Wednesday, March 08, 2006

antediluvian struggle

I tell thee that the self-willed pride of Zeus
Shall surely be abased; that even now
He plots a marriage that shall hurl him forth
Far out of sight of his imperial throne
And kingly dignity. Then, in that hour,
Shall be fulfilled, nor in one tittle fail,
The curse wherewith his father Chronos cursed him,
What time he fell from his majestic place
Established from of old. And such a stroke
None of the Gods save me could turn aside.
-Prometheus Bound

Chained to the primordial rock, Prometheus reveals to us the prophecy given to him by his mother: Zeus will die. Zeus’ own crime of patricide has guaranteed his murder at the hands of a future illegitimate child. Prometheus’ tragedy parallels the tragedy of Zeus. The myth of Prometheus is really a tragedy-within-a-tragedy.

Prometheus’ transgression is not the cause of Zeus’ retribution. They are actually simultaneous events symptomatic of one identical cause. There is no such thing as crime unless there is an authority to outlaw and judge the criminal act. Political authority created crime.

These parallel events, the murder of Chronos and the capture of Prometheus, constitute a pre-historical, antediluvian struggle between the gods and the titans. The idea is paradoxical, since, in Greece, the titans were essentially the gods who came before the Gods. Humanity receives the gift of fire, the creation of light from within darkness. The father-killer Zeus rises to power over and against all of the other gods.

The myth discloses the historical birth of human consciousness in poetic terms. Zeus and Prometheus, united in binary opposition, are in fact alter-egos of each other. This collision between oppositional forces marks the very beginning of culture, in both historical and mythological time.

Prometheus is a narrative that is both cosmogonic and apocalyptic. The events of the pre-historical gigantomachy signal the beginning as well as the beginning of the end. Consciousness, the world of the subject, is a terrain that exists between two cataclysmic floods - between the Deluge and the future Deluge-again.

1 comment:

David said...

Good post.