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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN:
Pages: 120
Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Prometheus Bound

by Aeschylus, translated and with an introduction by Joel Agee

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Prometheus Bound is the starkest and strangest of the classic Greek tragedies, a play in which god and man are presented as radically, irreconcilably at odds. It begins with the shock of hammer blows as the Titan Prometheus is shackled to a rock in the Caucasus. This is his punishment for giving the gift of fire to humankind and for thwarting Zeus’s decision to exterminate the human race. Prometheus’s pain is unceasing, but he refuses to recant his commitment to humanity, to whom he has also brought the knowledge of writing, mathematics, medicine, and architecture. He hints that he knows how Zeus will be brought low in the future, but when Hermes demands that Prometheus divulge his secret, he refuses and is sent spinning into the abyss by a divine thunderbolt.

To whom does humanity look for guidance: to the supreme deity or to the rebel Titan? What law controls the cosmos? Prometheus Bound, one of the great poetic achievements of the ancient world, appears here in a splendid new translation by Joel Agee that does full justice to the harsh and keening music of the original Greek.by Aeschylus, translated and with an introduction by Joel Agee

Praise

Prometheus's rebellion is the rebellion of life against inertia, of mercy and love against tyranny, of humanity against cruelty and arbitrary violence.
—Thomas Merton

Joel Agee has found exciting ways to vivify the speeches with apparently scrupulous fidelity to sound. In this English, the poetry slashes like modern verse and the direct address boasts a blunt immediacy that exhorts us to consider our own issues with the State, with individualism and obedience, with the larger consequences of war and despoilment. It blows away the dated rhetoric of such predecessors as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Lowell.
—Myron Meisel, The Hollywood Reporter