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Hesiod's Prometheus and Development in Myth

Author(s): E. F. Beall
Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1991), pp. 355-371
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2710042
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Hesiod's Prometheusand
Developmentin Myth

E. F. Beall

"Hesiod'sPrometheus" was notsomegivenentity, a conceptwith

propertiesviewedas fixedthroughout thetimesofthetwopoemswhich
mention it.*Prometheus was a process,as it were,alreadyoperatingin
theGreekarchaicperiod,notjustin thehandsoflaterwriters suchas
Plato.The development between theTheogony andtheWorks and Days
bespeaksa certainconsciousness of thevaluesunderlying themodeof
expressionwecallmyth. I Onemight alsosayprovisionally thatsomeneed
to transcendmythis impliedas well.

In ourcentury academicthought hasincreasingly founditdifficultto

ignoretheRomanticthesisthatmythis inherent in humanexistence.
Earlier,in the wakeof theEnlightenment, Westernphilosophers and
thecategories ofmythandreasonin sucha
wayas to considertheparticular historicalarenaofarchaicGreecethe
sceneofa discretetransition
fromthefirst tothesecondas thedominant
modeof thought. Thatis to say,Homerand Hesiodgavewayto new
heroes,thePresocratic Somestilladheretothispicture,
philosophers. but
nowwehavealsohadthephilosopher ErnstCassirer, forexample, present
mythas something whichalwayscompetes withscience.To Hans Blu-
menberg, humanity exerts"workon myth"in a continuing attempt to
suchas F. M. Comford have in effect
held that
representeda stagein a continuous growth from

* I have profitedfromthe commentsby Pamela Long, DorothyNaor, Sally Rogers,

DorothyRoss, Thomas Africa,Deborah Lyons,Mark Griffith, and RichardJanko.
' The literatureattemptingto definethisconceptpreciselyamountsto a bottomless
pit,and the discussionbelow will restcontentwitha roughunderstanding: a mythis a
storyabout anthropomorphic beings,set in the dim past, withsymbolicimportforthe
2 ErnstCassirer,ThePhilosophy ofSymbolicForms,tr.Ralph Manheim(3 vols.;New
Hans Blumenberg,Workon Myth,tr.RobertM.
Haven, 1953-57),especiallyII, xiii-xviii.
Wallace (Cambridge,Mass., 1985).



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356 E. F. Beall

thecreationmythexemplified bytheTheogony.3 Or it is sometimes as-

sertedthatthearchaicGreekswereawareofunderlying structures within
myth.4 In a relatedformulation bytheliterary scholarAlbertCook,at
leastsomeof thePresocratics and otherspartookof a higherphaseof
mythitself, reachedthrough reflectiononitsmeaning intheearlierphase
we normally call myth.5
Butwhether ornotmyth remains withustoday,ifitisnowrespectable
to considertheHesiodiccorpusimportant to theintellectualgrowth of
archaicGreece,thenshouldwenotexamine development within itas well
as therelationofitscreationmyths toPresocratic cosmogony? In thecase
ofthePrometheus wehavetwoaccounts
narratives, withsufficiently close
content to ensurethatthelatteris modelled on the earlier one at leastin
part.The sourcesoftheearlierare essentially unknown, butmovement
fromitinthelatteris presumably ofinterestas an achievement ofarchaic
To saythisis to opposethedominant trendin classicalscholarship
properon theparticular issueoftheidentification ofa myth.Classicists
concerned withHesiodhavetendedtoviewthetwoPrometheus narratives
as variantaccounts ofthesameunderlying entity.Thedifferences between
them,it is held,merely pointto authorial desiresto emphasize different
The presumption thattwothematically similarnarratives constitute
"a" storycancertainly be usefulas a first
approximation, andhereithas
no doubthelpedclarify thestructures ofarchaicGreekthought.7 How-
ever,theunderlying notionthattheGreekscanonizedthestorylineof

3F. M. Cornford, PrincipiumSapientiae(Cambridge,1952).The olderviewofcourse

remains,and is perhaps best representedby W. K. C. Guthrie,A Historyof Greek
Philosophy. (6 vols.;Cambridge,1962-81),I, 26-38.A prominentintermediate formulation
is G. S. Kirk,Myth:Its Meaningand FunctionsinAncientand OtherCultures(Cambridge,
4E.g., mythin Homer displays"metaliterary or metalingualconsciousness"and ar-
chaic art generallystressesthe "paradigmatic"relationsof semiotics,in the formulation
of CharlesSegal, "Greek Mythas a Semioticand StructuralSystemand the Problemof
Tragedy,"Arethusa,16 (1983), 175-78.
5 AlbertCook, Mythand Language (Bloomington, 1980).
6This assumptionis exemplified by the leadingHesiod commentators (citedbelow),
but a fewclassicistshave paid attentionto the so-calledvariations.For example,Ernst
Heitsch,"Das Prometheus-Gedicht bei Hesiod,"inHesiod,ed. Heitsch(Darmstadt,1966),
419-35,uses themin an attemptto extrapolatebackwardto the presumedpre-Hesiodic
7 For our particular example,notablyin Jean-PierreVernant,"The MythofPrometh-
eus in Hesiod," in his Mythand Societyin AncientGreece,tr. JanetLloyd (New York,
1988), 183-201.He actuallyargues the unityto the extentof notingsome apparent
references of each storyto the other.However (and apart fromuncertainties in these
references to be notedbelow), we do not, forexample,assign a jazz piece based on a
popularballad to the latter'sgenre,even thoughtheyhave some sequencesof notes in

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Hesiod and Myth 357

any given mythseems derivedfroma traditioninformedby Biblical

scholarship.They supposedlyconstruedmythicaleventsas contiguous
withthe quotidianpresent,in the way that ChristianFundamentalism
sees the creation,flood,etc., in Genesis. But the earliestGreeks had
troubleevenconceivingofa continuousconnectionbetweenthemythical
"timeof gods" and theirown "timeof men."8If theyindeed "believed
in" theirmythsin some absolutesense,9thisstilldoes not establishtheir
relationof mythicaltimeto historicaltime nor even that of the "Mt.
Olympus,"whereZeus et al. stillallegedlydwelledin thetimeofmen,to
the physicalpeak in Thessaly.At the least theydid not agree on the
actualitiesof"a" myth.The treatments ofthegodsin theHomericpoems
certainly manifest creativity or,as itperhapsseemedto thepoet(s),discov-
ery.10Thus it is possiblethattheMuses had a basicallyalteredconceptin
mind by the time theyinspiredthe authorof the second Prometheus
Anotherdifficulty is theallegationofrecentdecadesthatearlyGreek
epic was "oral-formulaic" and improvisatory. This stresshas produceda
beliefthatthecompositionofthesurviving workswas highlyprotracted.
Also, a long-heldnotionthattheHesiodicpoemsin particularlack coher-
ence impliesa lack ofconstraint on theimprovisations.Thus someschol-
ars hold that neitherwork was a definiteentityuntil it was written
down (much laterthan the main compositionalactivity)."IThe logical
conclusionis thatone cannotevenspeakofdistinctPrometheus narratives
assignableto two different times.
It seems to me that that would carrythe point too far.The early
hexameterpoems probablydid build upon long,overlappingtraditions,
and we mustalso respectthepossibility thatanygivenpassageofinterest
cameintoitspoemlongafterthemaincomposition. 12 Nonetheless,statisti-

