Prometheus is Chained in Punishment- Opening of "Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus

Prometheus Bound

In this opening section of Prometheus Bound we are thrown into the middle of the story, as Prometheus is being punished for his "betrayal" of the gods in favor of the good of men. Zeus has commanded that he be taken to the edges of the earth and chained down to a cliff from which he cannot move. There he will be exposed, suffer, and will be mocked by his enemies. Hephaestus reluctantly carries it out. But Prometheus, gifted with foresight, sees that Zeus will relent out of his own weakness as he will need Prometheus' help in the future. 

At the Pillars of Hercules 
The play opens at the edges of the world (at the time) with personified spirits of Zeus, Might and Violence, seeking to carry out Zeus' order to punish Prometheus for his love of humans and for his theft of fire for them. To carry out the punishment is the metallurgist, Hephaestus, ordered to chain Prometheus to a steep cliff "... in fetters unbreakable of adamantine chain." It is here that Prometheus will suffer from exposure and the sun's heat, far away from any human consolation. Even at the beginning, though, there is some sense of a prophecy offered by Hephaestus to Prometheus. He mentions how Prometheus will always suffer until there will be born someone meant to end it. "Always the grievous burden of your torture will be there to wear you down; for he that shall cause it to cease has yet to be born." 1

Hephaestus, being reluctant to punish Prometheus, is urged on to carry out Zeus' orders by Might and Violence. He, again, laments that he is forced to carry out the duties of his craft, but it is only Zeus who is free to do as he pleases. 2 "Might: 'Drive the obstinate jaw of the adamantine wedge right through his breast: drive it hard.' ... 'I see this rascal getting his desserts. Throw the girth around his sides.'" 3 Once Prometheus is fully chained down, Might and Violence taunt him before they all take their leave. Prometheus is then left alone and begins a type of monologue. He calls out to the older generation of gods which proceeded Zeus to hear about his suffering. 4 

He laments the suffering that Zeus has put him under, yet recognizes that he is powerless to change his situation until Zeus himself relents. "I cannot speak about my fortune, cannot hold my tongue either. It was mortal man to whom I gave great privileges and for that was yoked in this unyielding harness. I hunted out the secret spring of fire, that filled the narthex stem, which when revealed became the teacher of each craft to men, a great resource. This is the sin committed for which I stand accountant, and I pay nailed in my chains under the open sky. ... You see me a wretched god in chains, the enemy of Zeus, hated of all the gods that enter Zeus's palace hall, because of my excessive love for Man."

Then, one of the elder gods hears him, and a Chorus of Oceanos' daughters show up in the form of winged figures. They had heard the banging of bronze and have come as friends to him. Being daughters of the elder Oceanos, they too despise Zeus' chaotic rule and destruction of past traditions. 6 Prometheus says that he would have even preferred being cast down beneath the Tartarus, as now everyone can see him and mock him as he is tied to this cliff. But Prometheus recognizes that Zeus is not invincible to coup, for Zeus himself took his place by coup. Zeus will want Prometheus' help eventually, as Prometheus has the gift of foresight, to help him find who is plotting his downfall. But, at that time, Prometheus will not help. He will not succumb to threats or blessings until Zeus has paid him back for all these sufferings. "Yes, there shall come a day for me when he shall need me, me that now am tortured in bonds and fetters - he shall need me then, the president of the Blessed - to show the new plot whereby he may be spoiled of his throne and his power. Then not with honeyed tongues of persuasion shall he enchant me; he shall not cow me with his threats to tell him what I know, until he free me from my cruel chains and pay me recompense for what I suffer." 7

Prometheus can see that it is true, Zeus will come to him in need and his injustice and greediness shall have to be curbed. "I know that he is savage: and his justice a thing he keeps by his own standard: still that will of his shall melt to softness yet when he is broken in the way I know, and though his temper now is oaken hard it shall be softened: hastily he'll come to meet my haste, to join in amity and union with me - one day he shall come." 8 Then the Chorus asks Prometheus to recount the whole story up this point of what has happened. ... [continued in post 2 on Prometheus Bound.]
1 - Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Greek Tragedies Volume I. Ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. (Chicago. The University of Chicago Press, 1969.) Pg. 65.
2 - 66
3 - 67 
4 - 68
5 - 69
6 - 70
7 - 71
8 - 72