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Greek Myths - Prometheus

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Greek Myths: The Origins | Centaurs | The 12 Olympians | Achilles
Gods of Greek Mythology | Heroes of Greek Mythology | The Trojan War
Heracles | Sirens | Prometheus | Perseus | Pygmalion and Galatea
Jason and the Argonauts | The Children of Nyx | Death and the Underworld

Prometheus the Titan, cousin of Zeus, is known as the creator of humanity. He was the brother of Epimetheus, the reckless creator of the animals, who used all his materials on the animals and had none left for the humans. He was forced to appeal to his brother for help and Prometheus created man.

The Sacrifice

In the beginning the Gods lived in harmony with men. This lasted until it came time to decide what should be sacrificed to the Gods. Prometheus settled this by bringing an ox and dividing it into two halves - the flesh and the fat covered bones. Because the flesh looked disgusting when covered in skin, Zeus chose the fat-covered bones, not realising they were inedible. When he found out he had been tricked, he was very angry and as a punishment he took away fire from mankind and stopped the seeds growing of their own accord, meaning man would have to work to get food.

Prometheus was troubled by the confiscation of fire and decided to return it to man. He lit a stem of fennel with fire from the sun and brought it down to earth. However, the fire was now mortal, no longer permanently burning. It had to be guarded and was important because it separated man from beast.

Zeus was very angry with Prometheus for this theft. As a punishment he chained Prometheus to a mountain. There Prometheus was plagued by an eagle who tore out his liver, which would grow back by the next day. He was released from his torment when Heracles shot the eagle and freed him. Zeus relented and decreed that Prometheus should only have to wear a ring made of his chains in future.

Pandora's Box

Prometheus was not the only person punished for the theft of the fire. Zeus decided that all mankind should suffer. So he sent Epimetheus the beautiful Pandora. Prometheus had warned his brother never to accept a present from Zeus, but Epimetheus was irresponsible by nature and did not heed the warning. Pandora brought with her a small box, which she was forbidden to open - but her curiosity got the better of her. Upon opening it, all the evils were released and went out into the world, to plague mankind. Only hope remained, to comfort man in his despair.

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