The Avatars of Prometheus: Mythical Phantasmagorias in Shelley and Rimbaud


  • Riccardo Antonangeli Sapienza Università di Roma




This essay outlines the alternative tradition of a ‘fantastic’ Prometheus throughout the 19th century. The main points of reference are Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Rimbaud’s Lettres du voyant and Illuminations. The myth of Prometheus plasticator and ‘second maker’ allows Shelley and Rimbaud to shape their respective poetics around the ideal of the poet-demiurge. Their Prometheus is a ‘seer’ who glimpses true reality behind the veil of appearances and, by taking those visions as models, initiates a rebirth and new genesis of creation. He no longer moulds lifeless matter, but the phantasms and shadows of a spiritual otherworld. The results are not living statues, but avatars of reality, replicas animated through the modern form of fire: electricity. His creation is a metempsychosis which does not superadd life to matter, but which proceeds through dissolution, absorption, fusion of subject and object, self and other, in a dynamic flow of multiple and identical lives.




How to Cite

Antonangeli, R. (2022). The Avatars of Prometheus: Mythical Phantasmagorias in Shelley and Rimbaud. Status Quaestionis, (23).