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Prometheia

  • A. D. Fitton-Brown (a1)
Extract

This paper is a much revised version of that read to the Classical Association at Bangor on April 11, 1956; here I intend to concentrate on the development of the trilogy with particular reference to the Prometheus Purphoros, on the meaning of the trilogy and (in an excursus) on the questions of authenticity and date.

The Medicean Catalogue records three Prometheus plays by Aeschylus—our surviving Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης , the much-cited Προμηθεὺς Λυόμενος and the Προμηθεὺς Πυρφόρος Pollux ix 156, x 64 (with citation) adds a Προμηθεὺς Πυρκαεύς The Luomenos followed on the Desmotes and included the actual release of Prometheus. Pollux' citation of the Purkaeus has an anapaest in the fourth foot, suggesting that the play was satyric and therefore probably to be identified with the satyric Prometheus recorded as accompanying the Persae group of plays; with it should probably be associated the verse in Plutarch: τράγος γένειον ἆραπενθήσεις σύ γε (TGF 207: τοῦ δὲ σατύρου τὸ πῦρ ὡς πρῶτον ὤφθη, κ.τ.λ. ) and also the long fragment recovered from Pap. Oxy. 2245. These last two items go some way to show that the Purkaeus dealt with the original discovery or bestowal of fire; with regard to its omission from the catalogue, it should be borne in mind more constantly than it has been that the other plays which accompanied the Persae—the Phincus and the Glaukos of Potniai—have been omitted too; and while it is hard to imagine what particular misfortune can have befallen a number of plays of the same group, it would be rash to assume that there can have been none.

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1 So Fraenkel, , Proc. Brit. Acad. xxviii (1942) 245 ff.; Snell, , Gnomon xxv (1953) 435; Murray, , OCT (1955); Eckhart, , RE xxiii 667; Lloyd-Jones, , Aeschylus (Loeb Library) ii 562. All are ‘blindly obstinate’, however, in the sight of Terzaghi, , Rendiconti della Classe di Scienze viii 10 (1955) 512.

2 Hermes lxv (1930) 265; so Rose, , Handbook of Greek Literature, 153 f. Professor Dodds inclines to believe that Aeschylus actually wrote only Desmotes and Luomenos but was intending at the time of his death to write a first play to preface the Desmotes. I believe that this play was in fact the Purphoros, and that enough was written to struggle down into the catalogue; but it may well be that it was far from complete and the satyr-play wholly lacking. I am most grateful to Professor Dodds for allowing me the use of this unpublished paper: ‘Prometheus Vinctus and the progress of scholarship’ (Dill Memorial Lecture).

3 It does seem most unfortunate that the new OCT and the new RE article on Prometheus have again omitted αὐτόν from their version of this scholion.

4 A further argument of Wilamowitz (Aischylos Interpretationen)—that the Luomenos cannot have been the last play of the trilogy, because the puppet, by which Prometheus was allegedly represented, could not just walk away when loosed, and a third play must have shown Prometheus really and truly free—would hardly deserve notice if it had not been recently revived by Terzaghi. It has not found favour with other puppet-fanciers; and about the puppet, Thomson, (Prometheus Bound 138) and Pickard-Cambridge, (Theat. Dion. Ath. 42) have said all that needs saying. I will only remark that the realistic picture described by Achilles Tatius (de Clit. et Leuc. iii 8) of Prometheus attacked by the eagle may record how the actor in the Luomenos played the scene, the eagle being left to the imagination.

5 Similarly when St. John (xi 2) wishes to identify Mary of Bethany, he calles her although this has not yet taken place. Professor Gomme has pointed out to me that, if the scholiast was trying to convey a tense in the original, it may well have been an imperative or a perfect present (‘is bound’) rather than a past; Hyginus, however, would be conveying a past if the tense were significant (Astr. 2.6 and 15).

6 Of course, the foregoing argument would in itself support the assignment of any such prophecy or sentence to the Purkaeus (Eckhart, 681).

7 Schmid, attempt (Untersuchungen zum Gefesselten Prometheus 97 ff; cf. Patin, , Études sur les Tragiques Grecs 294n.; Weil, , Études sur le Drame Antique 86 ff.; Rose, Commentary, ad. loc.) to interpret away as meaning ‘da (bis jetzt) oder wenn Zeus es nicht will’ is in clear defiance of the Greek as written.

8 ἄκοντος or ἄρχοντος, Io still has Zeus' unwillingness in mind; but with ἄκοντος she seems to me to imply that it will have to be defied; with ἄρχοντος merely that it will have to be got round. My own reason for conjecturing ἄρχοντος—I am most grateful to Professor A. Y. Campbell for reclaiming it for its rightful owner—was that it seemed unlike Aeschylus to convey important information by means of a gratuitous assumption followed by a tacit acceptance.

9 Weil, , Études 86 ff.; Körte, , Neue Jahrbücher xlv (1920) 201 ff.; Robertson; Eckhart.

10 Not only on the Greek: Fielding tells in the Journal of a Veyage to Lisbon how the watermen jeered as he was carried, swollen with dropsy, to his ship. In Agam. 1528. Clytemnestra's words presuppose that Agamemnon, though he slew his daughter under constraint, would afterwards exult in the deed. In Ajax 988 there is no need to emend with Herwerden to bring in the notion of previous hostility.

