Prometheus: Our Creator

Dominant in the tradition about creation is the myth that Prometheus (not Zeus) was the creator of human beings from clay and Athena breathed into them the divine spirit.

In the version of Hesiod, although his account is far from logical and clear, it seems that Prometheus fashioned only mankind. Womankind was created later, through the agency of Zeus, in the person of Pandora.

Prometheus against Zeus

Although Prometheus had fought on the side of Zeus in his war against Cronus, the two mighty gods soon came into conflict once Zeus had assumed supreme power.

The Nature of Sacrifice

Their antagonism began when Prometheus dared to match wits with Zeus. There was a quarrel between mortals and the gods, apparently about how the parts of the sacrificial animals should be apportioned.

Prometheus divided up a great ox and for his creatures, us mortals, he wrapped the flesh and the rich and fatty innards in the ox's paunch.

For the gods, however, he deviously and artfully wrapped up the bones of the ox in its enticing, rich, white fat.

He asked Zeus to take his choice between the two portions, and Zeus, fully aware of Prometheus' deception, chose the bones attractively wrapped in fat.

Thus it was that when the Greeks made sacrifice to the gods, they enjoyed feasting upon the best edible portions of the animals, while only the white bones that remained were burned for the gods.

The Theft of Fire

Zeus was enraged at Prometheus' attempt to deceive him and wreaked his vengeance upon mortals, the creatures of Prometheus. He took away from them fire, essential to their livelihood and progress.

Prometheus, defiantly our champion, once again tricked Zeus (who this time was presumably at first unaware) by stealing in a hollow fennel stalk fire from heaven and restoring it to earth.

Zeus was stung to the depths of his heart by Prometheus' outrage and "contrived an evil thing for mortals in recompense for the fire", namely, the woman Pandora.

The Punishment of Prometheus

A further defiance of Prometheus was his refusal to reveal to Zeus a crucial secret that he knew and Zeus did not.

If Zeus mated with the sea-goddess Thetis, she would bear a son who would overthrow his father. Thus Zeus faced the terrible risk of losing his power as supreme god, like Cronus and Uranus before him.

The outcome of Zeus' anger against Prometheus for his rebellious championship of mortals and his obstinate refusal to warn Zeus about Thetis was a dire punishment.

Zeus had the wily and devious Prometheus bound in inescapable bonds to a crag of the remote Caucasus Mountains in Scythia, with a shaft driven through his middle.

And he sent an eagle to eat his immortal liver each day, and what the eagle ate would be restored again each night.

Generations later, however, Zeus worked out a reconciliation with Prometheus and sent his son Heracles to kill the eagle with an arrow and release Prometheus.

Zeus avoided mating with Thetis, who married a mortal, Peleus, and bore a son Achilles to become mightier than his father.

The Prophecies of Prometheus

When Prometheus was released from Caucasus, Zeus made peace with him and gave him a ring made of one of the chains, to remind him of never to trick him again. Prometheus then in exchange warned Zeus and Poseidon about the prophecy, when these two gods pursued sea goddess Thetis.

Prometheus claimed that the child will hold a destiny to be more powerful than his father. Therefore, the gods had withdrawn their pursuit and Zeus made Thetis to be married with a mortal. Prometheus later found himself a consort, an oceanid of Mount Parnassos, called Pronoea. Together they had a son:

Deucalion - He was warned by the prophecy of his father about the great flood and therefore he built a chest, provision it and together with Pyrrha, the Daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, sailed to Mount Parnassos, because it was supposed to be one of the safest points from the great flood.

After the flood, they were instructed at the oracle of Delphi to repopulate the world with throwing "bones" of their "mother" behind their shoulders. They understand bones to be rocks and mother to be Gaea. They started throwing rocks behind shoulder and that is how they started shaping mankind again. Rocks thrown by Pyrrha became women and rocks thrown by Deucalion became men.

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