Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #43: Prometheus and Pandora Part 2 of 2



Suit Yourself™ International Magazine  #43: Prometheus & Pandora's Box

Part Two of Two Parts


This is the 43nd in our articles series and I hope this information is helpful.

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The Argo approaching the Symplegades, the crushing rocks, on the way to Colchis, at The End Of The World, where lies The Golden Fleece.






Part Two of Two Parts



After Prometheus defies Zeus and brings fire back to humans, Zeus blows his top. He will not tolerate insubordination, even from his elders.  He punishes both Prometheus and humans, with a two-fold previously unknown concept of punishment involving interminably cruel and unremitting horror and suffering. For Act One, he chains Prometheus to living hell, and for Act Two, using Pandora, he unleashes synthetic biotoxins on humankind. 


First, we have to know a little more phosphorus history and we need to know more about FIRE. For more details on phosphorus chemistry, please see my article on matches and phosphorus here:

If we take Prometheus to be phosphorus, for reasons I've suggested earlier, and apply some modern knowledge of chemistry to this "tale", then this tug of war begins to make more sense. 

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Arabian alchemists of the 12th century may have isolated elemental phosphorus by accident, but the records are unclear. In 1669,  the Hamburg merchant and alchemist Hennig Brandt heated the residue from evaporating urine with powdered charcoal, and condensed the vapor that was evolved into a waxy solid. This solid glowed in the dark, without heat, an astonishing phenomenon. He called the mysterious substance phosphorus, taken directly from the Greek phosphoros, "light-bringer."  Now isn't that interesting. That's what Prometheus did; he brought humans LIGHT as fire.

This was, incidentally also the name of the planet Venus as morning star, "Lucifer" in Latin.  And interestingly, that is what Pandora turns out to be, a "Lucifer" in disguise, and she is half of Zeus's punishment for Prometheus stealing the fire.

Cornucopia Tip Top Angel Safety Matches from Sweden.




The discovery of phosphorus created quite a stir, and soon nobody was throwing away urine. Just imagine the smell. Travelling alchemists amazed royal audiences, and it was the talk of the time. A normal person excretes about a gram of phosphorus daily. It gave the name to phosphorescence, which is the nonthermal emission of light after removal of the stimulus, in contrast to fluorescence. The light Brandt observed was chemiluminescence, consequent to the combination of the phosphorus with atmospheric oxygen to form the trioxide. This was burning, but the light is not due to thermal excitation. When the pentoxide is formed, there is no chemiluminescence.

Oil painting on canvas by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797). Full Title: The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, Discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the Ancient Chymical Astrologers. 1,270 × 1,061 cm (500 × 417.7 in). Current location Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, England, UK,

The only common mineral of phosphorus is apatite, Ca5F(PO4)3. Apatite is a family of minerals, of which the one called fluoapatite is the commonest. Its' hardness is 5, medium hard, and its density is 3.15-3.20 g/cc. It occurs in two principal forms, crystalline apatite, and phosphorite, which is cryptocrystalline. Crystalline apatite is of inorganic origin, while phosphorite is the remains of animal bones. Bones and teeth are made of apatite, a specially hard version of which forms tooth enamel. If there is insufficient fluorine, then the apatite made is faulty, and the teeth are soft and decay easily. Bone is made of hydroxylapatite, but there is fluorapatite in teeth. Phosphates are found in a variety of rare minerals, but never in significant quantities. The generic term for a rock from which phosphorus can be economically produced is phosphate rock.  

Elemental phosphorus is produced in electric furnaces by heating phosphate rock, sand and coke. The silica combines with the phosphate rock to give calcium silicate, a slag, and phosphorus pentoxide. The pentoxide is then reduced by the coke to give phosphorus vapor and carbon monoxide. The phosphorus is then condensed and cast into sticks, which are kept under water. The carbon monoxide can be used as a fuel. 


How to create allotropes of phosphorus starting with white phosphorus. 

Fertilizer, which is a soluble phosphate, is produced by treating phosphate rock with sulphuric acid. Fertilizer used to be made from Florida phosphate rock but that resource is near exhaustion. The largest reserve of phosphorite in the world is in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming, from the Phosphoria formation of Permian age. The Phosphoria is a widespread formation, consisting of shales, limestones and chert in addition to phosphorite, which is localized in certain areas. It includes oil shales, petroleum, and the black shales that are the source of petroleum. Quite clearly, it was associated with a time of abundant life in shallow seas. 


Late Cretaceous landscape backlit by a setting sun.

The end of the Permian, when the Phosphoria was laid down, was also the time of the greatest extinction of life that the Earth has known. Nearly 90% of all life perished for unknown reasons in a geologically brief interval, and the Earth made a new start in the Triassic period that followed. 

"My animation of this impact, now widely called the 'K-T Event', can be seen at the Smithsonian's Hall Of Meteors at Washington D.C.'s National Museum of Natural History."

The phosphorite, an unusual deposit, probably records a great dying, when the phosphorus from the bones of countless animals was converted to apatite in a shallow basin that was covered by sediment before the deposit could be dispersed.


Whether or not the Titanomachy myths represent a metaphor for such an event, I will leave up to you.



If you've ever tried to start a fire from scratch, you know it's difficult. If not, try it.


Lighting a fire in the winter.

