Tricksters and Rebels
Prometheus was the son of the Titan Iapetus and Clymene, one of the daughters of Ocean. His great-grandparents were Gaia and Uranus. In some versions of his myth, his mother was Themis, the first wife of Zeus and the goddess of “right counsel.” His brothers were Atlas and Epimetheus.
The name “Prometheus” means something like “forethought” in ancient Greek. Prometheus possessed the ability to foresee the future. Accordingly, he was the god of foresight and crafty council. In contrast, his brother Epimetheus, whose name, whose name means something like, “afterthought,” was the god of hindsight.
Prometheus in Action
Sections & Primary Sources
Prometheus in the Titanomachy
The following content is adapted from Mythology Unbound.
Because of his ability to see the future, Prometheus was able to anticipate the outcome of the Titanomachy, or the conflict between the Titans and the Olympians. He convinced his brother Epimetheus to join with him on the side of Zeus and the Olympians, and thus did not suffer the same punishment as the other Titans when they lost.
Prometheus Creates Men & Tricks Zeus
The following content is adapted from Mythology Unbound.
After the battle between Zeus and the Olympians, Zeus gave Prometheus the task of creating human beings out of clay. He created the first men (no women). However, the world was filled with beasts and getting enough food to stay alive was a difficult task. This task was only made harder by Zeus, who insisted that mortal men sacrifice animal flesh to the gods frequently. Prometheus appealed to Zeus to allow the mortals to give only a portion of each slaughtered animal to the gods and to keep the rest for themselves. Zeus agreed, but the two could not decide on which parts would be reserved for the gods.
Prometheus knew that Zeus wanted all the best parts of the animal, and so he came up with a plan to trick him. Prometheus took an animal and divided the choice cuts of the meat from the bones and other less savory tissues. He placed fat and a small portion of nice meat on top of the pile of bones to disguise it, and on top of the pile of good meat he placed some lesser meat and gristle. He had Zeus choose from the two piles. When the options were presented to him, Zeus chose the pile of bones. From then on, men would sacrifice the less desirable parts of the animal to the gods and keep the meat for themselves. Zeus was very angry that Prometheus had tricked him into choosing the sacrifice of lower quality and decided to punish him accordingly.
For a version of this myth, see chapter 1.
Prometheus Steals Fire
The following content is adapted from Mythology Unbound.
Men now had meat, but they still had difficulty surviving because they could not keep warm or cook their food. Prometheus knew that fire would save them, but Zeus kept fire for the gods alone as retaliation for Prometheus’ deception. Again, Prometheus thought up a plan: he took a red-hot coal from the fire on Mount Olympus and hid it inside a woody fennel stalk to give to mortals. He had effectively stolen fire from the gods. Now the mortals could cook and keep warm, and they were much happier; they worshipped Prometheus as the inventor of all the arts of civilization. But when Zeus saw mankind using fire, he became furious at having been tricked again. He ordered that Prometheus be nailed to a lonely spot in the Mountains. In further punishment, every day an eagle would come to peck out his liver, and every night Prometheus’ liver would grow back so the eagle could eat it again. This myth is linked to the scientific fact that livers have the special ability to significantly repair themselves after damage.
Pandora and the Invention of Women
The following content is adapted from Mythology Unbound.
Men lived on earth harmoniously and without suffering, but Zeus was not finished with his punishments: now he would make mankind answer for Prometheus’ trickery. He instructed Hephaestus to build a beautiful woman, named , and all of the gods adorned her with gifts. Zeus sent her to Epimetheus. Even though Prometheus had warned his brother not to accept any gift from the gods, Epimetheus (true to his name) forgot all about his brother’s warning. As soon as Epimetheus saw Pandora, he knew he had to have her for his wife. However, Pandora brought with her a jar that was filled with evils. When curiosity overtook her, Pandora opened the jar, allowing all the evils to fly out into the world. She hastily shut the jar, which now held only one thing back from humankind: hope.
Hesiod, Works and Days 43-106(trans. G. Nagy, adapted by T. Mulder)
Greek Epic, 7th century BCE
The gods had hidden away the true means of livelihood for humankind, and they still keep it that way.
If it were otherwise, it would be easy for you to do in just one day all the work you need to do,
and have enough to last you a year, even if you were idle. (45)
Right away, you could store your steering-oar over the fireplace,
and all that you had plowed with your oxen or hard-working mules could go to waste.
But Zeus hid it [the true means of livelihood for humankind], angry in his thoughts,
because Prometheus, with crooked plans, deceived him.
Because of this, he [Zeus] devised destructive plans for humankind. (50)
And he hid fire. But the good son of [Prometheus]
stole it for humankind from Zeus the Planner, putting it
inside a hollow fennel-stalk, escaping the notice of Zeus the Thunderer.
Angered at him, Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, spoke,
“Son of , you who know more schemes than anyone else, (55)
you rejoice at your theft of fire and at the trick you played on me.
But great torment waits both for you and for future mankind.
As punishment for the fire, I will give them an evil thing, in which they may all
take delight, happy in their hearts, embracing this evil thing of their own making.”
Thus spoke the father of men and gods, and he laughed out loud. (60)
Then he ordered , famous everywhere, as quickly as possible
to shape some wet clay, and to put into it a human voice
and strength, and to make it look like the immortal goddesses,
with the beautiful and lovely appearance of a virgin. And he ordered
to teach her own craft to her, weaving a very intricate web. (65)
And he ordered to shed golden charm over her head;
also harsh longing, and anxieties that eat away at the limbs.
And he ordered , the messenger and Argos-killer,
to put inside her bitchy intent and a sneaky temperament.
Zeus spoke, and the gods obeyed the Lord Son of . (70)
Right away the famed Limping One [pb_glossary id="356"]Hephaestus[/pb_glossary] shaped out of the clay of the Earth
into something that looked like a pretty girl—all on account of the will of Zeus, son of .
dressed her and tied her girdle, adorning her.
And the goddesses who are called the Graces, as well as the Lady Peithō [Persuasion],
placed golden necklaces on its skin, and the , (75)
with their beautiful hair, braided springtime garlands around her head.
Pallas placed on her skin every manner of ornament [kosmos].
And within her breast the messenger and Argos-killer [pb_glossary id="210"]Hermes[/pb_glossary] fashioned
lies [pseudea], crafty words, and a sneaky disposition,
according to the plans of Zeus the loud-thunderer. And the messenger of the gods (80)
put inside her a voice, and he called this woman
Pandora, because all [pan] the gods who dwell on Olympus
gave her as a gift [dōron], a pain for grain-eating men.
But when the gods completed this deception of sheer doom, against which there is no remedy,
Father Zeus sent the famed to , (85)
the swift messenger of the gods, bringing the gift [dōron]. Nor did
heed heed the advice from Prometheus, that he should never accept a gift [dōron]
from Zeus the Olympian, but to send it
right back, lest an evil thing happen to mortals.
