Back to Olympus: Prometheus

April 8, 2011


Painting by Salvador Dali sourced from viuzza.net


Identity: Scholarly Titan. Friend of mankind.

Description: Handsome, grave, cunning and mature man

Symbols: Primitive human clay figure. Ark. Butterfuly. Narthex (giant fennel)

The Greek Myth

According to the Egyptians, the Titan Atlas was the son of Poseidon, which was a way of saying that he represented a person or persons from across the seas. The people of the magnificent kingdom over which he ruled eventually incurred the wrath of the gods, and Zeus sent a mighty flood that overwhelmed them and permanently buried their island continent beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

Following the Titan’s revolt against the gods, Menoetius was despatched to Tartarus, while Atlas was condemned to stand on the edge of the world and bear the vault of heaven on his shoulders. Prometheus, whose main weapon appears to have been cunning, had a different fate and played an important role in the origins of humanity. According to one early Greek legend, Prometheus was the creator of mankind. With a mixture of clay and water (according to some his own tears) he fashioned the body of the first man, into which the goddess Athene breathed soul and life.

Athene, at whose birth Prometheus had assisted, taught him architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine, metallurgy and other useful arts which he passed on to mankind.  As well as stealing fire from Hephaestus, Prometheus, having been admitted to Olympus by Athene, secretly took fire in the stalk of a fennel plant from the sun’s fiery chariot. After extinguishing the torch, he stole away undiscovered to pass on the narthex containing his gift to mankind.   

[Long story short…..]

Eventually, Prometheus ticked off Zeus, and the father of the Gods had the Titan chained naked to a pillar in the Caqucasian mountains where a greedy vulture tore at his liver all day, and every night the liver regrew. Prometheus was eventually released by the kindness of Chiron during the course of Hercules’ fourth labour, (when Hercules’ accidently shot Chiron with the poisoned arrow….good one you big dope!)


Image Credit: A starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture won Kevin Carter the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photograph. The girl had stopped to rest while struggling to a feeding center, whereupon a vulture had landed nearby. Carter said that he waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings. It didn’t. Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away.  However, he also came under heavy criticism for just photographing — and not helping — the little girl.

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida said this of Carter: “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.”

Carter later commited suicide.

Upright Meanings

A lawyer or intercessor. Help from outside. Social awareness and welfare. Liberalism. Patronage of the sciences and creative arts.

Reversed Meanings:

Cunning. Casting pearls before swine. A lost or hopeless cause.

Psychological Comment:

Prometheus can represent either the lawyer/advocate or the person seeking his or her services, the suggestion being that knowledge or information should be dispensed by those competent to do so, or sought from those qualified to bestow it. There come times in all of our lives when we need to turn to someone more expert than ourselves for advice or guidance, and inner promptings to this effect should never be ignored. If you practise medicine, the law and so on, and the Prometheus description fits you, be sure that the information you impart carries no damaging effects and that those you are seeking to assist can handle it with a degree of ease.

To render social gifts without thought as to their effects on the recipients can be just as irresponsible as social neglect. The Prometheus persona carries a strong element of responsibility, so – while it can be helpful and caring in its positive mode – negatively it can dispense the tools of destruction.

~ Words Murry Hope, Olympus: An Experience in Self-Discovery

From the Muse

Nova is one of Australia’s free wholistic journals and I picked up the April issue today, in which a Promethean-like account was related, that highlights the above.  James May, your average person-off-the-street writes:

Some years ago I had my astrology chart drawn up and was told that I have the “victim” archetype in the house that defines my “relationship to the world”. I was disappointed, even a little offended by this pronouncement, even though the reader assured me it wasn’t set in stone. Indeed, I could rise above this destiny if I was determined, she said.

I walked out quite distressed. I had to admit this was an accurate account of my experience, particularly my youth”.

What disturbs me about James’ story, is that this astrologer identified an archetypal pattern, gave it a negative label, then provided no further assistance, offered no strategies on how James could integrate this Script, and left him to walk out (after paying), “quite distressed”. 

Vultures are everywhere.

Chiron, Activities Director, Camp Half-Blood

Shovel Centaur-apples at Camp Half-Blood

Previously on Olympus:

 The Artistry of Atropos

Spring Racing Carnival ~ Pegasus

Hercules ~ Million Dollar Hunk

Beyond the Looking Glass – Pandora

Hades ~ Games, Changes & Fears

We’ve Started a Fire – Hestia

The Sirens ~ Shakespeares Sisters

Song of the Paddle – Odysseus  (Dr Seus??)

Lachesis ~ Olympic Lawn Mowing

At Breath’s End ~ The Four Winds Part I

 The Four Winds Part II ~ The Farter has Fallen ~

Get your Jammin’ Words In First ~ Silenus

The Horae ~ Yesterday’s Truth

Starbucks ~ Cerberus Part I

 Cerberus Part II ~ Wagging the Dog

The Fate of Second Place ~ Lachesis

Hera Part I ~ A Force of Nature

Willow and Bitterness ~ Hera Part II

“The Gods of Greece are cruel!

In time, all men shall learn to do without them!”

~ The Book of Squirrel ~

Ratatosk, Norse Mythology

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