The challenge is always to get the fire started. Once started, fires often burnt continuously for hours. Because most fires are, and were, built to last, it's not unreasonable to devote some time and effort to the process. There are distinct steps to the process, each step requiring successful completion of the previous one. You need a spark, and you start small and build up, using tinder and then kindling.

In short, you first need a spark, and a spark is not so easily come by. You also need good tinder. Good tinder is essential to fire-lighting. The spark is first caught in the tinder, which causes the tinder to make a small glowing ember. Tinder is dry, powdery, easily-combustible matter. In the past, charred linen made good tinder. Today, dry leaves and rotten wood can be powdered to make tinder (called "punk" in America). This small ember is then turned onto some highly combustible material, such as dried grass or shavings of resinous pine wood, or finely shredded paper. By gently blowing, the temperature of the ember can be raised sufficiently to ignite this material, and a visible flame appears. This "starter" fire can then be used to light the kindling placed beneath the main combustibles; the kindling is usually split sticks of dried wood, or often crumpled newspaper, and it is placed beneath the main combustibles, which are larger pieces of wood or coal that can burn sedately. This effort, to literally "build" up a fire, usually gives you great satisfaction. There's now a cheery fire where before there was only a cold home and a cold wood stove; the radiated heat warms the entire house and every being in it.


Blowing on the fire. 1950 Kampvuurtje maken.

Without steel, sparks are a rare commodity. Fire in villages were usually kept going continuously since they were so hard to light impromptu. Instead of waiting for lightning, friction can be used to create a glowing fragment. The most efficient way to do this is with a drill operated by a bow. A hard wood rod is rapidly rotated back and forth in a soft wood, which provides the tinder automatically. With luck and effort, an ember is created with which a fire can be started. In popular lore, this is "rubbing two sticks together," which greatly depreciates the skill involved. 


How to start a fire using friction. Allumer un feu par friction.

Most people today really cannot create a fire from scratch in any way.  Today most people use  "lighters" containing a little metal alloy held against a wheel by a spring button; this gives off sparks as the wheel goes round, and the sparks are then caught on a wick saturated with a combustible liquid, or the sparks pass near an opening from which combustible gas is issuing. 

In the past, every traveller carried a tinder-box containing a piece of steel, a piece of flint, and a supply of reliable tinder. I believe the mechanism worked thus: when the steel was struck against the flint, a small fragment of steel was dislodged and heated by the distortion of the impact, and because finely divided iron catches fire readily in air, it was a burning spark that landed in the tinder. That little glowing granule of tinder is then tipped out onto the kindling, so the fire can be blown into life. 


What are these campfire boys cooking? 

This should help you understand why humans were so strongly motivated to invent the strike anywhere match.

Oscar J. Friedman, Safety Match Folder Patent Application #US1167990. Patented 11 January 1916.



It is remarkable and wonderfully ironic that the artificial chemical element Promethium is named after Prometheus.  

For more information on this, see

Now back to our story.



It is remarkable and wonderfully ironic that the artificial chemical element Promethium is named after Prometheus.  

For more information on this, see

Now back to our story.



Now, back to our story, hopefully better equipped to make some sense of it.

After Prometheus defies Zeus and brings fire back to humans, Zeus blows his top. He will not tolerate insubordination, even from his elders. He punishes both Prometheus and humans, with a two-fold previously unknown concept of punishment involving interminably cruel and unremitting horror and suffering. For Act One, he chains Prometheus to living hell, and for Act Two, he unleashes synthetic biotoxins on humankind.

For Act One, he orders his two servants, Force and Violence, to chain Prometheus to a rock peak in the Kaukasos, the Caucasus mountains, using unbreakable adamanite chains. 


Illustration of Prometheus, from The golden fleece and the heros who lived before achilles Colum, Padraic, 1881-1972 and illustrated by Pogány, Willy, 1882-1955.

For "adamanite chains" you can read "super magnets".  Adamanite is magnetite, also known as Lodestone. Lodestones were used as an early form of magnetic compass; magnetite preserves a record of the Earth's magnetic field and this has been much studied ( ). This magnetic rock is indigenous to the Calkos region where this story takes place; the area is known for an extensive knowledge of metallurgy and chemistry. Media, as in Jason and The Argonauts, was from this region and she was a master priestess of chemistry (she gets center stage in an upcoming article). Small grains of magnetite occur in almost all igneous and metamorphic rocks. 


Prometheus held by a pair of adamantine chains, and the Eagle. Vatican Museum, Rome.  Der gefesselte Prometheus mit dem Adler; links sein Bruder Atlas (Trinkschale aus Cerveteri, um 560/550 v. Chr., Vatikanische Museen, Rome).

Wikipedia states ( ):
"Magnetite is a mineral and one of the main iron ores. With the chemical formula Fe3O4, it is one of the oxides of iron. Magnetite is ferrimagnetic; it is attracted to a magnet and can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet itself. It is the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth. Naturally-magnetized pieces of magnetite, called lodestone, will attract small pieces of iron."


Magnetite, from

You can see some very cool photos of ancient lodestones here:
This terrific site tells us:
"A Lodestone is a naturally occurring piece of magnetic iron oxide. It is often bound in a brass frame, and is oriented to place the magnetic poles at the ends. The word magnet comes from the region called Magnesia in Asia Minor. The word lodestone comes from the use of pieces of ore from Norway and Sweden which were suspended and used as guiding or leading stone; the Saxon word Læden means "to lead". When constructing a lodestone, the two natural poles must first be located by the use of iron filings. The stone is then shaped appropriately. The natural poles are on the right-hand side with a soft iron keeper across them."


