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Challenging The Gods

Prometheus Steals Fire From Heaven

The Treasure of the Dwarf King

Phaeton and the Horses of the sun

Professional Criticism on "Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun"

Shoshoni-Tale

Comparison

Daedalus

Contrast

Sisyphus

Link to other Mythology Sites

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Prometheus Steals Fire From Heaven

 

"Prometheus Steals Fire From Heaven" is a myth involving a Titans challenge to a g-d. The Titans were the descendents from the first parents. When the Titans were overthrown by their children , the g-ds, Zeus became the ruler of the universe. At this point, men had not yet been created. The g-ds wanted to make another creature so they assigned the task to Prometheus, a Titan. Prometheus came down from heaven and began his creation. He used clay and water to shape creatures that stood upright. After Prometheus was finished he asked himself," What gifts should I give this work of my hands to make him superior to the rest of creation?" Then he realized that all great gifts such as courage and speed had already been used for animals by his brother Epimetheus. This did not stop Prometheus.

Not so long after making his creations did Prometheus think of fire. Fire would give man weapons and tools. Then Prometheus sped back up to heaven, where his torch was lit by the sun. He then brought the fire down to man. Zeus who was on high Olympus became extremely jealous of Prometheus's new power and wanted revenge. In his plan for revenge, Zeus created a woman as perfect as a goddess except she was endowed with curiosity. Immortals referred to her as Pandora. With revenge in mind, Zeus offered Pandora to the Titans who were enchanted by her beauty. Facinated by Pandora, Epimetheus welcomed her into his home. When Pandora entered his home, Epimetheus forbad Pandora to open his jar which held particular gifts that had not been given to the animals when he created them. The curiosity rose in Pandora each day until one day she twisted off the lid. As soon as the top was lifted, evil plagues including disease, envy. spite, and revenge rose in the air. This plague began to spread around the world.

Zeus was not satisfied with the harm that the plagues caused bacause he never punished Promtheus. So he decided to punish Prometheus. He chained the Titan to the highest rock of Mount Caucasus where he expected Prometheus to groan from the strong rays of the sun beating down on him. Zeus wanted a vulture to devour Prometheus's liver for eternity. However, when Prometheus was in chains he did not agonize over his sufferings nor regret everything that he had done. He was proud and underwent all of the pain.

 

Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun

 

"Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun" is a myth involving a boy's challenge to a g-d. A boy named Phaeton was always told by his mother Clymene that his father was the sun g-d, Apollo. His school mates would tease Phaeton, for they did not believe that he was the son of a g-d. The boy was so enraged that he went to his mother and begged for proof that his father was Apollo and drove the Chariot of the Sun. Clymene who did not have any proof for her son , suggested to Phaeton that he should visit Apollo.

Immediately, Phaeton left his home and went to the palace of the sun. He stood before the palace gazing at it's beauty. Then Phaeton decided to walk into the palace and look for Apollo. At the end of the hall, a g-d stood glimmering with diamonds. They approached each other and Phaeton asked the g-d for proof that he i s his father. The g-d, Apollo told told Phaeton that that he would prove to this boy that he was his father by granting him anything in the world that he desires. So Phaeton requested to drive that Chariot of the Sun for one day. Apollo explained to the boy that this is one request that he must deny. He told Phaeton that the horses can barely climb the steep road and that the chariot would pass through dangerous monsters such as the Lion and the Scorpion. He also informed his son that Even Zeus, g-d of Heaven could not drive the chariot. Phaeton listened to what Apollo told him but would not change his request.

So Apollo brought Phaeton to the chariot where he gave him important instruction concerning his son's safety while driving the chariot. He warned his son not to drive too high or he would burn the g-ds and not to drive too low, for that would start a fire on earth. The trip could not be delayed any longer, so Phaeton sat down in the chariot, grasped the reins, and went off on his journey. He sped through the clouds with the wind blowing on his face. Then suddenly, the chariot began to rock back and forth and the horses bodies began to swing. This caused Phaeton to wish that he had never asked his father to drive the chariot. The horses began to ride in their own direction and Phaeton did not know what to do. Then the reins slipped from his hands and he lost complete control of the chariot. The chariot plummeted down to earth and cities and countries took fire. Not so long afterwards the whole world began to burn down. Earth could not withstand the destruction any longer, so it begged Zeus to save what remained. Zeus agreed to help by providing the air with thunder. He then threw a lightening bolt down at the chariot where it struck Phaeton and set his head on fire.

