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Prometheus

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  In Greek mythology,  Prometheus  ( /prəˈmiːθiːəs/ ; Greek:  Προμηθεύς , pronounced  [promɛːtʰéu ̯ s],    possibly meaning forethought ) [1]  is a Titan, culture hero, and trickster  figure who is credited with   the creation of man from clay, and who defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, an   act that enabled progress and civilization. Prometheus is known for his intelligence and as a champion of humankind [2]  and also seen as the author of the human arts and sciences generally. He is sometimes presented as the father of  Deucalion, the hero of the Greek flood story.    The punishment of Prometheus as a consequence of the theft is a major theme of his mythology, and is a popular subject of both ancient and modern art. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced   the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back overnight to be eaten again the next day. (In ancient Greece, the liver was often thought to be the seat of human emotions.) [3]  Prometheus is freed at last by the hero Heracles.    In another myth, Prometheus establishes the form of  animal sacrifice practiced in ancient Greek religion. Evidence of a cult to Prometheus himself is not widespread. He was a focus of religious   activity mainly at  Athens, where he was linked to  Athena and Hephaestus, other Greek deities of   creative skills and technology. [4]     In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or  unintended consequences. In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius   whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy: Mary Shelley, for instance,   gave The Modern Prometheus  as the subtitle to her novel  Frankenstein  (1818). The first recorded account of the Prometheus myth appeared in the late 8th-century BC Greek epic poet Hesiod's  Theogony   (507  – 616). He was a son of the Titan Iapetus by Clymene, one of   the Oceanids. He was brother to Menoetius,  Atlas, and Epimetheus. Hesiod, in Theogony  ,   introduces Prometheus as a lowly challenger to Zeus's omniscience and omnipotence. In the trick at Mekone (535  – 544), a sacrificial meal marking the settling of accounts between mortals and immortals, Prometheus played a trick against Zeus. He placed two sacrificial offerings before the Olympian: a selection of beef hidden inside an ox's stomach (nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior), and the bull's bones wrapped completely in glistening fat (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus chose the latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices (556  – 557). Henceforth, humans would keep that meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering to the gods. This angered Zeus, who hid fire from humans in retribution. In this version of the myth, the use of fire was already known to humans, but withdrawn by Zeus. [13]  Prometheus, however, stole fire back in a giant fennel-stalk and restored it to humanity   (565  – 566). This further enraged Zeus, who sent the first woman to live with humanity (Pandora, not explicitly mentioned). The woman, a shy maiden , was fashioned by Hephaestus out of clay and    Athena helped to adorn her properly (571  – 574). Hesiod writes, From her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth (590  – 594).    Prometheus Brings Fire  by Heinrich Friedrich Füger . Prometheus brings fire to mankind as told by Hesiod, with   its having been hidden as revenge for the trick at Mecone. Prometheus is chained to a rock in the Caucasus for eternity, where his liver is eaten daily by an eagle, [14]  only to be regenerated by night, due to his immortality. The eagle is a symbol of Zeus   himself. Years later, the Greek hero Heracles slays the eagle and frees Prometheus from his torment (520  – 528). Works and Days [edit]   Hesiod revisits the story of Prometheus and the theft of fire in  Works and Days  (42  – 105). In it the   poet expands upon Zeus's reaction to Prometheus's deception. Not only does Zeus withhold fire from humanity, but the means of life as well (42). Had Prometheus not provoked Zeus's wrath, you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste (44  – 47). Hesiod also adds more information to Theogony'  s story of the first woman, a maiden crafted from earth and water by Hephaestus now explicitly called Pandora ( all gifts ) (82). Zeus in this case gets the help of Athena, Aphrodite, Hermes, the Graces and the Hours (59  – 76). After Prometheus steals