In the conflict between Cronus and Zeus, Prometheus had adopted the cause of the Olympian deities. To him and his brother Epimetheus was now committed the office of making man and providing him and all other animals with the faculties necessary for their preservation. Epimetheus proceeded to bestow upon the different animals the various gifts of courage, strength, swiftness, and sagacity. Taking some earth and kneading it with water, Prometheus made man in the image of the gods. He gave him an upright stature. Then since Epimetheus had been so prodigal of his gifts to other animals that no blessing was left worth conferring upon the noblest of creatures, Prometheus ascended to heaven, lighted his torch at the chariot of the sun, and brought down fire. But it was only rather grudgingly that Zeus granted mortals the use of fire.
Then there came the occasion that when gods and men were in dispute at Sicyon concerning the prerogatives of each, Prometheus, by an ingenious trick, attempted to settle the question in favor of man. Dividing into two portions a sacrificial bull, he wrapped all the eatable parts in the skin, cunningly surmounted with uninviting entrails; but the bones he garnished with a plausible mass of fat. He then offered Zeus his choice. The king of Heaven, although he perceived the intended fraud, took the heap of bones and fat, and forthwith availing himself of this insult as an excuse for punishing mankind, deprived the race of fire. But Prometheus regained the treasure, stealing it from Heaven in a hollow tube.
By Zeus' order Prometheus was chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, and subjected to the attack of an eagle which, for ages, preyed upon his liver, yet succeeded not in consuming it. In his steadfastness to withstand the torment the Titan was supported by the knowledge that in the thirteenth generation there should arrive a hero, sprung from Zeus himself, to release him. And in fullness of time the hero did arrive: none other than the mighty Hercules. He killed the eagle and set Prometheus free. Hercules utters these words to the Titan ——
The soul of man can never be enslaved
Save by its own infirmities, nor freed
Save by its very strength and own resolve
And constant vision and supreme endeavor!
You will be free? Then, courage, O my brother!
O let the soul stand in the open door
Of life and death and knowledge and desire
And see the peaks of thought kindle with sunrise!
Then shall the soul return to rest no more,
Nor harvest dreams in the dark field of sleep -