheus holding the torch with Mercury (Hermes) and Pandora, whom he rejects.

The monumental gilded bronze figure of the Fire Bringer by Paul Manship, which was inaugurated in 1934 in the Prometheus Fountain of the Rockefeller Center in New York, achieved special significance . It was intended as a symbol of democracy, progress and international understanding and is the most famous sculpture in New York after the Statue of Liberty .

A considerable part of the numerous depictions of the punishment of the titans were based on the example of the painting by Rubens, but in addition, as early as the 19th century, efforts were made to address the subject in a new way. Show the bound Prometheus u. a. Paintings by Claude-Félix-Théodore Aligny (1837), Thomas Cole (1847), Joseph Lies (1850), Arnold Böcklin (three paintings: 1858, 1882 and 1885), Carl Rahl (before July 1865), William Blake Richmond (1874 exhibited), Briton Rivière (1889), Giorgio de Chirico (1909), Christian Rohlfs (around 1912), Franz von Stuck (several versions, the first around 1926) and Max Beckmann (1942), a mural by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes ( 1895/1896, Prometheus with Oceanids, Aeschylus in the foreground), ceiling paintings by Anselm Feuerbach (1875, Prometheus with Oceanids) and Oskar Kokoschka (1950, triptych Prometheus ), a drawing by Washington Allston (before July 1843) and sculptures by Paul Bouré ( 1845, bronze), Eduard Müller (1868–1879, marble, with Oceanids), Reinhold Begas (around 1900, marble, with vulture), Paul Landowski (1924, plaster), Gerhard Marcks (1948 and 1981, both bronze), Leonard Baskin (bronze relief, 1970) and Menashe Kadishman (several versions, one of them 1986/1987, Corten steel). The scene of Prometheus bound by Hephaestus, Kratos and Bia is the subject of a drawing by Johann Heinrich Füssli (around 1800/1810).

Less numerous are the works whose motif is the liberation of the bound. These include a fresco by Peter von Cornelius and Joseph Schlotthauer (1830, with vulture), a ceiling painting by Christian Griepenkerl (completed in 1878), an oil painting by William Blake Richmond (1882), an etching by Max Klinger (1894) and a lithograph by Hans Erni (1980). Prometheus can be seen on the rock but unbound in a painting by George Frederic Watts (finished in 1904, with Oceanids) and a lithograph by Henry Moore (1950).

Some artists deviated significantly from tradition in their creation of the legendary material. One of them is William Etty , who created a painting in 1825/1830 that shows Prometheus bound, who was struck by Heracles' arrow instead of an eagle. In a painting by Gustave Moreau from 1868 the bound Prometheus stands upright on the rock and looks into the distance without paying attention to the voracious vulture next to him; another vulture lies killed on the ground, which indicates the imminent liberation. Here Prometheus is stylized as a redeemer figure. A marble head by Constantin Brâncuși (1911) shows Prometheus as a sleeping boy; the child symbolizes the creativity of the creator of culture. A bronze sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz , the first execution of which was exhibited in 1937, depicts Prometheus strangling the vulture. The motif of the creator of civilization is presented negatively in Otto Dix Prometheus' oil painting - Limits of Mankind (1919): Here Prometheus is a modern war disabled with glasses for the blind; he has lost the foresight that his name attributes to him.

In the twentieth century, when dealing with the Prometheus theme, some artists only used abstract art ; so Ernst Wilhelm Nay (oil painting Prometheus I , Prometheus II and Prometheus III , 1948), Barnett Newman (painting Prometheus Bound , 1952, synthetic resin on canvas), Jean Dewasne (painting Prometheus , 1952–1965, lacquer on aluminum) and William Turnbull ( Wooden sculpture, 1961).

Nineteenth-century socialist caricaturists used the motif of Prometheus in chains to denounce the repression of press freedom by censorship and the exploitation of the proletariat by capitalism. Advertising also made use of the myth. After electric lighting appeared in the late 19th century, the fire bringer became an advertising medium. Posters from the early 20th century show him as a light source with a light bulb instead of a torch.


The legendary material also met with considerable interest from composers. Some made direct reference to ancient tragedy; In addition, Herder's poem and Shelley's reading drama were musically interpreted. The strong reception of Goethe's interpretation of the myth also had an impact in the musical area, his hymn was set to music several times. The focus was on music for stage dance and choral works, and a number of operas were also written from 1900.

Opera, ballet, modern dance

Salvatore Viganò created the choreography of the “heroic-allegorical” ballet The Creatures of Prometheus , a very free adaptation of the ancient material. The music for this was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (Opus 43) at the request of Empress Maria Theresia of Naples and Sicily , who was present at the premiere in Vienna on March 28, 1801. Ballet glorified the triumphant titan and his work, especially the education of people in culture. In 1813 Viganò choreographed a new version of this ballet with partly different music for La Scala in Milan .

The English composer John Barnett created the burlesque Olympic Revels, or Prometheus and Pandora , premiered in 1831 , a cheerful adaptation of the subject.

In the opera, the titan was given the role of protagonist on various occasions. The first was Gabriel Fauré with the "lyrical tragedy" Prometheus (first performed in 1900, Opus 82). Other opera composers who brought the mythical event to the stage were Maurice Emmanuel ( Der gefesselte Prometheus , Opus 16, 1916–1918, first performance 1959), Luigi Cortese ( Prometheus , Opus 18, first performance 1951), Ramiro Cortés ( Prometheus , 1960) , Jan Hanuš ( Die Fackel des Prometheus , Opus 54, first performance 1965), Carl Orff ( Prometheus with the ancient Greek text of the ancient tragedy, first performance in 1968), Lazar Nikolov (chamber opera Der gefesselte Prometheus , first performance in 1974) and Bernadetta Matuszczak (chamber opera Prometheus , 1981-1982).

The choreography of ballets and works of modern dance was created by Nicola Guerra (Ballet Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1913), Loïe Fuller (Modern Dance Prometheus , 1914), Max Terpis (heroic dance game Prometheus , 1927), Albrecht Knust (Ballet The Creatures des Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1927), Serge Lifar (ballet The Creatures of Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1929), Ted Shawn (modern dance Der gefesselte Prometheus with music by Scriabin , 1929), Aurel von Milloss (ballet Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1933), Yvonne Georgi (ballet The Creatures of Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1935), Pia and Pino Mlakar (ballet Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1935), Ninette de Valois (ballet Prometheus with the Music by Beethoven, 1936), Tatjana Gsovsky (Ballet Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1949), Maurice Béjart (Ballet Prometheus , 1956), Elsa-Marianne von Rosen (Ballet Prometheus with the music of Beethoven, 1958) , Jean Erdman (Modern Dance Io and Prometheus with music by Lou Harrison , 1959), Erich Walter (ballet The Creatures of Prometheus , 1966) and Frederick Ashton (ballet The Creatures of Prometheus , 1970).

Other works of art music

A number of composers set Goethe's hymn to music. They include Johann Friedrich Reichardt ( Prometheus , 1809), Franz Schubert (Lied Prometheus , D 674, 1819), Adolf Bernhard Marx ( Die Schmiede des Prometheus , Opus 6, 1841), Hugo Wolf (piano song Prometheus , 1889; version for voice and orchestra, 1890), Julius Röntgen (Lied Prometheus , Opus 99, 1928), Hanns Jelinek (Lied Prometheus , Opus 14, 1936) and Erich Sehlbach (Lied Prometheus , Opus 35, 1941).