8 As is arguedespeciallyby M. I. Finley,"Myth,Memory,and History,"Historyand

Theory, 4 (1965), 281-302,on 284-89.One is remindedthattheNativeAustraliansdo not
connectthe "Dream Time" of theirmythsto theirquotidiantime.
9 One can also be skepticalof that.For example,Theogony 27-28 say the Muses tell
both truthand "falsehoodsresembling truethings."The author(s)mighthave thought
that that poem's own mythsfell in the formercategory,but the statementseems to
presupposea situationwhereothersmightnot agree.
10A goodrecentdiscussionin HartmutErbse,Untersuchungen zurFunktionderG6tter
im homerischen Epos (Berlin,1986), 1-5.Of course,we also finddifferentversionsof "a"
mythin a typicalso-calledtribalsociety.
11An accessiblerecenttreatment ofthecompositionprocesswhichreflects thistrend
is RobertLamberton,Hesiod (New Haven, 1988), 1-37.
12 The latestschemaforsuch additionsis FriedrichSolmsen,"The EarliestStagesin
the Historyof Hesiod's Text," HarvardStudiesin Classical Philology,86 (1982), 1-31.
However,some wouldquarrelwiththeextentto whichhe takestheoriginaltexts'coher-
ence to derivefromlogical,as opposedto poetic,considerations. His paperalso raisesthe
issue ofjust who made the additions.Here one can agreewithLamberton,loc. cit.,that
thepersonality of "Hesiod" is a tenuousconstruct.WhileI use thatterm,or "the poet,"

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358 E. F Beall

cal studyshowsthatour own Iliad, Odyssey,Theogony, and Worksand

Days use languageas if theycoalesced in that temporalorder;and we
must assume that,forthe most part,theydid.'3 Most authoritiesnow
hold that,farfrombetraying primitivism, theoral-formulaic conventions
are used at least in Homer in a manner which enhances the artistry.14
Thus it wouldappearthatsuccessive"performances" willhave neededto
respectoverallstructureregardlessof variations.15 Recently,moreover,
the view thatthe Hesiodic poemslack structure has been stronglychal-
lenged,even thoughquestionscertainlyremainas to just what either
work'scoherenceconstitutes.'6 In particular,the Theogony's Prometheus
narrativeseemswellintegrated withtheoverallpoemat thelevelofverbal
echoesand similarnuances.17Apartfroma versehereand there,evidently
it cannothave been added afterthebulkofthework(not to mentionthe
Worksand Days) came together.
Thus I believewe mayindeedconsiderthetwonarratives to be given,
historicallyconstitutedentities.The followingtreatment comparestheir
main stagessystematically,and thendiscussesthe resultsin context.

TrickeryversusOmniscienceor SuperiorTrickery?

The Theogony beginsitsaccountas follows(vv. 535-70).18 Whengods

and menoriginally divided,Prometheusdividedan ox, cheatingthemind
ofZeus. He cunningly disguisedthemeatto look liketheskin,thebones
like the meat. "Zeus who knowsimperishable counsels"said mockingly
thatthe divisionwas unfair,but "devious Prometheus"invitedhim to

below as a figureof speech,it does seem possiblethateach poem is the workof several
hands (or rather,voices) over a decade or so.
13 See RichardJanko,Homer,Hesiod and theHymns(Cambridge,1982). The results
are consistentforseveralstatisticaltestsoflinguisticarchaism,and I believeare inexplica-
ble on any hypothesisof conscious"archaizing"or of regionaldialectvariation.
14 The Landmarksof World Literaturediscussionsforthenon-specialist readerare not
incompatiblewiththepoint;see M. S. Silk,Homer,The Iliad (Cambridge,1987), 16-26;
and JasperGriffin, Homer, The Odyssey(Cambridge,1987), 14-23.Among specialized
workI onlymentiona good studyofthatlinchpinofthe"oral" theory,thenoun-epithet
formula:Paolo Vivante,The Epithetsin Homer(New Haven, 1982).
16 Most recently, RichardHamilton,The Architecture ofHesiodicPoetry(Baltimore,
1989) givesintricateanalysesoftheaspectsofthepoemsmostoftenthoughtnotto fitan
overallstructure. Withoutclaimingthathis contribution willfinallysettlethematter,one
can suggestthatits prodigiousscholarshipputsthe burdenof proofon anyonedenying
17 Notwithstanding the appearancethat it digressesthematicallyfromthe "main"
accountof originsof the gods. Hamilton,23-40,is forthe mostpartpersuasivehere.
18 Since it is necessaryto referto the texts,I providesynopsesforthebenefitof the
non-specialist reader(whilespellingout some keyexpressions).A numberof reasonably
cogentcompletetranslations intothemajorWesternlanguagesare also readilyavailable;
e.g., R. M. Frazer,The PoemsofHesiod (Norman,Oklahoma,1983).

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Hesiod and Myth 359

choosehisportion.Whilerealizingthedeception,thisimperishably coun-
portionand plannedtroubleformen.Ever
seled Zeus chose the inferior
since,men have burnedthe ox's bones forthe gods in sacrifice.Angrily
chastisingPrometheus'streachery, imperishably counseledZeus ceased
sending"untiringfire"to ash treesformen. However,deceivinghim,
Prometheusstole fire's"far-shining splendor"formen,hidingit in the
hollowstalkofthenarthexplant.Seeinguntiring splen-
dor amongmen again angered"high-thundering Zeus," who insteadof
fireconstructed an evil formen.'9
The poethas evidently made use hereofspecificallyGreektraditions:
Prometheus'sassociationwithmen,Zeus's epithets, use ofthesmoldering
pithof the narthexto transportfire,20and perhapsrecognition thathu-
mans once obtainedtheirfirefromlightning-struck trees.We also find
mythin thegenericsense:theaetiologicaldigressionnotingtheoriginof
the sacrificeand a long noticedsimilaritybetweenPrometheusand the
so-calledTrickster.In incarnationssuch as Coyote(Native America)or
Ananse the spider(West Africa),the latteris also knownto act in an
impudentand craftyfashion,repeatedly, in a waywhichyieldsdisastrous
But carefulconsideration revealsa moresophisticated basis. The no
longertheriomorphic Prometheusseems,unlikeCoyote,a cut
above menthemselves.22 More importantly, theTrickster-HighGod con-
frontationis cast in sharprelief:we actuallygetan impression
principles and ofangry,absoluteknowledge.23 The
stresson the staminaand radianceof the stolenfiremakesan attackon
Zeus's verydivinityapparent.Finally,while in generalone can be too
quick to invokethe conceptof phallic symbol,Coyote/Ananse'sovert