Lodestone, from

Zeus dispatches his symbolic Eagle, the Aetos Kaukasios, a.k. a. the Caucasian Eagle, Greek Name Αετος Καυκασιος, transliteration Aetos Kaukasios, Latin name Aquila Caucasium.  The Eagle is sent to eat Prometheus's ever regenerating liver every day, because Zeus knows Prometheus's liver regenerates overnight (remember, Prometheus is an immortal Titan).  Prometheus is thus supplying the Eagle with an endless supply of take out liver paté.  


Heracles, shooting at the Caucasian Eagle to free Prometheus, Athenian skyphos C6th B.C., National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Hesiod, Theogony 521, &c., Op. et Dies, 47, &c. ; Hyginus. Poet. Astr. ii. 15; Apollodorus. ii. 5. § 11:
CAUCASIAN EAGLE. Prometheus was put in chains, and fastened to a pillar, where an eagle sent by Zeus consumed in the daytime his liver, which, in every succeeding night, was restored again. Prometheus was thus exposed to perpetual torture, but Heracles killed the eagle and delivered the sufferer, with the consent of Zeus, who thus had an opportunity of allowing his son to gain immortal fame. Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. See

Hesiod, Theogony 507 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Ready-witted Prometheus he [Zeus] bound with inextricable bonds, cruel chains, and drove a shaft through his middle, and set on him a long-winged eagle, which used to eat his immortal liver; but by night the liver grew as much again everyway as the long-winged bird devoured in the whole day. That bird Herakles (Heracles), the valiant son of shapely-ankled Alkmene (Alcmena), slew; and delivered the son of Iapetos from the cruel plague, and released him from his affliction--not without the will of Olympian Zeus who reigns on high, that the glory of Herakles the Theban-born might be yet greater than it was before over the plenteous earth."


A white headed eagle in the nest. Un aigle à tête blanche sort de son nid enneigé.

Avian magnetoreception is a well established scientific fact, although everybody is still very busy guessing how birds do it. Most of the avian magnetoreception theories rely on Earth's magnetic field affecting magnetite Fe3O4 (iron oxide). Several species of birds are known to have magnetite crystals in the dendrites in their upper beaks; with cryptochromes in their retina, they have magnetoreception, the ability to sense the direction, polarity, and magnitude of the ambient magnetic field. There's also evidence that magnetite exists in the human brain but its' role there is a mystery.  


President Donald Trump with a live Eagle on his desk. 

Birds would have no problem finding Prometheus chained with magnetic chains to a magnetic rock peak.  Avian magnetoreception is a fact that cannot have gone unnoticed in the past.


Lightening would find Prometheus were he located on a peak; here lightening strikes the NYC Chrysler Building.

In the latter half of the 17th century, the lodestone is actually called the "Eagle Stone" in the Pseudodoxia Epidemica by Sir Thomas Browne, Book II Chapter III Concerning The Loadstone
( ):
    "Many relations are made, and great expectations are raised from the Magnes Carneus, or a Loadstone, that hath a faculty to attract not only iron but flesh; but this upon enquiry, and as Cabeus also observed, is nothing else but a weak and inanimate kind of Loadstone, veined here and there with a few magnetical and ferreous lines, but consisting of a bolary and clammy substance, whereby it adheres like Hæmatites, or Terra Lemnia, unto the Lips. And this is that stone which is to be understood, when Physitians joyn it with Ætites, or the Eagle stone, and promise therein a vertue against abortion."
    "The other relation of Loadstone Mines and Rocks, in the shore of India is delivered of old by Pliny; wherein, saith he, they are so placed both in abundance and vigour, that it proves an adventure of hazard to pass those Coasts in a Ship with Iron nails. Serapion the Moor, an Author of good esteem and reasonable Antiquity, confirmeth the same, whose expression in the word magnes is this. The Mine of this Stone is in the Sea-coast of India, whereto when Ships approach, there is no Iron in them which flies not like a Bird unto those Mountains; and therefore their Ships are fastened not with Iron but Wood, for otherwise they would be torn to pieces. But this assertion, how positive soever, is contradicted by all Navigators that pass that way; which are now many, and of our own Nation, and might surely have been controlled by Nearchus the Admiral of Alexander; who not knowing the Compass, was fain to coast that shore."

Wikipedia tells us these facts about Colchis ( ):  "The eastern Black Sea region in antiquity was home to the well-developed Bronze Age culture known as the Colchian culture, related to the neighboring Koban culture, that emerged toward the Middle Bronze Age. In at least some parts of Colchis, the process of urbanization seems to have been well advanced by the end of the second millennium BC, centuries before Greek settlement. The Colchian Late Bronze Age (fifteenth to eighth century BC) saw the development of significant skill in the smelting and casting of metals. Sophisticated farming implements were made, and fertile, well-watered lowlands and a mild climate promoted the growth of progressive agricultural techniques."


Russian matchbox showing lightening and a sailing boat. 

Ancient versions records the Argonauts seeing the Eagle overhead on its' way to Prometheus; its' massive wing span flies over the boat. Apollonius' Argonautica was based on multiple ancient sources, including Homer and Pindar. 

