6. Woman as a price for fire

Once upon a time, Prometheus, the son of Iapetus and Clymene, had used a trick of deceptive appearance, to fool the wise Zeus, who in retribution had concealed the unfatigued fire, from mortal men. But Prometheus stole the distant-seen gleam of the unweary fire, in the hollow of a fennel stalk and gave it to mortal men. When Zeus saw the far-seen glimmer of the untired fire amongst mortal men, his spirit was stung and his heart was angered.

Forthwith, Zeus commanded Hephaestus, the limping god, to mold from earth, the likeness of a shy maiden. Hephaestus molded such a likeness that it was a wonder to behold. The bright-eyed Athene clothed and girded her in a silvery raiment. With outspread arms, Athene placed an embroidered veil, down from the head of the shy maiden. Thereafter, about her head, Athene placed most beautiful garlands of fragrant flowers, picked from newly bloomed herbs. Hephaestus made an ornate golden crown having much amazing work on it, which Athene placed it on her head. Crafted by Hephaestus and adorned by the finery given by Athene, this beautiful evil, was then brought in front of the gods and mortal men, who were struck with amazement, at what was sheer guile and sheer deceit.

The mortals failed to resist this gorgeous evil, and from her, came forth the deadly race of women. An evil, living amongst mortal men, as companions in joyful wealth but deserters in sorrowful poverty. Zeus gave mortal men a second evil, in that they neither could accept nor reject women. The man who does not wed, avoiding the sorrows that women cause, suffers old age alone and upon death, his kinsfolk eat his wealth. But the man who weds, also suffers and day after day, experiences good continually contending with evil. If he has roguish children, his spirit is seized with an unceasing grief, which is a wound that refuses healing. Thus, Zeus gave two evils to men, in the single form of a woman, as a punishing price for fire.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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