Singing with instrumental accompaniment seemed particularly suitable for setting the mythical material to music. Above all, a large number of choral works were created. Franz Schubert composed his Prometheus cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra in 1816 , which has been lost. Jacques Fromental Halévy published his cantata Der gefesselte Prometheus in 1849 , the libretto of which came from his brother Léon Halévy . This work offered a romantic, optimistic picture of the Titan martyr of a conviction that eventually triumphs. Franz Liszt created choirs for Herder's unleashed Prometheus in 1850 and a revised version of this work from 1855–1859; he made the symphonic poem Prometheus out of the overture , purely instrumental program music , which was premiered in 1855. Liszt followed Herder's interpretation of the legend and remarked on his music that he wanted to let the moods rise up in it, which formed the soul of the myth: boldness, suffering, perseverance and redemption. In the foreword to the orchestral score, Liszt wrote: “A deep pain that triumphs through defiant perseverance forms the musical character of this model.” Camille Saint-Saëns also took up the mythical material. In his cantata The Wedding of Prometheus (Opus 19, 1867) Prometheus marries Humanité , the personified humanity that civilization owes to him. Other works created u. a. Peter Benoit ( Oratorium Prometheus , 1867), Hubert Parry (cantata Der ungesselte Prometheus based on Shelley's drama, 1880), Lucien Léon Guillaume Lambert (cantata Der gefesselte Prometheus , first performed in 1885), Heinrich Hofmann (choral composition Prometheus , Opus 110, published in 1892), Reynaldo Hahn (oratorio Der triumphierende Prometheus , 1908), Josef Matthias Hauer (song Der gefesselte Prometheus , Opus 18, 1919), Granville Bantock (choral composition Der unleashed Prometheus based on Shelley's drama, 1936), Frank Wohlfahrt (oratorio Die Passion des Prometheus , world premiere 1955), Alfred Koerppen (oratorio Das Feuer des Prometheus , 1956), Carlos Chávez Ramírez (cantata Der gefesselte Prometheus , 1956) and Rudolf Wagner-Régeny ( Prometheus , scenic oratorio, world premiere 1959).

Luigi Nono composed the "audio tragedy" Prometeo , which premiered in 1984 . Tragedia dell'ascolto , a two and a half hour, nine-part work in which he shifted the theatrical action into the music and thus turned the concept of music theater on its head. In 1985, Heiner Goebbels set the prose text by Heiner Müller from his play Zement to music in his radio play The Liberation of Prometheus .

A number of arrangements were also made in instrumental music, including works by Joseph Lanner ( Prometheus-Funken, Grätzer Soirée-Walzer , Opus 123, 1837), Woldemar Bargiel (Overture to Prometheus , Opus 16, 1852), Karl Goldmark (Overture Der gefesselte Prometheus , Opus 38, 1889), Leopoldo Miguez (symphonic poem Prometheus , Opus 21, 1891), Johan Peter Selmer (symphonic poem Prometheus , Opus 50, 1898), Jean-Louis Martinet ( Prometheus , symphonic fragments, 1947), Aleksandar Iwanow Rajchev ( The New Prometheus , Symphony No. 2, 1958), Iain Hamilton (orchestral work Die Fesselung des Prometheus , 1963) and Brian Ferneyhough (Chamber Music Prometheus , 1967).

The Prometheus theme played a particularly important role for the Russian composer Alexander Nikolajewitsch Skrjabin , who himself appeared with a “Promethean” sense of mission. Scriabin was convinced of the purifying and illuminating power of his art. He wanted to create a total work of art that appealed to all of the senses. Because of his untimely death in 1915, the great project could not be carried out beyond an initial trial phase. The symphonic poem Prométhée, composed between 1908 and 1910 and premiered in Moscow in 1911, was a first step in the intended direction . Le poème du feu ( Prometheus. The Seal of Fire , Opus 60). With her, Scriabin turned to two senses at the same time, combining his music with an accompanying play of colors. For the composer, Prometheus symbolized the creative principle of the universe, which liberated mankind from its initial state of unconsciousness and awakened creativity with the gift of fire. Scriabin introduced the six-note “ Prometheus chord ”, in which, according to his words, he found “the light in music” and to which he owed an ecstatic, intoxicating experience that he described as “flight” and “breathless happiness”.

Light music

The band Einstürzende Neubauten referred to the myth in their song Destroyed Cell in their album Five on the Richter scale, which is open to the top (1987). In her text, the eagle starves to death and falls because Prometheus' liver does not grow back. The Norwegian black metal band Emperor presented a modern version of the myth with the album Prometheus - The Discipline of Fire & Demise in 2001 . The song Farewell Letter of Prometheus on the album Rasluka Part II by Nargaroth (2002) is about the incurable wound. In the German sung song Feuer Overture / Prometheus Entfesselt on the album Lemuria by the Swedish group Therion (2004), the mythical events are presented from an optimistic perspective. The German medieval rock band Saltatio Mortis themed the role of the fire-bringer in the song Prometheus on the 2007 album Aus der Asche . The album Pandora (2013) by the German medieval band Reliquiae contains the song Pandora , which deals with the story of Prometheus and Pandora. The Greek death metal band Septicflesh dedicated the song Prometheus to the myth on their 2014 album Titan .

Film, television, video game

The English poet and playwright Tony Harrison created the film Prometheus in 1998 , in which the myth forms the background to a representation of the decline of the English working class in the late 20th century. Harrison transferred the constellation of the ancient tragedy The Fettered Prometheus alienating to modern conditions.

For the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick (1968), a connection to the Prometheus saga is assumed in the research literature, especially to its reception by Nietzsche. The reference to the myth in the science fiction film Prometheus - Dark Characters by Ridley Scott from 2012 is explicitly stated . This is named after the spaceship Prometheus , whose team undertakes an expedition to establish contact with the extraterrestrial constructors of humans. The film title is reminiscent of the ancient legend, which is also briefly told in the film. Scott assigns the designer the role of the creator of man. However, the plot he conceived is very different from the mythical one.

In the mystery television series Supernatural , after the liberation of Prometheus, there is a fight between him and Zeus in season 8, which ends with the deaths of both.

In the video game God of War II , an adversary of Zeus tries to free the chained Prometheus. He finally manages to loosen the bondage, but this leads to the fall of Prometheus. The titan is killed and is released from torture.

natural Science

The ancient legendary figure functions variously in natural science as a name giver. The chemical element promethium discovered in 1945 , the pre-human species Australopithecus prometheus , first scientifically mentioned in 1948 , the asteroid (1809) Prometheus discovered in 1960 , the Saturn moon Prometheus discovered in 1980 , the Martian plane Promethei Planum and a volcano on Jupiter's moon Io were named after her .

Prometheus was also called a long-lived pine that was around 5,000 years old when it was felled in 1964.

