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Summary of Lord Byron’s “Prometheus”

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Summary of Lord Byron’s “Prometheus”

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  • April 2011
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George Gordon, Lord Byron, born in 1788 and died in 1824, was a known author and supporter of the English Romantics. Lord Byron has many pieces of work that have been studied throughout history but none as infamous as his poem titled “Prometheus”. To truly understand “Prometheus” one must first understand the author. Byron’s interpretation of Prometheus is highly reflective of his involvement and support of Romanticism. Romanticism can be defined as an intellectual and cultural reaction to the Enlightenment; without the Enlightenment there would be no Romanticism. English Romantics, such as Lord Byron, were men of action, solitude and imagination. Romantics viewed the individual as isolated from the rest of man. The idea of the “citizen” was an important characteristic of Romantics. While man is viewed as independent, there is a known link connecting man to nature. Nature was viewed as organic rather than scientific or mechanical and, according to Romantics, the universe became silent. The elements of Romanticism help to identify Byron and his position when writing “Prometheus”. Byron’s view on the individual, his deeper sense of change and progress, and his view of the universe and nature are all made visible in his poem “Prometheus.”

Prometheus, the titan, is a famous Greek, mythological character who delivers fire to man after stealing fire from Zeus. In the beginning, Prometheus is presented to us as an immortal being, who because of his offense to the God Zeus has been damned to a life of suffering, much like the suffering of man. This is evident in the second line of the first stanza when Byron writes, “The sufferings of mortality/ Seen in their sad reality/ Were not as things that gods despise/ What was thy pity’s recompense?” (Line 2-5). In these lines, Byron brings it to the attention of the reader that, Prometheus was half god half man, also known as a demigod. Byron also makes it apparent that Prometheus is now capable of suffering, a characteristic...