Prometheus Myth: The Creator of Man - The true story

Prometheus: The Creator of Man


Prometheus was a demigod, the son of the Titan Iapetus and Clymene or Asia (daughters of Oceanus). Siblings were Epimetheus ("afterthinker "), the Atlas and Menoetius. Married to Celaeno or Clymene and his children were Deucalion, the Wolf and the Chimera.

The so-called myth of Prometheus is one of the most curious myths of Greek mythology and indeed it was enriched throughout the centuries by poets and philosophers. Prometheus personifies intelligence, even cunning, but in the end he succumbs in the unequal struggle with Zeus. When the conflict erupted for power between the Olympian gods and the Titans, he took the part of the Olympians, although he was a Titan himself and with his wise counsel gave the victory to Zeus.

According to Lucian, Prometheus, with the help of the goddess Athena, created the first man (Gold Gender) from fire and clay and with similar form to that of the gods. This occurred after the Clash of the Titans. In the Orphic this clay was the soil watered by the blood of the Titans. In Roman sarcophagi Prometheus is depicted making statues and the goddess Athena sending them soul, with butterfly wings, to live in them and give them life (a curious similarity with the creation of Adam). It is said that in his first attempt Prometheus created a perfect creature. Hermes carried it to Mount Olympus, where Zeus treated him with the drink of immortality, leading him to find himself in the sky and becoming the planet " Phaenon", the current planet Jupiter). The animals were created at the same time (after the Clash of the Titans), but by mixing materials of Earth and Fire. All beings and humans were created inside the earth. When all beings inside Earth were invited to emerge to light, Prometheus and Epimetheus were assigned to give to every creature the features they should have. Epimetheus persuaded his brother to allow him to take this job alone. So Epimetheus named and attributed to every being the features he wanted, so that they could not destroy each other. When at the end it was the time of Man, he had to give him only a few hairs and nails so to render him vulnerable and powerless. Since this mistake Prometheus undertook the protection of humans.

Because he was the creator of humans he always watched with interest their course on earth and often disobeyed the commands of Zeus or had fooled him to their advantage. It could be assumed that someone took that mandate to create people to serve the gods? Did he try to help them because they were his creations and saw them as his children?

Gods and mortals had gathered to discuss their mutual privileges and especially, it seems, to determine which part of the carcass, offered for sacrifice, would go to each one of them. Prometheus split an ox into two parts. In the first share he put the skin, flesh and the entrails covered with the belly of the animal and to the other he put the bones from which he removed the meat, and had them covered up with the white fat. Then he said to Zeus to choose the share that would correspond to the gods, the rest was intended for people. Zeus chose the fat and when he found out that this share was only bones, he got angry with Prometheus and people and decided not to resend them fire ever again.

Prometheus stole fire sparks from the wheel of the sun or from the furnace of Hephaestus on Lemnos island and gave it to people, who thus improved their lives - they made tools, cultivated the land and civilized themselves. Prometheus helped them acquire medical knowledge, prepare medications, he taught them architecture, mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy and navigation.

Zeus punished the people by sending them Pandora, who brought with her a box. The authors do not totally agree with what the contents were. Hesiod speaks of terrible suffering that sprang from it, while others claim that the box contained goods and while opening it without precautions Pandora let go of everything that would contribute to the happiness of the people. But Zeus still wasn’t happy, he wanted a fuller revenge, the extermination of people. So he unleashed a flood to drown mortals. Was he so afraid that mortals would stop obeying the gods? Again Prometheus will prevent the destruction of people. He indicated to his son Deucalion and his daughter in law Pyrrha to build an ark in which they would close themselves and wander over the waves for nine days and nine nights. This is another interesting similarity to a biblical story (Noah’s flood).

As for Prometheus, Zeus ordered Hephaestus and his servants, State and Violence, to nail him to a steep peak of the Caucasus and sent an eagle, born of Typhon and Echidna, to eat his liver, which was renewed every morning. Zeus also swore in the waters of the Styx never to solve the shackles of Prometheus. Was it an exemplary punishment for “knowledge and compliance” for both gods and mortals?

Prometheus hung for many years (from 30 to 30,000) from the rock until Hercules released him from his bonds. Zeus was glad for the feat of his son, so he decided to let Prometheus go. But because he had to keep his vow, he instructed Prometheus to construct a ring from the steel of his chain and a piece of rock upon which he was tied. In this way the gantry bond continued to keep him tied up on his rock. Since then, people began to construct in their turn rings and wear them in honor of Prometheus who had suffered for doing good to them.

At the same time the Centaur Chiron suffered from the trauma that an arrow of Hercules had caused him and was asking to die. Because he was immortal, he had to find someone to accept his immortality. Prometheus accepted, took his place and became immortal.

Prometheus was a seer. He revealed to Zeus that his child with Thetis would be stronger than him and would dethrone him. Was that the reason why Zeus “forgave” him? Was the father of gods and men in need of a seer? Prometheus also had suggested to Hercules how to get the apples of the Hesperides with the help of Atlas to thank him for freeing him.

By Natasa Tale

Related Links

Mythology: Prometheus


Prometheus and Pandora

Prometheus, the original Rebel




Ryan Weston's picture

The article’s opening line, “Prometheus was a demigod” seems to require a bit of explanation. Anyone able to shed some light on this? Prometheus is typically considered a Titan, not a demigod.


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