Energy Narratives in Mythology

Prometheus

In many Greek mythology accounts, Prometheus and his brother are contracted by Zeus to create man. Prometheus becomes so enamored with humans that he convinces them to cheat Zeus out of animal sacrifices by giving him bones disguised in furs instead of the meat and fat of the animal. Zeus punishes man in two ways: the first is by giving them Pandora, which is another story, and second is by taking fire away from them. Prometheus fears that his creation will not survive this punishment so he steals fire from the heavens. Zeus then chains Prometheus to rock and sends an eagle to peck out his liver every day for his eternal life.

Humans require energy to live and they receive this energy in pre-industrial times from fire and the sun. Without fire, human beings are unlikely to survive. Prometheus pays for their energy with his eternal life, so that humans may in turn receive the constant gift of fire and so sustain their lives.

This positive energy narrative involves a sacrifice from a stronger force. Not all positive energy narratives have this element but it is fairly common.

 

Energy narrative characteristics found in this myth: life=energy, religious element, exaggerated inequalities, segregation, convenient racism, nomadic existence, insurrection.

 

The Sun

There are many Native American Indian myths that refer to the sun as a deity or the creator of the world. In The Boy and the Sun the Sun refers to himself as the boy’s father when he travels to the sun to ask whom his father is. In Changing Woman the Sun claims to “take care of all things, whatever there is on earth.”

Similar to Prometheus, in the several of these stories we see the Sun make some sort of sacrifice for the betterment of humans. However, there are several myths here were that is not the case including Coyote and Eagle Steal the Sun and Moon.

 

Energy narrative characteristics found in these myths: life=energy, religious element, exaggerated inequalities, segregation, nomadic existence.