Prometheus, by Theodoor Rombouts.
Prometheus (and details), Theodoor Rombouts, oil on canvas, 1801, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, Brussels.
The myths of Prometheus.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the wisest of all Titans, known for his intelligence. His name means “fforethinker”, in fact he was able to foretell the future. He was the son of Iapetus. When Zeus revolted against Cronus, Prometheus deserted the other Titans and fought on Zeus side.
He is also considered a champion of humanity. He is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. In another of his myths, Prometheus establishes the form of animal sacrifice practiced in ancient Greek religion by tricking Zeus into allowing men to keep the best parts of the animals scarificed to the gods and to give them the worst parts.
As a consequence of these acts, Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day. He was to be left there until he agreed to disclose to Zeus which of Zeus children would try to replace him.
Prometheus is freed at last by the hero Hercules, without giving in to Zeus.
In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences. In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy: Mary Shelley, for instance, gave The Modern Prometheus as the subtitle to her novel Frankenstein (1818).
Illustration by Alfons Maria Mucha, father of Art Nouveau.
Spring (detail), 1900.
Sleeping Beauty, by Louis Sussmann-Hellborn.
Dornröschen, 1878, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Day and Night, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
Jour, 1884, oil on canvas, 108 x 207 cm, Private collection.
Nuit, 1883, oil on canvas, 208.3 × 107.3 cm, Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C.
Italo Calvino, Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, 1979.
Come stabilire il momento esatto in cui comincia una storia?
Tutto è sempre cominciato già prima.
La prima riga della prima pagina di ogni romanzo rimanda a qualcosa che è già successo fuori del libro.
Oppure la vera storia è quella che comincia dieci pagine più avanti e tutto ciò che precede è solo un prologo.