A Promethean Style Theft
In Greek Mythology there is no creator of the world. Greek mythology contains theogonies, which are stories of the birth of the gods. Hesiod's Theogony provides successively related stories, which build up to provide an impression of the divine aspects of the world. Thus, the creator of the world is the poet. It is the poet, a creative being, who brings into being the 'world' in which men live. The very name poet was etymologically derived from the word 'makar'. To build from matter is sublimely great, But only gods and poets can create
According to Hesiod's theogonic poetry Prometheus was born of the daughter of Okeanos and created mankind out of clay. The name Prometheus means 'he who knows in advance'. He is the creative spirit, attributed with having the gift of insight.
The story of Prometheus giving fire to man, the gift that proved to be the means by which man might master many crafts, is legendary. For the sin of giving man the greatest resource possible Prometheus was punished by being nailed fast in chains beneath the open sky and having his liver eaten, on a daily basis, by an eagle.
In Aeschylus's 'Prometheus Bound' Prometheus describes what mankind was like and speaks of the gifts he gives to the human race. "For seeing they saw not, and hearing they understood not, but like the shapes we see in dreams they wrought all the days of their lives in confusion. Til I revealed to them the grouping of letters, to be a memorial and record of the past, the mistress of the arts and mother of the Muses And then I found for them the art of using numbers That master science."
It is of little concern whether all human arts 'really' came from Prometheus for the very notion of him infusing man with a creative fire stick and providing memory appeals to the poet's imagination. This myth has breathed life into the imagination of writer's from Goethe to Australian A.D. Hope and lead to some stunning literature.
For the purposes of this discussion let us consider the situation where creativity is blocked by the forces of materialism and choked by the Christian work ethic. Draining capitalism and a general obsession with money has polluted the rivers of the writer whose dreams are mingled with all sorts of things that seem to bear no relation to one another. Like Prometheus the modern worker sees 'above them sailing o'er life's barren crags the vulture' and seem helpless to change the situation.
Prometheus was a prophetic seer who could see into the future and had knowledge about who would depose Zeus himself. However, it does not take a prophet to see what is happening in our current environment. People are so pressed for time that they have little creative energy. Society has become work obsessed and the status once assigned to class is now assigned to work. The intrinsic flaw in this is that individuals feel trapped in the cogs of the work machine, facing a Promethean like sentence 'Shall it then be unavailing, all this toil for human culture?' .
Prometheus claimed to have given man 'Hope'. Clinging to hope provides the modern writer with a means to palliate the pain. There is a choice. What is called for in this situation is a Promethean style theft and rebellion. It is time to be unbound and released of some of the toil and to ride the winged horse, Pegasus, believed to be the ally of poets and retrieve the creative torch.
Longfellow describes just such an action when he writes in his poem 'Prometheus' Yet all bards, whose hearts unblighted Honour and believe the presage Hold aloft their torches lighted Gleaming through the realms benighted As they onward bear the message!
Writing on a daily basis helps us to bear the message and keep the Promethean fire burning. Nearly half of the population says that they are pressed for time but those who stop to steal some creative time to write say that they feel a release not dissimilar to what Prometheus must have felt when he was unbound, thirty thousand years later, by Hercules. When people made a daily habit of writing they feel 'heavenward inspiration' and say that they are able to make clearer choices.
If we want to keep the Promethean flame burning brightly we need to
Read about Prometheus and some of the other great myths. Let the ones that resonate for you 'come alive' in your imagination. Write a piece about riding with the winged Pegasus or a character that captures your imagination.
Try myth making and writing your own myths about the source of creative inspiration. You could dialogue with Prometheus about the gifts that he has given you and discuss how to overcome any demands that prevent you from writing. Upon completion you will feel the 'fervor of invention' and the 'rapture of creating.'
Bear witness to your life by maintaining a visual journal.
Heather Blakey asserts the right to be identified as the author of this work