19I followthe Greek textsof M. L. West,Hesiod, Theogony(Oxford,1966), and

Hesiod, Worksand Days (Oxford,1978),and cite his associatedcommentaries as "West
I" and "WestII," respectively. Also, W. J.Verdenius,"Hesiod, Theogony 507-616.Some
Commentson a Commentary,"Mnemosyne,24 (1971), 1-10,and A Commentary on
Hesiod. Worksand Days,vv. 1-382(Leiden, 1985),are citedas "VerdeniusI" and "Verde-
nius II," respectively.
20 West I, 324-25,givessome ancientreferences to the method.
see RobertD. Pelton,The Trickster
21 For a reviewof the theoryof the Trickster, in
WestAfrica(Berkeley,1980), 1-24.A good collectionof actual Coyotestoriesis Barry
HolstunLopez, GivingBirthto Thunder,SleepingwithHis Daughter(Kansas City,1977);
forAnanse,see R. S. Rattray,Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales(Oxford,1930). The classiccom-
parisonwithPrometheusis Karl Kerenyi,"The Tricksterin Relationto GreekMythol-
ogy,"tr. R. F. C. Hull, in Paul Radin, The Trickster(London, 1956), 173-91.
22 As is notedby JaroldRamsey,Reading theFire (Lincoln,Nebraska,1983),40-43.
However,Prometheusis not as god-likeas Zeus.
23 ApartfromZeus's (obvious)omniscience, to hisanger
thereare actually7 references
and 12 to Prometheus'sdeviousnessin a mere36 verses,assumingthatwe read cholouat
v. 562 withWestI (Zeus neverforgothis anger),ratherthandolouas in mostMSS (Zeus
neverforgotthe deception).

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360 E. F Beall

phallicismis wellattested.Freud'scorresponding viewofthehollowplant

stalk24just mightpointto an abstractionof thatphallicism,even if it is
combinedwiththeplant'sutilityintransporting fire.In short,Prometheus
maybe closerto meta-Trickster thanTricksteralreadyin thispoem.
However,we cannottellhowmuchofthe Theogony's abstractionhere
is originalto it and how muchto itssources,whereasthe Worksand Days
innovatesin itsownright(vv. 47-59).Zeus engagedin concealment, angry
because crookedPrometheushad deceivedhim.25He wroughtwoe for
men. He hid fire,but "the son of Iapetus" (Prometheus)stole it from
"Zeus ofthecounsels"formen,concealingitfrom"Zeus thethunderer's"
sightin thenarthex.In anger"Zeus thecloud-gatherer" said that,while
Prometheuswas an unsurpassedschemerand mightrejoiceoverthe de-
ception,thiswouldbe to rejoiceovergreatpain to himselfr6 and to men.
Insteadof fire(Zeus continued) he would give men an evil theywould
"So (he) spoke; and laughedout loud/ (did) the fatherof men and
In a sophisticatedstructuralanalysisof "the" Hesiodic Prometheus
myth,Vernantcontributes theinsightthatZeus's concealingactivityhere
is importantto thestory'slogic.In thishe assignsimplicit"hiding,"i.e.,
a deviousZeus,to theearlieraccountas well.28However,Zeus as trickster
has morefacetsin the laterone: in a compactthirteenverseshe hides
thingsand thenpromisesforcefully, in effect,to out-trickPrometheus, in
highhumoreven if stillin anger.This timethe singlereferenceto his
"counsels"seemsironic,whilehis mockeryis made graphic:"you rejoice
overstealingfire... and overgreatpain ... ." (actually,thelatteralready
suggestswoman:it alludes to Hector'sbitterly humorousremarkin the
Iliad thathis brotherhas brought"greatpain" forall in bringingHelen
hometo Troy29).To vow thatmenwilllove theevil is surelya diabolical

SigmundFreud,"The Acquisitionand ControlofFire,"in his CompletePsychologi-
cal Works,24 vols.,ed./tr.JamesStrachey(London, 1953-74),XXII, 187-93.
25 JustwhatZeus concealedis syntactically uncertain.Most scholarsreadtherelevant
verb'sobjectas themeansoflivelihoodmentioned fiveversesearlier,butanotherpossibility
is thefirementionedthreeverseslater.Most simplyassumethatPrometheus'sdeception
citedhereis the Theogony "variant's"swindleoverthemeat:e.g.,WestII, 156;Verdenius
II, 44; Vernant,183. However,it mayonlybe a reflection of theTrickster'scharacteras
havingalreadyacted in format any pointwe come in on his story.
26 This may referto the Greek tradition (which,indeed,is mentionedat Theogony
521-25)thatPrometheus'sliverwas devouredby an eagle daily.
ek d' egelassepater andronte theonte. My translation'soblique line
27 Ho-s ephat',,

denotesthe verse'scaesura. Given Homericusage,pater andronte theonte is not the

grammaticalsubjectof ephat'.
28 Vernant,190-92.Cf. PeterWalcot,Hesiod and theNear East (Cardiff, 1966), 60,
who citessome subtlewordordereffectsin the Theogony.
29 II. 3.48-50.VerdeniusII, 47, notesthe syntactical

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Hesiod and Myth 361

twist.Finally,thepoetgivesZeus thelastlaugh,as we wouldsay,in an

Thus,be thedifference considered so farthethrust
subtleor striking,
ofthelateraccountis notthatZeus opposessuperior wisdomperse to
Prometheus as in theearlierbutthathe is to beatthelatterat hisown

FleshingouttheBait;Nymphor Vamp?

