Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
of that famous trilogy,[1] to suspect that the Greek poet symbolized any thing whatever by the person of Prometheus, except the native strength of human intellect itself—­its strength of endurance above all others—­its sublime power of patience.  STRENGTH and FORCE are the two agents who appear on this darkened theatre to bind the too benevolent Titan—­Wit and Treachery, under the forms of Mercury and Oceanus, endeavour to prevail upon him to make himself free by giving up his dreadful secret;—­ but Strength and Force, and Wit and Treason, are all alike powerless to overcome the resolution of that suffering divinity, or to win from him any acknowledgment of the new tyrant of the skies.  Such was this simple and sublime allegory in the hands of Aeschylus.  As to what had been the original purpose of the framers of the allegory, that is a very different question, and would carry us back into the most hidden places of the history of mythology.  No one, however, who compares the mythological systems of different races and countries, can fail to observe the frequent occurrence of certain great leading Ideas and leading Symbolisations of ideas too—­which Christians are taught to contemplate with a knowledge that is the knowledge of reverence.  Such, among others, are unquestionably the ideas of an Incarnate Divinity suffering on account of mankind—­conferring benefits on mankind at the expense of his own suffering;—­the general idea of vicarious atonement itself—­and the idea of the dignity of suffering as an exertion of intellectual might—­all of which may be found, more or less obscurely shadowed forth, in the original [Greek:  Mythos] of Prometheus the Titan, the enemy of the successful rebel and usurper Jove.  We might have also mentioned the idea of a deliverer, waited for patiently through ages of darkness, and at least arriving in the person of the child of Io—­ but, in truth, there is no pleasure, and would be little propriety, in seeking to explain all this at greater length, considering, what we cannot consider without deepest pain, the very different views which have been taken of the original allegory by Mr. Percy Bysshe Shelley.

[1] There was another and an earlier play of Aeschylus, Prometheus the
    Fire-Stealer, which is commonly supposed to have made part of the
    series; but the best critics, we think, are of opinion, that that
    was entirely a satirical piece.

It would be highly absurd to deny, that this gentleman has manifested very extraordinary powers of language and imagination in his treatment of the allegory, however grossly and miserably he may have tried to pervert its purpose and meaning.  But of this more anon.  In the meantime, what can be more deserving of reprobation than the course which he is allowing his intellect to take, and that too at the very time when he ought to be laying the foundations of a lasting and honourable name.  There is no occasion for

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