About Zeus, Prometheus, and the punishment of the latter- Part Three

Here is a continuation of my analysis, ideas and comments concerning the story and the punishment of Prometheus, and an attempt to explain or interpret plausibly what happened between Prometheus and Zeus, and how Prometheus and his actions ought to be assessed and viewed.

I will consider the story of the one they called Zeus in Greek from the point of view of Euhemerism, which states that the gods were real great men or great heroes of the past who accomplished great things and were deified after they died.

According to this perspective, Zeus/Jupiter may be regarded as a very great man of the past who had the most advanced way of thinking, the most advanced teachings and the most advanced knowledge in the world and at the period of time he lived in.

As I mentioned in the previous posts about this topic, Prometheus would be best regarded as a mediocre man with little preparation or with limited potentiality for greatness or creativity, who lived alongside the great man who was later called Zeus or Jupiter, and who by jealousy, hubris, conceit, attachment to old ways of thinking, and by misguided actions, betrayed and tried to trick and hurt that great man who was his contemporary.

I will try to compare Prometheus (as accurately as possible) to historical characters or potential historical characters in order to give a better idea about his character, his personality, and his historical role.

The following comparison is not totally accurate, but it gives an idea about someone Prometheus could be approximately and reasonably compared to.

If  Prometheus had lived at the time of Pythagoras, he would have been someone (more or less) comparable to Cylon of Croton.

Here is how Iamblichus describes Cylon in his Life of Pythagoras:

“Cylon, a Crotoniate and leading citizen by birth, fame and riches, but otherwise a difficult, violent, disturbing and tyrannically disposed man, eagerly desired to participate in the Pythagorean way of life. He approached Pythagoras, then an old man, but was rejected because of the character defects just described. When this happened Cylon and his friends vowed to make a strong attack on Pythagoras and his followers. Thus a powerfully aggressive zeal activated Cylon and his followers to persecute the Pythagoreans to the very last man. Because of this Pythagoras left for Metapontium and there is said to have ended his days.”

Cylon had no notable historical importance or greatness by himself, but he is remembered because he interacted with a very great thinker, mathematician and philosopher named Pythagoras. He tried to follow Pythagoras, but when he couldn’t or was rejected, he tried to hurt the great man.

The next comparison involves a fictional or hypothetical character (comparable to Prometheus) who would have lived at the time of Isaac Newton. This character (let’s just call him P) would have belonged to a somewhat well-to-do family, and would have been a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, between 1668 and 1672, or (if not a student) would have been someone whose job or (non-academic) work was related to Trinity College and Cambridge.

P would have made the acquaintance of Newton at Cambridge, who sometimes invited him to his office or quarters, and showed him some of his mathematical and physical papers, and some blueprints or sketches related to the reflecting telescope he was designing.

P had no interest in and no potential for mathematical, philosophical, intellectual or scientific innovation or creativity. He generally had conservative religious and philosophical ideas and opinions, most likely reading very few books and sticking to the ideas of ancient thinkers such as Aristotle.

P visited Newton and inquired about his work and papers. He became more and more jealous of Newton, realizing or seeing that Newton might publish his papers and design a new telescope to be shown to the Royal Society in the near future, thus becoming known and famous and an important person. Newton started to notice P’s attitude and his envious words and behavior, but he didn’t give it too much attention, and tried to gradually distance himself from P, and to conceal his work and papers from others until he was ready to publish them or make them known.

People were able to write philosophical, scientific or pseudo-scientific papers at the time of Newton, and telescopes existed before Newton, but Newton was unique at the period of time when he was alive, in the sense that he was a very great man capable of great creativity and innovation in science, mathematics, (natural) philosophy, and the design of telescopes or scientific instruments (Newton’s interest in alchemy and occult studies will not be discussed here). This relates to the idea that humans might have known elementary or rudimentary ways to use fire (and related technology) at the time of Zeus and Prometheus, but Zeus was the one capable of using fire (and related technology or applications) in very creative, useful and innovative ways.

One day, P waited for an opportunity when Newton left his office for a short period of time without closing the door. He went into Newton’s office, or probably sent a close acquaintance or a servant of his to Newton’s office, and took away a number of Newton’s scientific and mathematical papers, as well as a sketch and a piece or two of the telescope Newton was designing.

It is evident that Newton was very angry and upset when he saw that his papers and work had been stolen. He knew from the previous behavior of P that he was the culprit. He tried to talk to P, and he even reached out to P’s family, and tried to negotiate with them for weeks in order to get back what was stolen. P denied having anything to do with what happened, and even feigned to be shocked and offended when Newton said he just wanted his work and papers back and he wouldn’t hold anyone accountable and forget the whole thing if everything was returned.

Fortunately Newton had duplicates or drafts of most of his papers, but he had to rewrite some of the papers, and to remake the stolen pieces of the telescope he was building. He also had to keep quiet and wait for some time before he could get justice for himself and retribution for the culprit. During that time, P hid what he had stolen in his house. He sometimes showed the papers to some people he knew well, and tried to sell the telescope pieces and some of the papers but was unsuccessful. He tried to read Newton’s scientific papers but couldn’t understand them. He scribbled some nonsensical words or some poems or songs on some of the papers, and threw one or two papers away, but he kept most of them hidden.

Newton had to wait more than a decade, until he became a productive member of the Royal Society, or until he published the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and became a known, recognized and important scientific figureThen he was able to act appropriately, exerted pressure on P and his family, and made P give him back what he had stolen and admit everything. P was deservedly, rightfully and justly punished and sent to prison for what he had done. Newton even had to punish appropriately one or two of P’s relatives for being involved in what had happened and for being P’s accomplices. 

P was a mediocre person who acted out of jealousy and envy and tried to trick and hurt Newton, without benefitting anybody by his actions. Perhaps many centuries later or more than three millennia later, the details of what happened between P and Newton would become unclear, blurred or lost, and some people or writers would state or conclude (wrongly) that P was a benefactor or a hero who tried to help humans by his act of theft, and that Newton acted hastily or unfairly by punishing P, thus accusing Newton of concealing scientific knowledge and technology away from humans and of being unhelpful to humanity.

And here is in my opinion another fairly close comparison.

If Prometheus had lived at the time of Jesus, he would have been comparable to someone named Judas Iscariot.

This comparison might be regarded as somewhat controversial. It also seems that some writers are trying nowadays to rehabilitate Judas.

Whether one is religious or not, I think it ought to be evident that Jesus was the greatest man at the period of time when he was alive. Whether opinions and views about Judas change or not, I think that like Prometheus, he ought to be considered as someone who lived in the presence of a man of the greatest historical importance, and like Prometheus, he didn’t have intrinsic historical importance or greatness, but his actions were a “catalyzer” or a “catalyst” for subsequent important events.

From the ancient narratives, stories and myths about Zeus, it is known that he lived a long life and died at an advanced age. By the nature of his life, the one they called Zeus in Greek was able to hold Prometheus accountable and to justly punish him while he was alive.

As an additional remark, at the end of the nineteenth century, in his introduction to the Prometheus Bound tragic play of Aeschylus, the philologist Nicolaus Wecklein described Prometheus as a “short-sighted forethinker”. Since the etymology of the name Prometheus either signifies “afterthought” or refers to stealing and theft, it would be best and more plausible to emphasize the meaning of “thief” or “theft”.

I hope this analysis provided reasonable, coherent, valid and correct explanations and interpretations concerning the story of Prometheus and his punishment. Hopefully additional or better arguments or some new evidence would emerge in the future, confirming or corroborating the analysis given in this post and the previous ones.



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