Prometheus was a son of Iapsotes and a Titan who existed before the gods of Olympus. After winning the war against the Titans, Zeus shared the universe with his siblings and bought Prometheus to Olympus. Prometheus was angry with Zeus and his despotism, however, and wished to avenge his ancestors. He created the first human with Athena and Zagreus out of clay from the ground where the other Titans had died. Zagreus was Zeus’ own son from Persephone, and Zeus said about him, “Let all my rule, my riches, my abilities, and my knowledge be his.” Humanity could then replace the hegemony of Zeus. Interestingly, a similar prophecy exists for Athena, who also helped in the creation of the first human. Athena would help end the rule of Zeus.
After Zeus copulated with his first wife Metis, Gaia prophesized that the resulting child would overthrow him. Zeus then devoured Metis with her unborn child, but Athena was later born out of his head. Zeus did not deny the wishes and desires of Athena, however, and presented a friendly demeanor. We see another connection between Prometheus and Athena in this birth. Zeus suffered extreme headaches after consuming Metis, and Prometheus told Zeus the real cause of his pain and what needed to be done. After Athena was born out of the head of Zeus, Prometheus learned from the Goddess of Intelligence what was needed for “a civilized life” and the importance of reason and uprising, which was symbolized with fire.
As regards Zagreus, Zeus fell in love with his sister Demeter and copulated with her, with Persephone being born from this union. Once she reached adulthood, Zeus fell in love with her. He saw her sitting alone in a forest, so he transformed into a snake and joined with her. Persephone was then pregnant with Zagreus. Zeus wanted to protect his son Zagreus, but Hera did not want this fruit of such a forbidden love to survive. Zeus, knowing the harm that Hera could inflict, hid his son. He entrusted him to the Kouretes, who had protected Zeus as an infant in their cave. Hera then ordered the Titans to find and kill Zagreus, and they searched for him everywhere before finally finding out about the cave. They could not retrieve him from the cave, however, so the Titans placed a mirror at the cave entrance. Intrigued by the mirror, Zagreus came out of the cave, after which the Titans tore him to pieces and ate his flesh, leaving only the bones. On discovering the crime, Zeus hurled a bolt of lightning at the Titans, turning them and the bones of Zagreus to ashes. As time passed, another Titan, Prometheus, gave shape to the clay from this spot and created a human body. Athena, who was passing by, then breathed life into this clay body. Thus, humanity was created, but along with the purity and goodness of Zagreus, there was the evil and cruelty of the Titans. In each story of creation, the material may be different, but Athena is always involved.
It is believed that Prometheus pitied the weakness of the humans, so he took another move toward the destruction of Zeus. He stole fire from Olympus and gave it to humanity.
In retaliation, Zeus chained Prometheus to the Caucasian Mountains. Prometheus, with his ability to foresee the future, had the power to topple Zeus, and he had created all the right conditions to enable this. Zeus feared him for this. He had created humanity to replace him with help from Athena, who was also prophesized to destroy Zeus. Zeus believed he had done all this because he could see the future. The Caucasian eagle, an automaton created by Hephaestus, was set to gnaw at Prometheus’s liver, although it regenerated every day. Hercules eventually released him, and Zeus finally forgave him. (For a different view, follow the article.)
In a later philosophy, Prometheus became symbolic of freedom, knowledge, and resistance against oppressive forces and political abuse. In the struggle between Zeus and the Titans, Prometheus manage to avoid directly opposing Zeus, but it seems that he still discretely favored the side of the Titans.
In philosophy, the importance of taking a logical approach over believing myths, and the importance of humanity, rose together with a natural philosophy solidified by the character of Prometheus. In Greek, the root meaning of the word “math” relates to learning, and this comes from a view that says existence is based on numbers, and this is very relevant as a demonstration of the transition from mythology to reason. Zeus, out of mythology, represents an illogical exaltation, while Prometheus, as the anarchist of logos, was completely opposed to him.
Even in today’s astrological literature, we see how Zeus (in the form of Jupiter) is exalted despite the destruction he has caused. Even when a disaster occurs, and despite his undeniable presence in the maps, we seek other sources to explain it.
In the torch races that were common among the Greeks of Athens (of which Athena is the protector), Prometheus was considered a religious cult. People expressed their respect for logos by organizing ceremonies dedicated to Prometheus to fight myths and the exalted rule of the illogical (i.e., Zeus). The torches held by the runners carry the flame that Prometheus gifted to humanity. This is why the torch symbolizes knowledge even today.
I don’t care about Zeus at all.
While he rules, let him do as he wishes. Let him slaughter.
His rule in the skies will not last long!
Prometheus (Aeschylus BC 525-456)
As we can see, Prometheus has an archetype that directs the future through small adjustments. It is inadequate to attribute to him with just knowledge and uprising through logic.
Some stories say that Prometheus traded his mortality with the immortality of the centaur Chiron, who was then able to die and escape from his pain. Prometheus did not have mortality to trade, however, because he was a Titan. He existed long before the gods of Olympus and was already immortal.
In many myths, Prometheus was rescued from his torture by Hercules. In other words, it was the strengthening (Hercules) of logic and uprising. The accounts of this differ, however.
Another lesser known myth, one that seems more reasonable to me, goes like this. It clearly explains the salvation of knowledge through gaining strength:
You will see, one day,
Zeus with all his firmness will soften,
Because the bed he tries to enter
will topple him from his power and throne.
Prometheus (Aeschylus BC 525-456)
Zeus, who knew that Prometheus could see the future, released Prometheus to find out “which bed” this was.
The bed was that of Thetis, but Athena and humanity still have logic…