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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS ENRICHMENT SECTION

ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS PROMETHEUS ENRICHMENT SECTION 21 Copyright 2010 American Classical League May be reproduced
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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS, BRINGER OF FIRE Another Version of the Story

After Zeus became the ruler on Mount Olympus, he decided it was too lonely on Earth. He asked Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus to make animals and humans. Epimetheus began the job by forming animals and giving them each a gift so they could protect themselves. To some he gave claws, wings, feathers, fangs, horns, shells, thick skin or fur. To some he gave speed, size, strength, cunning or courage. He was just about ready to make humans when he realized he did not think to save a gift for them.

Prometheus said, “I will take over now.” He picked up a ball of clay and shaped a creature with two legs so

it could walk upright and a head that could look up and see the stars and the gods. He made fingers that could do many fine things, and a mind that could think and invent. But that was not quite enough. Prometheus could see that humans would not get along very well with wooden or stone weapons, eating everything raw and always in danger from wild animals. He decided to give them the gift of fire.

Prometheus begged Zeus to let humans have fire, but Zeus refused. He did not want anyone to defeat him, as he had defeated his own father. One day Prometheus sneaked up to the ever-burning fire on Mount Olympus, lit a tiny piece of wood, and hid it in the stalk of a plant called fennel. He sneaked back to earth, then gave the fire to humans. He showed them many of the wonderful ways they could use it: to make iron tools and weapons, clay jars, brick and tile houses, and beautiful ornaments; to cook delicious food; and to protect themselves from wild animals.

Zeus became very angry at this, but then Prometheus showed humans how to burn animals for sacrifice to the gods. This made Zeus a little happier, until he discovered the trick Prometheus played to make sure that humans got the best parts of the animals to eat instead of burning them for the gods. The mighty Zeus was so furious he ordered that Prometheus should be taken away to a mountain in the east and chained to a rock. Every day a huge eagle (some say vulture) flew by and pecked out his liver, and every night it grew back in. This went on for a very, very long time until the great hero Heracles broke the chains and released him.

ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS PROMETHEUS, BRINGER OF FIRE Another Version of the Story After Zeus became

SOURCES d’Aulaire, Ingri & Edgar P. Book of Greek Myths. New York: Doubleday, 1962. Gibson, Michael. Gods, Men and Monsters from the Greek Myths. New York: Schocken Books, 1982. Richardson, I. M. Prometheus and the Story of Fire. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1983.

Susan Hengelsberg

Perry, NY

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

ACTIVITIES Prometheus, Bringer of Fire

  • 1. What if Zeus had caught Prometheus as he was stealing the fire and punished him right then? Imagine a world without fire of any kind (including electricity). List some of your ideas below.

DISCUSS:

 

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DECIDE:

Work in a large group, small groups, or individually.

DIRECT:

Produce a mural, a series of pictures (storyboard), a skit, or a story that will show what our lives would be like if there were no fire at all.

  • 2. Thomas Edison has been called the Prometheus of our time.

Look up

all you

can

about

Edison,

tell/write what he did, and explain why he might be considered a modern Prometheus.

Rebecca Walker Ingram Los Angeles, CA

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS According to Apollodorus

The following information comes from a book called The Library written by Apollodorus, a Greek man who lived sometime after the middle of the first century BC.

At the beginning of time, Uranus was the first to rule over the universe. Uranus and Gaea were the parents of the Titans and one of these Titans, Iapetus, was the father of Prometheus. Prometheus had three brothers: Atlas who held the sky on his shoulders; Epimetheus who was faulty in judgment; and Menoetius whom Zeus struck with a thunderbolt in the Titan battle and confined to Tartarus, the Underworld. This was because of Menoetius’ excessive pride. The name Prometheus means “forethinker or one who thinks ahead,” and Epimetheus means “afterthinker or one who plans too late.” Prometheus

could foretell the future.

There are many stories about Prometheus from many sources, and they do not always agree on details. One such story concerns the birth of Athena who was the daughter of Metis and Zeus. Metis told Zeus that after their daughter was born, she would then bear a son who would be lord of the sky. In fear of this, Zeus swallowed Metis. When it came time for the birth, Prometheus (or as others say, Hephaestus) struck the head of Zeus with an ax and from his crown Athena sprang up, clad in her armor and giving a loud war cry!

Prometheus, after forming men from water and earth, gave them fire which he had hidden in a stalk of

giant fennel to escape the notice of Zeus.

