May 20, 2006
In the new usages I coined several years ago, the term Prometheanism (n.) names the driving philosophy of life-advancement behind the Promethean movement I founded, and the term Promethean both (adj.) describes the ideas and qualities associated with the philosophy I invented, and (n.) names its recognized leader-representatives for their chief, identifying quality of advancing life. (This demanding and special role might also be shared by present-day or historical people not recognized as Promethean-movement Prometheans, people whom I occasionally call "prometheans," lower case.)
In addition, the name of this site, Promethea (meaning Promethean works, literally Promethean things), can be seen as a reference to forethoughts, and Prometheans in a sense as forethinkers, since the root for all these words is adopted from the name of the ancient Greek demigod Prometheus — Greek for forethought. But there is more to the inspiration taken from Prometheus.
Prometheus and his brother Atlas, both punished by Zeus.
Prometheus was a Titan, one of a race of giants eclipsed by the pantheon of Olympian gods — especially by Zeus, the king of the gods. Though originally a trickster character, Prometheus was also a skillful craftsman, creator, friend of Man, and friend to Man's greatness. According to legend, the clever Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give as a gift to a shivering and backward mankind. Prometheus 'the forethinker' surely knew that Zeus would punish him terribly upon seeing mankind's fires, yet he made the extraordinary choice to endure even an epic torture in order to advance human life.
Furious at the theft of the divine flame and Man's now dawning civilization, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a mountain. Every day an eagle would come to devour his immortal liver, which always grew back. Through the ages he endured this agony, and many generations passed for mankind. Some men grew to become great heroes. In the end, Prometheus escaped the torment of his punishment only when the magnificently strong mortal hero Heracles released him. With the aid of the wise and cultured Chiron, a healer, teacher, and another benefactor of Man, Heracles found Prometheus, killed the eagle tormenting him, and finally loosed the saviour of mankind from his chains.
With foresight, strength and wisdom, we can break our bonds holding us back and escape from suffering. With foresight, strength and wisdom, heroic deeds become possible.
I originally chose the word Promethean especially to evoke the two symbolic heroes: Prometheus, who gave mankind the first renaissance of civilization, and Heracles, a symbol of mankind's potential greatness realized, a greatness made possible by Prometheus' gift.
As a Promethean, I hope to help give mankind another gift, even more fundamental to the advancement of humanity than Prometheus' legendary gift of fire.
Note: Another myth credits Prometheus with breathing life into the new race of Man — the ultimate act of "inspiration." His brother meanwhile gave away natural gifts to animals, leaving Man to his wits and greatly in need of civilization, starting with fire. The same brother would marry the beguiling, foolish Pandora despite Prometheus' warning not to simply accept what the gods give. For Pandora was sent by the gods to inadvertantly loose all the common but terrible misfortunes and ills of Mankind which only hope and foresight can avert. Prometheus' troublesome and foolish brother was named Epimetheus, or "afterthought." The larger number of men and women seem to follow his example. Like good Epimetheans, many act without much forethought behind their actions, or think without much insight into ramifications. Their labors limit human potential whether they know it or not, and perhaps they have no particular love of Man at all.
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previous v. published on
May 20, 2000