Atthenextstage(vv.571-84)theTheogony givesdetailsoftheevilit
has just said Zeus created.At his orders,the "famouscripple"(i.e.,
Hephaestus) fashioned an imageofa maidenfromclay.Athenadressed
her,veiledher,garlanded herwithflowers, andcrowned herwitha gold
headband onwhichthefamous had
cripple worked many intricate images
ofmarvelous wildbeastswhichseemedlikelivingbeings.
Whilethereis nothing remarkable in itselfwhena mythof origins
includessomething as basicas woman,herethepoetgoestosometrouble
to citedeitiesin a manner consistent withtheircompartmentalized roles
inthepantheon. Hephaestus is thecraftsman god,Athenathegoddessof
domesticity, so thatit is logicalforthemto createa femaleprinciple.
Theremayalsobemoresubtleovertones: Hephaestus's physical infirmity,
whichrendered hima figure offuninGreekeyes,andAthena'sferocity.31
Homericmodelshaveprobably thebeautification
ofHerabycertain inordertodeceiveZeus,andHephaestus's
spirits work
on theShieldof Achilles.32 The crownwithmarvelous beingsis more
enigmatic. Somescholars associateitwithanearthgoddess.33 It isperhaps
relatedtothe"mistress oftheanimals," whichwasindeedan aspectofan
earthgoddessintheancientNearEast.However, theGreeksthemselves
assimilated thisidea to Artemis.34 Thus it seemsto me plausiblethat
Zeus's"imageofa maiden"is meantas an eroticobjectofcontemplation
inthenymph-like sense,say,ofHomer'scomparison ofthemaidenNausi-
caa withArtemis.35 In anycaseonedoesnotfindsuchevocative imagery
in Coyotestories.
30Cf. Heinz Neitzel,"Pandora und das Fass,"Hermes,104 (1976), 417. I also suggest
the line is enhancedby theformulaicconnectionto "fatherof menand gods" anchoring
the end of numerousHomericverses.
31 On Hephaestusand Athena,see WalterBurkert, GreekReligion,tr. JohnRaffan
(Cambridge,Mass., 1985), 167-68and 139-43.
32 In II. 14 (see Heinz Neitzel,HomerRezeption bei Hesiod (Bonn, 1975),20-34),and
II. 18 (see VerdeniusI, 6), respectively.
3 I. Trencsenyi-Waldapfel, "The Pandora Myth," Acta Ethnographica,4 (1955),
99-128,on 105-7;PatriciaM. Marquardt,"Hesiod's AmbiguousViewofWoman,"Classi-
cal Philology,77 (1982), 283-91,on 286-87.
34 Notwithstanding Marquardt,loc. cit.;see Burkert,149.
35 Od. 6.102-9. See Burkert,150-51.Otherspeculationsare of course possible;e.g.,

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362 E. F Beall
For all that,thecorresponding Worksand Dayssegment (vv.60-82)
is evenmoreelaborate.It is dividedmethodically intotheconception,
manufacture, andnamingoftheevil.First,Zeus ordered Aphrodite and
Hermesas wellas Hephaestus and Athenato effectvariousfeatures (in
whata readingin theGreekshowsis impressive poetry36).Especially,
whilewe getno crownwithbeaststhistime,Aphrodite wasto makethe
creature actively sexualin a wayto wearmenout.Hermes(thein-house
Olympiantrickster37) was to givehera dog-likemindand a deceitful
nature.Second,thesedivinities actuallymadethecreature, withsome
differences, in replacing
especially AphroditebytheGraces,Persuasion,
and theSeasons,withassistance fromAthena.38 Hermes,as "heraldof
thegods,"39 gavehera voice.Third,HermesnamedherPandora,since
pantes("all") theOlympians doronedoresan("gavea gift"),a baneto
Whatseemstohappenhereis thatthelaterpoempurifies theearlier's
conception ofthefemale entity, a somewhat
replacing unclearimagewith
a calculated Shenowhasan attested
diabolicalconcept.40 earthgoddess's
name,andthenaming itselfperhapsconstitutes
a bitter
comment on the
ancestral chthonic"All-giver."'4'Meanwhile, whateverelse it does,the
largerolegivento Hermessurelycontinues theideaofout-tricking Pro-

Mythical or Something

TheTheogony next(vv.585-89)saysmerely
offire"was created,Hephaestus
brought outtheresult,and thatboth
immortalgodsand mortalmenwereamazedat this"sheerinescapable

36As discussedby WalterNicolai,HesiodsErga (Heidelberg,1964),29-30.

37 See Burkert,
156-57.Thisfacetofthecharacteris notas frequent as othersin Homer,
but Erbse,75, citesa fewcases alreadythere.
38 The differenceshave been much discussed.Some have takenthemto impugnthe
segment,but see West,II, 160-64,or VerdeniusII, 54-60.They probablycorrespondto
thedifference betweenthesymbolisms associatedwithan originalconceptionand a final
result,respectively, along the lines suggestedby C. J. Rowe, "'Archaic Thought' in
Hesiod," JournalofHellenicStudies,103 (1983), 124-35,on 128-30.
39 Not in Homer,but he eventually becamegod of speech;see Burkert,158.
40Cf. Trencsenyi-Waldapfel, 105-6.
41 She was still knownas chthonicgoddessafterHesiod's time,at least in partsof

Greece.WhileneitherWestII, 164-66,norVerdeniusII, 58-59,creditstheconnectionin

the poet's mind,virtuallyall otherscholarsdo. See especiallyJoanO'Brien, "Nammu,
Mami,Eve and Pandora:'What'sin a Name?' " ClassicalJournal,79 (1983), 35-45.West
and Verdeniusappearto evictbabywithbathwaterin disputingsome misguidedspecific

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Hesiod and Myth 363

snare."42But thelaterpoemhas it thus(vv. 83-89).AfterZeus completed

the sheerinescapablesnare,he sentHermes,"the swiftmessengerof the
gods leadingthegift(Pandora)" or "the swiftmessengerleadingthegift
ofthegods,"dependingon howwe reada syntactical ambiguity.43Hermes
led her,namely,to a personageidentified as "Epimetheus"(whosename,
theoriginalaudiencewillhavenoticed,meant"afterthought"). The latter
forgotthe warningof "Prometheus"("forethought") neverto accept a
giftfromZeus. He receivedit and, havingtheevil,realizedthathe did.44
Two pointsare striking.First,Hephaestusis replacedas transport
agentby Hermes.Possiblythe "insteadof fire"phrasein the Theogony
accountservesto counterposeHephaestusto Prometheusas twodifferent
conceptionsof fire-god.In any case, to use Hermesinsteadis, again, a
matterofopposingtrickery withtrickery. At a moresubtlelevelthough,
Hermes is the generalized"boundary-crosser." As examples,he leads
King Priamto and fromAchilles'tentand, morepithily,conductssouls
fromthe land of lifeto thatof death.45Thus not onlyis he the logical
choiceto takethenewcreatureto men;thisactionitselfis richin nuance.
For example,it maybe correctto say,as do some,thatZeus "gives"the
femalecreatureas fatherofthebride.46 In thatcase Hermeshelpsendow
theinstitutionofmarriagewithawe as wellas diffilculty.
The nuanceswere
probablyenhancedfortheoriginalaudienceby thesegment'ssyntactical
ambiguity, whichhas theeffectof conflating thecharactersHermesand
Second, the cleveretymologicalassociationin the relativeattitudes
of Pro- and Epi-metheustowardZeus's giftbringsthemfromsimple
personalitiesto thelevelofcharactertypes.Mythicalcharactersgenerally
have symbolicassociationswhichat least scholarsbelievetheycan dis-
cover,but heretheseare relativelyobvious.It seemsimpliedthatthere
are people who perceiveevil in advance and otherswho do not but are
nonethelessable to learnfrommistakes.Somethinglikethatpointwillbe

