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Many, many centuries ago there lived two brothers, Prometheus or
Forethought, and Epimetheus or Afterthought. They were the sons of
those Titans who had fought against Jupiter and been sent in chains to
the great prison-house of the lower world, but for some reason had
Prometheus, however, did not care for idle life among the gods on
Mount Olympus. Instead he preferred to spend his time on the earth,
helping men to find easier and better ways of living. For the children
of earth were not happy as they had been in the golden days when
Saturn ruled. Indeed, they were very poor and wretched and cold,
without fire, without food, and with no shelter but miserable caves.
"With fire they could at least warm their bodies and cook their food,"
Prometheus thought, "and later they could make tools and build houses
for themselves and enjoy some of the comforts of the gods."
So Prometheus went to Jupiter and asked that he might be permitted to
carry fire to the earth. But Jupiter shook his head in wrath.
"Fire, indeed!" he exclaimed. "If men had fire they would soon be as
strong and wise as we who dwell on Olympus. Never will I give my
Prometheus made no reply, but he didn't give up his idea of helping
men. "Some other way must be found," he thought.
Then, one day, as he was walking among some reeds he broke off one,
and seeing that its hollow stalk was filled with a dry, soft pith,
"At last! In this I can carry fire, and the children of men shall
have the great gift in spite of Jupiter."
Immediately, taking a long stalk in his hands, he set out for the
dwelling of the sun in the far east. He reached there in the early
morning, just as Apollo's chariot was about to begin its journey
across the sky. Lighting his reed, he hurried back, carefully guarding
the precious spark that was hidden in the hollow stalk.
Then he showed men how to build fires for themselves, and it was not
long before they began to do all the wonderful things of which
Prometheus had dreamed. They learned to cook and to domesticate
animals and to till the fields and to mine precious metals and melt
them into tools and weapons. And they came out of their dark and
gloomy caves and built for themselves beautiful houses of wood and
stone. And instead of being sad and unhappy they began to laugh and
sing. "Behold, the Age of Gold has come again," they said.