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'Prometheus' Theories: Greek Mythology Offers Answers (SPOILERS)

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Jun 09, 2012 | 11:22am EDT

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ALTMajor spoilers ahead:

For anyone who's seen the stunning but puzzling Prometheus, many of us are left with lots of big questions (like these). But the biggest clue might be right under our noses: the name of the movie (and the name of the ship), Prometheus.

Lost fans know that the film's co-writer Damon Lindelof was fond of literary references on that show (referencing books like Watership Down and Through the Looking Glass). Some character names had historical or literary double meanings; plus plot points and episode titles often had literary tie-ins. 

So did he follow a similar path for the script of Prometheus

Well, in Greek mythology, the titan Prometheus was the creator of mankind, shaping man out of clay. He learned all kinds of cool skills like math and medicine and taught them to humans. 

But, long story short, he did some things to anger Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods — for one, he became too close to the humans and gave mankind too much power (in Zeus' eyes). To punish him, Zeus decided to withhold fire from the humans. (Only sushi and raw veggies for eternity!)

In turn, Prometheus defied Zeus, and stole fire to give to man. And, as anyone who's ever read Greek mythology knows, gods are not cool with defiance. 

The one-upsmanship continued with Zeus trying to get Prometheus' brother to accept Pandora (yep, that Pandora) as a gift. When he refused, Zeus was even more pissed. So he chained Prometheus, naked, to a rock where an eagle/vulture ate at his liver all day. Every night, his liver would regenerate. So the torture continued day after day. 

In an attempt to free him, his brother married Pandora and opened her damned box — and we all know what happened. Evils were released onto mankind: sickness, old age, labor, insanity, vice and passion. 

If the screenwriters were inspired by the Greek myth, chew on these theories about the movie:

1. Humans are mere pawns for the Engineers (our creators and "gods") in a clash of the titans. 

2. The Engineer in the opening scene gives birth to man and pisses off the other gods for giving humans too much power. Now, "Zeus" wants to unleash hell on earth to punish the creations. 

3. In Greek mythology, Prometheus has come to represent human striving and the quest for scientific knowledge (all while taking major risks). David asks the scientist Holloway,"How far would you go to get your answers?" Both he and Shaw represent Prometheus — they're willing to risk it all for their answers. 

4. Liver-eating eagle = squiddy alien baby.

5. The spaceship carrying the canisters of black goo is Pandora's Box. 

Do you see any other parallels to the Greek myth? Or are they all red herrings? Is there any significance to the fact that fire seemed to be the only thing that could kill the zombified people? What are your theories? Share them in the comments section below!

Follow Michelle on Twitter @HWMichelleLee

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