Placing Prometheus

Hardwick, Lorna (1999). Placing Prometheus. In: Hardwick, Lorna ed. Tony Harrison's Poetry, Drama and Film: The Classical Dimension. Milton Keynes, U.K.: Dept of Classical Studies, the Open University, pp. 1–15.



‘A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point out frauds, to take sides; start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep’
This sounds very much like a statement about the handling of the myth of Prometheus throughout history. In fact, it is a quotation from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses . Either way, it provides an appropriate starting point for a Colloquium which seeks to identify and analyse aspects of the role of classical referents in Tony Harrison’s work. The verse-film Prometheus is a key text in this respect and so I wish to begin by trying to place the work in three different contexts:-
i. how figures in the myth have been explored in various artistic media
ii. the creation of Prometheus in the genres of tragedy and film
iii. the impact of Prometheus as a catalyst for interventionist work
My aim will be to identify ways in which Harrison’s Prometheus may and may not mesh with other examples of the treatment of the myth and to consider its special contribution to representations of Greek mythology and tragedy today.

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