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 1238 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"And now the last recess of the Black Sea opened up and they [the Argonauts] caught sight of the high crags of the Kaukasos (Caucasus), where Prometheus stood chained by every limb to the hard rock with fetters of bronze, and fed an Eagle on his liver. The bird kept eagerly returning to its feed. They saw it in the afternoon flying high above the ship with a strident whirr. It was near the clouds, yet it made all their canvas quiver to its wings as it beat by. For its form was not that of an ordinary bird : the long quill-feathers of each wing rose and fell like a bank of polished oars. Soon after the Eagle had passed, they heard Prometheus shriek in agony as it pecked at his liver. The air rang with his screams till at length they saw the flesh-devouring bird fly back from the mountain by the same way as it came."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 155 ff : 
"His [Herakles'] comrades [the Argonauts] proceed upon their way; only they wonder from the deep at the wide-flung snow that strews the beaches [i.e. that was cast from the Kaukasos (Caucasus) Mountains when Herakles freed Prometheus from his bonds], at the cloven crags and the huge shadow of a dying bird [the Eagle slain by Herakles] above them and the gory dew that drizzles through the air."



We thus find all these stories intertwining in the same place and overlapping in time; clearly this is the part of the world that's "kicking"; everything worth happening is happening here. 

To summarize:  Zeus orders Prometheus, a.k.a 'Foresight', chained to a rock using unbreakable adamantine chains, thus foreshortening foresight - foresight is foreshortened. Foresight is out of the game.  An Eagle (or raven, depending on who is translating) would come every day to eat his liver (paté). Only a human could kill the Eagle and only a non-human immortal could stand in for Prometheus with death, as his substitute.

The Ancients knew loadstones were black rocks that would attract iron; they knew loadstones attracted lightening. We now know that lightening is a form of electricity and that the objects which attract iron are magnets. We also know how the two phenomena, electricity and magnetism, interact with one another and we make this connection obvious with the word "electromagnetism".   We also know that birds navigate using the Earth's geomagnetic field.

If the rock is a lodestone, it would attract lightening. Lightening would strike Prometheus there like a bird striking him "attacking him".  As the chains are 'unbreakable' i. e. stubborn, and adamantine i.e. iron, they would be  magnetic, and could hold Prometheus there as magnetic 'unbreakable' force.  High up on a promontory anywhere, on "jagged rocks",  he would be a lightening rod, for all intents and purposes. It's a good thing he's immortal.


Lightening striking an airplane.

Sources disagree about Hercules' timing in all these events, yet all agree on the Chiron-Prometheus exchange, and all agree Hercules frees Prometheus. Hercules, a half-human half-god alloy connected to both elements (Prometheus and Chiron) frees Prometheus, restoring Foresight to the game. Once Prometheus is free, Foresight is possible 'again'.

From all accounts, Zeus sent Pandora to Prometheus's brother the same time he banished Prometheus to the rock. Since the first thing Pandora did was to open her box, we can assume Pandora opened the box during the time Prometheus was chained, when the world of humans was 'without foresight'. 

A reprinted map from Ortelius' Parergon of 1624 interpreting the voyage of the Argonauts according to Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica. 

Sources tell us that Hercules uses an arrow, or a volley of arrows, to shoot and kill the bird attacking Prometheus.


A coin from Boeotia depicting Hercules stringing his bow.

After Prometheus is freed, Prometheus, the Eagle, and the Arrow, are placed amongst the stars as the constellations Aquila, the Kneeler and Saggita (as in Sagittarius) the archer's bow ( ).


A map depicting the constellation of the eagle: l'aquila.

When Kheiron Chiron replaces Prometheus, he too is placed amongst the stars, as the constellation Centaurus Sagittarius. See This same resource site also states the constellation Centaurus represents another Centaur:  "Pholos was an Arkadian Kentauros (Centaur) who made his home in a cave on Mount Pholoe...The gods rewarded him for his show of hospitality by placing him amongst the stars as constellation Centaurus...". See


A map depicting the constellation of the centaur; sagitta sagittarius.

Hercules also eventually gets his own constellation, later, after completing his last labor.


A map depicting the constellation of Hercules.



Chiron Kheiron was the eldest and wisest of the Kentauroi Centaurs, a Thessalian tribe of half-horse men. The centaur, and their archer's arrow, are the zodiacal signs corresponding to Sagittarius. 

Chiron Kheiron's name derives from the Greek word "kheir", meaning "hand", and with the word "kheirourgos" meaning "surgeon"; it translates to something resembling "skilled with the hands". You can find more information about him online here:


Illustration of Chiron Kheiron accepting the responsibility to raise the baby Achilles, from The golden fleece and the heros who lived before achilles Colum, Padraic, 1881-1972 and illustrated by Pogány, Willy, 1882-1955.

The centaurs were archers; the bow and arrow is their weapon. The Prometheus bird, a flying creature, is thus killed by a flying arrow, the Centaur weapon. There is more meaning here than simply "Like attracts like".  This part of the myth is not just a "flight of fancy"; it is a metaphor describing a much deeper subjective chemical truth linking subjective states with their very real effects in the real world.  Birds actually exist but Centaurs only exist in myths, not in reality. Recall from the introduction that the goal of myths is to render the subjective and abstract in objective terms to which we can more readily relate. According to ancient myth, Chiron's enduring wound was accidentally caused by one of Hercule's arrows; the Centaur was wounded by his own weapon. This part of the myth tells us that subjective states are very real; myths are 'living' stories.


Two young girls testing their bows. 