But he accepted it, and only then did he take note in his mind that he had an evil thing on his hands. (90)
Before this, the various kinds of humanity lived on earth
without evils and without harsh labor, (92)
without wretched diseases that give disasters to men. (94)
But the woman took the great lid off the jar (95)
and scattered what was inside. She devised baneful anxieties for humankind.
The only thing that stayed within the unbreakable contours of the jar was Hope.
It did not fly out.
Before it could, she put back the lid on top of the jar,
according to the plans of aegis-bearing Zeus, the cloud-gatherer. (100)
But as for the other things, countless baneful things, they are randomly scattered all over humankind.
Full is the earth of evils, full is the sea.
Diseases for humans are a day-to-day thing. Every night,
they [the diseases] wander about at random, bringing evils upon mortals
silently—for Zeus had taken away their voice. (105)
So it is that there is no way to elude the will of Zeus.
The following content is adapted from Mythology Unbound.
Prometheus remained chained to the mountains until Heracles, who was completing his labor of retrieving the apple of the Hesperides (see chapter 17), shot the liver-eating eagle with his arrow and set the Titan free. Zeus allowed Heracles to free Prometheus because he held some secret knowledge that he would only divulge once he had been freed. After he was freed, Prometheus informed Zeus that the goddess Thetis, with whom Zeus was infatuated, was fated to give birth to a son who would be greater than his father. Before Zeus knew of this prophecy, he and Poseidon had been rivals for Thetis’ hand. Once the prophecy was known, however, neither god wanted anything to do with her. Zeus and Poseidon agreed that Thetis should be safely married off to a mortal. Because of this, Thetis, a sea-goddess, married Peleus, who was a mortal. Peleus and Thetis became the parents of the hero Achilles (see chapter 27.)
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (trans. H. W. Smyth, adapted by L. Zhang)
Greek Tragedy, 5th century BCE
Enter and , bringing with them the captive Prometheus; also .
We come to the most remote limit of the earth, to Scythia, an empty place, where no one has ever set foot. And now, , you must obey the command of Father —to chain this criminal  up on the craggy rocks, binding him in unbreakable iron shackles. He has stolen fire, which belongs to you, and is the source of all arts, and he has given it to mortals. This is his offence; for this he must pay the penalty to the gods,  so that he learns to submit. to the rule of and cease his mankind-loving ways.
and , you have done what commanded you to do. You do not need to do anything else. As for me—I do not have the nerve  to bind a kindred god to this rocky, icy cliff. But whatever happens, I need to muster up the courage to do it; for it is dangerous to disobey the command of father Zeus.
You, Prometheus! You righteous son of wise ! It is against my will as much as yours that I must nail you with unremovable brass bonds  to this deserted cliff, where you will neither hear nor see any mortal man; but, scorched by the sun’s bright beams, your flesh will scorch and whither. You will be glad when sparkling-robed night covers his brightness,  at least until the sun again scatters the morning frost. The burden of your pains will wear you down, since the one who will free you has not even been born yet.
This is the prize you get for championing men. Even though you are a god, you did not fear the anger of the gods, and  you gave mortals more honour than they deserved. Therefore, you must stand guard, upright, and sleepless on this joyless rock, groaning and wailing. For has a hard heart.  Every new ruler is merciless.
Come on, why do you stand there, delaying and pitying him?! Don’t you detest a god that is repugnant to the gods? He took your very own gift and gave it to mortals!
Kinship is a strangely strong bond, and friendship as well.
 I agree; yet, can you possibly disobey the Father’s commands? Aren’t you afraid of doing that?
As ever, you are pitiless, steeped in arrogance and cruelty.
Yes, because it does no good to cry over him. Stop wasting your labour on something that does you no good.
 Ahhh, I hate my hateful craft!
Why hate it? Your craft is not to blame for these troubles.
Nevertheless, I wish someone else had to do this job.
Every job is burdensome, unless it is being ruler of the gods;  no one is free except .
Because of this job, I know! I can’t argue with that.
Then hurry up and throw the manacles around him, so that the Father doesn’t see you hesitating.
Alright! The bands are ready, as you can see.
 Throw them around his wrists and strike them with your mighty hammer; chain him to the rocks.
There! The work is done and done well.
Strike harder, clamp him tight, leave nothing loose; he is very clever at finding his way out of desperate circumstances.
 This arm, at least, is fixed in place for good.
Now bind this one securely too, so that he learns that, in spite of all his cleverness, he is a fool compared to .
No one but Prometheus could find fault with my work.
Now pound the iron nail straight  through his chest with full force.
Ahhh, Prometheus, I feel your anguish!
What are you doing?! Cowering again and feeling pity for ‘s enemies? Be careful that you aren’t feeling sorry for yourself some day!
You are seeing a sight that is unbearable to see.
 I see this man getting his fair punishment. Come, strap in his torso.
I know what I have to do; stop ordering me around.
Indeed, I will order you, yes and even more that that—I’ll hound you. Crouch down and bind his legs with force.
 There now! The work’s done and without too much effort.
Now, give the nails one last strong pounding; the boss is a harsh critic.
Your ugly words match your ugly face.
Be a bleeding-heart then,  but don’t insult me.
Let’s go. He’s all chained up.
There now, indulge your arrogance! Keep taking the gods’ honours and giving them to mortals, who only live for a day. Can mortals help you now?  The gods are wrong to call you Prometheus, for you lack the forethought to get yourself out of this mess.
You, bright sky, and you, swift-winged breezes, you, rivers, and  ocean waves with your infinite laughter! Universal mother , and you, all-seeing sun, I call out to you! Look at what I, a god, have to endure from the gods!
Look at the shameful torture I will suffer  for endless years! This is the bondage that the new commander of the blessed gods has put on me. Arghhhh! I cry out from my present agony and for the agony that will come.  When will it end!
But what am I saying? I know everything that will happen to me, in advance and in full. I need to bear this punishment as well as I can, knowing that  allows me no resistance or escape. But I can’t speak and I can’t be quiet about my fate. It is because I gave gifts to mortals that I am being punished, bound by  . I found and stored fire in a hollow fennel stalk , which acted as a teacher for humans in every art and craft. This is the offence for which I pay the penalty, bound and chained beneath the open sky.
Hey! What’s that?  What murmur do I hear? What smell floats up to me? Is it god or human or both? I cannot see. Has someone come to this cliff at the edge of the world to gawk at me as I suffer? Or for some other reason? Look at me! A doomed god, all chained up,  the enemy of , hated by everyone in his house because of my love of mortals. What’s that? What’s that rustling I hear close by? Birds? The air is whirring with the rush of wings. What is coming?
