Arnold Toynbee professes that there is always a basic myth which dominates the birth of a civilization. For the Greek civilisation, it is not hard to discover it; it was the Myth of Prometheus.
Prometheus was a hero who revolted against Zeus, stealing fire to rescue the humankind, which “the oppressor of the sky and the earth had decided to annihilate ”.
The myth of Prometheus is the precursor of the West spirit. This which Aeschylus attributed to Prometheus, Sophocles converted it into praise for the human: “Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει”. “Many things cause terror and wonder, yet nothing is more terrifying and wonderful than man”, sings the Antigone’s chore.
Prometheus represents the spirit of insurrection and revolution against the savage gods’ prohibitions, which symbolise the primitive person’s fears and the phobia of nature’s blind forces, which prevail over him. Prometheus is also the spirit of curiosity and adventure, which motivates Odysseus to explore unknown places, pitting himself against Poseidon’s guilds but coming victorious thanks to his skillfulness and dare. It is finally the worship of labour that induces Hercules to chase tyrants and monsters away from the earth, to tame rivers, to break mountains, to open canals, to civilize nature.
In a few words, western civilisation is the result of a mentality. This mentality means not coming to terms with misery, but trying to improve the current situation in order for our demands to be adjusted to our dreams.
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