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Prometheus Myth: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

The myth of Prometheus is one of the more complicated stories of friendship we know. When Prometheus betrays the king of the gods - Zeus - Zeus arranges the unthinkable!

The Myth of Prometheus

If the Titan Prometheus and Zeus, the king of the gods, had to define their friendship on social media, they would likely say, 'It's complicated.' Their friendship has more ups and downs than the roller coaster soap operas your mom watches. Why do you think it is like that? The short answer: Prometheus is sneaky, and Zeus doesn't take it well.

The Good Days

After all the wars of the gods have ceased, Zeus gives Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus, the important job of repopulating the land with all its creatures.

Epimetheus is really generous when he creates the animals. He makes sure they have acute senses, athletic abilities, and a thick coat of fur to keep them warm. Prometheus takes care and concern with his job to design the humans, but he knows there are fewer good traits left after Epimetheus creates the animals. The major flaw of the humans is they are left without fur and they get really chilly in the winter.

Prometheus feel sympathy for the humans who shiver all winter long, and he asks Zeus if the gods could share their fire with them. Even though Zeus and Prometheus are friends, Zeus tells Prometheus that fire needs to be reserved for gods only. Guess who doesn't like that answer?

The Bad Days

Prometheus Brings Fire by Heinrich Friedrich Fuger
prometheus steals fire

Feeling it's the right thing to do for the humans, Prometheus steals fire from the gods even though he knows it could mean severe punishment from Zeus. In a stalk of fennel, Prometheus carries fire embers from Mt. Olympus. He instructs the humans not to let it burn out, and from then on, life is much more comfortable on earth. Humans warm themselves and prepare meals over the fire.

Looking down from Mt. Olympus, Zeus sees the fires burning, and the anger inside him burns brighter. He doesn't feel that humans should have the fire! However, the enticing smell of roasting meals over an open flame distracts Zeus. He's used to a daily diet of ambrosia and nectar - charred meats are much more appealing to him.

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