the fire, Zeus sends Pandora in retaliation. Despite Prometheus' warning, Epimetheus accepts this gift from the gods (89). Pandora carried a jar with her  from which were released mischief and   sorrow, plague and diseases (94  – 100). Pandora shuts the lid of the jar too late to contain all the evil plights that escaped, but Hope is left trapped in the jar because Zeus forces Pandora to seal it up before Hope can escape (96  – 99). Interpretation [edit]      Angelo Casanova, [15]  professor of Greek literature at the University of Florence, finds in Prometheus   a reflection of an ancient, pre-Hesiodic trickster -figure, who served to account for the mixture of good and bad in human life, and whose fashioning of humanity from clay was an Eastern motif familiar in  Enuma Elish . As an opponent of Zeus he was an analogue of the Titans and, like them, was punished. As an advocate for humanity he gains semi-divine status at Athens, where the episode in Theogony   in which he is liberated [16]  is interpreted by Casanova as a post-Hesiodic interpolation. [17]   According to the German classicist Karl-Martin Dietz, in Hesiod's scriptures, Prometheus represents the descent of mankind from the communion with the gods into the present troublesome life . [18]    The Lost Titanomachy [edit]     The Titanomachy is a lost epic of the cosmological struggle between the Greek gods and their   parents, the Titans, and is a probable source of the Prometheus myth. [19]  along with the works of  Hesiod. Its reputed author was anciently supposed to have lived in the 8th century BC, but M. L. West has argued that it can't be earlier than the late 7th century BC. [20]  Presumably included in the   Titanomachy is the story of Prometheus, himself a Titan, who managed to avoid being in the direct confrontational cosmic battle between Zeus and the other  Olympians against Cronus and the other   Titans [21]  (although there is no direct evidence of Prometheus's inclusion in the epic). [22]  M. L. West notes that surviving references suggest that there may have been significant differences between the Titanomachy epic and the account of events in Hesiod; and that the Titanomachy may be the source of later variants of the Prometheus myth not found in Hesiod, notably the non-Hesiodic material found in the Prometheus Bound of   Aeschylus. [23]     Athenian tradition [edit]     The two major authors to have an influence on the development of the myths and legends surrounding the Titan Prometheus during the Socratic era of greater Athens were  Aeschylus and Plato. The two men wrote in highly distinctive forms of expression which for    Aeschylus centered on his mastery of the literary form of Greek tragedy, while for Plato this centered on the philosophical expression of his thought in the form of the various dialogues he wrote or recorded during his lifetime. Aeschylus and the ancient literary tradition [edit]   Prometheus Bound  , perhaps the most famous treatment of the myth to be found among the Greek tragedies, is traditionally attributed to the 5th-century BC Greek tragedian  Aeschylus. [24]   At the centre   of the drama are the results of Prometheus' theft of fire and his current punishment by Zeus. The playwright's dependence on the Hesiodic source material is clear, though Prometheus Bound   also includes a number of changes to the received tradition. [25]  It has been suggested by M.L. West that   these changes may derive from the now lost epic Titanomachy  [26]     Before his theft of fire, Prometheus played a decisive role in the Titanomachy, securing victory for Zeus and the other Olympians. Zeus' torture of Prometheus thus becomes a particularly harsh betrayal. The scope and character of Prometheus' transgressions against Zeus are also widened. In addition to giving humanity fire, Prometheus claims to have taught them the arts of civilisation, such as writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, and science. The Titan's greatest benefaction for humanity seems to have been saving them from complete destruction. In an apparent twist on the myth of the so-called Five  Ages of Man found in Hesiod's Works and Days  (wherein Cronus and,   later, Zeus created and destroyed five successive races of humanity), Prometheus asserts that Zeus had wanted to obliterate the human race, but that he somehow stopped him. [ citation needed  ]   Heracles freeing Prometheus from his torment by the eagle ( Attic black-figure cup, c. 500 BC)  Moreover, Aeschylus anachronistically and artificially injects Io, another victim of Zeus's violence