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Myths: Reactions against Technology. COMP 3851. Prometheus: Fire to Man. Prometheus and Epimetheus were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure.

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prometheus fire to man
Prometheus: Fire to Man
  • Prometheus and Epimetheus were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure.
  • Prometheus had assigned Epimetheus the task of giving the creatures of the earth their various qualities, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, wings. Unfortunately, by the time he got to man Epimetheus had given all the good qualities out and there were none left for man.
  • Prometheus decided to make man stand upright as the gods did and to give them fire.
prometheus tricking zeus
Prometheus: Tricking Zeus

Zeus decreed that man must present a portion of each animal they sacrificed to the gods Prometheus decided to trick Zeus. He created two piles, one with the bones wrapped in juicy fat, the other with the good meat hidden in the hide. He then bade Zeus to pick. Zeus picked the bones. Since he had given his word Zeus had to accept that as his share for future sacrifices. In his anger over the trick he took fire away from man. However, Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought it back again to man. Zeus was enraged that man again had fire. He decided to inflict a terrible punishment on both man and Prometheus.

pandora man s punishment
Pandora – Man’s Punishment
  • To punish man, Zeus had Hephaestus create a mortal of stunning beauty. The gods gave the mortal many gifts of wealth. He then had Hermes give the mortal a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. This creation was Pandora, the first woman. A final gift was a jar which Pandora was forbidden to open. Thus completed Zeus sent Pandora down to Epimetheus who was staying amongst the men.
  • Prometheus had warned Epimetheus not to accept gifts from Zeus but, Pandora's beauty was too great and he allowed her to stay. Eventually, Pandora's curiosity about the jar she was forbidden to open became to great. She opened the jar and out flew all manor of evils, sorrows, plagues, and misfortunes. However, the bottom of the jar held one good thing - hope.
promethus punishment
Promethus’ punishment
  • Zeus was angry at Prometheus for being tricked, for stealing fire for man, and for refusing to tell Zeus which of Zeus's children would dethrone him.
  • Zeus had his servants, Force and Violence, seize Prometheus, take him to the Caucasus Mountains, and chain him to a rock with unbreakable chains. He was tormented day and night by a giant eagle tearing at his liver.
  • Zeus gave Prometheus two ways out of this torment. He could tell Zeus who the mother of the child that would dethrone him was. Or meet two conditions: First, that an immortal must volunteer to die for Prometheus. Second, that a mortal must kill the eagle and unchain him. Eventually, Chiron the Centaur agreed to die for him and Heracles killed the eagle and unbound him.
flying too close to the sun daedalus icarus
Flying Too Close to the Sun Daedalus & Icarus
  • Daedalus, highly respected and talented Athenian artisan, descendent from the royal family of Cecrops, the mythical first king of Athens.
  • known for his skill as an architect, sculpture, and inventor and he produced many famous works.
  • Talus, his nephew and apprentice, invented the saw after having seen the way a snake used its jaws.
  • Daedalus, momentarily stricken with jealousy, threw Talus off of the Acropolis.
  • For this crime, Daedalus was exiled to Crete and placed in the service of King Minos, where he eventually had a son, Icarus, with the beautiful Naucrate, a mistress slave of the King
the minotaur
The Minotaur
  • Minos called on Daedalus to build the famous Labyrinth in order to imprison the dreaded Minotaur, a monster with the head of a man and the body of a bull. Minotaur was the son of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a bull that Posiedon had sent to Minos as a gift.
  • Minos was shamed by the birth of this horrible creature and resolved to imprison the Minotaur in the Labyrinth where it fed on humans, which were taken as "tribute" by Minos and sacrificed to the Minotaur in memory of his fallen son Androgenos
secret of the labyrinth
Secret of the Labyrinth
  • Theseus, the heroic King of Athens, voluntered himself to be sent to the Minotaur in the hopes of killing the beast and ending the "human tribute" that his city was forced to pay Minos.
  • When Theseus arrived to Crete, he fell in love with , Ariadne, Minos's daughter,
  • Daedalus revealed the mystery of the Labyrinth to Ariadne, who revealed the secret to her lover Theseus, thus enabling him to slay the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth.
  • When Minos found out what Daedalus had done he was so enraged that he imprisoned Daedalus & Icarus in the Labyrinth
flying from the labrynth
Flying from the Labrynth
  • Daedalus devised an escape from the Labyrinth with Icarus by constructing wings and then flying to safety.
  • The wings were built the wings from feathers and wax, and before the two set off he warned Icarus not to fly too low lest his wings touch the waves and get wet, and not too high lest the sun melt the wax.
  • The young Icarus, overwhelmed by the thrill of flying, did not heed his father's warning, and flew too close to the sun, the wax in his wings melted, and he plunged to his death into the sea.
thamus and writing
Thamus and Writing
  • (from Plato's Phaedrus)
  • Egyptian King Thamus is entertaining the God Theuth, who has brought his inventions before the king so that the king could decide whether they should be made available to the people of Egypt
rejection of writing
Rejection of Writing
  • Thamus inquired into the use of each of them, and as Theuth went through them expressed approval or disapproval. When it came to writing, Theuth declared:

'Here is an accomplishment, my lord the King, which will improve both the wisdom and the memory of the Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and wisdom.'

  • King Thamus of Egypt replied:

"this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence . . . they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality." (Plato)