The Daughters of enter on a winged chariot
Don’t be afraid! We have come to this cliff as your friends,  arriving on swift wings. Our father reluctantly gave his permission. Down in our caves, we felt the reverberations iron being pounded up on the mountain and our fear for you drove away any shyness that we had.  We have come so quickly in our flying chariot, that we forgot our sandals!
Ah! Ah! Children of fertile and of he who surrounds the whole earth with his sleepless current, children of  , look at me! Look at the fetters that bind me to the peak of this mountain, where I hold my unenviable post.
I see, Prometheus!  Tears and trepidation spread over my eyes, as I first saw your body withering wretchedly. on this rock, in these iron chains. For there are new rulers in heaven, and governs with  harsh, new laws, replacing and negating the old powers.
I wish he had hurled me below the earth! Yes beneath , host of the dead, into impenetrable ,  and had bound me ruthlessly there, in unremovable binds, so that no god or human could gloat over my agony! But, as it is, I am a miserable plaything for the wind, and my suffering delights my enemies.
 What god is so cruel that they delight in this? Who wouldn’t sympathize with you—except , of course? He is inflexible in his malice165] and keeps the , the children of , in subjection to himself. He will not stop until he is either sated, or someone else uses cunning and tricks to seize his unassailable throne.
Actually, although right now I am tortured by these iron manacles,  the day will come when , the prince of the gods, will need me. He will ask me to reveal the future, how one day he will be stripped of all his power. But he won’t be able to persuade or charm me;  and I will never yield to his threats. I won’t divulge the secret, until he releases me from my cruel bonds and give me compensation for this outrage.
 You are bold and defiant, Prometheus. You do not yield before this bitter torture, and you speak your mind. But I am agitated by fear for you,  wondering to what safe habour you can steer your ship to end your sorrowful voyage. For Cronus‘ son [pb_glossary id="172"]Zeus[/pb_glossary] is impervious to appeals and he is unrelenting.
I know that is harsh and  has his own form of justice; but nevertheless, one day he will let up, once he has been crushed in the way that I know he will be. Then, letting go of his anger,  he will be eager to be my friend.
Tell us the whole story. What crime does charge you with? What did he catch you doing? Why does he punish you like this? Tell us! Unless there is some good reason not to.
It is painful to me to tell the story,  and painful to keep it silent. My case is unfortunate in every way.
When conflict arose among the gods– with some eager to expel from his throne so that could rule, while others wanted  the opposite, so that would never win control over the gods—I tried to persuade the , children of and to accept Zeus as their new ruler. But I was unsuccessful. They rejected my ideas and thought that their physical strength  would let them win easily. My mother , or – she has many different names– had often told me the future what was fated. She told me that the victors would not win with brute strength and violence,  but by trickery. And even though I told them this, the did not pay any attention to me. So I decided that it was best to join with my mother,  and volunteer for ‘s side. And it is because of the advice that I gave him, that gloomy now holds ancient and his allies. So I helped the tyrant of the gods  and this is how he repays me. It is a disease of tyranny to have no faith in one’s friends.
However, you have asked why he torments me. I will tell you.
 As soon as he sat on his father’s throne, immediately assigned to the gods their special privileges and powers. But paid no attention to the wretched mortals. He wanted to end  the whole race and create a new one in its place. Nobody dared to stand against him except for me— only I had the courage. I saved mortals so that their race was not eradicated and they did not descend permanently to the house of . This is why I am tortured,  why I suffer painfully, pitifully. I, who pitied mortals, am deemed unworthy of pity myself. Instead I am disciplined mercilessly, a spectacle that shames the glory of .
Whoever feels no compassion for you is iron-hearted and made of stone, Prometheus.  As for myself, I did not want this for you. Now that I see what you are suffering, my heart is in pain.
Yes, well, at least to my friends I am a spectacle of pity.
Did you maybe do something even worse?
 Yes, I allowed mortals to stop foreseeing their own deaths.
What cure did you find for this affliction?
I put blind hope in their breasts.
You gave a great gift to mortals.
Also, I gave them fire.
 What! So these short-lived creatures have flame-eyed fire now?
Yes, and they will learn many arts from it.
Then this was the crime for which —
Torments me and allows me to respite from pain.
Will there be no to your ordeal?
 No, none, except when he says so.
But how will he ever say so? What hope is there? Don’t you see that you are in the wrong? Though, it is unpleasant for me to talk about your crime, and it is painful for you. So, let’s stop. I hope you can find some escape.
 It’s easy for one who is out of harm’s way to give advice to one who is miserable. I knew all along what would happen. I did it anyway– I don’t deny it. Through helping mortals, I brought suffering on myself.  But I did not think that I would be punished like this, wasting away in the open air, on this desolate and bleak cliff. Don’t feel sorry for me anymore. Land your chariot, and listen  to what is going to happen to me in the future. Please, I beg you. Pity the one who is suffering. Indeed, suffering is impartial and, eventually, comes to everyone.
We are willing to listen,  Prometheus. So we will climb down from out swift, flying chariot, setting our light feet on the ground. We will leave the pure air, the pathway of birds, for the rugged ground. We want to hear  everything.
enters on a winged horse.
I have made a long to journey to get here, Prometheus, riding this swift-winged birth without a bridle to guide it.  I feel compassion for you. I have to, because of our kinship, but even if we were not related, there is no one I respect more than you.  You know that this is the truth and I do not lie. Tell me, how can I help? You will never be able to say that you have a better friend than .
 Ha! What’s this? So you have also come to gawk at my suffering? How did you work up the courage to leave your stream and your rock caves to come to this iron land? Did you come  to see my predicament and sympathize with me? Just look at me— a spectacle! A friend to , who helped him gain his power. Look at how he tortures me!
I see, Prometheus. And even though I know you are wise, I’d like to give you some advice.  Know yourself and adapt yourself to the new times. There is a new ruler among the gods. Even though he is far away on his throne in the sky, might hear you, if you continue to speak so harshly, with such a sharp edge to your words.  Then your present trouble will seem like child’s play. Poor victim! Let go of your anger and look for a way out of this misery. Maybe you will think that this advice is old and dull,  but your plight, Prometheus, is what you get for your pride and boasting. You have not learned how to be humble. And you do not collapse under punishment. Instead, you add miseries on top of miseries. Take it from me:  do not add insult to injury, since a harsh king is in charge now, who is accountable to no one. I’m going to leave now and see whether I can negotiate for your release. Hold your tongue and quit your blustering.  Or, can it be that for all your infinite wisdom, you do not realize that a wagging tongue brings about its own destruction.
I envy you because, although you share in my troubles, you share none of the blame. Leave me alone and don’t let it concern you.  Do what you want, but you can’t persuade him . He is not easy to persuade. Be careful that you don’t harm yourself by undertaking this mission.
