Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Prometheus


DistrationOnOlympus

“Distraction on Olympus” is a project I worked on with my students at the school I work in.  It was the final project for the drawing club where I taught the children how to draw in the style of comic and cartoon characters.  The class had decided to go with the theme of the Greek gods and I would help them draw a scene around that idea.

In the process of creating the scene, the children asked to be represented as the gods in the project.  They would choose whom they wanted to be drawn as from the Greek gods.  Since this was to be a full class effort, I decided to draw myself in the scene too.  I thought, whom could I be portrayed as. The first name to come to me was ‘Prometheus’.

The story of Prometheus is my favourite mythical story.  He is the creator of humans and our champion.  He brought us fire and began teaching us how to use the fire and provided the building blocks of our civilization, in short, the very first teacher.  Being a teacher myself you can probably see the appeal.  The class wanted to know about Prometheus so I told them as I draw the character.

Prometheus was not an Olympian God but a Titan.  He is one of four sons of the Titans Iapetus, his father and Themis his mother.  His brothers were Atlas, Menoetius and his twin Epimetheus.

During the Titanomachy, the war against the titans, Prometheus and his mother Themis sided with Zeus and the Olympians gods.  Prometheus’ name means “forethought”, therefore seeing that there was a new force rising, took the side of the Olympians.  After the war Prometheus was allowed to stay with the Olympians and this would have great impact.

For you see, man was not created by Zeus; he was created out of clay and molded by Prometheus.  It was the task of Epimetheus and Prometheus to give traits that would give the animals on earth an advantage.   Epimetheus gave out all the traits but when it came to man there was nothing left because Epimetheus name means “afterthought”.  So Prometheus gave man the traits of knowledge from Athena and the craftsmanship from Hephaestus.

Prometheus is seen as the champion of humans, which then put him at peril.  He is placed in direct conflict with the gods, particularly Zeus, when it comes to making a sacrifice to the gods.  In his pursuit to assist humans, he prepares a sacrifice of an ox, to Zeus.  He makes two sacks for the sacrifice.  The smaller has the rich meat parts and in the larger, the bones and discarded parts of the ox.

Prometheus wants to trick Zeus into choosing the bones, therefore he offers him the small sack and Zeus says that Prometheus has divided the sacrifice unfairly.  He then offers Zeus a choice of which sack he so desires.  Zeus chooses the larger sack with the bones and is enraged by Prometheus’ deception.  Zeus them takes fire away from humans, thereby having the humans eat their meat raw.  Prometheus resorts to thievery and steals fire from the gods and gives it to humans.  Upon discovering the truth of the thief, Zeus is set to punish the humans and Prometheus.

For the humans, Zeus makes a woman named Pandora, who is bestowed with gifts from the gods to make her desirable to men.  She is then presented to Epimetheus, as a gift.  However, Prometheus warns his bother not to accept the gift, but he does not heed his bother’s warning.   She carries with her a jar, which contains all the evils and plagues of the world, yet she is told not to open it.  Of course when someone is told not to do something they inevitably do that thing.  She opens the lid and releases the evils and plagues onto the earth, but holds back hope that is still in the control of humans.

Prometheus’ punishment, for the thief of fire, is more excruciating and without end.  Zeus has Hephaestus chain Prometheus to a rock with the help of Force and Power/Strength.  There, an eagle everyday would visit him and feed on his liver.  However, because Prometheus is an immortal, his liver would grow back or regenerate and therefore the suffering would continue with the return of the eagle the next day.  Eternal punishment for stealing fire from the gods and teaching humans how to use it.

But there are indications in other literature in antiquity that Prometheus is freed from his bonds.   Prometheus has a powerful weapon against Zeus, knowledge.  He knows a secret that will bring the downfall of Zeus.  Prometheus won’t tell Zeus and not until Zeus’ son Hercules comes and kills the eagle and breaks the bonds does Prometheus tell the secret.

The secret is that if Zeus mates with Thetis a sea-nymph, he will produce a son greater than the father.  So with this information Thetis is married off to Peleus and they do have a son that is greater than the father, Achilles.

This is basically the story of Prometheus.  Many also see him as the first teacher of humanity.  Placing humans on the path of discovery in science, art, literature and ultimately our entire civilization.

I drew Prometheus bigger than the Olympian gods because his is a Titan.  I gave him the same basic clothing and looks except I gave him a Van Dyke.  Prometheus was modeled after me, I am taller than the children and I have Van Dyke.  I did add the fennel stalk that had the fire in his hands and he is trying to conceal it from the rest of the gods.  If you look closely he is wearing a necklace with the symbols of man and woman, a tribute to his creation of humans.

Whenever I do mythology with the children, I usually recite the basic story I wrote.  The children in the class loved the story and the depiction of Prometheus.

Please enjoy Prometheus the Titian God. The creator of humans, stealer of fire, champion of humans and the first teacher.

Prometheus the Titian God. The creator of humans, stealer of fire, champion of humans and the first teacher.

Prometheus the Titian God. The creator of humans, stealer of fire, champion of humans and the first teacher.

A painting of Prometheus chained to a rock for...

A painting of Prometheus chained to a rock for haven stolen fire from the gods and delivering it to humankind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prométhée enchaîné (Prometheus Bound) by Nicol...

Prométhée enchaîné (Prometheus Bound) by Nicolas-Sébastien Adam, (1762). Prometheus chained to a rock having his liver torn out by an eagle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan by Dirck va...

Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan by Dirck van Baburen (1623) Oil on canvas, 202 x 184 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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