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Chapter Five, Lecture One. Myths of Creation: The Origins of Mortals. What about human beings?. Why is our world the way it is? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why are we unique? Why do we suffer?. Prometheus. Prometheus: Protector of Mortals.

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Chapter five lecture one

Chapter Five, Lecture One

Myths of Creation: The Origins of Mortals

What about human beings
What about human beings?

  • Why is our world the way it is?

  • Where did we come from?

  • Why are we here?

  • Why are we unique?

  • Why do we suffer?

Prometheus protector of mortals
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

  • Prometheus is the clever creator, inventor of many things

  • Folktale character — the trickster

  • Doublet brother is Epimetheus (afterlearner, dummy, or idiot)

  • Epimetheus means “hindsight” which fit because he never learned anything until he had suffered the consequences of his ignorance

  • Prometheus (forethought, or forelearner) the son of Iapetus and Themis, the Titans

Prometheus maker of mortals
Prometheus: Maker of Mortals

Made man from earth and water, and because the earth contained divine seed, the human was a superior being

Prometheus maker of mortals1
Prometheus Maker of Mortals

Hamilton’s version

  • Creation delegated to Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus

  • Epimetheus gave all the best gifts to animals-strength, wings, fur, swiftness

  • Prometheus made man in gods image to make them superior to beasts, upright

  • Gave them fire for protection

Chapter five lecture one


Prometheus and the sacrificial bull

1. Prometheus first carved up the bull

2. He fashioned two open-mouthed bags

3. Into one, he placed the choicest flesh, but covered the meat with the stomach of the beast

4. Into the other, he placed bones, ears, tail and hooves, but hid them beneath a layer of shiny fat

5. Zeus chose the portion to go to the gods, and he chose the fat-covered bones in order to create hostility between the gods and humans

6. Angered by Prometheus’ trickery, Zeus decided to withhold fire from humans

7. Therefore, the crafty Prometheus stole the fire back from Zeus

Prometheus protector of mortals1
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

  • At Meconê, Prometheus offered sacrifice bundles to Zeus and asked which Zeus preferred.

  • Zeus chose the worse

  • Etiological to explain why Greeks ate the meat and offered the bones and fat

  • Hesiod protects Zeus by offering an explanation how Zeus could be “deceived.” So Zeus could plan a horrible future for man

Prometheus protector of mortals2
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

  • Outraged, Zeus removes fire from the trees

  • Prometheus sneaks some fire in a fennel stock to man

Chapter five lecture one

  • Prometheus’ Punishment for stealing the fire back

  • He suffered the wrath of Zeus.

  • He was bound with chains to a rock.

  • To add to his torment, an eagle or vulture swept down and devoured his liver.

  • During the course of the night, the liver grew back.

  • Vicious criminals were taken to the boundary of a territory, stripped, nailed and allowed to die as eaters of carrion consumed their flesh

Prometheus protector of mortals3
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

  • A play in a trilogy about Prometheus, the other two of which are lost

    • Aeschylus, The Prometheus Bound

  • Zeus eventually learns to rule with justice

  • Note also that mankind was allowed to evolve by Prometheus : he taught them all the civilized arts

  • shelter, farming, seasons, math, letters, using animals for work, sailing, medicine, interpretations of dreams and sacrifice, mining for precious metals

Prometheus protector of mortals4
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

“Before [me], they had eyes that blankly gazed, ears hearing empty sound. Shapes in a dream, they blundered through long years . . .”

  • He gave us understanding, and thereby all the arts

  • Greek view of human evolution

Prometheus protector of mortals5
Prometheus: Protector of Mortals

  • Zeus allows Heracles (Greek spelling) to break the chains

  • Prometheus told him from which female deity the threat to his rule would come : “Son greater than the father.”

  • It’s Thetis, whom he then marries off to a mortal, Peleus: the son will be Achilles

Prometheus in hamilton
Prometheus in Hamilton

  • Refused to tell Zeus who the woman was.

  • No threat or pain could get the information from Prometheus, because he had served Zeus well and been right to pity mortals.

  • Would not give in to brutal power no matter what.

  • Is known as the great rebel against injustice.

Why do we suffer
Why do we suffer?

  • Two incompatible explanations

  • (1) Zeus is punishing us with Pandora (two stories)

  • (2) built into the mechanism of time: The Ages

Chapter five lecture one

The Creation of Pandora

1. To avenge the theft, Zeus prepared an evil yet seductive gift

2. Until this time, there had been no mortal women; their female counterparts were nymphs and goddesses

3. To punish man for stealing fire, and perhaps to complete creation, Zeus decided to change things

4. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to mix earth and water and fashion a clay woman

5. She was a shy, modest maiden, modeled after the goddesses

6. Other immortals also contributed to the creation of her

7. Hermes named her Pandora which means “all gifts” or “Gift of all” because of all the gods had given her

Chapter five lecture one

  • 8. Hermes after filling her with lies and thievish ways then brought Pandora down to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus

  • Before the arrival of Pandora, men had lived free of illness, suffering, etc.

  • 10. Gods gave Pandora a vessel filled with things they had put in and she was forbidden to open it.

  • 11. Pandora became curious about the vessel the gods had given her, so she opened the it to see what was inside

  • 12. The “gifts” Pandora opened, such as woe, vice, etc., brought only grief and trouble to men

  • 13. The only gift remaining was hope (some say it was left inside the vessel, while others believe it was let out)

  • 14. Thus, the first woman, like Eve, became the mother of all wicked women

Pandora then brought Pandora down to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus

Pandora s descendants hesiod
Pandora’s Descendants (Hesiod) then brought Pandora down to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus

  • Women are a useless stomach

  • Unproductive consumer of food and wealth

  • Males produce, females consume

  • Hesiod forgets womens’ tireless labor bearing and raising children, production of cloth and clothing, and the maintenance of the household.

  • But men must marry and find joy mixed with trouble.

Pandora then brought Pandora down to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus

Misogyny then brought Pandora down to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus

  • Hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.

  • All the texts contain hostile relations between the sexes, especially married couples perpetuating a dislike and mistrust of women that affects their status in the society.

  • Two reasons: male resentment of monogamy and literature was composed by males for males in an environment ruled by males.

  • Does this still happen today?

  • What is the fix whether societal, political, or familial?