Prometheus (Προμηθεν΄ς
, meaning forethought in Greek) is perhaps one of the most intriguing gods of the ancient world. He was originally a titan, son of Themis, and brother to Atlas. Prometheus and his mother sided with Zeus in the battle for control of the cosmos. It was a fierce battle that carried on for 10 years. The ground would quake and the mighty Zeus rained down endless lightning from the top of Olympus. The lightning blasts were so fierce they set the world on fire, causing the oceans to boil.

 

The role that Prometheus played in this war may be unclear, but it is quite possible he could foresee his role in the creation of man in the likeness of the gods. A role he would otherwise not be able to perform had he been imprisoned in Tartarus with the rest of the Titans who chose to fight against Zeus. Prometheus is responsible for man, for he alone shapes the first man out of dirt from the earth, tears from the heavens, and the breath of the gods. He makes them upright so that they may look into the heavens.

 

The account given by Plato in Protagoras tells how man is special because all other distinct qualities were accounted for by Epimethius (meaning hindsight and brother to
Prometheus. ) We are told by Protagoras that Epimethius was charged with giving the
individual traits to all living things and simply overlooked man. For this, Prometheus gave fire to man along with practical wisdom from the goddess Athena.The story of the wisdom granted to man is elaborated in the story of Mecone told in Hesiod’s Theogony. Prometheus teaches man how to make tributes to earn favor from the gods, without having to sacrifice their food. This is often referred to as the Trick at Mecone.

 

We find this story in the Theogony of Hesiod. The story begins with Prometheus teaching man how to prepare sacrifices to earn favor with the gods. He teaches man how to keep the edible parts of the sacrifice by disguising the bones with fat to appear more favorable. This breaks from their traditional way of preparing the sacrifices, which would leave them near starving with only scraps of meat. Zeus is called down to choose which sacrifice he would accept, and he chooses the bones and fat. Being the all knowing king of the gods, Zeus cannot let this trickery go unpunished. As a punishment, Zeus takes fire from man. Prometheus knows how man will suffer without fire, so he goes up to Olympus and steals it back for them.

 

For his theft, Zeus bound Prometheus, pierced him through his side, and called forth an eagle to eat his liver every day for eternity. Yet, we know that Prometheus knows a secret Zeus needs. The secret Prometheus holds, is the name of the nymph who will carry the child that can overthrow Zeus.The theft of fire by Prometheus caused Zeus to not only punish him, but to also punish man. Zeus with the help of the other Olympians made the first women. They made her beautiful and equipped her with a jar or a box which contained all of the evils of the world. The first woman was named Pandora.

 

The etiology of sacrifice,human wisdom, and ingenuity is found in the story of Prometheus. Prometheus creates man and teaches him to rise above his status. Then as an act of retribution for helping man Zeus creates women. This all makes the story of Prometheus the explanation for not only the origin of man but also the origin of women. The early gods all served these purposes.Each being uniquely responsible for some not yet understood aspect of the natural world.