Howard Rubenstein’s play “Prometheus Bound” is based on the play “Prometheus Bound” attributed to the famed Greek playwright Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE – c. 456 BCE), called the father of tragedy, from which it was freely adapted, and based on the epic poem “Origin of the Gods” by the Greek didactic poet Hesiod (c. 750 BCE – c. 650 BCE). Dr. Rubenstein wrote his version in ordinary English which made the play accessible, meaningful, comprehensible, thoughtful, and entertaining. It is very good.
Prometheus was a Titan. The ancient Greeks believed that the heaven and earth created the gods. The earliest gods were the Titans who were huge and very strong. But they were defeated by Olympians, gods of human size. Prometheus was the god of potters. He created and loved humans. Zeus, the Olympian god, the new ruler of heaven, was convinced that humans were stupid and evil, and decided to withhold fire from them so that they would freeze to death. Prometheus saved his creations by stealing fire from the sun and giving it to people. He taught them how to use fire, the art of medicine, how to think, and gave humans blind hope, a belief in life after death. Zeus was enraged and had Prometheus chained to a rock where he would remain secured forever and be attacked daily by birds who would bite his body which was restored every evening and attacked again when morning came.
At the play’s end, Prometheus cries out in pain:
O Earth, our mother,
Loved by every living creature!
O Sky, our father, watching over everything!
Behold and see the wrongs I suffer
For my love of Humanity!
Needless to say, humans never attempted to help their benefactor Prometheus. They offered devotion and sacrifices to other gods.
They acquired bad habits and customs, a dark side that no fire can brighten. They observed a coincidence and endowed it with significance, thereby giving meaning to the meaningless. They cloaked them in sanctimonious terms – “ritual,” “tradition,” and “religion.” And the slightest differences in religion gave different groups excuses to make up lies and call it “truth”! To disrespect one another! To be cruel to one another! To curse and hate one another! To kill one another!
And to do all these things in the name of love!