Prometheus Unbound

by

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Asia Character Analysis

Asia is Prometheus’s wife, an Oceanid (otherwise known in classical mythology as a daughter of the Ocean, or a sea nymph), and the sister of Panthea and Ione. Asia as portrayed by Shelley is deeply connected to the natural world and affected by wrongs done to it. She mourns the loss of her husband, who she fears will be bound forever. During the poem, Asia is transformed from a figure in mourning with little hope into an emblem of love returning to the world upon Jupiter’s fall and Prometheus’s release. This supports her association with spring as it suggests the world being brought back to life after the winter of Jupiter’s reign. Asia is also associated with the Spirit of Love and the classical goddess of love, Venus, as she is described as riding in an “ivory shell” on the ocean. This was a common image which depicted the birth of Venus and links Asia to the Spirit of Love’s chariot, which is an “ivory shell.” A shell is also used as a horn at the end of the poem, when the Spirit of the Hour flies around the world spreading the music of love from Asia’s enchanted shell, which was given to her as a wedding present. Asia is called “mother” by the Spirit of the Earth, who is a symbol of nature, and which suggests that the union between Prometheus, who is a symbol of knowledge, and Asia, who is a symbol of love, presents a new hope for nature and invigorates the connection between man and the natural world.

Asia Quotes in Prometheus Unbound

The Prometheus Unbound quotes below are all either spoken by Asia or refer to Asia. 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:
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of Prometheus Unbound published in 2002.
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

If such live thus, have others other lives
Under pink blossoms or within the bells
Of meadow flowers, or folded violets deep,
Or on their dying odors, when they die,
Or in the sunlight of the sphered dew?

Aye, many more, which we may well divine.
But should we stay to speak, noontide would come,
And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn
And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs
Of fate and chance and God, and Chaos old.
And love, and the chained Titan's woeful doom
And how he shall be loosed, and make the Earth
One brotherhood—delightful strains which cheer
Our solitary twilights, and which charm
To silence the unenvying nightingales.

Related Characters: Prometheus, Asia, Panthea
Page Number: 2.2.83-97
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

[…] Hark! the rushing snow!
The sun-awakened avalanche! whose mass,
Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there
Flake after flake, in Heaven-defying minds
As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth
Is loosened, and the nations echo round
Shaken to their roots: as do the mountains now.

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Jupiter, Panthea
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 2.3.36-42
Explanation and Analysis:

Resist not the weakness—
Such strength is in meekness—
That the Eternal, the Immortal,
Must unloose through life’s portal
The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne
By that alone!

Related Characters: Jupiter, Asia, Panthea, Demogorgon
Page Number: 2.3.93-98
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first
And Light and Love;—then Saturn, from whose throne
Time fell, an envious shadow; such the state
Of the earth’s primal spirits beneath his sway
As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves
Before the wind or sun has withered them
And semivital worms; but he refused
The birthright of their being, knowledge, power,
The skill which wields the elements, the thought
Which pierces this dim Universe like light,
Self-empire and the majesty of love,
For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus
Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter
And with this Law alone: “Let man be free,”
Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven.

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Demogorgon
Related Symbols: Fire, The Hours
Page Number: 2.4.32-46
Explanation and Analysis:

First famine and then toil and then disease,
Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen before,
Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove,
With alternating shafts of frost and fire,
Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain caves;
And in their desert hearts fierce wants he sent
And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle
Of unreal good, which levied mutual war,
So ruining the lair w herein they raged.
Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes
Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers,
Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless bloom
That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings
The shape of Death; and Love he sent to bind
The disunited tendrils of that vine
Which bears the wine of life, the hum an heart;
And he tamed fire, which like some beast of prey
Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath
The frown of man […]

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter
Related Symbols: Fire, The Spirit of Love
Page Number: 2.4.50-69
Explanation and Analysis:

He gave man speech, and speech created thought,
Which is the measure of the Universe;
And Science struck the thrones of Earth and Heaven,
Which shook but fell not; and the harmonious mind
Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song,
And music lifted up the listening spirit
Until it walked, exempt from mortal care,
Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet sound;
And human hands first mimicked and then mocked
With moulded limbs more lovely than its own
The human form , till marble grew divine,
And others, gazing, drank the love men see
Reflected in their race—behold, and perish.—
He told the hidden power of herbs and springs,
And Disease drank and slept—Death grew like sleep.—

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter
Page Number: 2.4.72-86
Explanation and Analysis:

Such the alleviations of his state
Prometheus gave to man—for which he hangs
Withering in destined pain—but who rains down
Evil, the immedicable plague, which while
Man looks on his creation like a God
And sees that it is glorious, drives him on,
The wreck of his own will, the scorn of Earth,
The outcast, the abandoned, the alone?—
Not Jove: while yet his frown shook Heaven, aye when
His adversary' from adamantine' chains
Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare
Who is his master? Is he too a slave?

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Demogorgon
Page Number: 2.4.98-109
Explanation and Analysis:

Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change?—To these
All things are subject but eternal Love.

So much I asked before, and my heart gave
The response thou hast given; and of such truths
Each to itself must be the oracle.—
One more demand . . . and do thou answer me
As my own soul would answer, did it know
That which I ask.—Prometheus shall arise
Henceforth the Sun of this rejoicing world:
When shall the destined hour arrive?

