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Prometheus (in Greek mythology)

Prometheus (prōmē´thēəs), in Greek mythology, great benefactor of mankind. He was the son of the Titan Iapetus and of Clymene or Themis. Because he foresaw the defeat of the Titans by the Olympians he sided with Zeus and thus was spared the punishment of the other Titans. According to one legend Prometheus created mankind out of clay and water. When Zeus mistreated man, Prometheus stole fire from the gods, gave it to man, and taught him many useful arts and sciences. In another legend he saved the human race from extinction by warning his son, Deucalion, of a great flood. This sympathy with mankind roused the anger of Zeus, who then plagued man with Pandora and her box of evils and chained Prometheus to a mountain peak in the Caucasus. In some myths he was released by Hercules; in others Zeus restored his freedom when Prometheus revealed the danger of Zeus' marrying Thetis, fated to bear a son who would be more powerful than his father. Prometheus is the subject of many literary works, of which the most famous are Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.

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Prometheus (in astronomy)

Prometheus (prōmē´thēəs), in astronomy, one of the named moons, or natural satellites, of Saturn. Also known as Saturn XVI (or S16), Prometheus is an irregularly shaped (nonspherical) body measuring about 90 mi (145 km) by 53 mi (85 km) by 38 mi (62 km); it orbits Saturn at a mean distance of 86,588 mi (139,350 km) and has an orbital period of 0.613 earth days—the rotational period is unknown but is assumed to be the same as the orbital period. It was discovered by a team led by S. Collins in 1980 from an examination of photographs taken by Voyager 1 during its flyby of Saturn. Prometheus has several craters about 12.5 mi (20 km) in diameter and a number of linear ridges and valleys but appears to be less cratered than the neighboring moons Epimetheus, Janus, and Pandora. It is the inner shepherd satellite (a moon that limits the extent of a planetary ring through gravitational forces) of Saturn's F ring.

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Prometheus

Prometheus

Prometheus, one of the Titans in Greek mythology, was the god of fire. A master craftsman considered the wisest of his race, he was credited with the creation of humans and with giving them fire and various types of skills and knowledge. His name means "forethought."

Prometheus was the son of the Titan Iapetus and of either the sea nymph Clymene or the goddess Themis. Atlas* and Epimetheus ("afterthought") were his brothers; Hesione, daughter of the Titan Oceanus, was his wife.

Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

When Zeus* and the other Olympian gods rebelled against the Titans, Prometheus sided with the gods and thus won their favor. He held Zeus's aching head so that Hephaestus (Vulcan)* could split it open and release the goddess Athena*. To show her gratitude, Athena taught Prometheus astronomy, mathematics, architecture, navigation, metalworking, writing, and other useful skills. He later passed this knowledge on to humans.

Champion of Humankind. Prometheus created humans by shaping lumps of clay into small figures resembling the gods. Athena admired these figures and breathed on them, giving them life. Zeus disliked the creatures, but he could not uncreate them. He did, however, confine them to the earth and denied them immortality. Prometheus felt sorry for humans, so he gave them fire and taught them various arts and skills.

Prometheus was given the task of determining how sacrifices were to be made to the gods. He cut up a bull and divided it into two portions. One contained the animal's flesh and skin, but they were concealed beneath the bull's stomach, the least appetizing part of the animal. The other consisted of the bones, wrapped in a rich layer of fat. Prometheus then asked Zeus to choose a portion for himself, leaving the other for humans. Fooled by the outward appearance of the portions, Zeus chose the one containing the bones and fat. Prometheus thus ensured that humans got the best meat.

Angered by this trick, Zeus punished humans by withholding fire from them so that they would have to live in cold and darkness and eat meat raw. Prometheus promptly went to Olympus*, stole a spark of fire from Hephaestus, and carried it back to humans. When Zeus discovered what Prometheus had done, he swore revenge. He ordered Hephaestus to create a woman from clay, and he had the winds breathe life into her. Athena and other goddesses clothed the woman, whose name was Pandora.

immortality ability to live forever

Zeus sent Pandora as a gift to Prometheus's brother Epimetheus, who married her despite warnings from Prometheus not to accept any gift from Zeus. Pandora brought with her a box containing evil, disease, poverty, war, and other troubles. When Pandora opened the box, she released these sorrows into the world, and Zeus thus gained his revenge on humankind.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

Prometheus's Punishment. To punish Prometheus, Zeus chained the god to a rock on a mountain peak. Every day an eagle tore at Prometheus's body and ate his liver, and every night the liver grew back. Because Prometheus was immortal, he could not die. But he suffered endlessly.

