Prometheus Bound

by

Aeschylus

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Hephaistos Character Analysis

The god of fire and blacksmithing. Hephaistos is ordered by Zeus to bind Prometheus to the top of the Scythian mountains using “unbreakable” chains. Hephaistos is made to bind Prometheus not only because Prometheus stole fire, Hephaistos’s “flower,” and gave it to humankind, but also because as the blacksmith of the gods, Hephaistos’s chains are stronger than any other. Hephaistos, however, has compassion for Prometheus, like Okeanos and the chorus, and does not want to participate in Prometheus’s punishment. Hephaistos thus claims to “hate” his “skill” and “handiwork” because they obligate him to add to Prometheus’s misery. In response to Hephaistos’s resentment, Kratos tells him that “there are no carefree gods, except for Zeus. / He rules us all, so he alone is free.” This indeed appears to be one of Aeschylus’s central arguments made most clear through the character of Hephaistos—Hephaistos, like everyone else in the play, is not entirely free but beholden to Zeus and his power in one way or another.

Hephaistos Quotes in Prometheus Bound

The Prometheus Bound quotes below are all either spoken by Hephaistos or refer to Hephaistos. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New York Review Books edition of Prometheus Bound published in 2015.
Prometheus Bound Quotes

We have arrived at the far limit of the world.
These are the Scythian mountains, desolate and vast.
Hephaistos, you must carry out the Father’s will
and bind the criminal to this steep looming rock
with chains of adamant, unbreakable.
It was your flower he stole, the bright and dancing fire,
and gave its wonderworking power to mortals.
This is the crime for which he now must pay
the price to all the gods, that he may learn
to love the tyranny of Zeus
and quit his friendship with the human race.

Related Characters: Kratos (Might) (speaker), Prometheus, Zeus, Hephaistos, Bia (Force)
Related Symbols: Fire, Chains
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus at all times one torment or another
will plague you. Your rescuer is not yet born.
This is the fruit of your philanthropy.
A god, you scorned the anger of the gods
by granting mortals honor above their due.
For that, you will keep vigil on this rock,
upright, unsleeping, and never bend a knee.
And many a groan will pass your lips, and sighing,
and bitter lamentation, all in vain.
Zeus’ vengeance is implacable. His power is new,
and everyone with newborn power is harsh.

Related Characters: Hephaistos (speaker), Prometheus, Zeus, Heracles
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Prometheus Bound LitChart as a printable PDF.
Prometheus Bound PDF

Hephaistos Character Timeline in Prometheus Bound

The timeline below shows where the character Hephaistos appears in Prometheus Bound. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prometheus Bound
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
Freedom and Confinement Theme Icon
...arrive at the top of the Scythian mountains, the very edge of Greek civilization, with Hephaistos and a captive Prometheus. “Hephaistos,” Kratos says, “you must carry out the Father’s will /... (full context)
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering, Compassion, and Hope Theme Icon
Freedom and Confinement Theme Icon
Creation, Art, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...to love the tyranny of Zeus / and quit his friendship with the human race.” Hephaistos doesn’t want to chain Prometheus to the rock, but “Necessity compels [him] to it.” Hephaistos... (full context)
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering, Compassion, and Hope Theme Icon
“Why hold back now?” Kratos asks a hesitant Hephaistos. “What’s all this foolish pity?” Kratos can’t understand why Hephaistos doesn’t “hate” Prometheus—“the gods’ worst... (full context)
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering, Compassion, and Hope Theme Icon
Freedom and Confinement Theme Icon
Hephaistos wishes his “skill” belonged to someone else. “There are no carefree gods, except for Zeus,”... (full context)
Power vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering, Compassion, and Hope Theme Icon
Creation, Art, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
“The job is done,” Hephaistos says as he finishes binding Prometheus to the mountain. “It didn’t take long.” Hephaistos is... (full context)