and ancestor of Heracles, into Prometheus' story. Finally, just as Aeschylus gave Prometheus a key role in bringing Zeus to power, he also attributed to him secret knowledge that could lead to Zeus's downfall: Prometheus had been told by his mother  Themis, who in the play is identified with Gaia (Earth), of a potential marriage that would produce a son who would overthrow Zeus. Fragmentary evidence indicates that Heracles, as in Hesiod, frees the Titan in the trilogy's second play,  Prometheus Unbound  . It is apparently not until Prometheus reveals this secret of Zeus's potential downfall that the two reconcile in the final play,  Prometheus the Fire-Bringer   or Prometheus   Pyrphoros , a lost tragedy by Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound   also includes two mythic innovations of omission. The first is the absence of  Pandora's story in connection with Prometheus' own. Instead, Aeschylus includes this one oblique allusion to Pandora and her jar that contained Hope (252): [Prometheus] caused blind hopes to live in the hearts of men. Second, Aeschylus makes no mention of the sacrifice-trick played against Zeus in the Theogony  . [24]  The four tragedies of Prometheus attributed to Aeschylus, most of which   are lost to the passages of time into antiquity, are Prometheus Bound   ( Prometheus Desmotes ), Prometheus Unbound   ( Lyomenos ), Prometheus the Fire Bringer   ( Pyrphoros ), and Prometheus the Fire Kindler   ( Pyrkaeus ). The larger scope of Aeschylus as a dramatist revisiting the myth of Prometheus in the age of  Athenian prominence has been discussed by William Lynch. [27]  Lynch's general thesis concerns the rise of humanist and secular tendencies in Athenian culture and society which required the growth and expansion of the mythological and religious tradition as acquired from the most ancient sources of the myth stemming from Hesiod. For Lynch, modern scholarship is hampered by not having the full trilogy of Prometheus by Aeschylus, the last two parts of which have been lost to antiquity. Significantly, Lynch further comments that although the Prometheus trilogy is not available, that the Orestia  trilogy by Aeschylus remains available and may be assumed to provide significant insight into the overall structural intentions which may be ascribed to the Prometheus trilogy by Aeschylus as an author of significant consistency and exemplary dramatic erudition. [28]     Harold Bloom, in his research guide for Aeschylus, has summarised some of the critical attention that has been applied to Aeschylus concerning his general philosophical import in Athens. [29]   As Bloom states, Much critical attention has been paid to the question of theodicy in Aeschylus. For generations, scholars warred incessantly over 'the justice of Zeus,' unintentionally blurring it with a monotheism imported from Judeo-Christian thought. The playwright undoubtedly had religious concerns; for instance, Jacqueline de Romilly [30]  suggests that his treatment of time flows directly out   of his belief in divine justice. But it would be an error to think of Aeschylus as sermonising. His Zeus does not arrive at decisions which he then enacts in the mortal world; rather, human events are themselves an enactment of divine will. [31]      According to Thomas Rosenmeyer , regarding the religious import of Aeschylus, In Aeschylus, as in   Homer, the two levels of causation, the supernatural and the human, are co-existent and simultaneous, two ways of describing the same event. Rosenmeyer insists that ascribing portrayed characters in Aeschylus should not conclude them to be either victims or agents of theological or religious activity too quickly. As Rosenmeyer states: [T]he text defines their being. For a critic to construct an Aeschylean theology would be as quixotic as designing a typology of Aeschylean man. The needs of the drama prevail. [32]  In a rare comparison of Prometheus in Aeschylus with Oedipus in Sophocles, Harold Bloom states that Freud called Oedipus  an 'immoral play,' since the gods ordained incest and parricide. Oedipus therefore participates in our universal unconscious sense of guilt, but on this reading so do the gods [...] I sometimes wish that Freud had turned to Aeschylus instead, and given us the Prometheus complex rather than the Oedipus complex. [33]     Karl-Martin Dietz states that in contrast to Hesiod's, in Aeschylus' oeuvre, Prometheus stands for the Ascent of humanity from primitive beginnings to the present level of civilisation. [18]  
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