So Frazer translatesdolon aipun amechanon.If one could construedolos here as
"trick"or "deception"in theabstract,thenthiswouldalreadyimplyan overtlydeceptive
Zeus. As appliedto Prometheus's ownactionsthewordprobablydoes meanthis.However,
its mostdirectsenseseemsto have been the moreconcrete"bait," as in fishing.
43 The ambiguity seemsbasicto thetext;cf.R. Renahan,"Progressin Hesiod,"(review
of West II), Classical Philology,75 (1980), 339-58,on 347. In disputingthis solution
VerdeniusII, 61, does notconsidertheoriginalaudience'sactualresponseto wordsit had
heardonlya fewversespreviously.
I The havingand the realizingare simultaneous;see VerdeniusII, 62, contraWest
II, 168. But thismeansbothproperties are important,so thatEpimetheusis a two-sided
45 11.24, Od. 24, respectively.
See Burkert,157-58.
46 So most recently, in effect,GenevieveHoffman,"Pandora, le jarre et l'espoir,"
Quadernidi Storia,24 (1986), 55-89.To be sure,theclaim alreadyappearsin Bulfinch's
Mythology, which suggeststhat Pandora's famousvessel (discussedbelow) contained
Zeus's weddingpresents.

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364 E. F. Beall

mademoreexplicitlylaterinthepoem.47True,thereis precedent
forsucha developmentinTrickster
(In particular,
oncecutup a personnamed"hate-to-be-contradicted"andscattered
piecestobe absorbed
byothers;thisis whyso manypeopletodayhateto
be contradicted.48)
Butat theleast,ournarrative
is moreartistic.

Gynoidor FirstWoman?WisdomLiterature
or Symbolism?

TheTheogony nowconcludes itsaccount(vv.590-612).49

theprinciple justcreatedwas theancestress ofmortalwomen,boththe
"raceandtribe"ofthesebaneful 0 Thena fulltwenty-one
creatures. verses
areusedto saythat(a) womenarelikedronesina beehive, livingoffthe
laborofothers, andthat(b) to remainsingleor marry comesdownto a
choicebetween dyingalonewithone'sinheritance stolenbykinsmen, and
lifeofat bestalternating goodandevilwitha woman.In contrast, inthe
mostfamousportion of"the"mythin either"version," Works andDays
90-104tellus this.As v. 89 states,Epimetheus knewhe had an evil;for
beforethistime,menwerefarfromdrudgery and pain,butthewoman
opened(some)"jar,""5dispersed itscontents,andwrought woeformen.
A spiritnamedElpis(usuallytranslated "Hope,"alternatively"Expecta-
tion"52)alone did notfly outbefore itclosed,bywillofZeus (ifa disputed
verseis genuine). Nowevilsroamamongmenbylandandbysea;diseases
comeautonomously by day and by night,silently becauseZeus of the
counselsremoved theirvoices.
In an article
published inthisjournaloverfourdecadesago,Frederick
Teggart already observed thattheTheogony's femaleprinciple"doesnoth-

47 Vv. 293-97comparethestrengths and failingsof he who plans in advance,he who

at leastlistensto good advice,and he who does neither.Walcot,62, suggestsa connection
betweenthe two passages,althoughhe and mostotherstake Epimetheusto be simply
stupid. That would be the latter'sreputationin later Greece, and a segmentin the
Theogony'stheogonyproperalreadycalls him "wrong-headed."However,some have
suspectedinterpolation. Anotherviewthathe is two-sidedat leastin the Worksand Days
is thatofWilliamBerg,"Pandora:Pathologyofa CreationMyth,"Fabula, 17 (1976), 25.
48 As relayedby Rattray,106-9,and by Pelton,25-27.
49Apartfroma moral. Theogony613-16 and Worksand Days 105 are to the effect
thatone cannotfoolZeus. Neitherespeciallycalls forcomment.
50 Perhapstheimplication is boththegeneraland theparticularofwomen;cf.Nicole
Loraux, "Sur la Race des femmeset quelques-unesde ses tribus,"Arethusa,11 (1978),
43-87. West I, 329-30,denies the authenticity of the verse.However,his reasons are
contingent on its beingrepetitive,
and I disagreethatthatis an issue;cf. VerdeniusI, 8.
s The reasonwe now speak,rather,of Pandora's"box" is thatErasmusconfusedthe
storiesof Pandora'spithosand Psyche'spyxis;see Dora and ErwinPanofsky,Pandora's
Box (2nd ed., Kingsport,Tennessee,1962), 14-26.
52 "Hope" may undulyimportChristianconnotations; see mostrecentlyValdis Lei-
nieks,"Elpis in Hesiod, Worksand Days 96," Philologus,128 (1984), 1-8,on 8.

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Hesiod and Myth 365

ing," in contrastto the other'sconcreteactionsubjectingmen to evil.53

Alternatively, we may put the structuralsimilaritiesand differences be-
tweenthe two narrativesegmentsin the followingway. In the earlier
accountthediscoursemodemythactuallycollapsesin favorofthediffer-
entgenreof maxims.The principleHephaestushas broughtout to show
gods and men does not participatein a storyabout anthropomorphic
characterswithpersonalitiesbut is simplytakenas occasion to espouse
cracker-barrel misogynyof the sortendemicto male-onlygatheringsof
manytimesand places.4 In theotheraccounta somewhatdifferent break-
downhas alreadytakenplace at a priorstage:theambiguity aboutwhether
Hermes or Pandora is "of the gods" and the shiftto an etymological
focus.It maybe thatthesecollaboratedto distracttheoriginalaudience's
attention,thus allowingthe poet to smugglein somethingnew. In any
case, as has longbeenrecognized,the Worksand Days segmentherewas
originallya differentmyth.It musthave been familiar,sinceknowledge
of thejar's provenanceis assumed.55
We need not attemptreconstruction of the details of the priorjar
narrativeto see that this time the poet has resortedto an archetypal
mythicalformin orderto developthefemaleprincipleand thathis treat-
mentof it is rich in symbolism.It is commonin world folklorefora
woman(oftenFirstWoman herself)to act foolishlyand bringon some
Ur-calamity.56 One can certainlyspeculatethatsome specifically Greek
development ofthetheme,perhapsalreadyinvolving Pandora,constituted
thepriornarrative.57 In anycase, emergencefroman earthenware vessel,
also a commonmotif,seemsto standfora transformation of the world,
notnecessarily thespecificone ofsimpleactivationofthevessel'scontents.
(For example,a Hopi mythassignstheoriginofthetribeto an originally