Clearly you are better at advising others than advising yourself. I base this observation on fact and not on heresay.  Don’t hold me back; I want to go. I’m confident that will grant me this favor and free you from your sufferings.
I will never stop thanking you for this. You certainly do not lack spirit! But don’t trouble yourself. Your efforts will be in vain and  will not help me, even if you want to take on the pain. No, keep quiet and stay safe. Even if things are hard for me, I wouldn’t wish this fate on anyone else. Not at all! Besides myself, I am distressed for  my brother , who, stands in the west, holding the pillar of heaven and earth on his shoulders, a hard burden to bear.
I was saddened, too, when I saw , the earth-born inhabitant of the Cilician caves, the gruesome, hundred-headed monster, struck down violently . He withstood all of the gods, hissing out terror from his horrid jaws, glaring from his hideous eyes, seeming as though he might conquer by force.  But struck him down with his unsleeping thunderbolt, the swooping lightening brand with its fiery breath. It charred the boasts on his tongue and, struck in his frightened heart, he was burned to ashes and all his strength was blasted away.
 Now he is a helpless, sprawling bulk, lying pressed down by the narrows of the sea, beneath the roots of . And on the top summit sits and hammers out molten ore. One day, rivers of fire will burst forth  from there, devouring with savage jaws the fields of Sicily, the land of beautiful fruit. will send his boiling rage spewing out, hot, fire-breathing jets, even though he himself was charred by the blazing lightening of .
 But you are experience, and I do not need to tell you. Save yourself, as best you can. I will strengthen my resolve, until abandons his wrath.
Don’t you know, Prometheus, that  words are the best remedy for anger?
Yes, if you tend to wound at the right time, and not while it is raging.
What danger do you see in someone being eager to help you? Tell me.
 Wasted effort and stupid naiveté.
That’s my problem to deal with. It can be advantageous to seem like a fool, when one is actually very wise.
It will look like my fault.
You clearly want me to go back home.
 Just so that you won’t bring hatred on yourself for taking my side.
You mean in the eyes of our new, omnipotent tyrant?
Beware that you don’t turn his anger on yourself.
Your plight is instructive to me.
Go away! Leave! Keep your sympathies to yourself.
 Well, now I want to go as much as you want me to leave. And my four-footed, winged beast impatiently beats the air with his wings; he’ll be happy to rest his knees in his stall at home.
I mourn your unfortunate fate, Prometheus.  I soak my tender cheeks, shedding flowing streams of tears from my eyes. Zeus rules with his own harsh and unbending laws  and treats the old gods with disdain.
Now the whole earth cries aloud in lamentation; ((lacuna)). . .
lament for your great flory and honour,  the honour that belonged to you and your brother. All mortals living in holy Asia share your anguished suffering.
 And those who live in Colchis, the fearless, fighting maidens [the ]; and the throng of Scythians, who live in the most remote region of the earth, bordering lake Maeotis.
 And the warlike flower of Arabia, those who hold the high-cragged citadel near the Caucasus, a hostile group that roars amidst their sharp-pointed spears.
[†  There is one other who I have seen before this, distressed and caught in adamantine bonds—, unparalleled in strength, who moans as he supports  all of heaven on his back.]
The waves utter a cry as they fall, the deep sea laments, the black abyss of rumbles in response, and the streams of pure-flowing rivers  weep for your miserable pain.
Don't think that I am silent out of pride or stubbornness. Painful thoughts eat at my heart, as I see myself mistreated in this way. And yet, who else but I divvied up  the gifts for these new gods? But I won't mention it, because I wouldn't be telling you something you don't already know. Still, hear about how humans have suffered, about how foolish they used to be, how I have them sense and reason.  I do not say this to criticize them, but to explain why I helped them.
In the first place, they had eyes, but could not see; they had ears, but they did not understand. Like random shapes in dreams, they went their whole lives confused,  doing things at random with no purpose. They did not know how to build houses out of brick that face towards the sun, or how to work with wood. The lived in sunless caves underground, like swarming ants. They did not know how to tell when winter  was coming, or spring or summer. There were no signs of the changing season and everything seemed to happen at random, until I taught them how to read the risings and settings of the stars.
I invented numbers for them– the best of the arts! I showed them how to combine letters so as to hold things in their memory– the mother of the . I was the first one to use beasts to bear men's burdens, yoking them to collars and loading them with saddle bags.  I harnessed horses to chariots and taught them to obey the reins, as a status symbol. And it was me, not anyone else, who invented the chariot with cloth wings in which sailors roam over the sea.
I may be wretched, but I invented all these arts  for humans. Yet, I cannot think of one clever trick to get myself out of my present bind.
You have endured sorrow and humiliation; you are out of your mind. Like a sick doctor, you have become despondent and cannot  find the cure for your own disease.
Listen to the rest and you will be even more amazed at the arts and resources I created. First of all, it used to be that if humans ever got sick, they had no defence. No healing food , no ointment, no drink. They wasted away without any medicine. Until I showed then how to mix up the soothing remedies that they now use to prevent illness. And I showed them many different ways to read the future : how to tell which dreams will come true, how to interpret confusing voices and coincidences. I showed them augury (future telling from the flights of birds), noting which birds are auspicious and which ones suspicious; their different ways of life, which birds are friends and which enemies, and which ones sit together. I explained the smoothness of their entrails, and what colour of gall pleases  the gods. I showed them the speckled symmetry of the liver. I showed them the ritual of the thigh-bones wrapped in fat and how to burn the long backbone of the animal. I initiated them into this challenging cult. I gave them the ability to read signs from flames, which were opaque before.  But enough about these arts. Who else but me can say that he discovered bronze, iron, silver, and gold– all the beneficial elements that lie hidden in the earth? No one! Unless he is a liar.  In short, every art that humans have comes from Prometheus.
Don't help mortals too much and ignore your own distress! Though, I'm confident that you will freed  from your bonds and will have power equal to that of .
That's not what has in store for me. I will only escape after I have been humbled by infinite pangs and tortures. is stronger than skill.
 Who is the pilot of ?
The three-bodied and the who never forget.
Is it true that even has less power than them?
Yes, to the extent that even he cannot avoid what is fated.
But, what is 's fate, other than to hold eternal power?
 You cannot know this yet, so don't ask me.
It must be some great secret that you are covering up.
Let's change the subject. It is too soon to talk about this. No matter what, it must be kept secret. For, it is only by keeping this information close that  I will be able to escape my shameful bonds and my misery.
I pray that Zeus, who distributes everything to everyone, never has a reason to quarrel with me,  and that I never fail to sacrifice slain oxen to the gods, worshipping beside the always-flowing stream of, my father.  And I pray that I never say anything that offends them and that I always keep this rule fresh in my mind forever.