For Act Two, Zeus has the other gods help him create a time-release bomb of unrelenting evils that he then unleashes on humankind, disguised as an utterly absolutely irresistible god-gifted woman with grave personality faults. This gives new depths of meaning to the terms "irrational", "deadly", and "bombshell".   


Light My Lucky, 1985 cigarette advertisement.

Zeus names this bomb "Pandora", derived from the Greek πᾶν, pān, i.e. "all",  and dōron, "of gold" or "gift", thus Pandora means "the all-endowed", "the all-gifted" or "the all-giving".  Her other name, as inscribed against her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum, is Anesidora, "she who sends up gifts", implying "bring up from below" within the earth. Chthonic indeed.

Pandora is the first synthetic, deliberately engineered as a biotoxin, and handed over to humans as an irresistible "gift".  Go Figure.


Chesterfield hearts, 1939 cigarette advertisement.

There are many versions of this part of the story, with variations as to which god bestows what endowment, but all versions agree that all the Olympian gods share complicity in her design, and she is the direct result of their conspiracy. Hesiod, Theogony 590–93 tells us Pandora "was fashioned by Hephaestus out of clay and brought to life by the four winds, with all the goddesses of Olympus assembled to adorn her. "

Zeus sends Pandora to Prometheus' brother, Epimetheus (a.k.a. Hindsight, Afterthought). Pandora-the-bomb arrives, along with her dowery stowed inside a lidded jar. The jar, or box, or trunk, or container, contained every possible mechanism for causing humans interminably cruel, unremitting, horror and suffering.  She and her dowry are chemical bombs.  

In spite of Prometheus' forewarning, in spite of knowing Pandora is a bomb, Epimetheus falls for Pandora; he's addicted on sight, immediately, if not sooner.  In spite of Prometheus warning Epimetheus of the dangers and telling Epimetheus precisely what Pandora is, and to not keep her, Epimetheus (a.k.a. Hindsight, Afterthought) takes one look at Pandora and just keeps her.  Hindsight does not have twenty-twenty vision here. 

Epimetheus just keeps her. A scene from Mystery Science Theater: "You know, Mike, people can be awfully judgemental about evil."

Epimetheus is often mentioned, but the versions lack both details and agreement about his characteristics. His name means "hindsight", but his actions are indolent and foolish. Looking in a different direction, I find that Carl Jung uses the image of Epimetheus (with direct reference to Carl Spitteler's Epimetheus) to refer to the false application of a mental function, as opposed to using a mental function in a whole, healthy, and creative way. ( Jung, Carl (1921). "X. General description of the types". Psychological Types.)
Framing Epimetheus in this way puts him on an exact par with Pandora; neither of them is what they appear to be, both are false, not "for real" and thus, probably were "made for each other". 

According to Hesiod, Epimetheus, ignoring Prometheus's warnings, only understood what he'd done after he'd done it. Hindsight, indeed.


Don't expect perfection from geologists; they all have their faults.

Hesiod, Works and Days 42 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"For the gods keep hidden from men the means of life [crops]. Else you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste. But Zeus in the anger of his heart hid it, because Prometheus the crafty deceived him; therefore he planned sorrow and mischief against men. He hid fire; but that the noble son of Iapetos stole again for men from Zeus the counsellor in a hollow fennel-stalk, so that Zeus who delights in thunder did not see it. But afterwards Zeus who gathers the clouds said to him in anger: ‘Son of Iapetos (Iapetus), surpassing all in cunning, you are glad that you have outwitted me and stolen fire--a great plague to you yourself and to men that shall be. But I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.’ So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And he bade famous Hephaistos make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face [Pandora] . . . But when he had finished the sheer, hopeless snare [Pandora the first woman created by the gods], the Father sent [Hermes] . . . to take it to Epimetheus as a gift. And Epimetheus did not think on what Prometheus had said to him, bidding him never take a gift of Olympian Zeus, but to send it back for fear it might prove to be something harmful to men. But he took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he understood." ( )

Once accepted by Epimetheus, the first thing Pandora-The-Bomb does, of course, is the job she is designed to do: she opens the jar.  Some stories say "her curiosity got the better of her" and some stories say "she slipped". However it happens, all versions agree that as soon as she sees what's coming out, she has 'buyer's remorse" and slams down the lid. 


Pandora opens the box. Art Nouveau period illustration by Frederick Stuart Church.

Her actions are fruitless; what's left in the jar was intended by Zeus to end up inside the jar, in just this way.  ELIPIS, the Greek word for HOPE, is caught inside, and from there, HOPE can bestow upon humanity its' own forever form of trapped agony, that of denial and disavowal of reality, doomed to disappointment. 

Apparently, others come to this same conclusion. Friedrich Nietzsche has this to say about the set up (in footnote #31 of ):
"Nietzsche, Friedrich, Human, All Too Human. Cf. Section Two, On the History of Moral Feelings, aph. 71. Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the 'lucky jar.' Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that the jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good—it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment."



It's no surprise that Pandora disappears from the story after she's dropped as a bomb. We don't hear of her retiring in her old age to some Golden Isle in the Sunshine somewhere. The oldest ancient records just drop her like a hot potato. Later fiddlers, uh scholars, mess with the story by trying to weave into it marrying or having children. Nope. She's just gone, like a bomb after detonation.

Firefighting Kitties. Photo by Harry Whittier circa 1916.

