Prometheus Ticks off Zeus, Part 5

Published August 27, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Due to having somehow forgotten my password and not wanting to screen-type on my iPad (I gotta re-charge that keyboard!) I’m having to type this in on a school word processor between my classes. Life is weird.

(My own danged fault for having nearly 4 hours of down time between classes on Thursdays, I know. But…what was I gonna do about it? I can’t change when they decided to schedule the classes!)

Anyway! The keyboard on this computer hates me, and the screen is too high. Plus I don’t have my wrist braces. This will not end well. (Um. That wasn’t where that “Anyway!” was supposed to be going…)

This time, there’s a pretty significant time lapse between part 4 and part 5. Not sure how long, though. Actually, it might not be that significant. It’s indeterminate, let’s say.

After humans had finally spread themselves across the land, and the gods were relegated—mostly—to hidden actions, Prometheus felt more comfortable living as he pleased upon the land, taking up residence in this or that isolated place. But he was always dismayed when he heard the cries of lesser divinities: divine maidens robbed of their maidenhead, fathers robbed of daughters, brothers robbed of sisters…and always due to the lust of the gods. (As much as Prometheus would have liked to blame his personal foe Zeus for it all, he was a fair Titan, and had to admit that Poseidon was nearly as desirous as his brother, and Zeus’ sons Apollo and Hermes had pursued more than their fair share of unwilling maidens, particularly Apollo, who seemed to have a sweet spot for the few maids who were unwon by his pretty face.)

For the most part, Prometheus tried to turn a blind eye to this suffering. After all, he knew it would lead to the downfall of the Olympian reign of Zeus. Zeus’ desire was his weakness, the chink in his armor that would destroy him.

But then there came a time when Prometheus could not stand by and do nothing. He was sitting upon the slope of a mountainside when a nymph, the daughter of the local river god, came running up to him, weeping. “Please, rescue me!” she begged. “I swore to remain chaste, in service to the virgin huntress!”

Prometheus did not have much more sympathy for Zeus’ female offspring than he did for the male offspring—why would he?—but he certainly felt sorry for the nymph. “Who’s after you?” he asked, hoping against hope that it would be someone pliable and easily sent away.

The nymph only bit her lip and wouldn’t answer, weeping in fear. That did not instill Prometheus with confidence. He sighed sadly, and sent her to hide in his home, nearby. Soon enough, her pursuer came up the mountainside seeking her, and his face twisted in anger on seeing Prometheus.

“Where is she?” Zeus demanded. “What have you done with my pretty little nymph?”

“She says she’s determined to remain chaste,” Prometheus informed the angry god, “and as she’s quite upset, I’m inclined to aid her in that endeavor.”

“Do you dare to go against me yet again!?”

“Aren’t there enough willing females on this world to submit to your lusts already? Why must you force yourself on ones who don’t wish to become your mistresses?” Prometheus countered. “Have you already forgotten my warning?”

“What warning? You mean that lie you concocted so you could steal my sister’s fire from the hearth and burn Demeter’s forests?”

Prometheus sighed sadly. “I had no idea the mortals would lose control of the fire that way; it happened years later. And it was no lie. You will meet your doom at the hands of your own son, as you doomed your own father. That son will be fathered on a goddess who does not wish to go to your bed. When I came to Mt. Olympos before, you had not yet met her, but now…now you’ve already made unwelcome overtures towards her. So far, she’s managed to rebuff you, but once you manage to succeed…she is destined to bear a son greater than his father. And that is the destined end of your reign. It’s not long now. You may as well face up to it, and prepare your children for their inevitable imprisonment in Tartaros along with you.”

Zeus stared at Prometheus in silence for some long time, his brow furrowed in anger. “Who is this goddess?” he asked, his voice slowly rumbling.

“No,” Prometheus laughed. “I don’t have any reason to tell you that. I’m looking forward to watching your tyranny crumble.”

“You will tell me!” Zeus bellowed.

“I will not, and nothing you do can make me,” Prometheus countered. “I am as immortal as you are, so there’s little point in threatening to kill me. And if you threw me into Tartaros, you’d be re-uniting me with my father and brother, and all their kin, and I doubt you want to see them given access to me,” he pointed out, with a sardonic grin.