It is sweet to spend one's whole life full of hope, feeding the spirit with happy festivities. But I shudder  as I look at you, racked by infinite tortures. You are not afraid of , Prometheus, but instead, you stubbornly give too much honour to mortals.
 But tell me, my friend, what did mortals ever do for you? What kind of benefit could such an ephemeral race ever give you? What aid? Didn't you see how frail and powerless they are? Fleeting as dreams, blind, and shackled.  Plans made by human beings will never be able to subvert the will of .
I have learned this lesson by observing your fate, Prometheus. I thought about the difference  between this song that I am singing now and the one I sang before– about your wedding bed and your wedding bath. The song I sang to celebrate your marriage to our sister  , after you wooed her with lovely gifts.
What is this land? Who are these people? Who do I see chained to the rock there, naked and exposed? What did you do to deserve such a punishment?  Where on earth have I wandered in my wretchedness?
Oh, oh! Aah! Aah!
A gadfly, the ghost of earth-born , is stinging me again! Keep him away, ! I am afraid when I see visions of that hundred-eyed herdsman. He still has his shifty gaze on me.  Even though he is dead, his spirit is not buried. He hounds me and drive me, starving and wretched, along the seashore.
 The clear strains from the shepherd's [pb_glossary id="641"]Argus[/pb_glossary] wax-bound pipes try to lull me to sleep. Ah! Ah! Where is this wandering taking me?
Alas, alas! Where is my far-roaming wandering course taking me?How have I offended you, , such that you have bound me  to this yoke of misery—aah! What transgression have I committed to make you harass me like this– terrorizing me with a stinging gadfly? Burn me on the pyre, bury me in the earth, feed me to the monsters of sea, if you must, but grant me this one request! I have learned enough from my wandering. I do not know how to escape this suffering! Can you hear the voice of the horned maiden?
How can I not hear the girl driven to madness by the gadfly, the  daughter of ? She is the one who inflames 's heart with lust, and who now, because of Hera's hatred, is forced to wander endlessly.
How do you know my father? Who are you? How do you know my name? Tell me! Ah, I'm so unfortunate! So wretched and miserable! How do you know about this god-sent plague that is causing me to waste away, stinging me with its maddening goad? Ahhh! I come leaping crazily,  driven by hunger, the victim of 's machinations. Who, of all those who suffer– ahh! ahh!– suffers like me? Tell me  what more I must endure! What remedy or cure for my affliction! If you know, tell me! Tell the unfortunate, wandering girl.
I will tell you plainly and simply what you want to know . I won't speak inscrutably or tell riddles. It is best to speak openly to friends. Look at me. I am Prometheus, the one who gave fire to humans.
But why, as a benefactor of humans, do you suffer like this?
 I have just finished cataloguing and bemoaning my own hardships.
So you won't do this favour for me?
Way what you want; I can tell you anything.
Who has chained you up in this ravine?
It was 's order, but 's hand.
 And what was your crime?
I've said enough.
No! Tell me also about the end of my wandering. When will it come?
In your case, it's better to not know.
 Please, don't hide my future suffering from me.
It's not that I don't want to tell you.
Then why your reluctance?
I'm willing; but I don't want to crush your spirit.
Don't be kinder to me than I am to myself.
 Since you insist, I'll say. Listen.
Wait! Allow us some enjoyment too. First let us ask her about her affliction and let her tell us herself the events that transpired and brought about this misery.
Then you can tell her what she has left to face in the future.
 It's up to you, Io. They are your father's sisters. And it is worthwhile to indulge in tears over your bad luck, when you are likely to have a sympathetic ear.
 I can't say no. I will tell the truth about everything you ask. But I am ashamed to talk about this god-sent storm: the ruin of my body, and where it came from, swooping down on wretched me.
 Night visions, always haunting my bedchamber, tried to beguile and seduce me, saying, "Lucky girl, why do you stay a virgin, when you could have the most powerful lover? is inflamed with lust  for you and is eager to lay with you. Do not resist his advances, my child. Go to the meadow of Lerna, the land of deep pastures, where your father keeps his sheep and feeds his cattle, so that the eye of may may have some relief from its craving.”
 This dream haunted me night after night, until I worked up the courage to tell my father about it. He sent many messengers to the oracles at and to try to find out  what he could say or do to please the gods. But they all returned with strangely worded oracles, riddling and obscure. Finally, my father received a clear, unmistakable command:  he was to banish me from my home and native land and I was to wander to most remotes limits of the earth. If he did not, would send a fiery thunderbolt to destroy his whole race.
Obeying this prophetic proclamation from ,  he drove me out and barred from his house. He wish it and neither did I, but had placed a yoke of necessity on him, forcing him to act.
Immediately I was disfigured, as you can see. Horns grew on my forehead, and  I rushed, stung by a sharp-fanged gadfly, leaping in frantic bounds to Cerchnea's sweet stream and Lerna's spring. But the earth-born herdsman, , pursued me with unbounded rage, tracking my steps with his many eyes.  Suddenly and unexpectedly he died, but I am still tormented by the gadfly. It drives me from land to land, a god-sent plague.
That is what happened. If you know what troubles are coming, tell me. Don't try  to soothe me with lies because you pity me. Lying is the foulest sickness.
Ah! Ah! I never thought I would hear such strange things,  suffering so great to see and so great to endure. I feel like I have been struck with a two-pronged goad. Ah! ! !  I shudder at 's plight.
You weep and shudder too soon. Wait until you hear the rest.
Go on, tell us everything. The sick can take comfort in knowing what pain is still coming.
 You got what you first asked for– to hear about her ordeal from herself. Now listen to the rest: what she is fated to endure further at 's hand.  And you, , take my words to heart, so that you may learn how your wanderings will end.
First, from here, turn towards the rising sun and make your way over the untilled plains. You will reach the Scythian nomads, who live  in thatched houses, on top of strong-wheeled wagons, and who carry powerful bows. Don't go near them, but stick to the rugged shore, where the roaring sea breaks, and pass beyond their land. From there, on your left you will find the country of the iron workers,  the Chalybes,. Beware of them. They are savage and should not be approached by strangers. Then you will reach the river Hybristes, whose name is appropriate. Do not cross this. It is too hard. Wait until you come to the Caucasus, highest of mountains, from whose brow the river pours out in mighty fury. You must cross the crest of the mountain, which reachers up to the stars, and head southward. You will come to the , who loathe all men. In the future, they will  inhabit Themiscyra, near the Thermodon river, where, in front of the sea, is the rugged jaw of the city of Salmydessus.' It is an enemy to sailors and a step-mother to ships. The will happily guide you on your way. Next, at the narrow port of the harbour, you will reach  the Cimmerian isthmus. You must be brave and leave this place and pass through the channel of Maeotis. Forever afterwards, people will talk about your passing, and it will be called the Bosporus after you. Then you will leave Europe  and come to the continent of Asia.
