Prometheus

Prometheus (i.e. Forethought), a Titan, the son of lapetus and Klymene, and the brother of Epimetheus (q.v.), who, when the gods, just installed on Olympus, met with men at Mekone to arrange with them as to their dues in sacrifice, came boldly forth as the representative and protector of the human race and slew a bullock in sacrifice, putting the flesh of it in one pile and the entrails with the bones in another, veiled temptingly with fat, and invited Zeus to make his choice, whereupon, knowing well what he was about, Zeus chose the latter, but in revenge took away with him the fire which had been bestowed by the gods upon mortals. It was a strife of wit versus wit, and Prometheus, as the defender of the rights of man, was not to be outwitted even by the gods, so he reached up a hollow fennel stalk to the sun and brought the fire back again, whereupon the strife was transformed into one of force versus force, and Zeus caught the audacious Titan and chained him to a rock on Mount Caucasus, where an eagle gnawed all day at his liver which grew again by night, though, in inflicting this punishment, Zeus was soon visited with a relenting heart, for it was by express commission from him that Hercules, as a son of his, scaled the rock and slew the eagle. The myth is one of the deepest significance, reflecting an old belief, and one which has on it the seal of Christ, as sanctioned of Heaven, that the world was made for man and not man for the world, only there is included within it an expression of the jealousy with which Heaven watches the use mankind make of the gifts that, out of her own special store, she bestows upon them. Prometheus is properly the incarnation of the divine fire latent from the beginning in the soul of man.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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Prometheus in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

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