Text collection


Overview representations

  • DNP group Kiel: Prometheus. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 10, Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-476-01480-0 , Sp. 402-406.
  • Elisabeth Frenzel , Sybille Grammetbauer: Substances of world literature. A lexicon of longitudinal sections of the history of poetry (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 300). 10th, revised and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-30010-9 , pp. 761-767.
  • Hans-Karl Lücke , Susanne Lücke: Ancient mythology. A manual. Marix, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-86539-046-3 , pp. 673-691
  • Olga Raggio: The Myth of Prometheus. Its survival and metamorphoses up to the eighteenth century. In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21, 1958, pp. 44-62
  • Philipp Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption. The ancient mythology in literature, music and art from the beginnings to the present (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-02032-1 , pp. 605-621.
  • Raymond Trousson: Prometheus. In: Pierre Brunel (Ed.): Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes. Routledge, London / New York 1992, ISBN 0-415-06460-0 , pp. 968-981

Overall representations

  • Carol Dougherty: Prometheus. Routledge, London / New York 2006, ISBN 0-415-32406-8
  • Jacqueline Duchemin: Prométhée. Histoire du Mythe, de ses Origines orientales à ses Incarnations modern. Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1974
  • Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne. 3rd, corrected edition, Droz, Genève 2001, ISBN 2-600-00519-6 (standard work)

General collections of articles

  • François Flahault (Ed.): L'idéal prométhéen (= Communications , No. 78). Éditions du Seuil, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-02-083379-4
  • Edgar Pankow, Günter Peters (Ed.): Prometheus. Myth of Culture. Fink, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-7705-3381-X
  • Maria Pia Pattoni (Ed.): Forum. Prometeo. Percorsi di un mito tra antichi e moderni (= Aevum antiquum , fascicle 12/13). Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2015, ISBN 978-88-343-3025-8
  • Claus Leggewie , Ursula Renner, Peter Risthaus (eds.): Promethean culture. Where do our energies come from? Fink, Paderborn 2013, ISBN 978-3-7705-5601-4 .


  • Jean-Robert Gisler: Prometheus . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Volume 7.1, Artemis, Zurich / Munich 1994, ISBN 3-7608-8751-1 , pp. 531–553 (text) and Volume 7.2, pp. 420–430 (illustrations). Supplements to the supplementary volumes Supplementum 2009 : Supplement volume 1, Artemis, Düsseldorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-538-03520-1 , p. 436 f. (Text) and supplement volume 2, p. 208 f. (Images)
  • Jean-Robert Gisler: The Iconography of Prometheus in Antiquity. In: Freiburger Universitätsblätter , Volume 39, Issue 150, 2000, pp. 61–74
  • Eckard Lefèvre : Studies on the sources and understanding of the Prometheus desmotes. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-525-82524-2
  • Irmela Kühnrich-Chatterjee: Prometheus pictures. Concepts of Prometheus in the written and pictorial evidence from the beginnings in the 7th century BC. BC to the Hellenistic period. Dissertation University of Freiburg 2019 ( digitized version )

Middle Ages and Early Modern Times

  • Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus. Iconological and anthropological aspects of the visual arts from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Boer, Grafrath 1991, ISBN 3-924963-42-8


  • Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century. From Myth to Symbol. Legenda, London 2013, ISBN 978-1-907975-52-3
  • Paul Goetsch : The Prometheus myth in English-language literature after 1945. In: Martin Brunkhorst u. a. (Ed.): Classic Renaissance. Models of contemporary literature. Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1991, ISBN 3-923721-79-X , pp. 31-51
  • Diethard Heinze: Unleashed Captivity - Prometheus in the 20th Century. In: Dietmar Jacobsen (Ed.): Kreuzwege. Transformations of the Mythical in Literature. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 1999, ISBN 3-631-32660-2 , pp. 35-60
  • Christian Kreutz: The Prometheus symbol in the poetry of the English romanticism. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1963
  • Laurent Prémont: Le mythe de Prométhée dans la littérature française contemporaine (1900–1960). Les Presses de l'Université Laval, Québec 1964
  • Bettina Vaupel: Like gods - godforsaken. Prometheus in the fine arts of the 19th and 20th centuries. VDG, Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-89739-482-0
  • Theodore Ziolkowski : Mythologized Present. German experience since 1933 in an antique guise. Fink, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-7705-4670-1 , pp. 99–126 (on the Marxist reception of the myth)


Web links

Wiktionary: Prometheus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Prometheus  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Prometheus  - Sources and full texts