Doesn't it seem to you that the tyrant of the gods is violent in everything that he does? For this god, wanting to have sex with this mortal girl, has imposed these wanderings on her. My dear, you have gained a cruel suitor . Everything that you have just heard– understand– is only the beginning of your trouble.
What! Are you crying again? Just wait until you hear the rest.
 Can it really be that you have more to tell her?
Yes, a tempestuous sea of calamitous distress.
Then what point is there in living? What shouldn't I just throw myself off this cliff, so that I can be free  all my sufferings? It is better to die once and for all than to spend my days prolonging my misery.
Ah, you would find hard to endure what I have to. I am not destined to die. Though death would have freed me from my misery.  But there will be no limit to my suffering until is thrown from power.
What! will one day be thrown from power?!
You, I think, would be glad to see that happen.
Why now? It is at 's hand that I suffer?
 Then be reassured that it will happen.
Who will strip him of his power?
He himself and his own empty-headed purposes.
How? Tell me, please, if there is no harm in telling.
He will enter into a marriage that will destroy him.
 With a god or with a mortal? Tell me, if you can.
Why ask with whom? I cannot speak of this.
Will his wife dethrone him?
Yes, because she will give birth to a son who will be mightier than his father.
And has he no way to avert this doom?
 None except me, if I am released from my bondage.
Who would release you against 's will?
It will be one of your own grandchildren?
What did you say? One of my children will release you from your misery?
Yes. One from the thirteenth generation of your descendants.
 Your prophecy is hard to understand.
So, don't ask about the rest of your sufferings, then.
Don't offer to me a favour and then withdraw it.
I will tell you one of two things.
What two things? Lay them out and I will choose.
 Here's the offer: choose whether you want me to tell you about your future sufferings or about the one who is going to free me.
Please tell her one and me the other. Don't keep the story from me! Tell her about her future wanderings,  and tell me who will free you. I want to know!
Well, since you insist, I won't refuse. I will tell you everything you want to know. First, I will tell you, , about your future, tormented wanderings. Sear it into your mind.
 After you cross the stream that connects the two continents, you will turn towards the east, where the sun walks. Then you will cross the surging sea until you reach the Gorgonean plains of Cisthene, where the daughters of dwell [ the ], three ancient maids.  They are shaped like swans and they possess one eye and one tooth between them. The sun does not shine on them, and neither does the moon. Close to them are their three sisters, the winged, snake-haired , loathed by mankind.  No human can look at them and live. Guard against this danger. But now listen to another frightening spectacle. Watch out 's sharp-beaked hounds, who do not bark– the gryphons– and  and the one-eyed Arimaspian people, who ride on horses, and who live around the floods of 's stream that flows with gold. Do not approach them. Then you will come to a far-away country with dark-skinned people, who live by the waters of the sun, near the river Ethiope.  Follow the banks of this river until you reach the cataract, where the Nile sends forth its sacred, sweet stream from the Bybline mountains. The river will lead you to the land of three-angled Nilotis, where, it is declared,  , that, at last, you and your children will found your distant colony.
If any of this is confusing or hard to understand, just say so. I will repeat it. For I have more time available than I want.
If there is anything left or left out  about her dreadful wandering, say it. But if you have told us everything, than grant us the favour that we asked. Surely you remember it.
She has now heard everything up to the end of her travels. In addition, so that she knows that what I have said will come to pass,  I will describe the toils she endured before she came here, as proof that I know what I am talking about.
I will pass over most of the weary tale, picking it at the end of your wanderings.
When you reached the Molossian plains  and the sheer mountain ridge that encircles . There, in that place, is the oracle of Thesprotian , and the marvelous talking oak trees. They greeted you clearly as 's famous  bride-to-be. Did that please you? then, stung by the gadfly, you rushed along the seaside path to the great gulf of , where you were driven back on your course. From that point on and forever in the future, that sea  will be called "Ionian" in memory of your crossing.
This, then, is evidence that I know more than I have shown. Now I will tell you all the rest,  picking up where I left off before.
There is a city called Canobus at the mouth of the Nile. There at last restores your sanity with a touch of his soft hand.  You will give birth to a dark skinned child, , named for his conception. He will harvest the crops from all the land that is watered by the broad-flowing Nile. But in the fifth generation after him, fifty young women [the ] will return to Argos,  fleeing unwanted marriages with their cousins. And the cousins will pursue them like falcons hunting doves, hearts on fire with lust, seeking unlawful marriages. But will prevent the marriages from being consummated.  The city of Argos will provide a home for the young women, where, in the middle of the night, each woman will slay her new husband, a daring deed done by a woman's hand. Each bride will take her husband's life, staining a two-edged sword with his blood. I wish would visit my enemies in the same way!  But one of the women will be overcome by her own desire. [pb_glossary id="1191"]Hypermnestra[/pb_glossary] not to slay her groom. She will lose her resolve and decide to be called coward rather than murderer. So she will give birth to a royal line in Argos.  It would take a long story to explain all of this, but from her line there will be born a bold man [pb_glossary id="1591"]Heracles[/pb_glossary], famous with the bow, who will free me from these toils. This is the oracle that my mother, the , told me, she who was born a long time ago.  How it will happen would take a long speech for me to tell you, and there wouldn't be any benefit in it.
Oh! Oh! Ah! Pain and frenzy strike my brain with their invisible flames. I am stung by the gadfly's barb.  My heart knocks against my ribs in terror and by eyeballs roll wildly around and around. Madness drives me off course. I've lost control of my tongue  and a stream of turbid words beats recklessly against the billows of dark destruction.
He was wise indeed who first thought and spoke this truth:  it is best to marry within one's own class. A poor man should not seek to marry among the wealthy or noble.
Immortal !  I pray that I am never a partner in the bed of and that I never have a groom who has descended from heaven. I shudder when I see the virgin , loveless and crushed  by her -sent wanderings.
I don't think marriage is anything to be feared when it is on equal terms. So I hope that no mightier gods cast their inescapable glances of lust on me. That would be a war impossible to fight and a source of resourceless misery.  I don't know what my fate would be, for I don't see how I could escape the designs of .
The day will come when , with his stubborn soul, will be humbled. He plots a union that will  hurl him from his sovereignty and throne into oblivion. The curse his father uttered as he fell from his ancient throne will be utterly fulfilled . None of the gods can show him how to escape his ruin except for me.  I know the way and means. So let him sit there in his self-assurance, trusting in his thunder and lightening bolt. They will not save him from shameful ruin.  He is preparing quite an adversary, despite himself, a prodigy, one who will find a flame mightier than lightening, and a deafening crash to outroar the thunder. A prodigy who will make  's trident, that scourge of the sea and shaker of the land, shiver with fear. Then, wrecked upon this evil, will learn how different it is to be a ruler and a slave.