 

Shoshoni Tale

 

Old Man Coyote rested his wrinkled body along the hillside without the strength to move anywhere else. He wondered what would happen to himself. He could not hunt for food because he lacked the strength. Even if he were to catch something he would be unable to chew with the few teeth that remained in his mouth. He felt hopeless. As he stared at his surroundings, he spotted a young strong buffalo standing proud out on the prairie. Old man was jealous of the buffalo's youthful appearance and wished that he could look like the other creature.

So,Old Man Coyote walked slowly over to the buffalo. When he reached the buffalo, the old man begged the creatures to use his powers to turn him into a young strong creature again. The buffalo agreed. He warned Old Man, however, that even though he would be given the appearance he desired, that he would still be the same man inside.

So the buffalo ran around the coyote twice and then straight into the creatures body. There was no change in the coyote so the buffalo offered to try again. The appearance of the coyote did not change even after the third time, however the buffalo agreed to try it one more time. The buffalo sped around the Old Man twice, banged into the coyote's body and then they both fell down the side of the mountain. When they both reached the bottom of the mountain, Old Man saw himself as a strong calf-cayote. He was extremely grateful to the buffalo and for the next four years he was happy.

One day, the full grown creature noticed and old coyote on the prairie. The old coyote approached the calf-cayote and begged him to make him young and strong. Old Man said that he would, forgetting that he did not have special powers. So he repeatedly ran around the old coyote until he banged into the creature and they tumbled down the mountain. When they stood up, there were two old coyotes.

The lesson which should be taken from this tale is to never start anything that you cannot finish.

 

Daedalus

Daedalus, a talented artist, created a winding labyrinth with neither beginning nor end. The labyrinth was made for King Minos, who then shut Daedalus and his son in a tower after it was built. Daedalus was eager to escape but both the sea and land were being constantly watched by the King. Daedalus however, realized that King Minos was not controlling the air.

So Daedalus began to create wings for himself and his son, Icarus. He gathers feathers and then formed wings using feathers and wax. After his creations were finished, Daedalus decided to try out his creation. He waved his wings and floated upwards. Then he placed wings on his on and gave him important instructions in order to fly at a moderate height. Daedalus warned his son that flying too low could cause his wings to clog and flying too high would cause his wings to melt from the sun. He instructed his son to stay close together.

So, they flew off together, Icarus following his father. Then Icarus began to float off and move upward towards the blazing sun. The heat from the sun melted the wax which held the feathers together. Then feathers separated and flew in the wind. There was nothing left to keep Icarus in the air. He dropped down in the blue sea beneath him. Daedalus saw the feathers on the water separated from his son who was dead. Daedalus buried his son on a piece of land which he named Icaria, in memory of his son.

 

Sisyphus

Sisyphus was the king of Corinth. He was recognized as a smart, conniving man. When the g-d Hades cam e to take Sisyphus to the Kingdom of the Dead, Sisyphus tricks Hades into handcuffing himself. So Hades, lord of the Underworld, is locked up in Sisyphus's house. This became a problem because no one could die. Hades however, was eventually released and everything was returned to normal.

Now Sisyphus is ordered to report to the Underworld for an eternal assignment. So, Sisyphus decides to form another plan. He goes to his wife and tells her not to bury him and then reports to the Queen of the Dead where he explains that he was not given a proper burial. He also complains that his wife did not put a coin under his tongue for a safe passage. Then the queen decided to let Sisyphus journey back to his home to make everything right.

Sisyphus returned back to his home where he forgot all about death and burials. He lives in his home peacefully until one day when he is taken down to Hades. He is punished severely with hard labor for lying to the g-ds. Sisyphus is forced to roll an enormous boulder to the summit of a hill for eternity.

 

The Treasure of the Dwarf King

Hreidmar, king of dwarf folk had three sons with unique gifts. His eldest son, Fafnir, was strong and fearless. Otter, the second son was powerful and a clever warrior. The youngest, Regin, was wise and agile. One day, three g-ds, Odin, Hoenir, and Loki came as humans to where Hreidmar lived. They wanted to test the hearts of man.

