Epimetheus (mythology)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"In his dialogue titled Protagoras, Plato asserts that the gods created humans and all the other animals, but it was left to Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus to give defining attributes to each. As no physical traits were left when the pair came to humans, Prometheus decided to give them fire and other civilizing arts." --Sholem Stein

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In Greek mythology, Epimetheus (which might mean "hindsight", literally "afterthinker") was the brother of Prometheus (traditionally interpreted as "foresight", literally "fore-thinker"), a pair of Titans who "acted as representatives of mankind" (Kerenyi 1951, p 207). They were the sons of Iapetus, who in other contexts was the father of Atlas. While Prometheus is characterized as ingenious and clever, Epimetheus is depicted as foolish.

Mythology

According to Plato's use of the old myth in his Protagoras (320d–322a), the twin Titans were entrusted with distributing the traits among the newly created animals. Epimetheus was responsible for giving a positive trait to every animal, but when it was time to give man a positive trait, lacking foresight he found that there was nothing left.

Prometheus decided that mankind's attributes would be the civilizing arts and fire, which he stole from Zeus. Prometheus later stood trial for his crime. In the context of Plato's dialogue, "Epimetheus, the being in whom thought follows production, represents nature in the sense of materialism, according to which thought comes later than thoughtless bodies and their thoughtless motions."

According to Hesiod, who related the tale twice (Theogony, 527ff; Works and Days 57ff), Epimetheus was the one who accepted the gift of Pandora from the gods. Their marriage may be inferred (and was by later authors), but it is not made explicit in either text.

In later myths, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora was Pyrrha, who married Deucalion and was one of the two who survived the deluge.

In modern culture

Carl Schmitt, in his book Ex captivitate salus describes himself as a Christian Epimetheus.

Ivan Illich devotes a chapter of Deschooling Society to the Rebirth of Epimethean Man. Epimetheus plays a key role in the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler, and in particular in terms of his understanding of the relation between technogenesis and anthropogenesis. According to Stiegler, it is significant that Epimetheus is entirely forgotten in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Les Amis, in his book Commemorating Epimetheus (2009), reinstates the value of Epimetheus. He is credited with bringing to the world our knowledge of dependency on each other described phenomenologically in terms of sharing, caring, meeting and dwelling and loving.

References

  • Kerenyi, Karl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks, pp 209ff.
  • Graves, Robert, (1955) 1960, The Greek Myths 39.a–j
  • Amis, Les, 2009. Commemorating Epimetheus.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Epimetheus (mythology)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools