Storyworks Greek Myth The Story of Prometheus ho says gods can’t play tricks? At a feast, the god Prometheus cooked Zeus a meal that looked delicious but was made of nothing but ox bones. For years, Zeus remembered. He remembered and simmered and stewed and boiled and seethed over Prometheus’ prank. And Was punishment for Prometheus’ joke, Zeus refused to give humans the power of fire.
“That’s not fair! It’s not the humans’ fault!” a box full of evils and told her never to open it. Prometheus protested, but Zeus wouldn’t listen. Of course, she was terribly curious. Kind-hearted Prometheus cared for humans Just one tiny peek won’t hurt, she thought. and did his best to nurture them. He wanted She wiggled the lid of the box open and looked them to succeed—which made Zeus’ unfair pun- inside . . . WHOOSH! ishment even more upsetting. Prometheus knew The box popped open and wisps flooded out. that it was up to him to right this wrong. Pandora let out a cry and quickly fastened the Clever Prometheus, one step ahead lid back on the box—but it was too late. of Zeus, stole a spark in the dead of All the evils of the world were already night. He carried the flame down released. Humanity was now cursed to Earth, coddling it gently, careful with hard work, pain, sickness, and to protect it from the wind and the death. rain. The flame was a tiny heart- As for poor Prometheus, Zeus beat—it was life. When he reached chained him to a rock, drove a Earth at last, Prometheus held out shaft through his middle, and set his hands. loose an eagle that kept gnawing on “Fire,” he said, presenting his gift to Prometheus’ undying liver. At the end a group of humans. of each day, whatever the eagle ate through The tiny flame flickered like starlight, and would grow back during the night. Prometheus humans crowded around to get a good glimpse. cried and begged for forgiveness, but Zeus turned Then they took Prometheus’ gift with endless his back and walked away. Zeus left Prometheus thanks and shared the fire among themselves. chained to that rock, where he lived through But all was not well. many, many lifetimes of unimaginable, searing From Olympus, Zeus saw a far-off gleam in agony before Hercules freed him from his misery. the night, and he knew it was fire—fire that he And Zeus was pleased because he had won had clearly forbidden. Zeus leaned in for a closer in the end. look—then he burst with thunderous anger. Meanwhile, on Earth, humans were burn- He clenched his fists; he gnashed his teeth; he ing their wood, cooking their food, and staying scrunched his face into a ball of fury. warm near the flames. Even though they had to “I will make him pay!” Zeus shouted, his suffer with all the evils from Pandora’s box, they eyes bulging. “I will make them all pay for the were happy because in their hands, they held a fire!” strong, powerful fire. Zeus dealt with the humans first. He sent a I won, Zeus repeated to himself. clay woman named Pandora down to Earth with But did he really? Library/Getty I ma g es (Prometheus); istock p hoto.com