When Zeus found out, he ordered Hephaestus to rivet the body

of Prometheus to Mount Caucasus, a Scythian mountain, where he was kept fastened and bound for many years. Each day an eagle would fly to him and munch on the lobes of his liver which would then grow back at night.

As Heracles was working on his labors, he passed through Libya to the sea beyond. When he reached the mainland on the other side, he killed with an arrow the eagle, the offspring of Echidna and Typhon who had been eating the liver of Prometheus. Then he selected for himself a restraining bond of olive and released Prometheus.

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

ACTIVITIES Prometheus According to Apollodorus

  • 1. Make a map of the Mediterranean area showing specifically Libya and the Caucasus. five other countries labeled with the names used today.

Include at least

  • 2. Find out about the restraining bond of olive that Heracles took for himself.

How is this bond of olive

possibly related to the Olympic Games? How did the wearing of crowns on the head and rings on

the fingers become a memorial of Prometheus? (See The Library, Book II, v.11)

  • 3. Who were the other children of Echidna and Typhon? With which myths are they associated? How did Echidna and Typhon die?

  • 4. Find the words in the reading that have the following meanings

    • a. to fasten firmly as with a nail or pin

    • b. held or kept inside of

    • c. too much, more than what is proper

    • d. a plant that grows tall and has a hollow stem

    • e. the stem of a plant

    • f. dressed or covered as with clothing

    • g. holding back

    • h. set free

    • i. the highest part of the head

    • j. chose

Bernice Jefferis Cleveland Heights, OH

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS BOUND

Prometheus as the benefactor of mankind has been the subject of art, music and literature from ancient times to the present day. Aeschylus was an ancient Greek dramatist who wrote plays about Prometheus,

but only one survives. In his play, Prometheus Bound, he describes how Hephaestus fastened Prometheus to the side of a mountain with the help of two servants of Zeus, Kratos whose name means “strength” and Bia whose name means “force.” When the three have finished their work, Prometheus calls out:

Oh divine air and sky and swift-winged breezes, springs of rivers and countless laughter of sea waves, earth, mother of everything, and all-seeing circle of the sun, I call on you. See what I, a god, suffer at the hands of the gods.

Prometheus is bitter because he fought with Zeus against the Titans and so Aeschylus has him say the following words.

PROMETHEUS:

Listen to the troubles that there were among mortals and how I gave them sense and mind, which they did not have before. I shall tell you this not out of any censure of mankind but to explain the good intention of my gifts. In the beginning they had eyes to look, but looked in vain, and ears to hear, but did not hear, but like the shapes of dreams they wandered in confusion the whole of their long life. They did not know of brick-built houses that face the sun or carpentry, but dwelt beneath the ground like tiny ants in the depths of sunless caves. They did not have any secure way of distinguishing winter or blossoming spring or fruitful summer, but they did everything without judgment, until I showed them the rising and setting of the stars, difficult to discern.

And indeed I discovered for them numbers, a lofty kind of wisdom, and letters and their combination, an art that fosters memory of all things, the mother of the Muses’ arts. I first harnessed

animals enslaving them to the yoke to become reliefs for mortals in their greatest toils, and I led horses docile under the reins and chariot, the delight of the highest wealth and luxury. No one before

me discovered the seamen’s vessels which with wings of sail are

beaten by the waves. Such are the contrivances I, poor wretch, have found for mortals, but I myself have no device by which I may escape my present pain.

CHORUS:

You suffer an ill-deserved torment, and confused in mind and heart are all astray; like some bad doctor who has fallen ill, you yourself cannot devise a remedy to effect a cure.

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS BOUND (continued)

PROMETHEUS:

Listen to the rest, and you will be even more amazed at the kinds of skills and means that I devised; the greatest this:

if anyone fell sick, there existed no defense, neither food nor drink nor salve, but through lack of medicines they wasted away until I showed them the mixing of soothing remedies by which they free themselves from all diseases. I set forth the many ways of the prophetic art. I was the first to determine which dreams would of necessity turn out to be true and I established for them the difficult interpretation of sounds and omens of the road and distinguished the precise meaning of the flight of birds with crooked talons, which ones are by nature lucky and propitious, and what mode of life each had, their mutual likes, dislikes, and association; the smoothness of the innards and the color of the bile that would meet the pleasure of

the gods, and the dappled beauty of the liver’s lobe. I burned the

limbs enwrapped in fat and the long shank and set mortals on the path to this difficult art of sacrifice, and made clear the fiery signs, obscure before. Such were these gifts of mine. And the benefits hidden deep within the earth, copper, iron, silver, and gold -- who could claim that he had found them before me? No one, I know full well, unless he wished to babble on in vain. In a brief utterance learn the whole story: all arts come to mortals from Prometheus.