  1. Hesiod, Theogony 507-616.
  2. Hesiod, Works and Days 42-105.
  3. On Hesiod's approach, see Ernst Heitsch : Das Prometheus-Gedicht bei Hesiod. In: Ernst Heitsch (Ed.): Hesiod , Darmstadt 1966, pp. 419–435; Jens-Uwe Schmidt: The unity of the Prometheus myth in the "Theogony" of Hesiod. In: Hermes 116, 1988, pp. 129–156, here: 134.
  4. Hesiod, Theogonie 507-516, 521, 546 f., 559 f., 614, cf. 362-366; Works and days 48, 54. Cf. Walter Marg (commentator): Hesiod: Complete Poems , Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, pp. 220–224.
  5. On the Titanomachy see Walter Marg (commentator): Hesiod: Complete Poems , Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, pp. 242–264.
  6. An interpretation of this constellation is offered by Jean-Pierre Vernant: Sacrificial and alimentary codes in Hesiod's myth of Prometheus . In: Richard L. Gordon (ed.): Myth, religion and society , Cambridge 1981, pp. 57–79, here: 60–66.
  7. Hesiod, Theogony 535-564; Works and days 47–50. For interpretation see the essays by Jean-Pierre Vernant: The myth of Prometheus in Hesiod and Sacrificial and alimentary codes in Hesiod's myth of Prometheus . In: Richard L. Gordon (ed.): Myth, religion and society , Cambridge 1981, pp. 43-56 and 57-79.
  8. Hesiod, Theogony 565-569; Works and days 50–55. See Walter Marg (commentator): Hesiod: Complete Poems , Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, pp. 233–235.
  9. The common translation of "hope" is inappropriate here; elpís probably means the ability to foresee the future; see Noriko Yasumura: Challenges to the Power of Zeus in Early Greek Poetry , London 2011, pp. 112–116.
  10. Hesiod, Theogony 570-612; Works and days 53–105. The interpretation is highly controversial; see Immanuel Musäus: The Pandora myth in Hesiod and its reception up to Erasmus von Rotterdam , Göttingen 2004, pp. 13–41.
  11. Hesiod, Theogony 521-534, 614-616. Cf. Walter Marg (commentator): Hesiod: Complete Poems , Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, pp. 226–229.
  12. Women's catalog , fragments 2 and 4; Text by Reinhold Merkelbach , Martin Litchfield West (ed.): Fragmenta Hesiodea , Oxford 1967, p. 4 f.
  13. ^ Reimar Müller : The discovery of culture , Düsseldorf / Zurich 2003, pp. 30–41.
  14. See on this Franz Stoessl : The Prometheus of Aeschylus as a phenomenon of the history of ideas and the history of theater , Stuttgart 1988, pp. 20–22; Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the Sources and Understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 159–169; Manfred Joachim Lossau: Aischylos , Hildesheim 1998, pp. 44–47; Alan H. Sommerstein: Aeschylean Tragedy , London 2010, pp. 224-228; Paolo Cipolla: Il Prometeo satiresco di Eschilo: Pyrkaeus o Pyrphoros? In: Maria Pia Pattoni (Ed.): Forum. Prometeo. Percorsi di un mito tra antichi e moderni , Milano 2015, pp. 83–112.
  15. An overview of the history of research is provided by Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the Sources and Understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 11–19. See Alan H. Sommerstein: Aeschylean Tragedy , London 2010, pp. 228-232.
  16. On the duration of the torture, see Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the sources and for understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 58–60.
  17. On the presumed process, about which there are various hypotheses, see Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the sources and for understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 69–95; Piero Totaro: Prometeo, incatenato e liberato. In: Maria Pia Pattoni (Ed.): Forum. Prometeo. Percorsi di un mito tra antichi e moderni , Milano 2015, pp. 71–81.
  18. Prometheus Bound 1–87. See Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 260–270; Rose Unterberger: The bound Prometheus of Aeschylus. Eine Interpretation , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 22-33.
  19. Prometheus Bound 88–396. See Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 270–286; Rose Unterberger: The bound Prometheus of Aeschylus. Eine Interpretation , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 33-66.
  20. Prometheus Bound 397-560. See Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 286–290; Rose Unterberger: The bound Prometheus of Aeschylus. Eine Interpretation , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 67-87.
  21. Prometheus bound, 561–940. See Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 290–304; Rose Unterberger: The bound Prometheus of Aeschylus. Eine Interpretation , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 88-121.
  22. The bound Prometheus 941-1093. See Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 304–309; Rose Unterberger: The bound Prometheus of Aeschylus. Eine Interpretation , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 121-131.
  23. See also Robert Bees: Aeschylus. Interpretations for understanding his theology , Munich 2009, pp. 260–309; Suzanne Saïd: Sophiste et tyran , Paris 1985, pp. 284-325.
  24. See Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the sources and for understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 82–85, 93–95, 172 f.
  25. A detailed plea against authenticity is the investigation by Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the sources and understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003. Cecil John Herington : The Author of the Prometheus Bound , Austin 1970 and Suzanne Saïd: Sophiste et tyran , Paris 1985, pp. 27-80. Robert Bees offers a critical discussion of the arguments for authenticity: Zur Datierung des Prometheus Desmotes , Stuttgart 1993, pp. 73-132.
  26. ^ Stephanie West: Prometheus Orientalized. In: Museum Helveticum 51, 1994, pp. 129–149, here: 132–134.
  27. Aristophanes, The Birds 1494–1552. See Nan Dunbar (ed.): Aristophanes: Birds , Oxford 1995, pp. 693-710 (commentary).
  28. Plato, Protagoras 320c-322d. See Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 359–366.
  29. Bernd Manuwald : Plato: Protagoras. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 1999, pp. 168 f., 177 f., 183–191. Cf. Dieter Bremer : Prometheus. The formation of a basic mythologem. In: Edgar Pankow, Günter Peters (Ed.): Prometheus. Mythos der Kultur , Munich 1999, pp. 35–41, here: 39–41.
  30. Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2,1246–1259.
  31. Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 3,843-866; 3.1246-1258. Cf. Gyburg Radke : Die Kindheit des Mythos , Munich 2007, pp. 117–124.
  32. Diodorus 1, 19, 1-4.
  33. Diodorus 5,67,2.
  34. Walther Kraus , Lothar Eckhart : Prometheus. In: Pauly-Wissowa RE, Vol. 23/1, Stuttgart 1957, Col. 653-730, here: 685; Hans-Karl Lücke, Susanne Lücke: Antike Mythologie , Wiesbaden 2005, p. 684.
  35. ^ Libraries 1, 2, 3.
  36. Libraries 1,7,2.
  37. See also Fabio Berdozzo: Götter, Mythen, Philosophen , Berlin 2011, pp. 141–161.
  38. See also Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 379–381.
  39. Julian, Against the Uneducated Dogs 182c – d. See Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 369–373.
  40. ^ Henry David Jocelyn : Greek poetry in Cicero's prose writing. In: Yale Classical Studies 23, 1973, pp. 61–111, here: 90 f.
  41. On the title see Ingeborg Steinbach: Varros Menippea "Prometheus liber" , Cologne 1979, pp. 7-11.
  42. Varro, Saturae Menippeae , fragments 423-436. See Ingeborg Steinbach: Varros Menippea “Prometheus liber” , Cologne 1979, pp. 336–338.
  43. Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes 2, 23-25. See Henry David Jocelyn: Greek poetry in Cicero's prose writing. In: Yale Classical Studies 23, 1973, pp. 61–111, here: 91–111.
  44. ^ Hyginus, Genealogiae 144 (see also 54 and 142); De astronomia 2.15.
  45. ^ Hyginus, Genealogiae 31.
  46. Servius, Commentarius in Vergilii eclogas 6:42. Cf. Immanuel Musäus: The Pandoramythos in Hesiod and its reception up to Erasmus von Rotterdam , Göttingen 2004, pp. 171–174 and on the ring Walther Kraus, Lothar Eckhart: Prometheus. In: Pauly-Wissowa RE, Vol. 23/1, Stuttgart 1957, Col. 653-730, here: 701.
