Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Myth of Prometheus

Creativity. There has some much written about creativity. It is often within the context of its relation to madness and (perhaps contradictorily) how to be more creative(nobody writes or reads books on releasing the inner madman). However increasingly there is an upsurge on the subject of autism and creativity. For instance, There is a book by Mich Fitzgerald Autism and CreativityThat explores this in depth. Creativity does seem a defining aspect of us on the spectrum. This was clear to me in a striking way reading passages from Rollo May's Man's Search for Himself. It is in the section entitled "Adam and Prometheus".

Speaking concisely, Prometheus (meaning foresight in Greek)was a titan that against the orders of Zeus, gave man fire. Fire being symbolic for creativity. Zeus punishes Prometheus by chaining him to a mountain. Zeus commanded a vulture to feast on his liver. Also when the liver regrows during the night the vulture returns everyday to eat the liver again. Dr. May related the torture that Prometheus endures is symbolic of the "anxiety and guilt to which-as creative figures like Michelangelo, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky and countless others have told us-the man who dares to bring mankind new forms of life is subject". Tho perhaps Prometheus should have his gut eaten to be even more consistent. Zeus here in his punishment for the audacity of Prometheus can be seen to represented by the group that so often punishes us for being different. I looked up some associations to Zeus. I saw one entry was intestine/liver so perhaps we are making a distinction an ancient would not.

Zeus punishes man by sending a box and Pandora. According to the myth Man was created by Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus (hindsight) which was breathed into life by Athena.The box was opened thereby releasing disease and now man has to work for his living. The upshot is that while we enjoy the benefits of creativity the "punishment" isnt all that far away.

It is significant that Prometheus is tied to a mountain. Zeus comes from the mountain. A word for god in Hebrew (there are a few) is Shaddai el Chai. I quote a website. Shaddai El Chai has been translated as Almighty Living God. Interestingly, Shaddai translates literally as Breasts or Mountains, El translates as God (without gender affiliation so read Godhead or Divine One) and Chai is Life.
There is a tradition not popular for a few reasons. It stands the traditional view of Yahweh on its head. The imagery of a goat leaping to and fro effortlessly on a craggy mountain represents the same freedom from an all powerful or so it seems being. The to and fro representing mastery of one's situation. Of course I cannot let this go, In the tarot the magician is sometimes represented by the fool. And No there is no conflict in meaning here. The Magician is the goat. Look its picture in by a popular Deck.

The wand is symbol of the thunderbolt of Zeus among others things. All these myths talks about how either Yahweh or Zeus are angry that man is now like them. All part of the symbolism of this card.

Perhaps one day I will delineate my own spiritual journey, my quest for meaning.


kristina said...

Thanks for reminding me about Prometheus----have you read Aeschylus' play, Prometheus Bound? I've long been fascinated by Prometheus' creativity and also his defiance and his unstinting willingness to follow his ow sense of what he has to do. Zeus has reason to fear....

An American said...