From Classical Mythology by Morford and Lenardon, Longman Inc., 1985

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

ACTIVITIES Prometheus Bound

  • 1. As you reread Prometheus’ speech, make a list of his gifts to mortals.

Choose an art form to portray

these gifts. It might be a diorama, a collage, a painting, a drawing, an original poem or a piece of

music. There are at least fifteen gifts.

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  • 2. The word PRIDE represents an idea that one dictionary defines in the following ways:

A sense of one’s own proper value or dignity; self respect

An overly high opinion of oneself; conceit

These definitions obviously conflict, one being positive and the other negative. After thinking about the

idea of pride, write an essay about Prometheus, applying one definition or the other to his situation and

using specific examples to explain why you believe as you do. important part.

The “why” part of the essay is the most

Bernice Jefferis Cleveland Heights, OH

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

TEACHER’S KEY

ACTIVITIES Prometheus According to Apollodorus

Question #4

a.

rivet

b.

confined

c.

excessive

d.

fennel

e.

stalk

f.

clad

g.

restraining

h.

released

i.

crown

j.

selected

 

TEACHER’S KEY

ACTIVITIES Prometheus Bound

Question #1

consciousness houses carpentry time and seasons star patterns mining and smelting of metals mathematics writing harnessing of draft animals breaking of horses medicine and healing prophecy reading of sacrificial signs making proper sacrifices sailing ships

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

TITAN MOBILES An Art Project

Prometheus and Epimetheus were Titan brothers. The Greeks believed that these brothers created the living creatures of the earth, endowing them with gifts to help in their survival. The students can make mobiles featuring one of these Titans.

SUPPLIES

  • 1. Wire coat hangers

  • 2. Bulletin board paper, 16 x 10 inches

  • 3. Yarn and string

  • 4. Hole punches

  • 5. Scissors, markers, crayons, glue

PREPARATION

Precut the bulletin board paper

PROCEDURE

ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS TITAN MOBILES An Art Project Prometheus and Epimetheus were Titan brothers. The
  • 1. Give each child a hanger, bulletin board paper and a 36-inch piece of yarn.

  • 2. Fold the paper in half to 16 x 5 inches.

the paper.

Place the bottom flat part of the hanger on the fold of

  • 3. Punch 12 holes on each side of the top of the paper hanger shape. Do not punch holes in the bottom along the fold. The children will sew the paper to the hanger.

  • 4. Open the paper shape and insert the hanger with its bottom part against the fold. The students can sew the paper to the hanger, cutting the yarn in half, and threading it through the holes. Tie the yarn off at both sides. It is helpful if the children work in pairs, one holding and one sewing.

  • 5. Decorate the paper pediments formed by the covered hanger with the name of the Titan.

  • 6. Make illustrations that represent Prometheus or Epimetheus on 3 x 6-inch pieces of paper.

Punch holes in these and string to mobile.

Janeene Blank

Birmingham, MI

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ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS

PROMETHEUS and EPIMETHEUS An Art Project

Prometheus and Epimetheus are Titans and brothers. Prometheus, whose name means “forethought,” stole fire from the gods for man. Epimetheus, whose name means “afterthought,” was the husband of

Pandora. This paper-craft project was developed from the idea of the opposites that can be seen in the names, such as before and afteror “first and last.It can also be used with the Roman myth of the two- faced god Janus.

To construct the project, you will need two six-inch paper plates and a paper towel tube for each child. Other supplies are assorted colors of construction paper, glue, scissors, yarn, and a stapler.

Directions

  • 1. Cover the tube with construction paper.

Apply glue to one edge of the paper, rolling the tube

up in it. Apply glue to other edge and fasten down. Trim off extra paper at the ends.

  • 2. Use the backs of the plates, construction paper, and yarn to make two faces.

  • 3. Pinch one end of the tube together and staple.

  • 4. Fasten the plate faces to the tube with glue and staples by joining them with another staple to the pinched part of the tube. Staple down the sides of the plates to keep them together.

ANCIENT BEGINNINGS ENRICHMENT: PROMETHEUS PROMETHEUS and EPIMETHEUS An Art Project Prometheus and Epimetheus are Titans and

Janeene Blank

Birmingham, MI

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