  47. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.76–88. On Ovid's reception of the mythical tradition, see Costantino Moro: Le nobili spoglie di un mito: Prometeo nella poesia latina da Cicerone a Claudiano. In: Maria Pia Pattoni (Ed.): Forum. Prometeo. Percorsi di un mito tra antichi e moderni , Milano 2015, pp. 141–215, here: 175–185; Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 105-107.
  48. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5,154-176. See Hans Jürgen Tschiedel : Prometheus and the Argonauts. In: Ulrich Eigler , Eckard Lefèvre (ed.): Ratis omnia vincet , Munich 1998, pp. 293–305, here: 293–296.
  49. Tertullian, Apologeticum 18.2.
  50. Laktanz, Epitome divinarum institutionum 20. Cf. Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 28–32.
  51. Augustine, De civitate dei 18.8.
  52. Fulgentius, Mitologiae 2,6. See the commentary by Étienne Wolf, Philippe Dain (ed.): Fulgence: Mythologies , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2013, pp. 159–161. General information on the Christian reception of the Joachim Dalfen myth : Parmenides - Protagoras - Plato - Marc Aurel , Stuttgart 2012, p. 292 f .; Dieter Bremer: Prometheus Variations. In: Wiener Studien 104, 1991, pp. 261–284, here: 265–267, 271 f.
  53. ^ Walter Marg (commentator): Hesiod: Complete Poems , Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, p. 221 f .; Hans-Karl Lücke, Susanne Lücke: Ancient Mythology , Wiesbaden 2005, p. 681 f.
  54. Hans-Karl Lücke, Susanne Lücke: Antike Mythologie , Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 680–683.
  55. Philipp Theisohn gives an overview: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 605–607.
  56. Horace, Carmina 1, 3, 25-40.
  57. Dieter Bremer (Ed.): Aischylos: Prometheus in Fesseln , Frankfurt 1988, pp. 125, 141-143; Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the sources and on the understanding of the Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, pp. 97, 99 f.
  58. Eckard Lefèvre: Studies on the Sources and Understanding of Prometheus Desmotes , Göttingen 2003, p. 111 f., 121–128. Cf. Robert Bees: Zur Dating des Prometheus Desmotes , Stuttgart 1993, pp. 142–147, 162–166, 248–250.
  59. See also Robert Bees: The fire of Prometheus. Myth of Progress and Decline. In: Edgar Pankow, Günter Peters (Ed.): Prometheus. Mythos der Kultur , Munich 1999, pp. 43–61.
  60. Walther Kraus, Lothar Eckhart: Prometheus. In: Pauly-Wissowa RE, Vol. 23/1, Stuttgart 1957, Col. 653-730, here: 685, 696-698; Noriko Yasumura: Challenges to the Power of Zeus in Early Greek Poetry , London 2011, p. 111 f .; Jacqueline Duchemin: Prométhée , Paris 1974, pp. 38 f., 51-53, 83-86.
  61. See Paola Pisi: Prometeo nel culto attico , Rom 1990, pp. 9-20, 51.
  62. Paola Pisi: Prometeo nel culto attico , Rome 1990, pp. 21-51; Walther Kraus, Lothar Eckhart: Prometheus. In: Pauly-Wissowa RE, Vol. 23/1, Stuttgart 1957, Col. 653-730, here: 654-657, 701.
  63. ^ Jean-Robert Gisler: Prometheus . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. 7.1, Zurich / Munich 1994, pp. 548-550; Philipp Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 607 f .; Raffaella Viccei: Fuoco e fango. Il mito di Prometeo nella documentazione archeologica greca e romana. In: Maria Pia Pattoni (Ed.): Forum. Prometeo. Percorsi di un mito tra antichi e moderni , Milano 2015, pp. 217–272.
  64. ^ Jean-Robert Gisler: Prometheus . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. 7.1, Zurich / Munich 1994, p. 551.
  65. Helga Kaiser-Minn: The creation of man on the late antique monuments of the 3rd and 4th centuries , Münster 1981, pp. 32–37.
  66. ^ Paris, Louvre, Ma 355.
  67. Olga Raggio: The Myth of Prometheus. Its survival and metamorphoses up to the eighteenth century. In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21, 1958, pp. 44-62, here: 47 f .; Helga Kaiser-Minn: The creation of man on the late antique monuments of the 3rd and 4th centuries , Münster 1981, pp. 38–62.
  68. Jane Chance: Medieval Mythography , Vol. 1, Gainesville 1994, pp. 181-183, 324-327 and Vol. 2, Gainesville 2000, pp. 182, 244f., 282, 291; Elisabeth Frenzel: Fabrics of world literature , 10th, revised edition, Stuttgart 2005, p. 762; Jean-Claude Margolin: Le mythe de Prométhée dans la philosophie de la Renaissance. In: Luisa Rotondi Secchi Tarugi (ed.): Il mito nel Rinascimento , Milano 1993, pp. 241-269, here: 241.
  69. Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, p. 34 f., 118 f.
  70. Petrarca, De vita solitaria 2,12. See Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, p. 37 f.
  71. ^ Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogia deorum gentilium 4,44.
  72. See on this Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 128-133, 144, 167; Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 41–43; Olga Raggio: The Myth of Prometheus. Its survival and metamorphoses up to the eighteenth century. In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21, 1958, pp. 44-62, here: 53-55; Dieter Bremer: Prometheus Variations. In: Wiener Studien 104, 1991, pp. 261–284, here: 267–272; August Buck : The humanistic tradition in Romania , Bad Homburg 1968, p. 93 f .; Susanna Barsella: The Myth of Prometheus in Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. In: Modern Language Notes , Vol. 119, No. 1 (Supplement), pp. S120-S141, here: S128-S133.
  73. ^ August Buck: The humanist tradition in the Romania , Bad Homburg 1968, pp. 97-101; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 145–147, 182 f.
  74. Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 84–86.
  75. Joachim Heimerl: Systole and Diastole , Munich 2001, pp. 26–29.
  76. A detailed account of the history of science is provided by Jan Albert Gruys: The Early Printed Editions (1518–1664) of Aeschylus , Nieuwkoop 1981, pp. 17 ff., A more recent overview by Manfred Landfester (ed.): History of ancient texts (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements , Vol. 2), Stuttgart 2007, pp. 16-21.
  77. Olga Raggio: The Myth of Prometheus. Its survival and metamorphoses up to the eighteenth century. In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21, 1958, pp. 44-62, here: 54 f .; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 148, 151–154.
  78. ^ Giordano Bruno: Cabala del cavallo pegaseo , First Dialogue, ed. by Sergius Kodera (= Giordano Bruno: Werke , vol. 6), Hamburg 2009, p. 66; see. the introduction by the editor S. LXXXIV – XC and Olivia Catanorchi: Prometeo. In: Michele Ciliberto (Ed.): Giordano Bruno. Parole, concetti, immagini , vol. 2, Pisa / Firenze 2014, p. 1594 f .; Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, p. 91 f.
  79. ^ Francis Bacon: De sapientia veterum 26. Cf. Jean-Claude Margolin: Le mythe de Prométhée dans la philosophie de la Renaissance. In: Luisa Rotondi Secchi Tarugi (ed.): Il mito nel Rinascimento , Milano 1993, pp. 241-269, here: 259-267.
  80. Thomas Hobbes: De cive 10.3. See Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 408-410.
  81. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , f 3rd edition, Geneva, 2001, p 298th
  82. ^ Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Discours sur les sciences et les arts , part 2 (beginning). See Michaela Rehm: Enlightenment about progress: The systematic causes of civilization. In: Johannes Rohbeck , Lieselotte Steinbrügge (ed.): Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The two discourses on civilization criticism, Berlin 2015, pp. 47–61.
  83. Michael J. Giordano: The Art of Meditation and the French Renaissance Love Lyric , Toronto 2010, pp. 317-320; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 168–180.
  84. Marco Girolamo Vida: Poeticorum libri tres 1,516-529.
  85. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , f 3rd edition, Geneva, 2001, p 185th
  86. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Geneva, 2001, p 184th
  87. Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene 2,10,70 f. See Philip J. Gallagher: Prometheus. In: Albert Charles Hamilton (Ed.): The Spenser Encyclopedia , Toronto 1990, pp. 557 f.
  88. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 223-237.
  89. Shaftesbury: Soliloquy 1.3. Cf. Christian Kreutz: The Prometheus symbol in the poetry of the English Romanticism , Göttingen 1963, pp. 7-11.