11 Tragodumena 34 ff. (Epod. xvii 67; cf. carm. ii 13, 37 and 18, 34).

12 I do not suppose I am entitled to draw any encouragement from the existence of a v.l. but I can probably point to a similar false assimilation in 112. Professor Gomme has pointed out to me that, in writing διάδοχς (cf. 464 and TGF 194. ), Aeschylus only means that Chiron ‘took over’ Prometheus' troubles. This seems to me to relate them even more closely to the descent into Hades.

13 Aischylos als Regisseur und Theologe 63. But ‘a procession does not make a play’, Dodds; similarly Lesky, , Gesch. Griech. Lit. 239.

14 This rests, I suppose, on the rash assumption that the writer of the —had the Purphoros before him. The assumption, if correct, would tell rather against its being the third play, as in that case one would expect a human Chorus.

15 Fraenkel, (Gnomon vi (1930) 663) states the case for the Aeschylean ῥῆσις tersely and well, but I do not see why he assumes that the shorter citation is not by Aeschylus too (via Accius, of course).

16 Thomson, , CR xliii (1929) 3; Prometheus Bound, 6; Reinhardt, , Aischylos 42; Dodds.

17 JHS liii (1933) 44. That of course is not to say that he is all-sufficient. Zeus may later have added political aspirations as in the Protagoras.

18 If I understand him rightly, Solmsen, (Hesiod and Aeschylus 144) accepts this in all seriousness as Prometheus' ἁμαρτία, together with his ἁμαρτία, i.e. rudeness to his torturers. Terzaghi (pp. 516 ff.) also succeeds in convicting him out of his own mouth; he is guilty of loving men too much (v. 123).

19 Welcker, , Aeschylische Trilogie 92 ff.; cf. Vandvik, Prometheus of Hesiod and Aeschylus; Davison, , TAPA lxx (1949) 66 ff.

20 Farnell, , JHS liii (1933) 47; Reinhardt, 68 ff.; Lloyd-Jones; Lesky, 238.

21 Not, be it noted, under threat of any secret, though possibly to avert the fulfilment of his father's curse (PV 910).

22 We should not assume that the point about the gods' youth is the same here as in the Eumenides. There the affront to seniority is clearly brought out, but at, e.g. PV 35: the only possible contrast is with later development.

23 (231).

24 Mr. Lloyd-Jones suggests that ‘if Zeus has in the meantime reformed in character, it is odd that he should need the threat of impending disaster to lead him to pardon his noble adversary’. I should find it deeply satisfying dramatically if in the end the secret outlived its usefulness, and the welfare of Prometheus and of mankind depended on its willing surrender.

25 E.g. the structure of the stichomythia (Unters. ch. 3b). Schmid fails to observe what is, in its way, as odd a thing as any in the Prometheus—correption before initial at 713 and 992 (Maas, , Gött. Nachr. 1934, i 1, 58; Murray, , OCT 1955ad loc.). I am sorely tempted to endorse Murray's statement: ‘nusquam alibi in diverbiis syllaba brevis ante ρ initialem admissa est’; but I will content myself with saying that these instances stand out more starkly than anything else that could be cited (Descroix, , Trimètre Iambique 20; Dodds, ad Bacch. 59, 1338). Maas' postulate of ἐρύομαι at Eum. 232, OT 72 (where it was in the tradition at an early date) and Bacch. 1338 and Nauck's of τύπανα at Bacch. 59 are easy, and a long syllable at OT 1289 would not involve a very striking breach of Porson's law. Whether we can refer this peculiarity—if it is one—to Sicilian influence is a moot point; Epicharmus' practice is unfortunately unknown, but Deinolochus may be presumed to have incorporated the adage (Kaibel, , Com. Graec. Frag. 14) in a trochaic verse; and Herodas' marked preference for correption may reflect earlier practice in the genre.

26 Cf. Webster, T. B. L., AJP lxii (1941) 385 ff. Schmid speaks of the ‘transparent, unimaginative, yet studied reasoning’ (Unters. 3d).

27 I am surprised that anyone can peruse Schmid's list of linguistic anomalies in ch. 4 without misgiving.

28 ‘In vocabulary, metre and handling of the chorus, the entire Prometheus bears a newer stamp and differs from Aeschylus' other plays’ (Körte). It is only fair to say that the new fragment of the Myrmidons (Mélanges Bidez, ii (1934) 968; Lloyd-Jones, , Aeschylus (Loeb) ii 590) has a plainness and introspection which is not dissimilar.

29 Cf. Kranz, , Stasimon 226 f.; the sentimental sonst-jetzt (555–60) of which Schmid complains compares unfavourably with the meaningful ἐπεί clause in Ag. 242 ff. (v. Fraenkel ad loc.). I do not think the Oceanus scene escapes unscathed from Schmid's rather indiscriminate bombardment; like Page (Actors' Interpolations 82 ff.), I feel ‘a little uncomfortable’.

30 Lesky, 237. Zuntz, argues (Political Plays of Eur. 59) that Aeschylus drew on an earlier epic.

31 Hoppin, (Harvard Studies xii (1901) 335 ff.) shows that the vase-painters changed from representing Io as a cow to representing her as a horned maiden about 470. He strangely ignores Supp. 570.

32 I am most grateful to Professor A. Y. Campbell for help with part of this paper.

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