Chapter 24. Prometheus: The Greek Trickster. Prometheus. This Greek figure is perhaps the best-known example of a trickster as a builder of culture.
The Greek Trickster
1. Mekone: Prometheus cheats Zeus of the better sacrifice. Described in detail by Hesiod in the Theogony (Ch. 24).
2. Zeus withholds fire from humans. Mentioned by Hesiod in both the Theogony and the Works and Days (Ch. 3).
3. Prometheus steals fire for humans. Mentioned by Hesiod in both the Theogony and the Works and Days (Ch. 3).
4. Zeus punishes him by inflicting Pandora, the first woman, on humans. Described in detail by Hesiod in the Works and Days (Ch. 3).
5. Zeus chains Prometheus to a rock. Mentioned by Hesiod in both the Theogony and the Works and Days (Ch. 24).
6. Zeus allows his son Heracles to free Prometheus, to increase his son’s fame. This is mentioned in the first part of the story that Hesiod describes, in the Theogony (Ch. 24).
... gods and mortal men divided up (p. 355, line 20)
An ox; Prometheus audaciously
Set out the portions, trying to deceive
The mind of Zeus. Before the rest, he put
Pieces of meat and marbled inner parts
And fat upon the hide, and hid them in
The stomach of the ox; but before Zeus
The white bones of the ox, arranged with skill,
Hidden in shining fat.
Zeus is presented as all-knowing: (p. 356, line 35)
[Prometheus] said, “Most glorious Zeus, greatest of all
The gods who live forever, choose your share,
Whichever one your heart leads you to pick”
He spoke deceitfully, but Zeus who knows
Undying plans, was not deceived, but saw
The trick, and in his heart made plans
To punish mortal men in future days.
He took the fatted portion in his hands…
Once again, Zeus is presented as all-knowing
Lovely Alcmene’s son, strong Heracles, (p. 355, line 8)
Killing the eagle, freed Prometheus
From his affliction and his misery,
And Zeus, Olympian, who rules on high,
Approved, so that the fame of Heracles
The Theban might be greater than before
Upon the fruitful earth; he showed respect,
And gave the honour to his famous son.
... with no skill
In carpentry or brickmaking, like ants
Burrowing in holes, unpractised in the signs
Of blossom, fruit, and frost, from hand to mouth
Struggling improvidently, until I
Charted the intricate orbits of the stars;
Invented number, that most exquisite
Instrument; formed the alphabet, the tool
Of history and chronicle of their progress;
Tamed the wild beasts to toil in pack and harness,
And yoked the prancing mounts of opulence,
Obedient to the rein, in chariots;
Constructed wheelless vehicles with linen
Wings to carry them over the trackless waters;
(p. 358, line 36 ff.)
Click Here for Answer:
Activities like carpentry and brickmaking, agriculture and navigation rely on tools best made of metal. Writing and counting are done with a metal stylus. These metal implements are made through the use of fire. Mining relies on fire to separate the metal from other elements of the rock it is lodged in.
Compounded for them gentle medicines
To arm them in the war against disease.
And I set in order the forms of prophecy,
Interpreting the significance of dreams,
Voices, wayside meetings; ...
Taught them to inspect the entrails, of what hue
And texture they must be for heaven’s favor,
So leading them in to the difficult art
Of divination by burnt sacrifice.
And last, who else can boast to have unlocked
The earth’s rich subterranean treasure-houses
Of iron, copper, bronze, silver, and gold?
(p. 358, line 61 ff.)
Click Here for Answer:
Medicines are made by cooking and distilling herbs and other natural substances. Dream interpretation relies on writing, as explained previously. Divination is done with metal instruments made through the use of fire.