Lascaux cave art

Lascaux cave art

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Prometheus the Archetypal Aryan


Prometheus was the son of Iapetus who was one of the Titans. He tricked the gods into eating bare bones instead of good meat. He stole the sacred fire from Zeus and the gods. Prometheus did not tell Zeus the prophecy that one of Zeus's sons will overthrow him. In punishment, Zeus commanded that Prometheus be chained for eternity in the Caucasus. There, an eagle (or, according to other sources, a vulture) would eat his liver, and each day the liver would be renewed. So the punishment was endless, until Heracles finally killed the bird.

According to Friedrich Nietzsche in `The Birth of Tragedy`:

The Prometheus saga is a primordial possession of the Aryan population collectively and documentary evidence of their talent for the profoundly tragic. In fact, it could be the case that for the Aryan being this myth has the same defining meaning as the myth of the Fall has for the Semitic peoples, and that both myths are, to some degree, related, as brother and sister.

The pre-condition of this Prometheus myth is the extraordinary value which a na├»ve humanity associates with fire as the true divine protector of that rising culture. But the fact that man freely controls fire and does not receive it merely as a gift from heaven, as a stirring lightning flash or warming rays of the sun, appeared to these contemplative primitive men as an outrage, a crime against divine nature. And so right there the first philosophical problem posed an awkward insoluble contradiction between man and god and pushed it right up to the door of that culture, like a boulder. The best and loftiest thing which mankind can share is achieved through a crime, and people must now accept the further consequences, namely, the entire flood of suffering and troubles with which the offended divine presences afflict the nobly ambitious human race. Such things must happen — an austere notion which, through the value which it gives to a crime, stands in a curious contrast to the Semitic myth of the Fall, in which curiosity, lying falsehoods, temptation, lust, in short, a row of predominantly female emotions are look upon as the origin of evil.

What distinguishes the Aryan conception is the lofty view of an active transgression as the essentially Promethean virtue. With this, the ethical basis of pessimistic tragedy is established together with the justification of human evil, that is, human guilt as the penalty for that sin. The impiety in the essence of things — that’s what the thinking Aryan is not inclined to quibble away. The contradiction in the heart of the world reveals itself to him as the interpenetration of different worlds, for example, a divine and human world, each one of which is right in its separate way but which must suffer for its individuality as the two worlds come close together.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you make of the similarity of Prometheus to Loge/Loki? Trickster, defier of the will of the Allfather, and chained for eternity under tortures imposed by the Asa/Olympians?

One thing about paganism which is different from Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism-- is the lack of a very dualistic defition of all mythic personae into "good" and "evil."

There is something "mixed" in these figures and they don't lend themselves to the idea of moral perfection in the hero.

Antiochus Epiphanes

Wotans Krieger said...

Dear Antiochus, that is an excellent analogy.
I believe that Loki and Prometheus are Germanic and Greek local varieties of an ealier and more archaic Aryan archetype. Perhaps we could refer to this as the `Lucifer` archetype.
All three in their own way were considered as `light bringers` and bequethed knowledge to mankind, especially Aryan man.
This is not so obvious with Loki. I believe that Loki suffers from a `bad press` due to distortion by Christian scribes responsible for committing the Eddas to writing.
In the earlier Germanic myths Loki is represented as part of a divine trinity-Odin, Vili, Ve or Odin, Hoenir and Loki.
Loki is regarded as the cause of Ragnarok but surely Ragnarok is necessary in order for the earth to be cleansed and for the next phase of human evolution to take place?
In all of us there is `ligh and darkness.The key is to obtain and maintain a balance: that is the work and task of the Superman.
A necessary evil in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Surely Tolkein had Loki's transformational role in igniting the Gotterdamerung in mind when he figured Gollum as the catalyst to the destruction of the Ring, at the moment of Frodo's weakness?

Ant Ep

Wotans Krieger said...

AE, yes I believe that you are correct.
It is interesting to observe how many instances there are in Tolkien`s work of Aryan archetypes at work.
According to his son much of his inspiration came to him via dreams.
Was Tolkien tapping into the Nordic-Aryan Collective Unconscious?
Wotans Krieger