Prometheus stands in clear contrast to the play's other characters. He never advocates moderation but insists instead on complete opposition to injustice and scorns and mocks both those who obey Zeus completely and those who, like the Chorus, advocate greater caution and piety. Rebellion is a highly extreme position, and other characters show variation in their responses to the tyranny of Zeus. A particularly helpful comparison can be drawn between Kratus and Hermes on one side and Hephaestus and Oceanus on the other. The last two clearly believe that Zeus must be obeyed, but they do not obey him to the point of letting him think for them. Oceanus and Hephaestus find themselves trapped between feelings of sympathy and fear of Zeus. They want to help Prometheus, but realize that they cannot do so without risking punishment for themselves. Hephaestus carries out his orders and chains Prometheus to the rock, but he does so slowly and hesitates, cursing his fate for having to do this. Oceanus seems to understand Prometheus's position even less than Hephaestus. He offers to help, but tells Prometheus that he must refrain from his defiant attitude toward Zeus. Kratus and Hermes do not think for themselves at all. They cannot experience friendship or pity because they are fully under Zeus's control. They seem to act not out of fear of punishment, but simply out of identification with their master. They have convinced themselves that Zeus's power is supreme and perfect, so that all must learn to love Zeus or suffer the consequences. Kratus's statement that Hephaestus should hate those who hate Zeus clearly demonstrates that Kratus does not even understand how one can think for oneself. From his perspective, the gods must let Zeus think for them. Obedience to Zeus is the most common alternative to Prometheus's rebelliousness, but those who bow to Zeus's tyranny are divided between the willing and the unwilling collaborators. Those who collaborate out of love for their master are complete slaves in thought, while those who collaborate out of fear at least recognize their slavery, though they are unwilling to shake it off.
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