“I can think of worse punishments than Tartaros for one such as you,” Zeus assured him, glaring furiously. Then he summoned Iris, and sent her to fetch Ares, and the vicious Kratos and Bia, as well as his chariot, carrying the crippled Hephaistos. Once they had arrived, Zeus gave them a callous smile, and gestured at Prometheus. “Take him to the mountains at the ends of the earth, and chain him up. Make the chains so thick that twenty of him could never break them.”

Hephaistos looked at Prometheus sadly, then nodded glumly. “A-all right…” he conceded, “if I have to…”

“Don’t let him say a word, or he’ll try to trick you,” Zeus added. “He’s got a clever tongue, and the lot of you don’t have a brain between you.”

“What way is that to speak to your own son!?” Ares objected.

“In your case, it’s quite accurate,” Prometheus chuckled, “but quite a cruel misjudgment of poor Hephaistos. Ugliness and inability to stand up for oneself is not the same as lack of intellect.”

Prometheus’ only reward for defending Hephaistos was to be clubbed in the face with the butt of Ares’ spear. But Ares was never one to care to hear his brothers praised, after all. He only liked to hear himself praised.

By the time Prometheus recovered from the blow to his face, he had already been transported almost all the way to the barren mountains where he would be confined. His grim-faced captors seemed to be taking great glee in tormenting him, and the three of them were making wagers about what Zeus had in store for the rebellious Titan. Hephaistos seemed distressed by his own role, but he went about it with a workman’s proper diligence, which even Prometheus had to admire, despite himself. And he had to admit that those chains were certainly more than he would ever be able to break himself.

And to make matters worse, Ares insisted on fastening the chains not only around Prometheus, but right through his arms and legs, to ensure that he had no chance of escaping, or even persuading anyone to free him. He was truly trapped. But he could not know what further torments Zeus might have in store for him.

Not until the torments arrived at dawn’s first light the next day.

He eyes had barely grown accustomed to the light when Prometheus saw the shape approaching him. It was a bird, massive beyond any he had ever seen. An eagle, but of such prodigious size!

The bird landed astride Prometheus, one massive clawed foot to either side of his waist, then lowered its beak to his torso, ripped it open, and began to eat out his liver. The Titan could only scream in agony as the bird fed on his living flesh. Once it had done, it flew away again, and he was left lying there, baking in the hard sunlight, slowly bleeding out a puddle of raw ichor onto the rocks below.

His wound had almost closed up by the time Hermes came sauntering up, in the late afternoon.

“Looks painful,” he commented, looking at the hole. “New liver’s about half grown in. Should be fully restored by the time it comes back tomorrow morning.”

“It’s coming back tomorrow morning,” Prometheus groaned. He wasn’t surprised, but he was a touch disappointed. This was the sort of torment suffered by those in Tartaros. The only difference was that here he had the touch of the sunlight on his face, here he would have the cool breezes of the night, the sight of the moon and the stars, and if he was lucky he might even have some refreshing rain once in a while. This had to be better than to suffer the same thing underground.

“Of course it is,” Hermes laughed. “Wouldn’t be much incentive to make you talk if it only came once, would it?”

“No, it would not,” Prometheus agreed. “Nor is it now,” he added. “I have no desire to save your wicked father from his own lechery. Let him rot.”

“If he goes down, who’ll save you?” Hermes countered.

“Do you honestly believe he’ll let me go if I tell you what he wants to know?” Prometheus laughed. “I’m not so naïve as you are, boy.”

“Well, I can tell you that you sure won’t be going free any other way.”

“Not while Zeus reigns, no,” Prometheus agreed. “But after he falls? His successor might release the other Titans, and they might free me. Even if they don’t, at least I would have seen his fall, and that would be worth the torture.”

For some time, Hermes stood there silently. “I guess you’re just not ready to talk yet,” he sighed. “I’m sure you’ll see reason after you’ve lost a few more livers. Just…look, no one wants to be doing this, okay? Even Father doesn’t want to be doing this to you. But you’ve really scared him with this talk of some new god rising up and destroying us. Just tell us what we need to know, and everyone will be glad to let you go.”

