Lately I was thinking I would type up a few interesting myths. But they're so popular, it's probably boring to even hear about it. In my mythology class, we are currently talking about how the Greeks created man, and how different variants of the myths try to explain how this happened. I'll be using Edith Hamilton's Mythology for a lot of these references, because that's our classroom textbook. There are three versions, I believe, and I'm going to try to explain to all of you every one thoroughly.
Prometheus and Epimetheus are the sons of Iapetus, the Titan of Mortality. The translation of Prometheus' name means "forethought", and Epimetheus means "afterthought". Now, scatterbrained Epimetheus does the whole "act first, think later" thing. He was given the task of creating animals and humans. He created the most beautiful of animals, with the greatest of gifts. He gave all the animals swiftness and cunning abilities, strength, courage, all the good stuff. And when it was time to create man, Epimetheus didn't have anything left to give to Man.
"Before making Man, he gamve all the best gifts to the animals... until no good was left for men, no protective covering and no quality to make them a match for the beasts."
After all the creation and time wasting, Epimetheus had a look at what he had done. Realizing he made a mistake, he went to his brother for help.
Eventually the first creation of Man was wiped out and killed off by the superior beasts.
Prometheus was sure he would make it right this time. He created man upright, like the Gods, and gave them Godlike features. They were flawless, and given equal amounts of gifts than the animals, who still stayed superior. Still, Man sat on Earth, cold and alone. They had to fend against the animals, who still preyed after them. Prometheus, creator of this batch of Man, didn't pity them, but felt for them. Man was always Prometheus' soft spot. And fire, was sacred to the Gods. Do you see where this is going?
Prometheus was the first to give fire to Man. Some say in a fennel stalk, but either way, he got it to them.
"And now, though feeble and short-lived,
mankind has flaming fire and therefrom
Learns many crafts"
And that was the first creation.
The second creation of Man was said to be created by the Gods alone. They were made and called the Golden Race. The Goldens lived like the Gods, without regret, in peace and bliss.
"When the grave covered them they became pure spirits, beneficent, the guardians of Mankind."
The Gods went on to experiement with different metals, for different men. Oddly enough, they proceeded from the best metals, to the worst metals. After the ones made of gold, they made ones of silver. This race was very inferior from the first. They had so little intelligence that they could not keep from injuring themselves. They were a mess, and ended up passing on. but, unlike the Golden race, their spirits did not pass on. The next race was Brass. They were terrible men, extremely strong, and such lovers of war and violence that they were completely destroyed by their own hands. These men went on and evolved to be Godlike heroes who fought in the glorious wars and went on great adventures. They departed to the lands of Elysium, the Isles of the Blessed.
The fifth race, made of iron, are considered to still be on this Earth. Their natural nature was evil, so that they never have rest from toil and sorrow. The generations pass, and the more the Iron ones get worse.
"A time will come when they have grown so wicked that they will worship power; might will be right to them, and reverence for the good will cease to be. At last, when no man is angry any more at wrongdoing or feels shame in the presence of the miserable, Zeus will destroy them, too..."
But wait, something is wrong here. There are only men, right? Where are the woman? Well, funny story. This is the story of the creation of the first woman. Zeus swore to Prometheus that he would be revenged. Zeus created the first woman, some myths saying, "an evil for men, a sweet and lovely thing to look upon." So basically the early Greek Man didn't like women. They thought women were a curse. Of course, this is only one variant. The other variant of Pandora, described her name meaning "the gift of all". And once Pandora was given a box by Zeus, she was overcome by curiosity. The girl just had to open a gift, and I don't blame her. Once Pandora was finally alone, she opened the box. Out flew plagues, sorrow, mischief, hate and other bad juju to terrorize mankind. Pandora quickly shut the lid before the one element that needed to escape- hope.
Prometheus learned his lesson. Zeus swore his revenge on him, and he got it. Prometheus was seized by Zeus' servants, Force and Violence, chained him up to a rock. Zeus told Prometheus,
"Forever shall the intolerable present find you down.
And he who will release you is not born.
Such fruit you reap for your man-loving ways.
A God yourself, you did not dread my anger,
But gave to mortals honor not their due.
And therefore you must guard this hoyless rock-
No rest, no sleep, no moment's respote.
Groans shall your speech be, lamentation your only words."
Prometheus was also chained up for a different reason besides tricking Zeus. He held a secret from Olympus, that was only between him and Zeus. Prometheus saw that he would eventually have a son that would overthrow Zeus in his throne of Olympus. So, of course, Zeus didn't like this, so he chained Prometheus to a rock.
Part 2 will be soon!