Mythology

February 1st, 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.

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