  90. Heinz Gockel: Myth and Poetry , Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 220; Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysical Rebels , Würzburg 2010, p. 14 f.
  91. See also Francis Erlington Ball: Swift's Verse , London 1929, pp. 178–187.
  92. Manuel Couvreur: Pandore. In: Raymond Trousson, Jeroom Vercruysse (eds.): Dictionnaire général de Voltaire , Paris 2003, pp. 910–912; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 282–285.
  93. ^ Pierre Brumoy: La Boëte de Pandore ou La curiosité punie , published 1741; Jean-Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan: Prométhée , published 1784. See Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 269-274.
  94. Christoph Martin Wieland: Contributions to the Secret History of the Human Mind and Heart , Third Book. In: Hans-Peter Nowitzki (Ed.): Wielands Werke , Vol. 9.1, Berlin 2008, pp. 183–214, here: 202–210. See Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 417-421.
  95. ^ See on Wieland's Pandora John Parker: Christoph Martin Wielands dramatic activity , Bern / Munich 1961, pp. 116-120.
  96. Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysische Rebellen , Würzburg 2010, p. 47; Joachim Heimerl: Systole and Diastole , Munich 2001, pp. 26–29.
  97. Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysische Rebellen , Würzburg 2010, p. 15 f .; Joachim Heimerl: Systole and Diastole , Munich 2001, p. 24 f.
  98. See Joachim Heimerl: Systole und Diastole , Munich 2001, pp. 30–38.
  99. For the dating see Joachim Heimerl: Systole und Diastole , Munich 2001, p. 73; Silke Heckenbücker: Prometheus, Apollo, Zeus / Jupiter - Goethe pictures from 1773 to 1885 , Frankfurt 2008, p. 21.
  100. For the designation see Konrad Rahe: Religionskritik in Goethe's Prometheus Hymne, in the Venetian Epigrams and in the ballad The Bride of Corinth , Hamburg 2014, pp. 34–36.
  101. Goethe: Prometheus , verses 245–247.
  102. See Joachim Heimerl: Systole and Diastole , Munich 2001, pp. 49–72, 84–100; Silke Heckenbücker: Prometheus, Apollo, Zeus / Jupiter - Goethe pictures from 1773 to 1885 , Frankfurt 2008, pp. 21–35; Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysische Rebellen , Würzburg 2010, pp. 47–89.
  103. See also Rolf Christian Zimmermann: Das Weltbild des Junge Goethe , Vol. 2, Munich 1979, pp. 132-139.
  104. See Harro Müller-Michaels on the development of Herder's Prometheus and Epimetheus image: “I am Epimetheus”. The myth of education. In: Martin Bollacher (Ed.): Johann Gottfried Herder , Würzburg 1994, pp. 167–176.
  105. Heinz Gockel: Myth and Poetry , Frankfurt am Main 1981, pp. 223–227.
  106. Beccafumi's fresco in the Palazzo Bindi Sergardi, Siena .
  107. Barbieri's fresco in the Cassa di Risparmio, Cento .
  108. ^ Parmigianino's drawing , Morgan Library & Museum , New York.
  109. Casa de Pilatos , Seville .
  110. ^ Private collection, Lucca .
  111. ^ Maulbertsch's painting in the Reuschel Collection, Bavarian National Museum , Munich.
  112. ^ Museo del Prado, Madrid.
  113. See Philipp Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 616.
  114. ^ Seminario Arcivescovile, Ferrara .
  115. ^ Museo del Prado, Madrid.
  116. ^ Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. See Peter Sutton: "Tutti finiti con amore": Rubens' 'Prometheus Bound'. In: Anne-Marie Logan (Ed.): Essays in Northern European Art Presented to Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann on His Sixtieth Birthday , Doornspijk 1983, pp. 270–275.
  117. ^ Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
  118. ^ The Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection, Monte-Carlo. See also Silke Kurth: Das Antlitz der Agonie , Weimar 2009, pp. 144–147.
  119. ^ Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels.
  120. ^ Moreelses painting in the Centraal Museum , Utrecht .
  121. ^ Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne.
  122. Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai.
  123. Sold in Cologne in 2007, current location unknown.
  124. Silke Kurth: Das Antlitz der Agonie , Weimar 2009, pp. 152–156.
  125. ^ Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille .
  126. ^ Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest. See Silke Kurth: Das Antlitz der Agonie , Weimar 2009, p. 157 f.
  127. Sold by the auction house Hampel (Munich) in 2008, current location unknown.
  128. ^ Walker Art Gallery , Liverpool .
  129. ^ Flaxman's drawing in the Royal Academy of Arts , London.
  130. ^ New York Public Library , New York City.
  131. ^ Bertrand's sculpture in the Royal Collection , Windsor Castle .
  132. Dumont's sculpture in the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.
  133. ^ Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
  134. ^ Louvre, Paris.
  135. ^ Louvre, Paris; Sketch in the Musée des Beaux-Arts , Rouen .
  136. ^ Füssli's paintings in the Kunsthaus , Zurich.
  137. Green Vault , Dresden.
  138. Alte Pinakothek, Munich. See Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 125-165.
  139. ^ Palazzo Vecchio , Florence. See Mechthild Modersohn: Natura als Göttin im Mittelalter , Berlin 1997, p. 68 f.
  140. Reinhard Steiner: Prometheus , Grafrath 1991, pp. 168–176.
  141. Kevin Curran: Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court , Farnham 2009, pp. 103 f., 107.
  142. See on the musical reception Peter Andraschke: Schöpferisches Feuer. Compositional Prometheus Fantasies. In: Freiburger Universitätsblätter , year 39, issue 150, 2000, pp. 75–88, here: 75 f.
  143. Jump up Overview: Raymond Trousson: Prometheus. In: Pierre Brunel (ed.): Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes , London 1992, pp. 968-981, here: 978-980; Elisabeth Frenzel: Materials of World Literature , 10th, revised edition, Stuttgart 2005, pp. 763–765. Analysis: Hans Blumenberg: Arbeit am Mythos , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 607–616.
  144. Silke Heckenbücker: Prometheus, Apollo, Zeus / Jupiter - Goethe pictures from 1773 to 1885 , Frankfurt 2008, pp. 205–208.
  145. See the overview representations by Raymond Trousson: Prometheus. In: Pierre Brunel (ed.): Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes , London 1992, pp. 968-981, here: 980 f. and Elisabeth Frenzel: Stoff der Weltliteratur , 10th, revised edition, Stuttgart 2005, pp. 763–767.
  146. Carol Dougherty: Prometheus . London / New York 2006, pp. 33-35; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne . 3. Edition. Genève 2001, p. 28 f. See James George Frazer (Ed.): Apollodorus: The Library , Vol. 2. Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1921, pp. 326-350.
  147. Adalbert Kuhn: The Descent of Fire and the Divine Potion . Berlin 1859, pp. 16-20.
  148. James George Frazer: Myths of the Origin of Fire , London 1930 (on Prometheus pp. 193–197).
  149. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 27-30. Walter Burkert assumed a myth "with an oriental touch" as the background (Burkert: Greek Religion of the Archaic and Classical Epoch , Stuttgart 1977, p. 267 and note 24), but removed this hypothesis in the second edition of his monograph (Stuttgart 2011, P. 264).
  150. See the study by Kurt Raaflaub : Zeus and Prometheus: On the Greek Interpretation of Near Eastern Myths. In: Monika Bernett u. a. (Ed.): Christian Meier for discussion , Stuttgart 2008, pp. 33–60, here: 51–60. Cf. Jacqueline Duchemin: Prométhée , Paris 1974, pp. 33–46.
  151. ^ William Hansen: Prometheus and Loki: The Myth of the Fettered God and his Kin. In: Classica et Mediaevalia 58, 2007, pp. 65-117.
  152. Johann Jakob Bachofen: The mother right. First half (= Karl Meuli (ed.): Johann Jakob Bachofens collected works , volume 2). 3rd edition, Basel 1948, pp. 437-439.
  153. Hans-Georg Gadamer: Prometheus and the tragedy of culture . In: Gadamer: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 9, Tübingen 1993, pp. 150–161.
  154. ^ Karl Kerényi: Prometheus. Human existence in Greek interpretation , Hamburg 1959 (first edition Zurich 1946), pp. 82–84, 103 f.
  155. Hans-Georg Gadamer: Aesthetics and Poetics , Vol. 2, Tübingen 1993, p. 153. Cf. Fritz Wehrli : Theoria and Humanitas , Zurich 1972, pp. 50–55; Walter Burkert: Greek religion of the archaic and classical epoch , 2nd, revised edition, Stuttgart 2011, p. 95 f .; Jens-Uwe Schmidt: The unity of the Prometheus myth in the 'theogony' of Hesiod. In: Hermes 116, 1988, pp. 129-156.
