LLT 121 CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY: Origins of Humankind
Copyright  2001, Joseph J. Hughes
Last reviewed: 13 August 2001

I.   Gods Humans, and Weltanschauung
     A. Judeo-Christian tradition = anthropocentric
        1. humans specifically created to rule and enjoy the world
        2. destroyed only once
        3. positive Weltanschauung
     B. Greeks nowhere near as positive
        1. humans created as an afterthought
        2. destroyed over and over again
        3. dismal Weltanschauung

II.  Myths concerning Prometheus
     A.	Often said to be the maker of human beings
        1. humans made from earth and water
        2. cf. the Sumerian tradition
     B. Prometheus ("Forethinker"), the Protector
        1. 2nd generation Titan; intelligent "trickster"
        2. good brother/ bad brother motif with Epimetheus ("Afterthinker")
     C.	Zeus vs. Prometheus
        1. feast at Mecone; aetiological story of sacrifice
        2. Zeus (willingly) deceived; humankind benefits, but at a price
     D.	Zeus takes fire from humans
     E.	Prometheus steals fire back for humans
        1. fire as the light of intellect and spirit--culture
        2. fire as all the arts, sciences and technology; 
     F.	Zeus has Prometheus bound and tortured
     G.	Zeus punishes humankind through creation of Pandora
        1. made by Hephaestus from water and clay
        2. endowed with all gifts (Pandora = "all-gifts")
        3. Epimetheus, the dumb brother, accepts her
        4. deceptive package motif: 
           a. releases all ills, pain and disease
           b. Hope remains
        5. Pandora as "All-Giver"
           a. seemingly attractive and pleasurable
           b. cause of doom, despair, and agony 
     H.	After 30,000 years Zeus has Heracles release Prometheus
        1. Prometheus identifies nymph who will bear son greater than father
           a. Thetis, later the mother of Achilles
           b. Hesiod tells it otherwise
        2. Zeus gives humans the gift of respect to honor Prometheus  
III. The Five Races or Ages of Humankind
     A.	Five Ages used by Hesiod (750 BC) and Ovid (O BC)
        1. four named after metals of decreasing value
        2. after the Golden Age, each metal age grows progressively worse
        3. Heroic Age = Mycenaean Age, offers hope and relief
        4. scheme of ages reflects pessimistic Greek Weltanschauung
     B.	The Universal Flood
        1. Near Eastern origin; Sumerian; Biblical
        2. Ovid's Metamorphoses: flood as punishment for humankind
           a. Jupiter (Zeus) tests humankind
           b. Lycaon, the first werewolf
           c. Deucalion and Pyrrha spared for their piety
              1) son and daughter of Prometheus and Epimetheus
              2) produce a new generation of mortals
     C.	Main Themes of Greek Stories of Human Origins
	 1. Humans come directly from the earth: 
            a. spring from the earth
            b. earth impregnated with blood or semen
         2. Humans created by Prometheus from earth and water
         3. There are ages or races of humankind which come and go 
            a. usually become worse
            b. Flood motif: extermination of a bad race
         4. Humans have a common origin with the gods, 
            a. humans have a hard life ending in death
            b. great gap between mortals and immortals
            c. Pandora as the new Gaea, new life-producer  

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