"Meanwhile, on the face of the earth, the races of mankind had already come into being. As one another. In the Golden Age of men succeeded one another. In the Golden Age of Cronus life was an eternal springtime. The soil brought forth so profusely that all toil was unnecessary. Men were both happy and good; old age came slowly. They dwelt always in a kindly out-of-doors, and knew neither strife nor poverty. When death at length came to them, it was like a peaceful sleep into which they fell.

Next came the Silver Age. Jupiter created the seasons and made labor necessary. Hunger and cold prevailed, and houses had to be built. Man in that age showed courage, but he was often overbearing and forgot to pay due reverence to the gods.

The Age of Silver was followed by the Age of Bronze, in which men learned the use of arms and made war upon one another. Last was the Age of Iron -- an era of crime and dishonor, when the gifts of the gods were misused and mankind sank into utter degradation.
Bound up with the history of mankind in these early ages is the wonderful story of Prometheus. The name of this Titan means "forethought" or "foresight," just as that of his brother, Epimetheus, means "afterthought" or "hindsight." In other words, Prometheus by the powers of his mind could tell beforehand what was going to happen. For a time Prometheus was the chosen counselor of Jupiter, who relied upon him for help in all things. Yet between them in time a quarrel arose; and all because of mankind. For when Jupiter beheld how men fell away from their former glory in the Silver Age, he swept them off the face of the earth, and resolved to create a new race. He called upon Prometheus for assistance, and the Titan took clay from the banks of a river in Arcadia and molded it into the likeness of the gods and breathed the breath of life into the images that he made. So a new race was born.

Yet these men were feebler than the men of the two preceding ages, and they came into a world that demanded more of them than had ever before been demanded of men. They had to struggle against the changes of the weather. The earth would not bear food for them unless they first tilled the soil, and around them were dangerous wild beasts. It seemed as if this race would perish unless help came.

Prometheus, looking down upon them, saw what was happening.

"Come," he said to Jupiter, "let us give these poor creatures the blessed gift of fire. With fire they will not need to fear the cold. With fire they can make themselves tools and weapons."

But Jupiter feared that if he gave this great boon to men, they would think themselves the equals of the gods, and he refused to grant the request of Prometheus. The Titan was deeply grieved, and at length he resolved that he would no longer dwell with Jupiter but would make his abode with men. So he left Oplympus, and carried with him, hidden in a reed, the gift of fire. Prometheus taught men how with fire they might make weapons to fight wild beasts and to contend with their enemies, how with fire they might contrive tools for all handicrafts and trades. It was in this age that tin and copper were first mixed in the furnace to make bronze. Prometheus likewise taught men how to subdue the ox, the ass and the horse; he showed them how to build ships and to rekon the course of the year and to write and reckon and to cure diseases."

-- Another excerpt from Herzberg's MYTHS AND THEIR MEANING.

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Ali Bajwa
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