5. Prometheus attempts to trick Zeus

Once upon a time, it was to be determined how a sacrifice was to be divided, between the gods and the mortals. For this purpose, a meeting of gods and mortal men was held at Mecone.

A large ox was brought for sacrifice and Prometheus, the son of Iapetus and Clymene, came forward to slay it. Prometheus cut the great ox and desiring to help mortal men, he thought of dividing the portions into two parts. One part would deceptively appear, as if full of fat while the other part would deceptively appear, as if full of skin and bones. Thus, Prometheus divided the sacrificed ox into two deceptive portions. In one portion, he laid the flesh, the inner parts thick with fat and covered it up with the paunch of the ox. In another portion, he laid down the white bones of the ox but with cunning craft, covered them with a layer of shining fat.

Prometheus used this trick of deceptive appearance, to fool Zeus, in order to help mortal men. But the wise Zeus immediately saw through the deception and rebuked Prometheus, regarding how unfairly he had divided the portions. However, the wily Prometheus softly smiled and requested Zeus, the most glorious of the eternal gods, to pick any portion that Zeus desired.

Zeus, the greatest of the deathless gods, perceived the trick of Prometheus, but he thought about the sorrows of mortal men that were fated to be unleashed. Hence, Zeus, whose wisdom is everlasting, with both his hands took up the portion of shining fat, which artfully concealed the white bones of the ox. Since then, the various tribes of mortal men offer bones and fat on altars, as a sacrifice to the gods, while keeping the flesh for themselves.

Although Zeus was aware of the trick, yet to avenge being thus tricked, Zeus concealed the unweary fire from mortal men. In the absence of fire, mortal men could neither cook food nor warm themselves.

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