Any way you look at this, Pandora is an addictive synthetic compound created by the Olympian Gods and specifically targeted to slowly poison humankind, in punishment for Prometheus's stealing fire and giving it to humans.  Pandora is the first recorded synthetic; she carries a dowry of more of the same with her, and releases this into the world. She prevails in her mission of evil by overwhelming Epimetheus Hindsight/Afterthought, in spite of having been warned by Foresight / Prometheus. No known chemical addiction, including love, behaves differently. 

Today, we're all addicted to synthetics.

Deux jeunes enfants boivent et fument à bord d'un bateau en 1955. Robert Doisneau. 

Wiki has this to say about Pandora at this point in the story (from
"Archaic and Classic Greek literature seem to make no further mention of Pandora, though Sophocles wrote a satyr play Pandora, or The Hammerers of which virtually nothing is known. Sappho may have made reference to Pandora in a surviving fragment (Sappho, fr. 207 in Lobel and Page.). Later, mythographers filled in minor details or added postscripts to Hesiod's account. For example, the Bibliotheca and Hyginus each make explicit what might be latent in the Hesiodic text: Epimetheus married Pandora. They each add that they had a daughter, Pyrrha, who married Deucalion and survived the deluge with him. However, the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, fragment #5, had made a "Pandora" one of the daughters of Deucalion, and the mother of Graecus by Zeus. The 15th-century monk Annio da Viterbo credited a manuscript he claimed to have found to the Chaldean historian of the 3rd century BC, Berossus, where "Pandora" was also named as a daughter-in-law of Noah; this attempt to conjoin pagan and scriptural narrative is recognized as a forgery."

Obviously, a "literal interpretive crux" endures over this point in the story. The debate is intense and active.  Scholars are fixated here, even now debating over how to interpret the word ELIPIS, the Greek word for HOPE; arguing how it should be translated, pointing out it can be rendered in many contradictory ways (including but not limited to hope, expectation, expectant hope, and expectation of evil). Scholars also continue to wax lyrical on whether or not the evils were only bad after they were let out of the jar, something about which we have absolutely no way of ever knowing. They must have a lot of time to waste, as well as the inclination to wrestle over irrelevant things, all of which depend on whether or not myths are to be taken literally. For more on this, see 'Difficulties In Interpretation" at (accessed 170809).


Pandora falls out of the story; here she drinks so much, she falls off her own bowl. 



Prometheus, on the other hand, has a happier sort of ending, or as much a resolution as can be expected after upholding his beliefs and not capitulating to a new corrupt master. With the help of Hercules, he gets off the hook, uh beak, uh...sorry for the pun.


Prometheus gets off the hook. The wisdom of Piet Hein: "He that lets the small things bind him, leaves the great undone behind him."

However, just as with the dual nature of Giant Fennel, we have dual stories involving the 'rescue' of Prometheus from the Zeus-Liver-Paté-Eagle, and both involve Hercules, a half twin, who is himself a hybrid half-man half-god. 

Zeus offers Prometheus two ways out of torment. Both are conditional.

Ever insecure, Zeus wants "foresight" so he can affect his own future.  Recall that Prometheus's name means 'Foresight'.  What Zeus really wants is for Prometheus to tell him the name of the mother of the child that will eventually dethrone Zeus.  Ancient rules, however, require pairs of options, and Zeus must thus propose another alternative.  

Being Zeus, he knows which rules he can break, which rules he can't, and how to bend one group into the other. He would make a decent cook.  The alternative he proposes requires Prometheus to meet a pair of conditions.  Yep. Yet another pair. Interesting. You just have to wonder, who or what is making up these rules that these Gods must follow, and who is checking up on the various configurations?  Incidentally, the Standard Model of Physics shows similar patterning. Pairs everywhere; you can see them in the illustration of this above.

Here are the rules.

The first half of this option pair requires an immortal to volunteer to agree to die in place of Prometheus. 

Only immortals can substitute for one another, and immortals can never die, no matter how torn up they get, because they're subject to the immortal-overnight-regeneration rule.  However, and here comes the loophole,  it seems immortals can volunteer to give up something, and that sometimes, that something can be life itself.  One would think we were talking about electrons in chemical bonds forming molecules and making exchanges here.

Zeus stipulates that only an immortal can substitute for Prometheus, and whomever this "immortal substitute" is, they have to give up their immortality, and actually die, by going to Tartarus. Give up chemical bonding, take a trip down under into the bowels of the Earth, to the melting furnace, wearing concrete galoshes.  Zeus is certainly stacking the odds in his own favor with this one. 

The second half of this option pair stipulates that a mortal has to kill the eagle and unchain Prometheus. Again, Zeus "believes" that this option also stacks the odds in his favor because he knows no mortal can do these things. Doing these things requires a god, or a mortal with god-like powers. Hello?  

Well guess who steps up to this plate?  Guess who's coming to dinner? Go on, guess. Drum roll here.  It's Hercules, a.k.a. Herakles, a.k.a. Heracles, TAH DAH.  

Portrait of Hercules, 1589, by Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, Mühlbracht 1558–1617 Haarlem).

Hercules is himself a half-man half-god hybrid, the result of yet another set of twos. His father was Zeus, so he represents one of Zeus's own transgressions, from standard matrimony.  Hercules's mother was Alcmene. Alcmene carried Herakles as one half of a pair twins, Heracles and Iphicles, each of whom had been sired by different father. 

It's all just Two Two x Two Too much. 