Surely this is wishful thinking on your part, that you utter as a curse against .
What I have said will happen and it will be what I want.
 Should we really look out for someone to conquer ?
Yes, and he will bear pains more humiliating than mine on his neck.
How are you not afraid to taunt like this?
Why should I be afraid? I am immortal.
But he might give you a punishment even worse than this.
 Let him, for all I care! I am prepared for anything.
They are wise who honour .
Worship, adore, and fawn upon whoever is your lord. But I care less than nothing for Let him do his will, let him hold his power  for his little day. He will not hold sway over the gods for long. But look– over there I see his messenger, the servant of our new lord and master. He has surely come to announce some news.
You! I speak to you, you clever and crafty thief, you bitter wretch,  who has dishonoured the gods by stealing fire and giving it to mortals. Father orders you to say what marriage you boast of, which will cast him out of power. Tell me clearly and pointedly exactly as the case stands,  without games and riddles. gets angry at cryptic replies, so don't make me come back here again!
You speech is oh so brave and swollen with pride, as befits a little minion of the gods.  You are young, as is your power. Do you think that you are untouchable, beyond the reach of grief? I seen two rulers cast out from these heights. I will leave to see a third, this present lord, cast out swiftly in shameful ruin. Do you think  I tremble before these upstart gods? Far from it. Not at all. Scurry back the way you came. You will get no answers from me.
It was this same proud willfulness that earlier  brought you to this harbour of distress.
I wouldn't trade my hard fate for your servitude.
It is no doubt better to serve this rock than to be the trusted messenger of Father !
 It is fitting for the insolent to offer insults.
I think you revel in your present plight.
Revel? Oh, I wish that I might see my enemies revelling in this way! And I count you too among them.
What! You blame me in some way for your calamities?
 Put simply, I hate all the gods that benefitted at my hands and pay me back with so unjustly.
Your words declare you mad.
I may be mad—if it is madness to loathe one's enemies.
If you were fortunate, you would be unbearable.
“Argh”? That is a word unknown to .
But ever-aging Time teaches all things.
But you haven't even learned how to be moderate yet.
Or else I would not have spoke to you, an underling.
It seems that you will answer none of Father ' demands.
 But there is actually much that owe him.
You tease me as though I were a child.
Aren't you a child and even more foolish than a child if you expect to learn anything from me? And are you not a child and even more witless than a child if you expect to learn anything from me? There is no torment or device by which  will induce me to divulge what I know until he removes these injurious bonds. Let him hurl his blazing lightning and let the whole world convulse with white-winged blizzards and rumbling earthquakes.  None of this will convince me to tell him at whose hands he is fated to be hurled from his rule.
Does this course really seem wise to you?
This course was foreseen and determined a long time ago.
Submit! Submit, you fool! Be wise  in the face of your present sufferings.
You harass me in vain. It is as though you were trying to persuade a wave. Know that fear of the will of will not give me a womanish mind. Nor will I ape women's ways, turning my hands upwards and begging my enemy to release me from these bonds. As if!
I think any more speaking will be useless. My entreaties do not soothe or soften you. You take the bit in your teeth like a new-harnessed  colt and struggle against the reins. But your vehemence is useless. Stubborn people who are in the wrong profit less than those who are not stubborn at all. But if my words cannot persuade you,  think about what a storm and a towering wave of inescapable woe will break over you. First, Father will shatter this jagged cliff with thunder and lightning, and will bury you, while the rock still holds you clasped in its embrace.  Once a long stretch of time has gone by, you will return to the light of day. Then the winged hound of , the ravening eagle, coming as an uninvited feaster for the whole day, will tear your body, piece by piece with his savage appetite, and feast his fill  on your liver until it is black with the gnawing.
Expect no end to your agony until some god appears, who, sympathizing with you, will take it upon himself to descend into the sunless realm of and the dark depths of .
 Consider yourself warned. This is not an idle boast, but the utter truth. For the mouth of does not know how to utter lies, but will bring every word to pass. Consider carefully and reflect. Never deem  stubbornness better than wise counsel.
[ seems to finally say something useful; for he urges you to put your stubbornness aside and be wise. Take heed! It is shameful for the wise to persist in error.
 This fellow's ruckus is not news to me. But for an enemy to suffer at the hands of an enemy is not disgraceful. So therefore, let the forked curl of lightning be cast upon my head and let the sky  be convulsed with thunder and the wrack of savage winds; let the hurricane shake the earth from its rooted base, and let the waves of the sea mingle the courses  of the stars in heaven with their savage surge; let him lift me up high and hurl me down to black with the swirling floods of stern . Whatever he does, he cannot kill me.
These are the thoughts and words  of a madman. How is this any different from raving? Where does his frenzy end? In any case, all you who sympathize with his anguish,  withdraw from this spot quickly, so that the relentless roar of the thunder does not stun your senses.
Try some other tack or urge me on some other course that is more convincing, because  what you have said is unacceptable. How can you tell me to be a coward? I will suffer any fate along with him. I have learned to detest traitors and there is no pest  I abhor more than this.
Well then, remember my warning and do not blame fate when you are in trouble. And do not say that it was who unexpectedly caused you  to suffer. You will have only yourself to blame. You have been warned and it will not be suddenly or secretly that you are entangled in the inextricable net of calamity due to your own foolishness.
 His word has turned into deed! Ah! The earth rocks! The thunder from the depths of rolls roaring past me. The fiery ringed lightening flashes forth! Whirlwinds toss the  swirling dust. Wind blasts leap forth in hostile fury and strife. The sky is mixing. with the ocean. Look! You can can see the storm advancing against me!  sends it to frighten me. Holy mother! Holy Ether who shines light on the world. Look at the wrongs I suffer!
Amid thunder and lightning Prometheus vanishes from sight; and the daughters of disappear with him.
Taken from: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0010
Art and Symbolism
In Greek and Roman art, Prometheus was usually depicted as a mature, bearded man. He was almost always portrayed in scenes depicting either his punishment or his liberation at the hands of Herakles.
However, a different myth seems to have been fairly popular on Roman sarcophagi: that of the creation of humankind. In these scenes, Prometheus is usually portrayed sitting behind the pottery wheel, in the act of creating the first human beings.
Prometheus and Athena create the first human, sarcophagus relief, ca. 185 CE (Museo Del Prado, Madrid)
Pandora is very rarely represented in Greek art. When she does appear, she is portrayed in the moment of her creation as a young woman dressed in a rich usually wearing or receiving jewels from the gods.
