Prometheus and Promethean

In Greek myth, the Olympian gods were preceded by a race called the Titans, one of whom was Prometheus.

Prometheus created the first men out of clay. (Women came later.)

In order to improve the lives of his creatures, Prometheus gave them fire and taught them how to use it. Unfortunately, he stole the fire from Olympus, and Zeus punished him for his audacity.

The punishment inflicted upon Prometheus for defying the law of the gods was to be chained to a rock in the Caucasus mountains. Every day an eagle came and fed on his liver. Every night the liver grew back and Prometheus suffered anew the next day.

The adjective promethean means “skilful, creative, audacious.”

The full title of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In giving life to the materials he assembles, Dr. Frankenstein commits a promethean act.

3 comments to Prometheus and Promethean

  • About 30 years ago I did an oil painting of Prometheus bound to his rock. For me that was a promethean endeavor. Hmmm. Wonder where that painting is…

  • Very well said, Mr. Miller. My compliments to you and Maeve.

  • Very interesting, if trivial. In this case the use of the word trivial is not intended as a put-down.

    Our language or any language, for the matter, is a repository of trivial matter, which, when a particular tidbit of triviality is dragged out of its dank resting place in this repository, dresses an expressed thought in its very own unique, fetching apparel, which intrigues and invites the mind of the receiver to grasp the message conveyed as intended by the writer.

    Maeve, keep doing what you do so well; inviting us to see anew the many inherited trivial tidbits of our language that we can put to good use in the way it has come down to us or, perhaps, in an entirely new intriguing and inviting way.

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