“You know, I almost believe you mean that,” Prometheus chuckled, “but if you do, you’re a fool. Your father hates me. He’s glad of the excuse to torture me. And no, he will not let me go, even if I do tell him what he wants to know. In fact, I’m afraid to tell him now. I’m afraid of what he’ll do to her. She’s innocent, has no idea that her son will destroy Zeus. But if he finds out? What if he throws her in Tartaros to rob himself of the temptation of having his way with her? That would be a cruel recompense for all her kindnesses to the Olympian gods, but I wouldn’t put it past that paranoiac tyrant.”

Hermes laughed. “Father would never do that to a pretty goddess! I can promise you that!” He paused, rubbing his chin. “So, she’s been kind to us, huh?”

“I’m not saying another word,” Prometheus exclaimed, setting his jaw firmly shut.

Hermes tried many more times to make Prometheus talk, but the Titan kept to his word, and remained as silent as the stones around him, and Hermes eventually returned to Mt. Olympos in defeat.

The next morning, the eagle returned, and once again ate out Prometheus’ liver, sending screams of agony ringing through the desolate mountains.

High atop Mt. Olympos, Zeus heard the cries and secretly exulted in them.

Yet he also wished more desperately than ever that he knew the secret Prometheus was hiding. He was terrified to make new conquests of immortal maids now, and yet there were so many that he wanted so desperately…

For the moment, he decided to try and pacify his desires with mortal women, but he didn’t like that he was having to let Prometheus’ stubbornness dictate his behavior. He didn’t like that one bit.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAH! OMG, as I was writing this, I couldn’t help thinking “Zeus’ lust is his Achilles’ heel!” which is hilarious, considering the goddess in question here! Man, I should not find this so funny. Maybe I’m not getting enough sleep…

Oh, but I had to make up the bit about why Prometheus gave Zeus the direct warning again, with the nymph seeking his aid. Sorry. I don’t like having to do that, but…y’know…ugh. There may actually have been something, but I’m writing this at school, and my books are at home, so I couldn’t consult them! (Okay, actually, I could trek back over to the library and look at the library’s copy of Gantz, or I could check my copy before I post this, lol, but…uh, yeah….anyway….)

Kratos and Bia haven’t shown up since the Titanomachy, but they seemed logical, right? One—or was it both of them?—were in Aischylos’ Prometheus Bound, which fills about this portion of the story, but very differently. (And although I read it pretty recently, I read it for very different reasons, ‘cause I thought maybe the Anguished One in Devil Survivor 2 was about to turn out to be Prometheus instead of the usual fella—and then they surprised me by making him someone original—so I wasn’t paying attention to the usual stuff.) My Hephaistos is pretty different from Aischylos’ as well, in part because of his treatment earlier, and in general because my entire treatment of the myth is totally different. Mine is, after all, for light, entertaining purposes, and whatever Aischylos’ purposes were, they were anything but light. (I’m sure entire books have been written trying to figure out exactly what his purposes were, but I haven’t read them, so I don’t know what they say.)

Now the question is, do I call this the “final part” of the “Prometheus Ticks off Zeus” saga or what? ‘Cause obviously the ending is when Heracles slays the eagle (or sometimes it’s a vulture?) and lets Prometheus go. Usually, this is because Prometheus has just told him—or Hermes?—the identity of the goddess, at long last. But to tell that story as part of the “Prometheus Ticks off Zeus” saga seems a little off. That’s more appropriately part of the life of Heracles. Which is, of course, long and complicated, and still hampered by the whole “wait, is he actually Theban or not?” problem that I’ve talked about before. In any case, I’m not about to start on Heracles for next week—way too much to have to deal with there in terms of preparation—so who knows what the myth will be next week. Or if the myth will be next week.

Amusing aside:  even though I couldn’t log in ’cause of the forgotten password, I was still looking at what I’d written before when I was writing this.  Consequently, I was able to identify my own activities on the “Most Active (the past day)” feed on the Dashboard.  That’s actually kind of pathetic.  (Okay, no the pathetic part is that my own activity was the entirety of said activity.)



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