Prometheus

MoonOwl Observations

September, 2014

A Tale of Prometheus
Prometheus was a Titan who sided with Zeus in the war of the titans. The Titans were then conquered, partly because Zeus released the hundred-handed monsters from their prison, who fought for them with their weapons (thunder, lightning and earthquake), and also because Prometheus took sides with Zeus. Zeus owed him a debt and Prometheus was on Zeus’ good side at the beginning. That changed however in one tale about the creation of ‘mankind’.
Zeus delegated the creation of mankind to Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. This was in part due to the fact that Prometheus had helped Zeus in the war. Epimetheus went with his first impulse and changed his mind afterwards. He was quite scatterbrained, but Prometheus was very level-headed and wise. Before making man, Epimetheus gave all the gifts to the animals. Including strength, swiftness, courage, fur, feathers, wings and other traits. And he did this until no good was left for man. He then asked Prometheus to help him and Prometheus thought of a way to make man superior. He changed their shape so they were upright like the Gods, and he went to the sun, where he lit a torch and brought down fire, which would protect man more than anything else. He did so without the permission of the Gods.

“And now, though feeble and short-lived,
Mankind has flaming fire and therefrom
Learns many crafts.”

At this point only men were on the earth- no women. Zeus created women later, in anger at Prometheus because of his love for humans, and the fact that he stole fire from the Gods for them. Zeus also was angry at Prometheus for tricking him. Prometheus had cut up an ox and he was told to divide it in two, one half for man and one half for the gods. Prometheus wrapped the best parts in the hide and covered them with innards. Beside this heap he put another pile of bones, but he disguised it by covering it in the fat of the ox. He then told Zeus to pick the pile he liked best, and Zeus took the tempting half that was covered in fat. Zeus became very angry when he discovered he had been tricked, but he had made his choice and needed to abide by it.
Zeus swore to take revenge on Prometheus and he wanted to do this by punishing man as well. Zeus made a ‘great evil for man, a sweet and lovely thing to look upon, in the likeness of a shy maiden, and all of the gods gave her gifts, silvery raiment and a broidered veil, a wonder to behold and bright garlands of blooming flowers and a crown of gold- great beauty shone out from it.’ They called her Pandora, which mean ‘the gift of all’.
The gods then presented Pandora with a box, into which each of them had put something harmful and told her never to open it. Then Zeus sent her to Epimetheus, who took her gladly even though Prometheus told him not to. After, he realized how curious Pandora was and she had to see what was in the box. And after a few days she lifted the lid to see inside and out flew many plagues, sorrow and mischief for mankind. Pandora quickly shut the box- but it was too late. Luckily one good thing came from it- hope. And hope remains to this day a comfort. Once this happened mortals learned that you should never try to trick of deceive Zeus. And Prometheus discovered this too.
Zeus punished Prometheus by getting his servants Force and Violence to seize him and bound him to Caucasus and they told him

“Forever shall the intolerable present grind you down
And he who shall release you is not born
Such fruit you reap for your man-loving ways
A God yourself, you did not dread God’s anger
But gave to mortals honour not their due
And therefore you must guard this joyless rock-
No rest, no sleep, no moment’s respite
Groans shall your speech be, lamentation only your words. “

Zeus also knew that fate, which brings all things to pass, had decreed that one day a son of his would dethrone Zeus and drive the gods from their home in Olympus. Prometheus knew who would be the mother of this son, and Zeus wanted to know that information. Zeus sent Hermes to Prometheus. In response Prometheus said

“Go and persuade the sea wave not to break
You will persuade me no more easily.”
Hermes then told Prometheus that if he did not disclose his secret he would suffer more terrible things.
“An eagle red with blood
Shall come, a guest unbidden to your banquet
All day long he will tear to rags your body
Feasting in fury on the blackened liver”

Nothing could break Prometheus though and his suffering continued. His spirit would not break and he would not give in to brutal power no matter what. He told Hermes

“There is no force which can compel my speech
So let Zeus hurl his blazing bolts,
And with the white wings of the snow,
With thunder and with earthquake,
Confound this reeling world.
None of all this will bend my will”

Hermes left him to suffer, but many years later he was released. There are a few different notions on how this came to be, but I find that the most popular is that while looking for the golden apples that grew on a magical tree of life, Hercules finds Prometheus nailed to the rock. He kills the eagle that torments him and sets him free. In gratitude, Prometheus tells Hercules how to get the apples.

 

Bound

Mythology

February, 2010

Myth and Legends: Journeys Through Time

Prometheus

In every aspect of life there is a balance of good and bad. What is considered good is not always good. What is considered bad isn’t always bad. Sometimes good is bad and bad is good. Let us borrow from Greek mythology the story of Prometheus. In Greek myth, Prometheus was responsible for two things, the creation of man via clay and making man’s world brighter via fire. Prometheus is considered a Titan god. He is born of Iapetus (Brother of Cronus, ruler of the Underworld in the Golden Age which was when the Titans ruled) and Themis (Goddess of good counsel, also named amongst the six female Titans). His name means “Counsel before; Forethought” and he is considered an annoyance to Zeus as he has tricked him and stolen from him. Prometheus tricked Zeus in what is known as the “Trick at Mecone.” At this point in time Zeus did not really care for man. He had no interest in them and was inclined to let them die out rather than stick around. At Mecone there was to be a sacrificial dinner to settle the disputes between Gods and Men. It is unknown why Prometheus that did this but Prometheus placed the sacrificial offerings out for the gods to choose. One offering was made up of meats and the best parts of an animal but placed in or covered with innards, and the stomach (considered to be the worst parts of an animal). The second offering was made up of bones and things inedible but made to look wonderful by being covered in fat. Some accounts say that Zeus knew he was being tricked and chose the lesser offering anyway as to punish the humans later. Other accounts say he did not know and chose the lesser offering thinking it was better, which allowed the humans to keep the meat and best part for themselves but sacrifice everything else to the Gods to appease them. When Zeus found out, he was tricked he was angry. To avenge himself, he decided to punish the humans. His punishment was to take fire away from the humans in an attempt to make them resort to being primitive. If they went back to being primitive then maybe they would die out and he could start all over again, molding humans to how he saw fit. Prometheus on the other hand was rather fond of his creation and decided to help them. Some versions of the myth have him helping mankind by giving them brickwork; woodworking, the alphabet, numbers, yoked oxen, healing drugs, and all art just to name some. In other versions of the myth, all he did was steal fire from Zeus giving it to the mortals, as a result of his action two things happened. Zeus had Hephaestus create Pandora . . . who as we know is responsible for all the bad things in life AND hope. Also . . . he had Hephaestus shackle Prometheus to a rock. Prometheus’ punishment was to have his live eaten by an eagle every day for eternity. The eagle would tear his liver out and then during the night it would regenerate and the whole process would repeat the next day. Heracles eventually freed him from this punishment but that is a story for another time. To Zeus, the actions that Prometheus took were bad as it went against his authority and made him look bad. For the humans, what Prometheus was good as it helped enrich our lives and enable us to survive. On the other hand, Prometheus is the cause of everything bad in our lives as it is because of him Pandora was created.  Yet, because Pandora was created as a result of Prometheus’ actions, we have hope . . . no matter how bad things get in life ultimately we have hope. Prometheus’ actions were deemed bad but brought good things, So not everything neither good is good nor is everything bad, bad.