Why Water Matters: Fall 2019
Critical Question



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Our Critical Questions:

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 437-71: (http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Greek/Prometheus.htm)


Now listen to what I (Prometheus) did for the mortals to save them from their many miseries.

In the beginning they were without a working mind so I gave them sense and reason. I am not saying this to disparage mankind but to show that the gifts I have given them were due to my love for them.

Firstly, in those days their eyes were of no use and the same was true of their ears which, though they could hear sounds, they made no sense of them. For their whole lives mortals lived as if in a dream, confused about everything and making sense of nothing. They didn’t know if a building was made of brick or wood nor knew anything about houses that were warmed by the sun but they lived beneath the ground in sunless caves, as do the ants.

They knew nothing of the signs of Winter or of Spring, full of blossoms, or of Summer, full of fruit and upon which they could depend for their survival but they just wandered about and acted aimlessly, until I came about. I explained to them the risings and settings of stars, a difficult art to explain.

And yes, I invented for them numbers, too, the most important science; and the stringing up of letters, the art of Memory, the mother of the Muses. I have also brought the wild beasts into the sway of men, placing them under the yoke, the collar and the saddle so they can carry the heavy burdens of men.

I have harnessed horses to the chariots and made them obey men’s reins as a show of wealth and luxury.

And it was I and no one else who had discovered the seafarer’s flax-winged craft that now roam about all the seas. I, the poor wretch, have all the wisdom to have made all these discoveries for mankind yet I don’t have enough wisdom to devise something with which I can rid myself of my own suffering.


The ancients had a robust theory of everything without the fancy computers and digital equipment that pervade modern life. And though the scientific methods and its goals may change over the years, one thing remains eternal: like the ancients, we in the 21st century continue to investigate the natural world and to interact with it. Either we respect Nature and work with her, or we try to control her, sometimes to our benefit, sometimes to our detriment. With a focus on water in its many aspects and applications, we will explore such questions as: