Myths - Prometheus
was an “elder god” before The Olympians took over the heavens.
He was a Titan, the powerful giants whose entire first generation
was conceived by Gaea, the Earth goddess.
One of Gaea’s sons, Iapetus, was the father of Prometheus,
Epimetheus, Menoetius, and Atlas.
Another of Gaea’s sons was Cronus who gained the rulership of the
Titans by castrating his father. Obviously
his own behaviour left him somewhat paranoid about having children and he
mercilessly assured his continued power by eating every child he and his
wife, Rhea, produced.
Understandably this repeated action greatly upset Rhea, and she
schemed to save one of her babies by substituting a large rock in its
place. Cronus took the bait
and swallowed the stone; not realising that he now had a living son.
Zeus was that son.
Zeus was very angry with his father and fought against him, for the
right to rule. Prometheus
fought by his side, but Zeus doesn’t seem to be particularly grateful.
Zeus won his war, and wanted to be ultimate ruler of everything.
He liked a few other gods, but he was very content to see mankind
stay primitive and inconsequential, and didn’t want to bother about
looking after them.
Prometheus is said to be the
wisest of all the Titans. His
name means “forethought” and he was able to foretell the
future. This ability
seems to have deserted him on many an occasion, and he suffered cruelly
for his lack of foresight – or
his love of mankind overcame his fear of the pain he knew he would have to
endure. It could be argued
that Prometheus was a big softie who always stood up for the underdog.
Zeus gave the job of giving all creatures on earth the ability to look
after themselves to Prometheus
and his brother, Epimetheus.
Epimetheus was to give each species some special attribute that
would protect it, and Prometheus was to ensure all gifts were working well
and fulfilled their function. Unfortunately
Epimetheus was not the brightest of the Titans and used all the gifts he
had to share before reaching mankind.
The name Epimetheus means "afterthought", which should
have given his brother some “foresight” as to the possible outcome.
It was left to Prometheus to sort out the problem.
Prometheus took a radical approach, and decided to give the left-over,
unprotected mankind a gift worthy of a god – in fact worthy of the king
of the gods. Prometheus stole
a small amount of Zeus’s sacred fire and gave it to mankind, to protect
them and inspire them. Prometheus
was very fond of the puny humans and believed they had a right to all the
possibilities of their future.
Zeus was not amused. He had
wanted humans to be unthinking creatures.
The fire of creativity was not part of his plans for their
survival. He was furious with
Prometheus. He was so
furious, he had Prometheus chained onto the rocks of Mount
Caucasus and tortured every day for the next thirty thousand years.
At the start of every day a giant eagle would hover over
Prometheus’s prone body and peck away at his liver.
During the night, Prometheus’s liver would regrow, preparing him
for another day of pain.
Eventually Hercules saved Prometheus from his torment by shooting the
eagle with an arrow. Zeus
accepted the escape of his torture victim at this time, either because he
was particularly fond of his son, Hercules or because Prometheus had done
Zeus a recent favour by warning him against bedding a particular human
whose son was foreseen to overtake his father’s power.
has become a symbol of brilliance and inspiration.
His love of humans is seen as outstanding in a time when the gods
were playing with mankind, like naughty children with very breakable
dolls. The Prometheus
myth often states that he fathered the first human being, or that he made
the original humans from clay.
The name of Prometheus has been taken by many interesting organisations
– for example, on the web, you can visit;
Prometheus Society who only welcome members who have received a
score on an accepted IQ test that is equal to or greater than that
received by the highest one thirty-thousandth of the general
Prometheus Trust which is dedicated to the restoration of the ancient
mystery tradition of the west, as a living counterpart to that of the east,
Science Policy Weblog- “Prometheus” which provides daily news and
commentary on science policy issues.
is also the name of the
third of Saturn's known satellites. This
moon is extremely elongated about 145 by 85 by 62 kilometres (90 by 53 by
39 miles) in diameter. True
to its name, Saturn's "Prometheus" acts as a shepherd satellite
for the inner edge of Saturn's F Ring, just as Prometheus, the god, acted
as the shepherd for man’s humanity and greatness.
View of Saturn from Voyager 2
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