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THE ANCIENT MYTH OF
PROMETHEUS

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Prometheus - Greek Mythology

Prometheus was a son of Titan Iapetus and the Nymph Asia. He was one of four children born to the couple. His siblings were Menoetius, Atlas, and Epimetheus. All of the children, including Prometheus, were Titans. The name Prometheus means “foresight,” whereas his brother’s name, Epimetheus, means “hindsight.”

The myth begins with the god Zeus developing a terrible headache that no healer could help with. Prometheus claimed to know how to rid the god of his headache. He picked up a rock and continued to strike Zeus in the head repeatedly with the rock. Hitting Zeus on the head with the rock expelled the Goddess Athena from Zeus’ head and along with her his headache.

Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus then left Olympus to go to the Earthly province of Boitia. It was there that they turned clay into small figures. The figures were then given to Athena and she breathed life into them, turning them into Man. The figures that Prometheus had constructed began to worship him. The figures that Epimetheus made however began to attack Epimetheus. These figures then became known as beasts.

Zeus heard of the figures of Man that Prometheus and Epimetheus had created and he became very angry. He forbade both of the brothers from teaching Man any ways of civilization. Athena however, went against Zeus’ wishes and taught Prometheus how to teach Man.

Zeus once again found out that Prometheus and Athena had both gone against his wishes. He then demanded that Man offer a sacrifice to the gods so that Man could show that they would obey the gods and worship the gods. Prometheus showed them how to sacrifice an ox and instructed Man to place the ox into two different bags. The first bag contained the bones from the ox and the fat was placed on top to hide the bones. The second bag contained the meat, on top of which the intestines were placed to hide the meat. Prometheus then asked Zeus which bag he would like as the sacrifice. Zeus chose the bag with the fat on top and the bones on the bottom.

This made Zeus even angrier and he then would not allow for Man to obtain fire from the gods. Prometheus wanted to get fire to bring to man but had to decide on a way to do, as Zeus had placed guards in front of the entrance of Olympus. Athena showed Prometheus an entrance in the back of the city that was not guarded and told Prometheus to enter through that way.

Sneaking into the back entrance during the night, Prometheus lit a torch from the Chariot of the Sun. He extinguished the torch and then carried the hot coals down to Man. He gave Man the hot coals and once again, went against Zeus’ wishes.

Zeus became even angrier and decided to seek revenge on Prometheus. He collected the gods together and placed Pandora inside of a box. Along with her, he placed all of the horrors into the box as well. He then disguised the box as a gift and sent it to Prometheus.

Upon receiving the box, Prometheus recognized the curse that had been placed on the box. Instead of opening it himself, he gave it to his brother Epimetheus to open. Once Epimetheus opened the box, the horrors escaped from it.

Zeus was shocked at Prometheus’ actions. He was angry that Prometheus would turn away a gift from the great god. As punishment, he ordered Prometheus to be chained to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains to be tortured. The torture involved an eagle coming every day to eat his liver. During the night, Prometheus’ liver would grow back so he could be exposed to the same torture the next day.

After a period of time, Zeus told Prometheus that he would no longer need to serve out his punishment if Prometheus would tell him how Zeus himself would one day be dethroned. Prometheus, being angry at the god himself, would not tell Zeus how this would happen. The Nymph of Asia, Prometheus’ mother, wanted her son to be free. As she also possessed the gift of foresight, she went to Zeus herself and told him of how he would be dethroned.

After hearing the secret of how his own children would dethrone him, Zeus ordered Heracles to go and let Prometheus free. He did not wish for Prometheus to ever forget his punishment however and so, he forced Prometheus to carry a small piece of the rock bound to a chain with him at all times. Man heard of this and began to wear small pieces of stone set into rings and other jewellery to pay tribute to Prometheus and all he had done for them.


Prometheus mythology.

 The myth of Prometheus.

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