Media Attributions and Footnotes
- Cup 1881,0528.1 © the British Museum is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike) license
- Creation Prometheus Louvre Ma445 © Jastrow is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Heracles freeing Prometheus, relief from the Temple of Aphrodite at Aphrodisias © Hans Weingartz
- Herakles Prometheus Louvre MNE1309 © Bibi Saint-Pol is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Prometheus and Atlas © Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
- Prometeusz is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Sarcophagus Prometheus Louvre Ma339 © Jastrow is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Prometeo y Atenea crean al primer hombre, Museo del Prado © JI FilpoC is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Calyx-Krater © Trustees of the British Museum is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike) license
- The geography of the play is confusing and inaccurate. For further discussion of how Aeschylus uses geography in Pometheus Bound, see: Finkelberg, M. The Geography of "Prometheus Vinctus." Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 141 (2), 119-141. ↵
- Indicates a gap or missing segment in the text ↵
- Referring to the practise of interpreting birds for prophecy, called augury. ↵
- The Chalybes, a people of northern Anatolia, were said to be the first people to develop iron. ↵
- "Hybristes" comes from the Greek for "violence (ὕβρις) ↵
- Bosporus means "cow crossing" in Ancient Greek. ↵
- An epithet for Zeus' prophetic aspect ↵
- Refers to Epaphus having been born from the touch of Zeus' hand, as Epaphus (ἔφαξις) means "touch." ↵
- This "curse" refers to Cronus invoking the prophesy that, like how Cronus was overthrown by his son Zeus (see chapter 1), Zeus would be overthrown by a powerful son as well. ↵
Mountain range between Asia and Europe. In Greek mythology, this is the area where Prometheus was chained.
The first woman, molded from earth by Hephaestus. Known for introducing evils into the world (in Hesiod's account).
Featured in chapter 14.
A Titan, son of Gaia and Uranus, and father of many other Titans including Atlas and Prometheus.
God of fire, smiths, and craftspeople.
See chapter 8.
Goddess of love and passion.
See chapter 4.
God of travelers and trickery.
See chapter 16.
Roman: Saturn or Saturnus
Titan father of many of the gods, including Zeus and Hera. Son of Gaia and Uranus.
Featured in chapter 1.
Called Horae or Hours.
Goddesses of the seasons, daughters of Zeus with either Aphrodite or Themis.
A Titan. Son of Iapetus, brother of Prometheus and Atlas, father of Pyrrha, and husband of Pandora. Known for his foolishness.
Featured in chapter 14.
Personification of strength and power.
Featured in chapter 14.
Personification of anger and force.
Featured in chapter 14.
Roman: Jupiter or Jove
God of the sky, ruler of the Olympian gods.
See chapter 5.
Titan of justice and order.
Featured in chapter 3.
Goddess of the earth.
Featured in chapter 1.
Greek: Ananke or Adrastea
Personification of inevitability and necessity. Mother of the Fates.
Called Oceanus or Ocean.
The river encircling the earth, or its personification as a Titan. Husband of Tethys and father of the Oceanids.
Titan of freshwater, wife of Oceanus, and mother of many nymphs and other deities.
God of the underworld. Hades may also refer to the underworld itself, the kingdom of Hades.
See chapter 42.
The deep abyss of the Underworld where the Titans were imprisoned, or the primordial deity personifying the abyss.
The early deities that ruled before Zeus and the Olympian gods. May refer specifically to the twelve children of Gaia and Uranus, or more broadly to the generations of deities before the Olympians.
Primordial deity of the sky and heavens, partner of Gaia and father of the Titans.
Appears in chapter 1 and chapter 4.
A Titan, and father of the Pleiades and Hesperides. Known for being punished to hold up the heavens for eternity.
Featured in chapter 17. Also appears in chapter 21.
Called Typhon or Typhoeus.
A snake-like son of Gaia and Tartarus (usually, though traditions of his parentage vary), known for being defeated by Zeus and for fathering many monsters.
Featured in chapter 1 and chapter 5.
A mountain in Sicily. Known for being both the location of the forge of Hephaestus, and the mountain under which Zeus trapped Typhon.
A mythical nation of warrior women.
See chapter 23.
9 deities of art, music, poetry, and creativity.
Called Moirai or Fates.
3 goddesses who appear as old women and control the destinies of living things.
Called Erinyes, Eumenides, or Furies.
Three goddesses of vengeance and punishment.
Featured in chapter 9 and chapter 41.
A princess of Troy, sister of Priam, and wife of Telamon. Known for being rescued by Heracles from being sacrificed to a sea monster.
Featured in chapter 17.
A priestess of Hera at Argos. Daughter of Inachus, wife of Telegonus, and mother of Epaphus. Known for being transformed into a cow by Zeus in an attempt to protect her from Hera's anger.
Featured in chapter 6 and chapter 14.
A many-eyed giant known for serving Hera in her plot against Io and Zeus.
Featured in chapter 6 and chapter 16.
The first king of Argos and personification of the river Inachus. Father of Io and ancestor of many important figures including Perseus, Cadmus, and Europa.
Featured in chapter 6.
Goddess of marriage, wife of Zeus.
See chapter 6.
Called Delphi or Pytho.
A pan-hellenic sanctuary sacred to Apollo as the location of the Delphic Oracle.
See chapter 43. Also featured in chapter 12.
The site of a prophetic oracle of Zeus.
Appears in chapter 14 and chapter 18.
God of medicine, archery, oracles, and the sun.
See chapter 12.
A primordial sea god. Father of many deities and monsters, including the Gorgons and the Graeae.
Three sisters (Enyo, Deino, and Pemphredo), daughters of Phorcus and Ceto. Known for sharing one eye and one tooth between the three of them, and for aiding Perseus on his quest for Medusa's head.
Featured in chapter 21.
Three women with snakes for hair, named Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa. The singular ("Gorgon" or "Gorgo") may also be used as a proper noun referring to Medusa alone.
Featured in chapter 20 and chapter 21.
Greek: Rhea or Cybele
Roman: Magna Mater, Cybele, or Ops
Nature goddesses of various origins who were often equated or conflated. Generally refers to the Titan wife and sister of Cronus, and mother of many of the gods including Zeus and Hera. Her worship often included loud music and wild processions, and she was often associated with Mount Ida.
Featured in chapter 15 (as Cybele). Also appears in chapter 1 (as Rhea).
A king of Egypt, son of Zeus and Io, and ancestor of many important figures of Argos including Danaus and Perseus.
50 daughters of Danaus. Known for all (except one) of them killing their husbands on their wedding night, and for being punished by being made to attempt to carry water in a sieve forever.
Appear in chapter 21.
Roman: Cupid or Amor
God of love and desire, either born alongside Aphrodite at the beginning of creation, or a child of Aphrodite and Ares.
Featured in chapter 4.
God of the sea.
See chapter 7.
Personification of death.
long, draped garment worn by women in ancient Greece