Tutor: Harry Love
Name: Aleesha Powell
Student ID: 229507
Word count: 1809
The Hesiod myths of Prometheus, involving the myths of the sacrifice, theft of fire and the creation of Pandora (women) are an attempt to show the downfall of man from the ‘Golden Age’ of living amongst the Gods and being immortal to the life of the classical Greek farmer, where life was difficult and laborious. Hesiod attempts to explain this, through a series of interconnecting myths dealing with man, primarily through the Titan Prometheus interactions with Zeus.
Prometheus was a 2nd generation Titan who is said to be the maker of humans but was also the Titan who took Zeus’ side in the battle against his cousin Titans. His name means trickster and he is portrayed as a cunning and clever character in the Greek myths surrounding him. It is shown that he entertains great delight in outwitting those more powerful then himself. These aspects of his character are apparent in the myths of Prometheus’ trick of the sacrifice as well as his theft of fire. The myth of the sacrifice is an etiological myth attempting to explain why the Greeks are able to withhold the good meat of the sacrificed animals for themselves and only burn the bones and fat for the Gods. Hesiod tells the myth as one were Prometheus tricks the all knowing Zeus. He presents to him the two options, a pile of bones covered in “glistening fat” or the delicious meat concealed inside the stomach of an ox. The fat appearing more appetizing, Zeus picks that option, allowing the Greeks to justify why they burn the discarded pieces of the animal as an offering to Gods. However it is also mentioned that Zeus was not tricked as he is the ‘all-knowing’ God. He purposefully opted for the worse option so that he could punish mankind. He did this by demeaning man to the status of an animal, taking the privilege of fire away from humans.
This then leads onto the myth of Prometheus’ theft of fire quite nicely. This was the myth about how man retained fire but at a different level to that of the Golden Age. An eternal fire had once lurked in the trees, available to mortals when lightening struck. This was now gone, mortals who had become accustomed to this and the luxury of cooked meat now starved. Prometheus who empathized for the mortals stole the fire back and hid it in a fennel stalk with a fire-resistance coat on it for further protection. This enabled man to the luxury of fire once more but only with the constant labour to maintain it. Zeus angered by Prometheus’ betrayal again ordered strength (Kratos) and violence (Bia), children of the underworld to bind Prometheus to a pillar where he would have his liver eaten out ever day by an eagle. Being immortal Prometheus would come back to life again at night, resulting in endless pain throughout his days.
The third myth in sequence to Prometheus’ trick of sacrifice and theft of fire is Pandora, the creator of the woman race. Her name means ‘all gifts’ as she was the creation of the Gods. Many of the Gods put in different characteristics to help form her. She can also be interpreted, as being the mother of all things as the descendants of Pandora was the women race. Pandora was an etiological myth meaning it explained the origin of women, marriage and suffering in the world. Zeus offered Pandora to Epimetheus as a trick similar to that of the sacrifice. She held beauty on the outside but had the ‘soul of a bitch’ on the inside. This can be due to the character given to Pandora by Hermes, lies and cunning ways. From this Pandora’s curiosity could not contain itself and the jar given to her by Zeus was opened. Strangely enough it is not mention by Hesiod that Pandora was not allowed to open the jar, perhaps this was obvious to the readers however Epimetheus was told not to accept any gifts from the Gods and disobeyed. Perhaps the more evident message here is that mans’ greediness and constant disobedience of the Gods results...
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