“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” - Martin Luther King, Jr
When it came to populate the earth, ancient Greek mythology relates, Zeus the king of the gods entrusted Prometheus the Titan and his brother Epimetheus, with the task of making man and all other animals, and of endowing them with all needful faculties. This Epimetheus did, and his brother overlooked the work. Epimetheus then gave to the different animals their several gifts of courage, strength, swiftness and wisdom. He gave wings to one, claws to another, a shelly covering to the third.
Man, superior to all other animals, came last. But for man Epimetheus had nothing left to give, as he had bestowed all his gifts elsewhere. He came to his brother for help, and Prometheus, with the aid of Athena, went up to heaven, lit his torch at the chariot of the sun, and brought down fire to man. With this gift of fire, man was more than equal to all other animals. Fire enabled him to make weapons to subdue wild beasts, tools with which to till the earth. With fire he warmed his dwelling and defeated the cold.
Woman was not yet made. The story is, that Zeus made her, and sent her to Epimetheus and his brother, to punish them for their presumption in stealing fire from heaven; and man, for accepting the gift. The first woman was named Pandora (meaning ‘gifted with all things’). She was made in heaven, every god contributing something to perfect her. Aphrodite gave her beauty, Hermes persuasion, Apollo music. Thus equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who gladly accepted her, though cautioned by his brother to beware of Zeus and his gifts.
Epimetheus had in his house a jar, in which were kept all manner of noxious things, for which, in fitting man for his new abode, Epimetheus had contained there to make life easier for man. Pandora was extremely curious to know what this jar contained, although she had been warned not to touch it. Unable to contain her boundless curiosity, one day Pandora slipped off the cover of the jar and looked in. Immediately, a multitude of plagues for hapless man escaped from the jar: All manner of diseases for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind. These ills scattered themselves far and wide and from then on plague the world of men.
Pandora hastened to replace the lid, but unfortunately the whole contents of the jar had escaped with the exception of one thing only, which lay at the bottom. When Pandora listened carefully a musical, soft voice from within the jar asked her to let it out. She was now cautious and was reluctant to let this last thing out of the jar. However, the insistence and musicality of the voice, as well as insatiable curiosity finally persuaded her to open the jar once again. And it was then that the last occupant of the jar arrived into our world, and that was Hope. So we see at this day, whatever evils are abroad, hope never entirely leaves us; and while we have that, no amount of other ills can make us completely wretched.
Prometheus was known for his intelligence and was honoured as a champion of mankind. The punishment of Prometheus as a consequence of the theft is a major theme of his mythology, and is a popular subject of both ancient and modern art. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day. (In ancient Greece, the liver was thought to be the seat of human emotions). In some stories, Prometheus is freed at last by the hero Herakles (Hercules).