Promethean Politics of Milton, Blake, and Shelley

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For more than two millennia, the myth of Prometheus has fascinated writers and artists. The complex and resonant story of the rebellious Titan who stole fire from the Olympic gods to bestow it upon humanity has remained the prototypical commentary on tyranny and rebellion. Examining the political core of this myth as presented in the poetic tradition, Linda M. Lewis traces Promethean figures and imagery in the major poetry of Milton, Blake, and Shelley. Although the significance of the myth in Western literature ...
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Overview

For more than two millennia, the myth of Prometheus has fascinated writers and artists. The complex and resonant story of the rebellious Titan who stole fire from the Olympic gods to bestow it upon humanity has remained the prototypical commentary on tyranny and rebellion. Examining the political core of this myth as presented in the poetic tradition, Linda M. Lewis traces Promethean figures and imagery in the major poetry of Milton, Blake, and Shelley. Although the significance of the myth in Western literature has often been noted, Lewis's study is unique in recognizing an ambiguity in Promethean depictions that persists from Greek drama through the English Romantics. While Prometheus is a benefactor and savior, he also takes the role of sophist and trickster. Lewis convincingly articulates this tension and relates it to the ambiguous political relationship between ruler and subject. Drawing primarily upon Paradise Lost, Lewis shows how Milton's use of Prometheus is significant not only because of Milton's undisputed influence on the Romantics, but also because his Promethean figures reflect the myth in all of its facets, from the traitorous Satan and disobedient Adam to the Son in his salvational role. Blake's responses to Milton and to Dante are closely related to his recasting of the Prometheus myth in his prophetic works, particularly through the revolutions associated with his fiery character Orc. Lewis concludes with a chapter on Shelley, focusing on Prometheus Unbound, but also providing a fascinating look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which was subtitled The Modern Prometheus. An afterword extends this insightful analysis of Promethean icons by examining those used by such late eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century women writers as Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This volume will be of special interest to students and teachers of seventeenth-century studies and English Romantic poetry, in addition
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Examining the myth of the rebellious Titan who stole fire from the Olympic gods to bestow it upon humanity, as presented in the poetic tradition, Lewis traces Promethean figures and imagery in the major poetry of Milton, Blake, and Shelley. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826208057
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1992
  • Pages: 240

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 Aeschylus's Prometheus and Titan Iconography 13
2 Titanism and Dantesque Revolt 35
3 Prometheus as Icon in Milton's Paradise Lost 55
4 Blake's Orc as Promethean Rebel, Los as Promethean Imagination 111
5 Tyrant and Rebel in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound 156
Afterword 192
Works Cited 203
Index 215
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