Hercules is thus in the not-enviable absolutely unique position of being the only living being capable of meeting both of Zeus's option pair conditions, and on behalf of someone else, partly because he's a result of Zeus, and partly because he's the cause of the answer to the second half of the option. Yep. He's the cause of the option's second half.

As part of Hercules's 12 Labors Celestial Qualifying Exams, taken under his cousin King Eurystheus, Hercules, the half-man half-god hybrid, goes on an excursion to the Caucuses to find the golden apples of the Hesperides. The Argonauts, incidentally, just miss him there.  He's also having to clean out the Aegean stables in one day, and he does it, but that's another story.  

When Hercules encounters Prometheus chained to the Caucuses rocks, he frees him, kills the Eagle, and thus meets the first of the two paired conditions.  By this time, Hercules knows his way around magnets.

Look at Prometheus's double chains this way: two coils of many parallel loops, with currents in the SAME direction, attract each other and act like magnets (particles with spin do also!). 


Hercules is also the reason the second paired condition can even be met.

Hercules was responsible for "accidentally" wounding his friend, the immortal physician, Chiron the Centaur, who has subsequently been unable to heal himself and is thus suffering unbearably. That tale deserves it's own analysis and is more than I want to go into here. As usual, details vary all over the place and there's no single definitive telling. But it's necessary to understand the rest of the "story arc" so I'll be very brief here and not get sidetracked. The main source is Scholium on Theocritus (Theocritus, Idyll vii.149).

The story involves a great deal of chemistry, hydraulics, and pneumatics. Hydraulics is an applied science utilizing the mechanical properties of liquids, and fluid motion and flow.  Pneumatics is branch of engineering using gas and pressurized air. Both pneumatics and hydraulics are applications of fluid power. Pneumatics uses an easily compressible gas such as air or a suitable pure gas, while hydraulics uses relatively incompressible liquid media such as oil. 

The story of Chiron's wound is part of a long story arc; it's inseparable from Hercules's 4th "Labor", fetching the ferocious Erymanthian Boar alive for King Eurystheus.

A boar hunt.  Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California. Malibu 86.AE.154, Attic black figure Siana cup, c. 580-570 B.C.

Here's the set up.

The boar and the centaurs are neighbors, so on his way to fetch the boar, Hercules visits the home-cave of his old friend Centaur Pholus (Pholus means "caveman"). 

Hercules is carrying arrows whose tips he'd dipped in poisonous Hydra bodily fluids, after killing her (his 2nd labor). 

The only liquid Pholus has on hand is a sealed jug of fluid given him by Dionysus Bacchus (god of Rock N' Roll, wine, drugs, riots, and wild parties).

Sources refer to this stuff repeatedly as "wine" however, its' known properties totally belie that description. It's about as similar to wine as psychedelics are to an aspirin.  Coming from Dionysus, everyone would know exactly what to expect from it, and any properties, results, and effects, would not come as a surprise.

When Hercules asks for something to drink with dinner, Pholus gives him this stuff.  Yep.  

The versions claim this was because it was the only thing Pholus had on hand, and he was just being a "good host". Now really,  no host in his right mind would serve guest friends psychedelics unbeknownst to them, in lieu of water, or wine. Pholus and Hercules were purportedly very old friends and both of them "knew better", besides Hercules was in the middle of a "mission" and would never have risked being out of commission. It's clear something else is going on here. 

This Dionysus-God-given-stuff is loaded with trouble. Just the vapors and fumes from the open bottle are profoundly intoxicating even at great distances. These affect all the centaurs in the area. The resulting chaotic riot is given many silly justifications, including that the centaurs behavior was the result of their being at the mercy of the fumes, or that they were angry at not getting a party invitation, or upset that their wine was being drunk. 

None of these various justifications hold water, and in the end, the riot's cause is irrelevant.  Hercules shoots his poison arrows at the attacking centaurs. Pholus is inadvertently killed after picking up one of the arrows (in curiosity, say the sources!), and Chiron is also hit. Unlike Pholus, Chiron is immortal (yes, that's another story), so unlike Pholus, Chiron doesn't die from the wound, but lives on in grievous agony, unable to cure or kill himself. 


Hercules and the centaur Pholus shaking hands. London B 226, Attic black figure neck amphora, c. 530-510 B.C. Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London.

Chiron is Zeus's half brother, so he's also related to Zeus, and this also makes him Hercules' Half-Uncle.  Chiron is the son of Chronos, a.k.a. Kronos, which means 'Time". Chiron, as a Centaur (archer), is also a two-hybrid as is Hercules; Chiron is half-god man, half-horse.  They form two sides of the same number line.

Chiron is also similar to Prometheus; by being the son of Chronos/Time and immortal, Chiron is subject to the same immortal-overnight-regeneration rule as Prometheus. Both are stuck living lives forever enduring pain. Neither can succeed at suicide. They're both stuck.

If you were phosphorus trapped in urine,  how would you feel?

Hercules suggests Chiron volunteer to die in place of Prometheus, the two immortals agree to substitute for one another, humans get to keep fire, and the two immortals, one of whom is Zeus's brother, Hercules's Uncle, and a hybrid God, are thus saved by a half-man half-god hybrid, Hercules, who would not exist at all were it not for Prometheus creating and protecting humankind in the first place.  No small amount of ironic chemistry this.   

The Centaur Pholus, Heracles and Hermes, Athenian black-figure amphora C6th B.C., British Museum. Photograph courtesy of the British Museum, London.