53 Frederick J.Teggart,"The ArgumentofHesiod's Worksand Days," JHI, 8 (1947),

45-77,on 48-50,althoughhe calls the firstprinciple"Pandora" and believesthe second
was originallysomeoneelse.
54It is easy to believethatsuch a locus was thesmithy'sshop of Worksand Days 493
ffwhich,to be sure,say thatyou should findworkto do ratherthan congregatethere
duringthe slack winterseason.
55This has beenunderstoodat leastsince 1913;see A. S. F. Gow, "Elpis and Pandora
in Hesiod's Worksand Days," in Essaysand StudiesPresentedto WilliamRidgeway,ed.
E. C. Quiggin(Freeport,N.Y., 1966),99-109,on 99-100.
56 One listofexamplesis RobertBriffault, TheMothers,3 vols.(New York, 1927),II,
571. Cf. Trencsenyi-Waldapfel, 115-16.Pandora can be read as attempting to getthelid
back on thejar but too late,by will of Zeus (if v. 99 is genuine);cf.VerdeniusII, 71. A
comparableexamplefromtheBlackfeetofMontanais (Ramsey,8-9)FirstWomanwishing
to undo a wagerwhichhas originateddeath,but "Old Man" sayingthatthe law is now
5 There is archaeologicalevidence of pictorialrepresentation of a vessel with a
chthonicearthgoddess.To be sure,otherspeculationsforthepriornarrativeabound,not
necessarilyinvolvingPandora; e.g., VerdeniusII, 64.

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366 E. E Beall

non-Hopipersonescapingfroma jug in whichhe had been born.)58The

importof the devoicingof the evilsis muchdiscussed.59 And thenthere
is theenigmaticretentionofElpis in thejar. The meaninghereadmittedly
turnson a certaindisputeoverwhetherthissays she is keptimprisoned
awayfrommen or is whatremainsto men.60But if we accept the latter
reading,as seemsmostnatural,thenas a resultofthemyth'sactionsman
is now an "elpidic being."961In this connectionsome suggestthat still
anotheretymologicalconnectionis meant:Men no longerhave "fore-
thought"withPrometheus, but only"fore-seeming" (prosdokia,synony-
mous withelpisat leastto thelaterGreeks).62A citationof elpislaterin
the poem suggeststhatit amountsto self-deception.63 Perhapsthe myth
givesthe originof Sartre'smauvaisfoi.4 In any case, in the accountof
the Worksand Days theend resultofPrometheus'sshenanigansis highly
ReligiousAmalgamationor Ethical Abstraction?
How do thesePrometheusnarratives fitintoculturalhistory? Discus-
sions of "the" role have oftenseen thisas a matterof prefiguring those
componentsof laterculturewhose emotiveaspectis predominant, such
as art or systematizedreligion.As observedabove,othersectionsof the
Theogony(i.e., creationmyth)are sometimesthoughtto anticipatemore
academic matters(Presocraticphilosophy).Yet Hans-GeorgGadamer,
forexample,viewsHesiod's Prometheusin relationto the"tragic"figure
oftheclassicalAtheniandramaPrometheus Bound attributed to Aeschy-
lus.65Otherscompare with theEden narrativeoforiginalsin in Genesis,66

58 Relayed by H. R. Voth, The Traditionsof the Hopi, Field ColumbianMuseum

Anthropological Series,VIII (Chicago, 1905), 155-56.

59 Mostrecently byLeinieks,6-7.However,itsseemsdifficultto determinewhatZeus's
actionmeanswithoutknowingits timeand place withrespectto Pandora's,and on that
pointthe textis silent.
60 Represented, forexample,byVerdeniusII, 66-70,and WestII, 169-70,respectively.
The firstpositionis dependenton readingthejar's contentsas themselvesevil,and it as
a prison,but thishas longbeen disputed.For recentalternatives, see Neitzel,"Pandora
und das Fass;" and E. F. Beall, "The Contentsof Hesiod's Pandora Jar:Erga 94-98,"
Hermes,117 (1989), 227-30.
61 In the termsof SiminiaNoica, "La boftede Pandore et 'L'ambiguite'de l'elpis,"

Platon,36 (1984), 100-124,on 116-18.

62 See HermannTurck,Pandora und Eva (Weimar,1931),9-10;RichardOnians, The

OriginsofEuropean Thought(Cambridge,1951),404.
63 Namely,manymen relyon "empty"elpiswhentheylack the meansof livelihood,

insteadof working(vv. 498-501).

6" In the construalof Walter Kaufmann,Existentialism fromDostoevskyto Sartre
65 Hans-GeorgGadamer,"Prometheusund die Tragodieder Kultur,"in his Kleine
Schriften, 3 vols. (Tubingen,1967-72),II, 64-74. Cf. Blumenberg,299-326.
" The moresophisticated treatments assignmythswhereevil/sinexistspriorto man
to one type;Adam-Eve to another.See, e.g., Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolismof Evil, tr.

