Story #4: [Selflessness] Prometheus and his gift of fire to mankind
I have never thought of myself as a feminist in my thinking, until I realised that all of my stories have a female protagonist. Well…all except for one. So the story I want to share today is the tale of Prometheus, the protector and selfless God in Greek mythology.
There is much in the story of Prometheus that appeals to me on personal level, because the personality trait that I most admire is selflessness. I do not think I can bring myself to like someone unless I can see that they have some consideration for other people and that it is something that really matters to them.
But back to telling the story —
Most people have heard of the Olympian gods (Zeus, Apollo, Athena) thanks to popular movies and famous poems like the Odyssey. Less people know of the Titans, the first ancient gods in Greek legends before the Olympian gods. Even less do they know of Prometheus, one of the first Titans.
During the war between the Titans and the Olympian gods for the world, Prometheus supported Zeus to overthrow his father (Cronus) as they wrestled for supremcy (and yes, there is the concept of world domination in ancient myths too, it doesn’t just exist in science fiction!). And as we know, Zeus ultimately won the war and Prometheus was spared from being sent to the underworld with the other Titans.
Prometheus’ first act for mankind occurred when Zeus started to think it was a good idea to demand for offerings from humankind. The story goes that mankind at the time did not have enough to eat, let alone make offering to the Gods. So in their despair, they went to Prometheus and begged for his help.
Now here Prometheus came up with an ingenious (devious!) plot — he hid the meat inside an ox stomach and then wrapped all the bones and scraps in glistening fat. He then proffered up both bundles to Zeus and asked him to choose between the two bundles. Poor Zeus, he was deceived by the appearances and chose the bundle of bones wrapped in fat, and thus forever setting the precedent that only bones and scraps will need to be offered when worshiping the Olympian Gods.
Afterwards Zeus was so furious that he was tricked into accepting the worst portions of meat, he withdrew the gift of fire from the world to punish them for their role in the deception.
Alas, faced with the bitter cold and with no way of defending themselves from beasts, humankind was once again plunged into hardship. Filled with pity for the plight of humans, Prometheus again risked his life to steal fire back from the heavens to restore to mankind.
Now this is where it gets bad — For his blatent act of defiance, Zeus banished Prometheus to a corner of the universe and chained him to a rock. And as further punishment, Zeus sent an eagle to eat his liver during the day; only for it to be regenerated at night so that Prometheus will suffer the same torment everyday. So it was not until the appearance of Hercules in his twelve labours that Prometheus was released from his harsh punishment.