Prometheus

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dgyldenvand
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“Prometheus” Gustave Moreau’s painting “Prometheus” (1868) depicts the ancient myth of the struggle between Prometheus and Zeus, and Prometheus’ resulting punishment. Moreau uses vivid imagery and fine detail to convey the dark relationship between the Titan and the Leader of the Gods. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Prometheus was a Titan who advised Zeus to take control and obtain absolute power in the Olympian world. The two ended up having a fall out over the issue of the welfare of mankind. Prometheus aided Man with the arts and science of civilization in order to help them progress while Zeus wanted to destroy Man, and create a new race. At a feast between mortals and gods, Prometheus tricked Zeus into eating the less desirable portion of the meal and giving the most desirable parts to those who Prometheus favored. Angered, Zeus revoked Man’s privilege of using fire, and Prometheus, in turn, stole fire back for them. This did not sit well with Zeus, so he banished Prometheus to Mount Caucasus, where he was essentially doomed to having an eagle feast at his liver every day. Despite enduring this pain over and over again, Prometheus defiantly withheld a secret that Zeus dearly wanted. This secret was the identity of Zeus’ future mate, with whom he would have a child who would end up committing patricide. Several generations later, the hero Hercules appeared to save Prometheus by slaying the eagle. Eventually, Prometheus and Zeus reconciled, but Prometheus continued to be remembered as an archetypal hero (Hesiod).
Hesiod makes a point in his Theogony to note that Prometheus’ liver is immortal. This is why the eagle (or vulture, in Moreau’s painting) is able to eat his liver every day without end. Also, the ancient Greeks believed that the liver was the seat of the soul and intelligence, and that is another reason for its immortality. The equivalence of the…...

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