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Hesiod and Myth 367

exploiting a parallelbetweenPandoraand Eve whichhas beennoticed

As tothis,itispropertorelatetheTheogony's Prometheus toreligion.
The narrative therecannotreallybe isolatedfromitsprimordial setting
oftheorigins ofgodsandtheirmutilations ofone another which informs
theoverallpoem.For Prometheus is treatedas one of theTitans,the
groupof beingsintermediate betweentheprimeval principlesof earth,
Eros,etc.,whichspawnedthemand theOlympian godswhocameto
vanquishthem.His storyis placedimmediately afterthetheogony prop-
er'slisting ofhimand someoftheothers, andhisdefeatis oneexample
amongothersof Zeus's conquestof them.68 Thus theconfrontation of
principles ofstealthand angrywisdomnotedearlieris inseparable from
theologyor something like it. It is noteworthy herethat,forall our
account's greater stress onunderlying structure,Coyotestories arecompa-
rableinsofar as NativeAmericans typically feelthatgiving sucha narra-
tiveoutofcontext distorts it.69
ButtheWorks andDaysnarrative is another matter.Whileit canbe
interpreted in religiousterms,say,by assigning the originof human
autonomy vis a vis thegodsto Pandora'sact,70 it nonetheless bringsa
certain moralclosetothesurface: ifyou(Prometheus) attempt todeceive
the world'sstructure (Zeus), it willjust reflect yourapproachwitha
vengeance (Zeus out-tricks Prometheus). Specifically,thegivingof life
itselfwillbecomedeceptive (Pandoravia Hermes),and youwillendin
self-deception (Elpis)evenas eviloverwhelms you.71You can learnthis
lesson(Epimetheus). Also,thecontext assistsinabstracting thislogic.In
theactualpoemthenarrative follows a realistic
discussion of working for
a living, i.e.,a differentgenre.It beginsas ifitwillexplainmen'slot,and
it is followed bytwootherdiscretely presented narratives whichmany
scholars(tobe sure,whiledebating details)seeas offering lessonsintheir
ownways,preparatory to themaindidacticportion ofthepoem.72 That
is tosay,thesecondPrometheus accountdoesappeartoanticipate some-
thingacademic,essentially in thedomainofethicalphilosophy.
It is instructive to comparewitha mythPlatowouldlaterputin the
mouthofthe"sophist"philosopher Protagoras. To be sure,theparticular
logicthat"deception perpetuates itself'doesnotoccurthere(although

EmersonBuchanan(New York, 1967), 175-210,232-78;or morerecently, Ugo Bianchi,

Prometeo,Orfeo,Adamo (Rome, 1976), 55-70.
Amongauthorscitedhere,see Turck;Trencsenyi-Waldapfel, 107; O'Brien.
68 See Ricoeur,206-10;or forthe poeticintegrationHamilton,23-40.
Some tribesevenbelievethattellingCoyotestoriesout ofcontextupsetsthecourse
of the universe;see BarreToelken,The DynamicsofFolklore(Boston, 1979),283-84.
See, e.g., Blumenberg,
Assumingwe take appropriatepositionson the controversies notedabove.
72 West II and VerdeniusII give numerousreferences concerningthe "'fiveraces of
men" and the hawk-nightingale fableat the appropriatelocations.

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368 E. F. Beall

we findit implicitelsewherein Europeanculture.)73 Nonetheless,Prota-

gorasis madeto begina speechon theteachability ofvirtuewitha mythos,
whiledistinguishing thisand logos("argument")in places as each useful
in its respectiveway. Assignedto createmortalbeings,Prometheusand
Epimetheusagreedthe latterwould allot themtheircharacteristics. He
failedto reservesome good qualitiesformenwhilecreatingtheanimals.
So Prometheusstolefireand craftknowledgeformen fromHephaestus
and Athena.Fearingfortheirsurvival,Zeus thengave themshameand
justicevia Hermes,insuringtheseto all whereasPrometheushad allotted
craftsindividually.This is whymentakeadviceon virtuesfromeveryone
but on craftsonlyfromfew.Argumentsabout Athenianviewsand prac-
ticeson virtuethenfollow.74
We notice immediatelythat the second Hesiodic and Protagorean
"variationson the themeof' Prometheushave some motifsin common
(such as Epimetheuslackingforesight, pairingHephaestusand Athena,
Zeus and Hermes).But theimportant pointis theircommonjuxtaposition
of differenttypesof discourse,indicatingconceptualization of each type
as an entityin and of itself.The "fiveraces of men" narrativewhich
followsin the Worksand Days is evenstatedto be "anotherlogos"with
respectto its antecedent.The understanding of the termlogositself,to
encompassbothnarratives, and Plato mayofcourseintend
is different,75
ironyin havingthe much despisedSophismspeak as if mythwere as
usefulas logical argumentation.76 Also, Protagorasis said to make his
pointdirectly,whereaswithHesiod the moralnotedabove remainsbe-
neath the surface.Yet the abilityto see mythas one discoursetype
amongothersseemscommonto bothcases. Giventhevagariesofartistic
compositionwe cannotbe preciseon just how the Worksand Days au-
thor(s) graspedmythabstractly.77 But surelyit is fairto say that the
treatment manifestsmythology, notjust mythography.78
73 Notablyin Wagner's"Ring" cycle.In Das Rheingold thecharacterwitha Trickster-
likerole(Loge) persuadestheHighGod (Wotan)to employstealthto securetheNibelung's
ring,on thegroundsthatthelatterhad alreadystolenthegoldto fashionit. Here too ruin
ensues,at the cycle'send.
74 The mythproperis at Plato, Protagoras320C-323A,the speechat 320C-328D. A

recentcommentary (Lewisburg,
is PatrickCoby,Socratesand theSophisticEnlightenment
Pennsylvania,1987), 53-70.
75 Most translatelogonat Worksand Days 106 as "story,"following Homericusage
withtheplurallogoi.But thesucceedingaccountofentiregroupsofmen,notindividuals,
is not a storyin thenormalsense,evenifHesiod does not yetmean "argument"as does
Plato. I suggest"discourse."
76 Cf. Blumenberg, 328-35.
" I doubt we can tell whereHesiod or the earliestPresocraticsstood in the gray
area betweensheer"poeticinspiration"and the methodicalsettingof priorconceptsto
communicative discourse.Thus we cannotimpute,forexample,Vernant'sanalysisofthe
Prometheus to anyactual
consciousnessat the time.
78 At least with
respectto the Prometheusmythitselfand probablymore.Cook, 54,

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Hesiod and Myth 369

At the same time,however,thereis a certaincontrarytrendin the

matterofwoman.The development fromtheTheogony Prometheus narra-
tive to that of the Worksand Days is in the directionof an essentially
mysticalviewofwomanas problematicentity.The earlierpoem'smisog-
ynyis replacedbyone which,althoughlesscrudeon thesurface,nonethe-
less conceivesof woman as monstrousin a mannerapproachingthe
psycho-analytically primordial.Both thatHesiodic scholarshipwhichis
feminist and thatwhichsees "the" Hesiodicattitudetoward
in orientation
women as relativelybenignhave tendedtowardthe commonview of
essentialidentityofthetwoaccounts.79 However,thelaterone's diabolical
detailin fleshingout thefemaleprinciple,theperversionof thechthonic
image"Pandora,"and thefateful outcomeofheractiongo ratherbeyond
the view thatwomen are like drones in a beehive.Instead,the imagery
suggestsDorothyDinnerstein's"DirtyGoddess" psychologicalconcept,
wherebywe experiencewomanas awesomeevenas we rejectherbody.80
Her allegedproblematic natureeffectively becomesa religionin the Works
and Days.
Presumablythe author(s)of thelaterHesiodic poem wishedto com-
pose a piece more relevantto daily lifein the small scale agricultural
settingof Boeotia in thelate eighthor earlyseventhcenturiesB.C., than
had beentheearlier.Still,thelatter'sutilityas a poeticmodelwas recog-
nized,perhapsin themannerthattheOdyssey'sauthor(s)had viewedthe
Iliad.8"We may speculatethatretrenchment intoa purerformof myth
in denigrating womenwas occasionedby the latterhavingbecome an
easy targetin agriculturalcircleswiththe onsetof male-oriented plow
techniquessomecenturiespreviously. 82 Perhapsalso an increasedpopula-
tionwas seen as a threat,83 and as conditionedby femalewantonness.In