When the g-ds reached Hreidmar's house, they spotted Otter laying in the sun. Loki's enjoyment for destruction caused him to kill Otter. Then the g-ds entered the house and dropped the dead body in front of Hreidmar. Enraged, Hreidmar told the g-ds that they would not have liberty until they give him enough precious jewels to cover the body inside and out. The g-ds began to cover the body with treasures but they did not have enough for the entire body so the king agreed to liberate Loki. Loki left and decided to go to where Andarvi lived. When he reached Andarvi, the creature surrendered all of his gold, only saving one ring which held special powers. When Loki spotted the ring on Andarvi's finger, he snatched it away from him. AS Loki was leaving, Andarvi told him that the ring would cause many deaths.

When Loki returned to Hreidmar's dwelling he placed all of Andarvi's gold including the ring on the skin. The curse that Andarvi had spoken about to Loki began. One day, as Hreidmar boasted over his treasures, Fafnir killed his father and took the treasure. when Regin went to claim what was his, Fafnir sent him away. After years of gloating over his jewels, Fafnir turned into a dragon.

 

Professional Criticism on "Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun"

 

"Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun" demonstrates the idea that when someone assumes responsibility who is not properly initiated into the obligations of adulthood, the result may be a disaster. When a child is young, he is dominated by the mother and his surroundings are comfortable. as the child grows older, the fathers responsibilities become more demanding and the son has to learn the way of the world. A father is like a priest who leads people in o the rituals of the world. Situations army become extremely complicated if the son is competition with the father for mastery of the world.

In the myth "Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun", Phaeton wants to proof that he is the son of Apollo. So Apollo tells Phaeton that he will grant Phaeton anything in the world to prove that he is father. So Phaeton requests to drive the chariot of the Sun and eventually is given permission by Apollo. Apollo is overly tolerant and Phaeton obtains a promise from Apollo to act in his father's role. He is not prepared, however, to handle the responsibility. When he attempts to drive the chariot, he almost destroys the world. He is not ready the follow in his fathers footsteps.

 

Comparison

There are two basic similarities among the following three myths: "Phaeton and the Horses of the Sun" "Sisyphus", and "Prometheus Steals Fire From Heaven". They all share similar conflicts where the main character goes against the g-d and still the g-d always prevails. For instance, although Phaeton is warned by Apollo, the sun g-d that it is unsafe to drive the Chariot of the Sun, he did not change his request and eventually Apollo allows his son to drive the chariot. When Phaeton drives the Chariot, it plummets down to Earth and sets the planet on fire. Zeus enraged at Phaeton throws a lightening bolt down at his head. When Sisyphus is ordered to go down to the Kingdom of the Dead, he tricks the g-ds in order to extend his life. Eventually, the g-ds take Sisyphus down to the Underworld where he is given a severe punishment. He is forced to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity. Prometheus goes against the g-ds when he steals fire from heaven. He took the fire because when he created man he wanted to give them a unique gift. Zeus became jealous of Prometheus's power so he decided to punish him. Prometheus is chained to the highest rock on Mount. Caucasus where his liver is devoured by a vulture for eternity.

 

Contrast

There are two basic differences among the following myths: "Phaeton and the Horses o f the Sun", "Sisyphus", and " Prometheus Steals Fire From Heaven". In all three myths, the main character challenges a g-d for a different reason and their consequences for betraying the g-d are different. Phaeton challenge Apollo because he looking to follow in his fathers footsteps. He wants to take over his fathers role by driving the Chariot of the Sun. Zeus punishes Phaeton with death for setting Earth on fire. Sisyphus challenges the g-ds for selfish reasons. He betrays and lies to the g-ds in order to extend his life. Sisyphus's punishment for betraying the g-ds was an eternity of boredom. He was forced to roll a boulder up to the summit of a hill for eternity. The reason that Prometheus challenges the g-ds is for power. He created man and gave him the gift of fire. Zeus was jealous of his power so he wanted revenge. He chained Prometheus to Mount. Caucasus where his liver was devoured for eternity.

 

Links to other Mythology Sites

 

http: //www. geocities. com/Athens/7681/

 

http: // www. geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/ 6165/

 

http:// www. jpl.nasa.gov/cassino/ More Info/mythology.html

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