Let's try this idea on for size. Brass alloys require copper and zinc, and both elements are listed as known and available in Antiquity.  The Brass alloy proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brass alloys with varying properties and all are substitutional alloys because copper and zinc atoms, the two primary constituents, can replace each other within the same crystal structure. They can 'stand in' for one another to some extent, so to speak, but not conveniently because copper and tin ores do not usually occur in the same places (they do in Cornwall, but bronze did not come from there). It's not an easy straight swap.

This trade off between Chiron and Prometheus, orchestrated by Hercules, may well be a metaphor for some such inconvenient but possible chemistry trade off. In chemistry, a substitution reaction (also known as single displacement reaction or single replacement reaction) is a chemical reaction during which one functional group in a chemical compound is replaced by another functional group.

Ancient sources for tin were scarce. Not only is tin a relatively rare element in the Earth's crust, tin deposits are few and far between.  Tin had to be traded over long distances to meet demand for it in areas lacking deposits of it.  I can find a lot of guesses about how these alloys might have been discovered, however there are no early metallurgy records and common sense conjecture is all we have to go on.

It's no coincidence that the alchemical symbol for Tin (Sn, 50) is Jupiter, a.k.a. Zeus.


The alchemical symbol for Tin (Sn, 50) is the symbol for Jupiter, Jove, Zeus.

The Greek equivalent word for the Latin Aes for copper was calkos, "chalcos," named after the copper mines at Chalcis in Euboea. This word stem is often found referring to copper, most notably in mineralogy. "Chalcopyrite" is copper pyrites. The word was also applied to iron, long before the coining of "sideros." The word for steel is caluy, clearly related to chalcos. The Phoenicians, and others, worked copper mines and smelters in Cyprus, Kupris. Venus, or Aphrodite, the Kupris, was born there, always loved the island, and was its' patron. She is very often referred to as Cypris. The word "cuprium" could have come either from the island or the goddess, and it's impossible to make a distinction. This fact supports Media as a priestess of this Goddess, having an extensive working knowledge of chemistry.  The word cuprum was probably later Latin; it gave us the chemical symbol Cu for copper. The alchemical symbol was the sign of Venus, the circle atop a cross. The Phoenicians were surely the ones who spread the knowledge and use of copper around the Mediterranean and they probably kept their metallurgical procedures secret.

The fact that pure copper and its alloys were not distinguished in ancient words shows that a fundamental difference was not appreciated. Our recognition of chemical elements is recent, and quite foreign to earlier thought. Most ancient "copper" is indeed bronze, containing tin but also lead and zinc. The alloys have a somewhat lower melting point than pure copper, and would be easier to work, besides being much harder, and more usable as tools and weapons. Zippe concludes from the various names of copper, and its' alloys used by different peoples, that there was probably multiple discoveries of its' smelting. He also remarks, quite to the point, that it is just as possible that a source of a metal was named after the metal, as that the metal was named after a place.


The alchemical symbol for Copper (Cu, 29) is the symbol for Venus Aphrodite.   

Hercules, after solving over a dozen impossible tasks that we know of, and having a very difficult life by his own choosing, sails with the Argonauts, travels with them as far as Colchis according to ancient sources, and finally earns his own cap and gown, and celestial constellation. Now you can see him up in the sky at night.

Prometheus gets off the hook; foresight is back in the game, but too late to prevent Pandora. What does this imply? To play fair here I have to stick to my own rules, and apply science and chemistry metaphors. Prometheus has exchanged places with Chiron.  Pandora has loosed synthetic biotoxins on humankind and the myths have no further use for her. If this were chemistry, we'd have a substitution reaction, implying that Pandora's synthetics will force humans to also exchange, i.e. change, inexorably. 

The Centaur archer Chiron, a half-god half horse existing only in myths, has gone on to greener pastures, and he has a place in the heavens as a celestial constellation.  


Now you can see them all as constellations in the sky at night.

Since Centaurs are only real in myths, Chiron's a representative of the subconscious. Hercules uses an archer's subconscious arrows to both kill the bird and to free Prometheus; subconscious arrows can have real effects. It's also no coincidence that the wound from which Chiron suffers and cannot heal was made by a poison arrow, shot by Hercules. From this I would have to say that what you can't see can hurt you. Beware The Internet; it shoots poison arrows, and they will hurt you. 

Zeus pouts. Were it not for humankind, he would have nobody left to play with; nobody would be available for his "transgressions", i.e. his chemical compound experiments.  One wonders why he's complaining. A.k.a. Jupiter, Zeus is left to quit while he's ahead, and he never does learn the name of the mother of the child who eventually dethrones him, not until long after the deed is  done. His Jupiter symbol ends up as the alchemical symbol for tin.


See what happens when we stretch these mythical analogies a little further by mapping them into the ancients' knowledge of science and the elements?  These myths unpack themselves very nicely into remarkably straight-forward chemistry. Upcoming:  The Golden Fleece, aurophilicity, and the chemistry behind Media's Deadly Wedding Dress.


This is not an actual atomic blast.


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I sign our magazine articles "See Into The Invisible". Thanks for reading.
Best Wishes,
Debra Spencer


171125 Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #43 Prometheus and Pandora Part 2 of 2 Parts. All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN
2474-820X. All Rights Reserved.



All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
All Content is ©2020 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.

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All Content is ©2020 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
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