  156. See the presentation of the research history by Francesca Prescendi: Prométhée fonde-t-il le sacrifice grec? En relisant Jean Rudhardt. In: Ueli Dill , Christine Walde (eds.): Antike Mythen , Berlin 2009, pp. 81–95.
  157. ^ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Works , ed. by Eva Moldenhauer , Karl Markus Michel , Vol. 14, Frankfurt 1970, pp. 54-57 and Vol. 17, Frankfurt 1969, pp. 107-109.
  158. Karl Marx: Difference between the Democritical and Epicurean natural philosophy , preface. See Leonard P. Wessell: Prometheus Bound. The Mythic Structure of Karl Marx's Scientific Thinking , Baton Rouge 1984, pp. 65-67; Theodore Ziolkowski: Mythologisiert Gegenwart , Munich 2008, p. 102; Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 105-108.
  159. Arthur Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena 2, § 199.
  160. Manfred Schröter (Ed.): Schelling's works , main volume 5, Munich 1927, pp. 664–668.
  161. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 3, Munich 1920, pp. 68–71. See Jochen Schmidt : Commentary on Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy , Berlin 2012, pp. 202–207.
  162. ^ Alfred Döblin: Schriften zur Politik und Gesellschaft , Olten 1972, pp. 346–367. See Matthias Luserke-Jaqui : Alfred Döblin's essay Prometheus and the primitive in the context of cultural and literary history. In: Sabine Becker, Robert Krause (eds.): Internationales Alfred-Döblin-Colloquium Emmendingen 2007 , Bern 2008, pp. 173-184.
  163. ^ Albert Camus: Essais , Paris 1965, pp. 841-844. See Joachim Dalfen: Parmenides - Protagoras - Platon - Marc Aurel , Stuttgart 2012, pp. 300–302.
  164. ^ Herbert Marcuse: Eros und Kultur , Stuttgart 1957 (American original edition 1955), p. 158.
  165. Ernst Bloch: The principle of hope , Vol. 3, Frankfurt 1959, pp. 1427-1432.
  166. Ernst Bloch: The principle of hope , Vol. 2, Frankfurt 1959, pp. 924–929; see. Vol. 3, Frankfurt 1959, pp. 1623-1628.
  167. Hans Jonas: The principle of responsibility , Frankfurt 1979, p. 7.
  168. See the overview by Dietrich Böhler in his introductory commentary on Hans Jonas: The principle of responsibility , part 1, Freiburg u. a. 2015, pp. XV – LIX, here: XXIV – XXIX.
  169. ^ Günther Anders: Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen , Vol. 1, 5th edition, Munich 1980 (first published in 1956), pp. 23-30.
  170. ^ Hans Blumenberg: Work on Myth , 5th edition, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 329-340.
  171. ^ Sigmund Freud: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 16, 3rd edition, Frankfurt 1968, pp. 1–9, here: 5–7.
  172. ^ Carl Gustav Jung: Collected Works , Vol. 7, Zurich / Stuttgart 1964, p. 171 f.
  173. Gaston Bachelard: Psychoanalysis des Feuers , Munich 1985 (French original edition Paris 1937), pp. 16-20. Cf. Ted Hiebert: In Praise of Nonsense , Montréal 2012, pp. 131–133.
  174. ^ Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf , 855th edition, Munich 1943, p. 317.
  175. Johann Chapoutot : Nazism and antiquity , Darmstadt 2014, pp 42-44; Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 180-184.
  176. For example with Richard Dehmel: The liberated Prometheus (1891, nevertheless with an optimistic ending) and Edmée Delebecque: La Mort de Prométhée (1905, with a pessimistic ending); in a similar sense Alec Derwent Hope : Prometheus Unbound (1966, online ).
  177. Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Geneva, 2001, p 393-404, 585 f.
  178. Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysische Rebellen , Würzburg 2010, pp. 180–188; Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 403 f., 421-429.
  179. See Karina Becker: Der Andere Goethe , Frankfurt 2012, pp. 331–346.
  180. See also Stuart M. Sperry: Shelley's Major Verse , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1988, pp. 65–126; Karen A. Weisman: Imageless Truths , Philadelphia 1994, pp. 81-112; Jennifer Wallace: Shelley and Greece , Basingstoke 1997, pp. 162-177; Christian Kreutz: The Prometheus symbol in the poetry of the English Romanticism , Göttingen 1963, pp. 81–135.
  181. Jane Davidson Reid: The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300–1990s , Vol. 2, New York 1993, pp. 924–926, 928–930, 932–937 for a list of works with brief details . For individual works and general reception in modern dramatic literature, see Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, p. 345 ff.
  182. See on this work Christophe Potocki: Le "Promethidion" de Cyprian Norwid. In: Communications 78, 2005, pp. 129-138.
  183. See Gunnar Svanfeldt: Sweden. In: Mogens Brøndsted (Hrsg.): Nordische Literaturgeschichte , Vol. 2, Munich 1984, pp. 72-104, here: 78.
  184. ^ Patrick Primavesi: Prometheus. In: Hans-Thies Lehmann , Patrick Primavesi (eds.): Heiner Müller Handbuch , Stuttgart 2003, pp. 268–271, here: 268 f .; Fernando Suárez Sánchez: Individual and Society. The ancient world in Heiner Müller's work , Frankfurt 1998, pp. 117–143.
  185. Herbert Zeman (Ed.): Die Österreichische Literatur , Teil 2, Graz 1989, pp. 1230-1237, 1244-1246, 1439-1441.
  186. Philipp Theisohn: Totalität des Mangels , Würzburg 2001, p. 94 f .; Cornelia Hermanns: man and goddess "soul". Carl Spitteler's "Prometheus" seals , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 46–55.
  187. Philipp Theisohn: Totalität des Mangels , Würzburg 2001, pp. 95–97, 113–117; Cornelia Hermanns: man and goddess "soul". Carl Spitteler's "Prometheus" seals , Stuttgart 1994, p. 63 ff.
  188. László V. Szabó: Renascimentum europaeum. Studies on Rudolf Pannwitz , Berlin 2016, pp. 222–224.
  189. Raymond Trousson offers numerous examples of the different modes of reception: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, p. 375 ff.
  190. Raymond Trousson: Quelques aspects du mythe de l'œuvre Prométhée dans poétique de Victor Hugo. In: Bulletin de l'Association Guillaume Budé 1963, pp. 86-98; Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 70–78.
  191. Jane Davidson Reid: The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300–1990s , Vol. 2, New York 1993, pp. 923–937, provides a short list of works, including lyrical poetry . On individual poems and on the general reception of myth in modern poetry, see Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, p. 345 ff.
  192. Klaus Krippendorf: Transformation of Prometheus in the poetry of the GDR. In: Ernst Schmutzer (Hrsg.): The twentieth century in dialogue with the heritage , Jena 1990, pp. 87–96; Theodore Ziolkowski: Mythologisiert Gegenwart , Munich 2008, pp. 111–116 (cf. pp. 121–126); Volker Riedel : Reception of Antiquity in German Literature from Renaissance Humanism to the Present , Stuttgart 2000, pp. 368-380. On the political background, see Hans Joachim Kertscher : “Prometheus leaves the theater”. On the story of a myth in GDR culture. In: Germanica 45, 2009, pp. 59-72.
  193. ^ Franz Fühmann: Prometheus. The procreation , ed. by Sigurd Schmidt, Rostock 1996, pp. 95-99 (editor's afterword); Theodore Ziolkowski: Mythologisiert Gegenwart , Munich 2008, pp. 119–121.
  194. ^ Text in German translation by Wolfgang Storch, Burghard Damerau (Ed.): Mythos Prometheus , Leipzig 1995, pp. 218–227. See Joachim Dalfen: Parmenides - Protagoras - Plato - Marc Aurel , Stuttgart 2012, pp. 304–306.
  195. See Hans-Jürgen Schings : Rise and Crisis of Modern Prometheus. In: Julia Bertschik u. a. (Ed.): Productivity of the opposite , Tübingen 2000, pp. 55–68, here: 58–61; Christian Kreutz: The Prometheus symbol in the poetry of the English Romanticism , Göttingen 1963, pp. 136–152.
  196. ^ Giacomo Leopardi: La scommessa di Prometeo . In: Leopardi: Opere , Vol. 1, ed. by Sergio Solmi, Milano 1956, pp. 504-513. See Raymond Trousson: Le thème de Prométhée dans la littérature européenne , 3rd edition, Genève 2001, pp. 383–385.
