Prometheus was a Titan who rebelled against Zeus, and tried to deceive him. For this crime Zeus inflicted a terrible fearful punishment, but it was not for Prometheus alone, he punished the entire world.
At the beginning, Prometheus, whose name means forethought, had a brother Epimetheus (or afterthought) who was ordered to create all the animals. He assigned specific traits to each of them:- fleetness to the deer, talons to the eagle, a shell to the snail, and so on. By the time he came to man, he had nothing left to give. He turned to Prometheus.
Now Prometheus had been a god long before Zeus took the Throne of Eternity. He had fought for Zeus against the cunning Kronos, but never fully trusted the King of Olympus because the new Olympians had no compassion for each other or the mortals on the earth below. Zeus himself took no interest in the mortal race, he intended for them to live as primitives until they died off – knowledge and divine gifts would only bring them misery – and he insisted that Prometheus not interfere with his plans
But Prometheus disobeyed and gave the mortals all sorts of gifts. Gifts such as brickworking, woodworking, telling the seasons by the stars, numbers, the alphabet, yoked oxen, carriages, saddles, ships and sails. He also gave other gifts: healing drugs, seercraft, signs in the sky, the mining of precious metals, animal sacrifice and all art.
But there was a worse crime. Prometheus had stolen fire from the forge of Hephaestus, he had carried a flame, wrapped in fennel stalks, away from the sacred fire of the Gods. The fire which Zeus decreed for the Olympians alone was given to mere mortals in their dark caves.
The gift of divine fire unleashed a flood of inventiveness and productivity. Within no time (by immortal standards), culture, art, and literacy permeated the land around Olympus.
When Zeus discovered the deception, he was absolutely beside himself with rage. He commanded Hephaestus to shackle Prometheus to the side of a crag, high in the Caucasus mountains, there to hang until the fury of the Ruler of the Gods subsided.
Each day, Prometheus would be tormented by the Eagle of the Caucasus (one of the children of Echidna) as it tore at his flesh and clawed his liver. Each night the torn flesh would mend so the Eagle could begin anew at the first touch of Dawn.
And so the Titan was destined to suffer at the hands of his own kind. – and he was immortal. His torment would last forever.
Thirteen generations later, Heracles climbed the mountain, killed the eagle and freed Prometheus from his shackles.
Zeus’ anger did not stop there. He intended to give the mortals one more gift and undo all the good Prometheus had done. He gave the world Pandora.