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Demogorgon (speaker), Prometheus, Jupiter, Panthea
Related Symbols: The Spirit of Love
Page Number: 2.4.119-128
Explanation and Analysis:

The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night I see
Cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds
Which trample the dim winds—in each there stands
A wild-eyed charioteer, urging their flight.
Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there
And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars:
Others with burning eyes lean forth, and drink
With eager lips the wind of their own speed
As if the thing they loved fled on before
And now—even now' they clasped it; their bright locks
Stream like a comet’s flashing hair: they all
Sweep onward.—

Related Characters: Asia (speaker), Demogorgon (speaker), Panthea
Related Symbols: The Hours
Page Number: 2.4.129-139
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Rejoice! henceforth I am omnipotent.
All else has been subdued to me—alone
The soul of man, like unextinguished fire,
Yet burns towards Heaven with fierce reproach and doubt
And lamentation and reluctant prayer,
Hurling up insurrection, which might make
Our antique empire insecure, though built
On eldest faith, and Hell's coeval, fear.
And though my curses through the pendulous air
Like snow on herbless peaks, fall flake by flake
And cling to it—though under my wrath’s night
It climb the crags of life, step after step,
Which wound it, as ice wounds unsandalled feet,
It yet remains supreme o'er misery,
Aspiring . . . unrepressed; yet soon to fall:

Related Characters: Jupiter (speaker), Prometheus, Asia, Demogorgon
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 3.1.3-17
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

Thrones, altars, judgement-seats and prisons; wherein
And beside which, by wretched men were borne
Sceptres, tiaras, swords and chains, and tomes
Of reasoned wrong glozed on by ignorance,
Were like those monstrous and barbaric shapes,
The ghosts of a no more remembered fame,
Which from their unworn obelisks look forth
In triumph o’er the palaces and tombs
Of those who were their conquerors, mouldering round.
Those imaged to the pride of Kings and Priests
A dark yet mighty faith, a power as wide
As is the world it wasted, and are now
But an astonishment; even so the tools
And emblems of its last captivity
Amid the dwellings of the peopled Earth,
Stand, not o’erthrown, but unregarded now.

Related Characters: Prometheus, Asia, Panthea, Ione
Related Symbols: The Hours
Page Number: 3.4.164-179
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4 Quotes

We come from the mind
Of human kind
Which was late so dusk and obscene and blind;
Now tis an Ocean
Of clear emotion,
A Heaven of serene and mighty motion.

From that deep Abyss
Of wonder and bliss
Whose caverns are chrystal palaces;
From those skiey towers
Where Thought’s crowned Powers
Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours!

Related Characters: Prometheus, Asia, Panthea, Ione
Related Symbols: The Hours
Page Number: 4.93-104
Explanation and Analysis:
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Asia Character Timeline in Prometheus Unbound

The timeline below shows where the character Asia appears in Prometheus Unbound. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...Panthea reminds him that he is loved, by herself and Ione, and by his wife, Asia, whom Panthea then departs to visit. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
Asia, Prometheus’s wife, sits alone in a fertile valley in the Indian Caucuses. She is waiting... (full context)
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...until their spirits mingled together and she was “absorbed.” The other dream she cannot remember. Asia looks into Panthea’s eyes to try to divine the dream and is startled to see... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
Asia and Panthea travel through a gloomy forest interspersed with caves and boulders. Two fauns are... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
Asia and Panthea find themselves on clifftop surrounded by mountains. Panthea recognizes the chasm in the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Asia and Panthea enter the cave of the Demogorgon. A dark, shapeless form, the Demogorgon sits... (full context)
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Asia asks who reigns. She tells the Demogorgon that Heaven, Earth, Light, and Love existed first... (full context)
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Asia then asks who created the suffering which “rains down” on man since Prometheus’s imprisonment. She... (full context)
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
The Demogorgon opens the night sky and shows Asia and Panthea a series of chariots racing by, circling around the earth. The Demogorgon tells... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The Spirit of the Hour takes Asia, Panthea, and the Demogorgon into the heart of a cloud. The Spirit tells Asia that... (full context)
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
At first Asia dismisses this change and says that “love is common as light.” Yet when a voice... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
On the mountaintop in the Caucuses, Hercules unchains Prometheus. Asia, Ione, Panthea, and the Spirit of the Hour gather around him. Prometheus tells Asia and... (full context)
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...give the Spirit of the Hour the “curved shell” that was a wedding gift to Asia from “Proteus old.” Prometheus then tells the Hour to fly around the world, blowing the... (full context)
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
The Earth calls up a childlike messenger, the Spirit of the Earth, to lead Prometheus, Asia, Panthea, and Ione to this cave, where there once was a temple in which people... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Prometheus, Asia, Panthea, and Ione are gathered at their cave in the forest with the Spirit of... (full context)
Knowledge and Freedom Theme Icon
Authority and Resistance Theme Icon
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
 The Spirit of the Earth runs to Asia and expresses her love for her. The Spirit of the Earth then tells Asia about... (full context)
Christianity and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Nature, Imagination, and the Sublime Theme Icon
Asia returns the Spirit of the Earth’s affection and tells her that they will not separate... (full context)