The torture of Prometheus

Kazbegi Travel Blog

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Last night we drove up the Georgian military highway, the long winding road through spectacular mountain scenery that links Georgia to Russia (at least, it used to, until the border was closed). Working our way up into the Greater Caucasus the mountains were first covered in a blanket of dark green coniferous forest. Higher up we reached the alpine meadows, with a rolling plateau of grass populated by sparse herds of sheep and cattle. Above us further still loom craggy stone peaks of the highest mountains in Europe.

Today we drove up to Gergeti Trinity Church, party way up Mt Kazbegi. We had the choice of hiking up or taking a LADA 4WD, and made the best choice ever in the 4WD. We got up to the plateau while the weather was picture perfect and had an opportunity to walk around on the plateau and picnic in the sun looking out into the spectacular mountains.

We decided to head back when the weather turned and a storm started to roll in - just as the hikers were arriving up. 

Mt Kazbegi is the scene of one of the most dramatic scenes in classical mythology, the torture of Prometheus (or Amirani, in the local variation). Prometheus was a Titan, the elder gods of the world, who chose to side with the Olympians during the Titanomachy and helped Zeus defeat the Titans. After securing victory for Zeus, Prometheus played a minor trick on him, placing two sacrificial offerings before him and allowing him to chose. Zeus chose bull bones wrapped in glistening fat over a side of beer hidden inside an ox's stomach, a foolish choice allowing humans to thereafter keep the meat for themselves after sacrifice to the gods.

Enraged over his own superficial choice, Zeus punished humanity by taking from them the secret of fire. Prometheus, always the supporter of humans against the gods, giving humanity writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine and science, stole back fire from Zeus. Zeus, seemingly never one for proportionate retaliation, punished men by creating Pandora, the first woman (seriously, what is the issue with religions always seeing women as a torment for men?), and punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock on Mt Kazbegi. Prometheus was to be tortured for eternity by having an eagle eat his liver every day, to be regenerated every night, but fortunately Hercules killed the eagle and freed Prometheus.

As an interesting aside, Prometheus, the bringer of all gifts of civilization, also brought humanity sexual ambiguity, according to Aesop:

"The answer lies once again with Prometheus, the original creator of our common clay.

All day long, Prometheus had been separately shaping those natural members which modesty conceals beneath our clothes, and when he was about to apply these private parts to the appropriate bodies Liber [Dionysos] unexpectedly invited him to dinner. Prometheus came home late, unsteady on his feet and with a good deal of heavenly nectar flowing through his veins. With his wits half asleep in a drunken haze he stuck the female genitalia on male bodies and male members on the ladies. This is why modern lust revels in perverted pleasures." - Aesop's Fables #517.

Somehow this story doesn't seem to be as popular as the Tortoise and the Hare, and so forth.

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photo by: HelenP