Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eric Lindstrom


In David Greene's translation of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, the figure Prometheus declares, “You would find it hard to bear these trials of mine, / since for me death is not decreed at all. / Death would indeed be a riddance of my suffering, / but, as it is, there is no limit set / for pain, save when Zeus falls from his seat of power.” The term “Promethean” is typically ascribed to narratives that contain themes or characters that relate to Prometheus: the ancient Greek Titan that gave fire to humanity as was eternally punished as a consequence by Zeus. This act of giving saved the human race and gave them hope. During the Romantic era of literature, the classical tradition and, specifically, the figure of Prometheus, permeated Romantic poetry and literature. A wealth of literature was produced during this period that had elements of Promethean sentiments woven into the text. In the beginning of the nineteenth-century, both Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley each wrote Promethean texts— the novel Frankenstein and the poem Prometheus Unbound. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein was given an alternate title of The Modern Prometheus, while Percy Shelley's poem follows the narrative of Prometheus Bound, the ancient Greek tragedy written by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus in the fifth century B.C.E. and traces the future shadow of Aeschylus' own lost Prometheus Unbound. These Romantic-era narratives, published only two years apart, are concerned with the Prometheus myth. Through analyzing Mary and Percy Shelley's personal relationships with the classics, as well as their mutualistic relationship as intellectual partners, this thesis examines the manner in which they were influenced by antiquity and how they incorporated the classical tradition into their works. Doing so illuminates the inherent differences in their individual relationships with the ancient world due to varying factors that all stem from the difference of gender. Evaluating their educations as adolescents, their experiences with the classical tradition, and by analyzing their inclusion of the Promethean myth in their literary endeavors construes the nuanced connections between the Romantic era, the ancient world, and gender.



Number of Pages

97 p.