Concept

MEN AND GODS

Zeus is in absolute conflict with men and with those who defend them, in Prometheus. The other hostile gods, Hephaestus and Hermes, appear on stage, Zeus does not. Distant or conflicting deities are also in Medea. The heroine invokes Justice, invokes Apollo, who did not allow women to express themselves with art “against the lineage of males”, until the Sun brings her to safety in the final scene. Medea is a tragedy essentially conducted in the absence of the gods, an absence however very different from that of Prometheus, who records attacks on a religious and celestial system, a system that does not exist here, the drama is all human. In Peace, the god Ermes supports Polemos (War) against any human attempt to recover Eirene (Peace) in the heavens, changing his mind only halfway through the comedy. Do gods hinder or help men? From the beginning, Olympus is hostile to them in these three ‘pièces’, written and set up in the space of half a century in Athens, from 460 B.C. (perhaps) of Prometheus to 431 B.C. of Medea and 421 B.C. of Peace. In the tragedy by Aeschylus, it is known that only gods and demigods act, with the sole exception of the cow Io, half woman and half beast. It’s the only case in all ancient drama. Zeus, however, eventually sinks the rebellious demigod into the belly of the earth, and their relationship remains unresolved, while Medea and Trigeo fly into the sky towards their targets. Both the two tragic protagonists and the comedian act with substantial ‘autonomy’, the laws that motivate them are their laws, not the Olympic ones. So much so that a tragedy and the comedy, Prometheus and Peace, seem to be one parody of the other. Prometheus steals something that men didn’t have, fire. Trigeo recovers what was stolen from men, peace. Prometheus is saved because he knows the secret of Zeus, Trigeo because he knows a plot against the Gods (vv 403-404).

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