Prometheus and Democracy

I saw the names of Prometheus and Epimetheus for the first time in the story Pandora and the Box of Troubles. The story did not say much about Prometheus except when his brother Epimetheus says that Prometheus would be angry if the box of troubles was opened. Pandora opens the box and releases the troubles despite the warning. I don’t know what Prometheus did later. Nobody has told me.

Some years later, I saw these brothers named as Titans in a B.A. level textbook. (I don’t remember the book. I was in Grade Seven, probably.) Titans had a war with the Olympians–not those who participate in Olympics –but Prometheus and Epimetheus supported the Olympians. I found that particularly strange but there was no answer. I, myself was not much interested at that age.

When I had intense desire to recall the Greek Mythologies, I used to look up the Wikipedia. There, for the first time, I saw that Prometheus did one rebellious thing against the Olympians–stealing the fire. I got interested but could not go through all the article.

This October, I found a Grade Nine English textbook (not the Government prescribed) where I found the story of Prometheus again. This was the same story in which he stole the fire. This time, however, I could make sense of the story. What a rebel he was!

Prometheus was a life-long rebel. When Cronus and his other brothers (the Titans) were busy “ruling” the world, and not taking care of the people they ruled upon, he and Epimetheus helped Zeus and his siblings (the Olympians) fight other Titans. I forgot the details but I think I read that they enlightened the Olympians on the strengths and the weaknesses of the Titans. The Olympians won.

When in power, they did not take care of the people they ruled. In other words, they turned into tyrants just like the Titans. Prometheus saw humans suffering and he decided to rebel against the Olympians. The best way he found was to steal fire from Olympia and give it to humans. And also to train in how to use it. He succeeded in his goal but not without Zeus’ knowledge.

Zeus did not like what Prometheus did. So, he was punished. I won’t go through all the punishments he went through but the introduction of Pandora was one episode in it.

What can we learn from the story of Prometheus?

I see a trend of repeating history in this story. The ways both the Titans and the Olympians when they gained power are similar. Throwing the Titans and establishing the Olympians seems like a dictator being replaced by another. When that happens, people suffer even more. They think the second dictator is better but it is not the case. That’s when rebels like Prometheus come up. They teach people to fight the dictators and established a system of ruling. The result is democracy.

The story of Prometheus, thus is in one way, a way to understand the foundation of collective wisdom–democracy.








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