Prometheus remained chained and in agony for thousands of years. The other gods begged Zeus to show mercy, but he refused. Finally, Zeus offered Prometheus freedom if he would reveal a secret that only he knew. Prometheus told Zeus that the sea nymph Thetis would bear a son who would become greater than his father. This was important information. Both Zeus and his brother Poseidon* desired Thetis, but they arranged for her to marry a mortal so that her son would not pose a challenge to their power.

Zeus sent Hercules to shoot the eagle that tormented Prometheus and to break the chains that bound him. After his years of suffering, Prometheus was free. To reward Hercules for his help, Prometheus advised him how to obtain the golden Apples of Hesperides, one of the 12 labors the famous hero had to accomplish.


immortal able to live forever

Legacy. The story of Prometheus's suffering and ultimate release from his torment has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Among the most important early works dealing with the myth were a series of plays written by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. Only one of these works, Prometheus Bound, survives. The Roman poet Ovid incorporated parts of the story in his work the Metamorphoses. Prometheus has also been the subject of more modern works of art, music, and literature by such individuals as the composer Beethoven and the poets Byron, Shelley, and Longfellow.

See also Atlas; Greek Mythology; Hercules; Pandora; Titans; Vulcan; Zeus.

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Prometheus

Prometheus a demigod, one of the Titans, who was worshipped by craftsmen; he is said in one legend to have made humankind out of clay. When Zeus hid fire away from man Prometheus stole it by trickery and returned it to earth. As punishment Zeus chained him to a rock where an eagle fed each day on his liver, which (since he was immortal) grew again each night; he was eventually rescued by Hercules.

In extended usage, Promethean fire is inspiration.

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Prometheus

Prometheus.
1. Symphonic-poem by Liszt. Orig. comp. (and orch. by Raff) 1850 as prelude to a setting of chs. from Herder's Prometheus Unbound. Re-scored by Liszt 1855.

2. Scenic oratorio in 5 scenes by Wagner-Régeny to lib. by composer after Aeschylus. Comp. and f.p. 1959 (Cassel).

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Prometheus

Prometheus In Greek mythology, the fire-giver. He created the human race, provided them with reason and stole fire from the gods. For this theft, Zeus had him chained to a rock where an eagle consumed his liver for eternity. In some myths, he was rescued by Heracles.

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Prometheus

Prometheus (Saturn XVI) One of the lesser satellites of Saturn, discovered in 1980 by Voyager 1, with a radius measuring 74 × 50 × 34 km; mass 0.0014 × 1020 kg; mean density 270 kg/m3; visual albedo 0.6.

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Prometheus

PrometheusBierce, fierce, Pearce, Peirce, pierce, tierce •Fabius, scabious •Eusebius •amphibious, Polybius •dubious • Thaddeus • compendious •radius • tedious •fastidious, hideous, insidious, invidious, perfidious •Claudiuscommodious, melodious, odious •studious • Cepheus •Morpheus, Orpheus •Pelagius • callipygous • Vitellius •alias, Sibelius, Vesalius •Aurelius, Berzelius, contumelious, Cornelius, Delius •bilious, punctilious, supercilious •coleus • Julius • nucleus • Equuleus •abstemious •Ennius, Nenniuscontemporaneous, cutaneous, extemporaneous, extraneous, instantaneous, miscellaneous, Pausanias, porcellaneous, simultaneous, spontaneous, subcutaneous •genius, heterogeneous, homogeneous, ingenious •consanguineous, ignominious, Phineas, sanguineous •igneous, ligneous •Vilnius •acrimonious, antimonious, ceremonious, erroneous, euphonious, felonious, harmonious, parsimonious, Petronius, sanctimonious, Suetonius •Apollonius • impecunious •calumnious • Asclepius • impious •Scorpius •copious, Gropius, Procopius •Marius • pancreas • retiarius •Aquarius, calcareous, Darius, denarius, gregarious, hilarious, multifarious, nefarious, omnifarious, precarious, Sagittarius, senarius, Stradivarius, temerarious, various, vicarious •Atreus •delirious, Sirius •vitreous •censorious, glorious, laborious, meritorious, notorious, uproarious, uxorious, vainglorious, victorious •opprobrious •lugubrious, salubrious •illustrious, industrious •cinereous, deleterious, imperious, mysterious, Nereus, serious, Tiberiuscurious, furious, injurious, luxurious, penurious, perjurious, spurious, sulphureous (US sulfureous), usurious •Cassius, gaseous •Alcaeus • Celsius •Theseus, Tiresias •osseous, Roscius •nauseous •caduceus, Lucius •Perseus • Statius • Propertius •Deo gratias • plenteous • piteous •bounteous •Grotius, Photius, Proteus •beauteous, duteous •courteous, sestertius •Boethius, Prometheus •envious • Octavius •devious, previous •lascivious, niveous, oblivious •obvious •Vesuvius, Vitruviusimpervious, pervious •aqueous • subaqueous • obsequious •Dionysius

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