Prometheus, in Grecian mythology, the son of Japetus and Clymene, and brother of Atlas, Menoetius, and Epimetheus. According to Hesiod, gods and men were in a dispute at Mecone in regard to what portion of the animal should be offered in sacrifice. Prometheus, as the tutelary representative of man, divided a bull into two parts, one consisting of the flesh and intestines wrapped in the skin, and the other of the bones covered up by the white fat. Jupiter, having been asked which of the two he would choose, decided for the latter; and as the choice could not be revoked, those parts alone were thereafter offered on his altar. Indignant at the deception, he withheld fire from mortals, but Prometheus stole fire from heaven in the hollow of a tube. Jupiter now sent Pandora to earth with her box of evils, and fastened Prometheus to a pillar, where he remained for many generations, an eagle every day feeding upon his liver, which every night grew again. At length Hercules was permitted to kill the eagle and free the prisoner. The most celebrated drama founded upon this myth is the trilogy of AEschylus, of which the "Prometheus Bound" and a few fragments of the "Prometheus Loosed" are extant.
In AEschy-lus, Prometheus appears not only as the protector of the human race against the superior might of the gods, but as its teacher and benefactor. Through his assistance, Jupiter overcomes the Titans; but when Prometheus frustrates the design of destroying mankind, he is chained to a rock in Scythia. There he is visited by the Oceanids and by Io, to whom he foretells her long wanderings. He is in possession of knowledge which it is essential to the safety of Jupiter to gain; but he bids defiance to his persecutor, and refuses to make known the secret. He is hurled into Tartarus, and afterward reappears chained to Mount Caucasus, to undergo fresh torments. From this condition he can only be freed when some other god shall voluntarily descend into Tartarus for him, which finally happened when Chiron, wounded by Hercules, sought permission to go into Hades. Another account says that Jupiter himself delivered Prometheus when the latter agreed to reveal the prophecy, according to which, if he were married to Thetis, she would give birth to a son greater than himself.