In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. "The Iliad" relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the Achaean leaders. Other parts of the war were told in a cycle of epic poems, which has only survived in fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets like Virgil and Ovid.

The war originated from a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, after Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, gave them a golden apple, sometimes known as the Apple of Discord, marked "for the fairest". Zeus sent the goddesses to Paris, who judged that Aphrodite, as the "fairest", should receive the apple. In exchange, Aphrodite made Helen, the most beautiful of all women and wife of Menelaus, fall in love with Paris, who took her to Troy. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and the brother of Helen's husband Menelaus, led an expedition of Achaean troops to Troy and besieged the city for ten years because of Paris' insult. After the deaths of many heroes, the city fell to the ruse of the Trojan Horse. The Achaeans slaughtered the Trojans earning the gods' wrath, and won the war.

Trojan War

Tragedy (Ancient Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia, "he-goat-song"[1]) is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure.[2] While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilisation.[3] That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity—"the Greeks and the Elizabethans, in one cultural form; Hellenes and Christians, in a common activity," as Raymond Williams puts it.[4] From its obscure origins in the theatres of Athens 2,500 years ago, from which there survives only a fraction of the work of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, through its singular articulations in the works of Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Racine, and Schiller, to the more recent naturalistic tragedy of Strindberg, Beckett's modernist meditations on death, loss and suffering, and Müller's postmodernist reworkings of the tragic canon, tragedy has remained an important site of cultural experimentation, negotiation, struggle, and change.[5] A long line of philosophers—which includes Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Voltaire, Hume, Diderot, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Camus, Lacan, and Deleuze—have analysed, speculated upon, and criticised the tragic form.[6] In the wake of Aristotle's Poetics (335 BCE), tragedy has been used to make genre distinctions, whether at the scale of poetry in general (where the tragic divides against epic and lyric) or at the scale of the drama (where tragedy is opposed to comedy). In the modern era, tragedy has also been defined against drama, melodrama, the tragicomic, and epic theatre.[7]

Greek Tragedy

The play contains little action since its protagonist is chained and immobile throughout. At the beginning, Kratos (strength), Bia (force), and the smith-god Hephaestus chain the Titan Prometheus to a mountain in the Caucasus and then depart. Prometheus is being punished not only for stealing fire, but also for thwarting Zeus's plan to obliterate the human race. This punishment is especially galling since Prometheus was instrumental in Zeus's victory in the Titanomachy.

The Oceanids attempt to comfort Prometheus by conversing with him. Prometheus cryptically tells them that he knows of a potential marriage that would lead to Zeus's downfall. A Titan named Oceanus urges him to make peace with Zeus. Prometheus tells the chorus that the gift of fire to mankind was not his only benefaction; in the so-called Catalogue of the Arts (447-506), he reveals that he taught men all the civilizing arts, such as writing, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, architecture and agriculture.

Prometheus is then visited by Io, a human maiden pursued by a lustful Zeus; the Olympian transformed Io into a cow, and a gadfly sent by Zeus's wife Hera has chased Io all the way from Argos. Prometheus forecasts Io's future travels, telling her that Zeus will eventually end her torment in Egypt, where she will bear a son named Epaphus. He says one of her descendants (an unnamed Heracles), thirteen generations hence, will release him from his own torment.

Finally, Hermes the messenger-god is sent down by the angered Zeus to demand that Prometheus tell him who threatens to overthrow him. Prometheus refuses, and Zeus strikes him with a thunderbolt that plunges Prometheus into the abyss.


Scholars at the Great Library of Alexandria unanimously deemed Aeschylus to be the author of Prometheus Bound. Since the 19th century, however, several scholars have doubted Aeschylus' authorship of the drama. These doubts initially took the form of the "Zeus Problem." That is, how could the playwright who demonstrated such piety toward Zeus in The Suppliants and Agamemnon be the same playwright who inveighs against Zeus for being a violent tyrant? This objection prompted the theory of a Zeus who (like the Furies in the Oresteia) "evolves" in the course of the trilogy. Thus, by the conclusion of Prometheus the Fire-Bringer, Aeschylus' Zeus would be more like the just Zeus found in the works of Hesiod.[4]

Arguments for and against the attribution to Aeschylus have been based on metrical-stylistic grounds: the play's diction, the use of so-called Eigenworter, the use of recitative anapests in the meter, etc.[5] In 1977, Mark Griffith made a case against the attribution.[6] C. J. Herington, however, repeatedly argued for it.[7] Since Griffith's landmark study, confidence in Aeschylean authorship has steadily eroded. Influential scholars such as M.L West,[8] Alan Sommerstein,[9] and Anthony Podlecki[10] have made arguments against authenticity. West has argued that the Prometheus Bound and its trilogy are at least partially and probably wholly the work of Aeschylus' son, Euphorion, who was also a playwright. Based upon allusions to Prometheus Bound found in the works of comic playwright Aristophanes, Podlecki has recently suggested that the tragedy might date from ca. 415 BC. Those who trust in the verdict of antiquity and still favor Aeschylean authorship have dated the play anywhere from the 480s to 456 BC.

Debate over authenticity