  197. See Karlheinz Stierle : Myth as 'bricolage' and two final stages of the Prometheus myth. In: Manfred Fuhrmann (Ed.): Terror und Spiel , Munich 1971, pp. 455–472, here: 467–472; Marcel Gutwirth: Le "Prométhée" de Gide. In: Revue des Sciences humaines , 1964, pp. 507-519; Günter Peters: Literary philosophizing with the myth "Prometheus". In: Richard Faber , Barbara Naumann (Ed.): Literary Philosophy. Philosophical literature , Würzburg 1999, pp. 39–62, here: 55–60 as well as the monograph by Kurt Weinberg: On Gide's Prométhée , Princeton 1972.
  198. ^ Ulrich Stadler: Subversive work on myth . In: Verena Ehrich-Haefeli u. a. (Ed.): Antiquitates Renatae , Würzburg 1998, pp. 271–283, here: 276–283.
  199. Heiner Müller: pieces , Berlin 1975, p. 343 f. See also Patrick Primavesi: Prometheus. In: Hans-Thies Lehmann, Patrick Primavesi (eds.): Heiner Müller Handbuch , Stuttgart 2003, pp. 268-271, here: 269 f.
  200. An overview is provided by Philipp Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 619–621.
  201. Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 39–94.
  202. ^ Louvre, Paris; Restored in 1826 by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse.
  203. ^ Griepenkerl's painting in the stairwell of the Augusteum , Oldenburg . See Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, p. 61 f.
  204. ^ Thorvaldsen Museum (Copenhagen), Hearst Castle (San Simeon, California) a. a.
  205. ^ Charcoal drawing in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin , Kupferstichkabinett. The fresco in the Munich Glyptothek was destroyed in the Second World War.
  206. ^ Niche figure at the Glyptothek , Munich.
  207. Barlach's lithograph .
  208. ^ National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
  209. ^ Palazzo Pitti, Florence.
  210. ^ Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna.
  211. ^ Delville's painting in the Université libre de Bruxelles , Brussels. See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, p. 124 f.
  212. ↑ Auctioned in 1989, current location unknown.
  213. ^ Angerer's painting .
  214. ^ Rimmers drawing in the Fogg Art Museum , Cambridge (Massachusetts).
  215. ^ Frankfurt University Library, entrance to the reading rooms.
  216. ^ Pomona College, Claremont, California.
  217. ^ Rudes relief on the facade of the Palais Bourbon , Paris.
  218. ↑ Auctioned in Vienna in 2005, current location unknown.
  219. See Manfred Beller: The Fire of Prometheus and the Theme of Progress in Goethe, Nietzsche, Kafka, and Canetti. In: Colloquia Germanica 17, 1984, pp. 1-13, here: 11; Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 184–186.
  220. Alignys paintings in the Louvre, Paris.
  221. ^ Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco. See Günter Schnitzler : Manned brutality and the resignation of failure. In: Olaf Hildebrand, Thomas Pittrof (eds.): "... enthusiastic on classic soil" , Freiburg 2004, pp. 75-109, here: 97-109.
  222. ^ The painting by Joseph Lies in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels.
  223. See Hubertus coal : Myth as a process. Arnold Böcklin's imaginations. In: Roger Paulin, Helmut Pfotenhauer (ed.): The half-sleep images in literature, the arts and sciences , Würzburg 2011, pp. 165–181, here: 170 f. (with pictures); Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 143–146.
  224. ↑ Auctioned in 2012, current location unknown.
  225. Formerly Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham ; lost today. See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, p. 157.
  226. ^ Rivière's painting in the Ashmolean Museum , Oxford.
  227. The painting by Giorgio de Chirico . Private ownership, location unknown.
  228. ^ The painting by Rohlfs in the State Museum for Art and Cultural History, Gottorf Castle , Schleswig .
  229. One of the paintings by Franz von Stuck . Location unknown.
  230. Private ownership, location unknown.
  231. ^ The painting by Puvis de Chavannes in the Public Library , Boston .
  232. Feuerbach's painting in the Academy of Fine Arts , Vienna. See Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 62–64.
  233. ^ Courtauld Institute of Art , London.
  234. ^ Allston's drawing in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston .
  235. ^ Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels.
  236. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. See Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, p. 57 f.
  237. ^ Academy of the Arts, Berlin.
  238. ^ Part of Landowski's "Wall of Prometheus", Musée-jardin Paul Landowski, Boulogne-Billancourt .
  239. ^ Gerhard-Marcks-Haus , Bremen.
  240. ↑ Auctioned in 2012, current location unknown.
  241. ^ Execution from 1986/1987 in the Israel Museum , Jerusalem.
  242. ^ Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland.
  243. Small vestibule of the Glyptothek, Munich; destroyed today.
  244. Augusteum, Oldenburg.
  245. ^ Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, Wigan . See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, p. 157 f. (with picture).
  246. See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 146–152 (with illustration).
  247. ^ Watts Gallery, Compton ( Surrey ). See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 121–124 (with illustration).
  248. Etty's painting in the Lady Lever Art Gallery , Port Sunlight. See Philipp Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 619; Manuela Helga Schulz: Metaphysische Rebellen , Würzburg 2010, p. 167.
  249. Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris. See Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, pp. 132–140.
  250. ^ Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.
  251. Philip Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 620; Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 170–172.
  252. Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 196–201, 204 f.
  253. Bettina Vaupel: Göttergleich - gottverlassen , Weimar 2005, pp. 98-101, 157-161.
  254. An overview is provided by Eric M. Moormann, Wilfried Uitterhoeve: Lexicon of ancient figures from Alexander to Zeus , Stuttgart 2010, p. 573 f.
  255. Constantin Floros : Beethovens Eroica and Prometheus-Musik , 2nd, expanded edition, Wilhelmshaven 2008, pp. 39–54; Paul A. Bertagnolli: Prometheus in Music , Aldershot 2007, pp. 27-29; Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, p. 51 f.
  256. See Werner Thomas: Carl Orff - Prometheus. A commentary on the work in description and interpretation , Munich 2012.
  257. Information on individual works can be found in Jane Davidson Reid: The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300–1990s , Vol. 2, New York 1993, pp. 924–935.
  258. See on this Paul A. Bertagnolli: Prometheus in Music , Aldershot 2007, pp. 93-139.
  259. ^ Paul A. Bertagnolli: Prometheus in Music , Aldershot 2007, pp. 190–203.
  260. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons: Prometheus in the Nineteenth Century , London 2013, p. 81 f .; Günter Peters: Strangeness and closeness of myth in literature and music. In: Sandra Kersten, Manfred Frank Schenke (eds.): Spiegelungen , Berlin 2005, pp. 377–402, here: 377–380, 392–401.
  261. Information on individual works can be found in the relevant articles in The Music Past and Present and in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians .
  262. ^ Stefan Drees: Prometeo. In: Elisabeth Schmierer (Ed.): Lexikon der Oper , Vol. 2, Laaber 2002, p. 412 f .; Peter Andraschke: creative fire. Compositional Prometheus Fantasies. In: Freiburger Universitätsblätter , Volume 39, Issue 150, 2000, pp. 75–88, here: 80–84.
  263. Information on individual works can be found in the relevant articles in The Music Past and Present and in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians .
  264. Sebastian Widmaier: Skrjabin and Prometheus , Weingarten 1986, pp. 29–35, 42–48, 78–81, 88 f., 103–110, 119–124.
  265. Carol Dougherty provides a detailed analysis: Prometheus . London / New York 2006, pp. 124–141.
  266. Philip Theisohn: Prometheus. In: Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly. Supplements , Vol. 5), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 605–621, here: 621.
  267. Peter Tepe: Myth Prometheus. In: Mythos-Magazin , 2012, pp. 10–12, 15 f. ( online ; PDF).
  268. Michael P. Cohen: Oldest Living Tree Tells All. In: , No. 14, 2004 ( online ).
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on November 27, 2016 in this version .