Unit 1, Reading & Writing 2: Prometheus


The Prometheus Myth
by Sara Baase (http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/giftfire/prometheus.html)

In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the creator of mankind. The goddess Athene taught him architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine, and metallurgy, and he in turn taught them to humans. Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods, became angry at Prometheus for making people powerful by teaching them all these useful skills.

When the gods chose Prometheus as arbiter in a dispute, he fooled the gullible Zeus into picking the worst parts of the sacrificial bull by hiding them under a rich layer of fat. To punish Prometheus, Zeus withheld fire from men. "Let them eat their flesh raw," he declared. In response, Prometheus, snuck up to Mount Olympus, lit a torch from the sun, and hid a burning piece of charcoal in a hollow stalk. He slipped away with it and thus delivered fire to mankind.

Zeus, as revenge, tried unsuccessfully to trick Prometheus' brother, Epimetheus, into accepting the beautiful but mischievous Pandora as a gift. Epimetheus, mindful of earlier advice from his brother, refused. Even madder now that his trick had failed, Zeus had Prometheus chained naked to a pillar in the Caucasian mountains. A griffon-vulture ate at Prometheus' liver all day long. During the bitter cold of the mountain night, the liver became whole again.

So it went day after day, year after year. Epimetheus married Pandora in an effort to free his brother. Pandora -- as devilish as she was beautiful -- opened the famous box in which Prometheus had shut up all the evils that might plague mankind: Old Age, Labor, Sickness, Insanity, Vice and Passion.

Only years later, at the behest of Heracles (Hercules), did Zeus free Prometheus.

(Source of information: Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Moyer Bell Ltd., 1955.)


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2.2. From Encyclopedia Britannica

Prometheus:  in Greek religion, one of the Titans, the supreme trickster, and a god of fire. His intellectual side was emphasized by the apparent meaning of his name, Forethinker. In common belief he developed into a master craftsman, and in this connection he was associated with fire and the creation of mortals.

The Greek poet Hesiod related two principal legends concerning Prometheus. The first is that Zeus, the chief god, who had been tricked by Prometheus into accepting the bones and fat of sacrifice instead of the meat, hid fire from mortals. Prometheus, however, stole it and returned it to Earth once again. As the price of fire, and as punishment for humankind in general, Zeus created the woman Pandora and sent her down to Epimetheus (Hindsight), who, though warned by Prometheus, married her. Pandora took the great lid off the jar she carried, and evils, hard work, and disease flew out to plague humanity. Hope alone remained within.

Hesiod relates in his other tale that, as vengeance on Prometheus, Zeus had him nailed to a mountain in the Caucasus and sent an eagle to eat his immortal liver, which constantly replenished itself; Prometheus was depicted in Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, who made him not only the bringer of fire and civilization to mortals but also their preserver, giving them all the arts and sciences as well as the means of survival.

"Prometheus." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 10 Jan. 2009  <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9061532>.

2.3. Aus dem Mythentor: Prometheus

Lesen Sie diese Webseite mit der Geschichte von Prometheus. __________________________________________________________________

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When you are finished, go on to Reading 3.