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Prometheus and Pandora Myth

by: Samantha Work

Prometheus and Pandora Myth CLAS 160D2 - 002

Samantha Work

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Class on February 3, 2016 @2pm about Prometheus, his crimes, how Pandora was made, what they represent, and Modern versions of Prometheus
Classical Mythology Lecture
Michael Teske
Class Notes
Teske, Classical Mythology, prometheus, pandora
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Samantha Work on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLAS 160D2 - 002 at University of Arizona taught by Michael Teske in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 48 views. For similar materials see Classical Mythology Lecture in Classical Mythology at University of Arizona.

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Date Created: 02/03/16
Classical Mythology: Prometheus and  Pandora Myth February 3, 2016 @2pm  Prometheus and the Creation of Man ● Prometheus’ name means “Forethought”; but he has a brother Epimetheus  “Afterthought” ○ So they are an archetypal pair of brothers, one extremely  intelligent and the other foolish ● Prometheus begins the act of creation of man, a new life­form, by mixing clay  with rainwater ○ i.e. another example of the hieros gamos ● Prometheus, however, at first only produces an amorphous mass ○ i.e. shapeless ● Epimetheus is given the task of allotting the various traits to the 4­footed  creatures on earth, so he endows them with fur, swiftness, etc., and when he comes to  the unfinished entity of man, he says that he has already handed out all the best  characteristics ○ so Prometheus is forced to complete man’s creation ■ and lavish “god­like” traits upon him Prometheus’ Supposed Major “Crimes” ● He stole fire for man ○ civilization, passion, intelligence ● He fashioned man to walk upright ○ like the gods ● He tricked Zeus into accepting the worse part of the sacrificial animal (bones and fat) ○ the gods partake of the knisa “the aroma of the burnt offering” as it rises into the heavens ● Prometheus refused to reveal the identity of the sea nymph that Zeus couldn’t  mate with safely ○ i.e. Thetis­because of the prophecy ● He saved mankind from the great flood’s destruction ○ by warning his son Deucalion ● For these “crimes”, Prometheus was shackled to a mountain crag in the  Caucasus Mts. ○ i.e. at the far eastern edge of the world ● and every day and egle would come to devour his regenerative liver.  ○ in Greek aietos How Does the Punishment Fit the Crimes? ● The Greeks believed that the liver was the seat of passions ○ like we often link the heart to emotions ● Prometheus loved mankind too much, so his liver was attacked ● The eagle appropriately did the munching ○ Zeus’ sacred bird ● Prometheus was chained up in an isolated spot, so he could not enjoy his new  creation ○ at least in theory ○ he was sundered from humanity Not an Eternal Punishment for Prometheus ● At the end of 10,000(i.e. a myriad) Heracles is allowed to  break the bonds which  hold Prometheus and to shoot down the eagle ○ Prometheus is liberated ● Myth of Prometheus set forth in Hesiod’s works, and Aeschylus’ Prometheus  Bound, the only play which has survived intact from an original trilogy ○ Prometheus the Fire­Bearer, Prometheus Bound, and  Prometheus Unbound Creation of Pandora (1st woman) ● Hesiod says Pandora was a composite creation of the gods ○ Pandora means “the gift(s) of all (the gods)” ■ Hephaestus, the divine metalsmith, formed her  basis ■ the Aphrodite gave her wondrous beauty ■ Athena decked her out in feminine clothes and  finery ■ Hermes instilled feminine wiles, etc. ● She was also supplied with a jar (Grk. pithos) which contained all the  evil/misfortunes of the world ○ much later the receptacle was referred to as pyxis “box” ■ her main failing was her curiosity, though Hesiod  says she was “a beautiful evil” suggesting she was a bane upon mankind ● Hesiod as misogynist? Aetiological Aspects of Prometheus Myth/It explains  the Origins of: ● Man himself ● Man’s upright posture ● Fire ● Civilization ● Passion/Sexuality ● Intelligence/Knowledge ● Sacrificial Practice ● Deceit in man ● Animal Characteristics (if Epimetheus is included) Aetiological Aspects of Pandora Myth/It Explains the  Origins of: ● Women ● Female Beauty ● Feminine Accessories ● Curiosity ● Hope ● Evils/Misfortunes of World ● Women’s Crafts ○ Since Hesiod suggest that abilities like spinning/weaving are  intrinsic in women­really? Prometheus Represented as a Champion of  Mankind ● His characterization at the beginning of Aeschylus’ play where he is dragged to  the edge of the world by Zeus’ henchman, Might and Violence (Kratos and Bia) and  chained there by a reluctant Hephaestus ○ a bronze stake is driven through his chest ■ like crucifixion imagery, later Prometheus was  compared to Christ, both seen as god's suffering to elevate mankind ● Prometheus’ creative fire contrasted with Zeus’ destructive lightning;  Prometheus’ generous nature toward man, Zeus begrudging;etc Modern Promethean Versions ● Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound from ca. 1820 ○ in it, the author rejects the tradition that the rebel god Prometheus  gave in to Zeus’ demands/threats and instead never revealed the secret of the  dangerous sea nymph­so Zeus eventually mates with her and the Demogorgon  is spawned (perhaps demos “people” and gorgon “fear/dread”) which overthrows  Zeus but does not take his place as ruler of the heavens­the people (i.e. humans) are left to rule themselves ● Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (ca. 1818) ○ subtitled “the modern Prometheus”  ■ in reference to Dr. Frankenstein who cobbles  together human body parts from graves, stitches them together, then  breathes life into his creation with electricity ● Ridley Scott’s recent Prometheus ○ a prequel to the Aliens films, in which advanced humanoid  extraterrestrials “seed” our earth with their DNA HOPE THIS HELPS GUYS!!!  ­Sam


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