backhandedlyallowsthat"the" HesiodicPrometheusmythis "allegorized,"whileclaim-

ingthatmostofthetextoftheHesiodicpoemsremainsin the"Neolithic"phaseofmyth.
However,one maydoubtanyturning withinan artistically
on and offofself-consciousness
integrated poem.
'9 Most prominently amongrecentwork,despitetheirdisagreements: Linda S. Suss-
man,"Workersand Drones:Labor,Idlenessand GenderDefinitionin Hesiod's Beehive,"
Arethusa,11 (1978), 27-41; Marquardt; Jean Rudhardt, "Pandora, Hesiode et les
femmes,"Museum Helveticum,42 (1986), 231-46.MarylinB. Arthur,"CulturalStrategies
in Hesiod's Theogony:Law, Family, Society,"Arethusa,15 (1982), 63-81, on 74-75,
differentiatesthema bit more.
DorothyDinnerstein,The Mermaidand theMinotaur(New York, 1976), 124-56.
As evidencedby linguisticdependences,the Worksand Days is verymuch aware
of all threeearlierpoems. Perhaps its author(s) also profitedfroma certainartistic
self-consciousnessHomeristshave noticedin the Odyssey.
82 So Thalia PhilliesHowe, "Linear B and Hesiod's Breadwinners," Transactionsof
theAmericanPhilologicalAssociation,89 (1958), 44-65,on 62-63.
83 However,thattherewas objectively a crisisis unproven.(Nor can thisbe shown
fromourpoemitself;see,e.g.,ErnestWill,"Hesiode:CriseAgraire?ou reculde l'aristocra-
tie?,"Revuedes Etudes Grecques,78 (1965), 542-56.)

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370 E. F. Beall

anyeventthetrendbetween thepoemsis certainly withGreek

afterHomerhad at leastbeenwillingto allotpersonality
history: to an
Andromache or Penelope,classicalAthensbecame a highlysexistsoci-
For all that,the agricultural
ety.84 milieuwill have requiredpositive
appraisalof straightforwardnessas comparedwithtrickery in personal
Surelythisis whatproducedandcoloredtheemployment
relations. ofa
Prometheus-Zeus mythin a fundamentally ethicalcontext.

FromMythto Sociology?

The abovediscussion pointsto a development stillessentiallywithin

myth, which,however, mightalso prefacemovement awayfrommyth,
towardthemoreliteralmodesofrepresenting theworldwhichthelater
Greeksconceived. Onecancertainly be suspicious oftheideathatGreek
myth"led to" philosophy in anycontinuous way,butanotherpossible
modelismyth's inadequacy becoming so manifest as tonecessitate seeking
Considertherespective contextsofthesecondPrometheus narrative
andthe"parallel"Adam-Evestory.Thelatterdoesleadcontinuously to
something moreliteral,withintheOld Testament itself:it is integrated
intoa purported history, fromtheimmediately succeeding Cain-Abel
storydowntotheauthor'srecentpast.85 In contrast, theGreeknarrative
is followedby "anotherlogos"aboutfiveraces.It is thelatterwhich
beginswitha primordial roughly
situation, ordersothergenerations of
menchronologically, andendswiththepoet'squotidian present/future.
Thus,notwithstanding a tendency to see it as "myth"in thesamesense
as its antecedent,its treatment of eventsin timeis different fromthe
latter's"oncegodsacted;nowwe havedisease."It actuallyreadsas if
intervened in Homer'sbattlefields, mentioned just priorto thepresent
"timeof men."86 It seemsintermediate betweenmythand a theoryof
socialdevelopment which, haditbeenhistorically realizedlikethenatural
"science"theearliestPresocratics initiated, wouldnothavebeenespe-
literatureis PhyllisCulham,"Ten Years AfterPomeroy:
84 A reviewof the relevant

Studiesof the Image and Realityof Womenin Antiquity,"Helios, 13.2 (1986), 9-30.
85 If theso-calledDocumentary Hypothesisis validin somethinglikeitsclassicform,
thentheassimilationto a putativehistorydownthroughtheentranceintoCanaan (which
surelyhas someactualhistoricalbasis) had alreadytakenplace a fewhundredyearsafter
that,stillsomehundredsofyearspriorto redactionofthePentateuchas we now have it.
A non-dogmatic
Of courseall thisis controversial. is
and accessible,ifcursoryreference
JohnBright,A HistoryofIsrael (3rd ed., Philadelphia,1981), 67-74.
86 Thus Finley,286-87,and Rowe, 132-34,are incorrect in sayingthatthisnarrative
containsno timeelementwhatever.Whileone mightdenyit thestatusof "history"since
it has deviationsfromchronologicalorder,is quite symbolic,and is less criticalthan
Herodotus,it simplyis nota mythin thegenericsenseofa concretestorywithcharacters.

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Hesiodand Myth 371

My suggestion hereis thatthefailureto integrate thePrometheus

narrative itselfintoanytypeofquasi-historical narrative is relatedto its
tendency to transcend "story,"where a highdegreeofsymbolism endsin
conflating Pandoraand Hermesand in stressing etymology. True,even
after thattheneedofa concrete illustration
thatEpimetheus knewhehad
an evil maydictatesomething like thejar storythe poet importsto
concludehis account.Perhaps,however, thatexhauststhemomentum,
necessitating an entirelynewmodeofdiscourse in orderto continue the
HansBlumenberg speculatesthattheenigmatic sayingoftheso-called
first philosopherThalesa century orso later,"all thingsarefullofgods,"
is a reductioad absurdum ofmyth.87 However, andtospeakprovisionally
(thematter mightbe exploredelsewhere), the Works and Daysmayal-
readybringtheTrickster taletothepointofrequiring newmeansifmore
is to be said.


87 As one of a numberof attemptsto "bringmythto an end" he notes duringthe

courseof his book; Blumenberg, 25-26.
* 721 6th Street,S.E., Apt. B, Washington,D.C. 20003.

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