Asteroid Files: Prometheus

Helios– This eclipse is already hitting us hard. It breeds Heroes, and Big Bads, but it also produces Rebels as well. We’ve seen what happens when you get a rebel without a cause time and time again, so why don’t we try one who has something to fight for? 

The Astronomy: 1809 Prometheus is an asteroid from the outer region of the asteroid belt, approximately 14 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 24 September 1960, by the Dutch astronomer couple Ingrid and Cornelis Johannes van Houten at Leiden, on photographic plates taken by Dutch–American astronomer Tom Gehrels at Palomar, California, in the United States. On the same night, the team of astronomers discovered several other minor planets including 1810 Epimetheus. Prometheus orbits the Sun at a distance of 2.6–3.2 AU once every 5.00 years (1,828 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.10 and an inclination of 3° with respect to the ecliptic.  According to surveys Prometheus measures 14.2 kilometers in diameter, and its surface has an albedo of 0.126. As of 2017, its spectral type, rotation period and shape remain unknown.

The Myth: Prometheus is a Titan in Greek mythology, best known as the deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, who stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind. The most significant narratives of his origin appear in the Theogony of Hesiod which relates Prometheus as being the son of the Titan Iapetus by Clymene, one of the Oceanids. The four most ancient sources for understanding the origin of the Prometheus myths and legends all rely on the images represented in the Titanomachy, or the cosmological struggle between the Greek gods and their parents, the Titans. Prometheus, himself a Titan, managed to avoid being in the direct confrontational cosmic battle between Zeus and the other Olympians against Cronus and the other Titans. Prometheus therefore survived the struggle in which the offending Titans were eternally banished by Zeus to the chthonic depths of Tartarus, only to survive to confront Zeus on his own terms in subsequent climactic struggles. The greater Titanomachia depicts an overarching metaphor of the struggle between generations, between parents and their children, symbolic of the generation of parents needing to eventually give ground to the growing needs, vitality, and responsibilities of the new generation for the perpetuation of society and survival interests of the human race as a whole. Prometheus and his struggle would be of vast merit to human society as well in this mythology as he was to be credited with the creation of humans and therefore all of humanity as well.

In the Theogony, Hesiod introduces Prometheus as a lowly challenger to Zeus’s omniscience and omnipotence. In the trick at Mekone, a sacrificial meal marking the “settling of accounts” between mortals and immortals, Prometheus played a trick against Zeus. He placed two sacrificial offerings before the Olympian: a selection of beef hidden inside an ox’s stomach (nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior), and the bull’s bones wrapped completely in “glistening fat” (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus chose the latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices. Henceforth, humans would keep that meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering to the gods. This angered Zeus, who hid fire from humans in retribution. In this version of the myth, the use of fire was already known to humans, but withdrawn by Zeus. Prometheus, however, stole fire back in a giant fennel-stalk and restored it to humanity. This further enraged Zeus, who sent Pandora, the first woman, to live with humanity, and we all know how that turned out!

Prometheus, in eternal punishment, is chained to a rock in the Caucasus, Kazbek Mountain or Mountain of Khvamli, where his liver is eaten daily by an eagle, only to be regenerated by night, due to his immortality. The eagle is a symbol of Zeus himself. Years later, the Greek hero Heracles slays the eagle and frees Prometheus from the eagle’s torment.

Why He Matters: OKAY SO I LOVE PROMETHEUS (Suck it, Zeus!). He is one of my all-time favorite figures out of any mythology, and given how prevalent he still is, centuries after his worship I am not alone in this. Above all else, Prometheus is a trickster, like Sun Wukong, Loki, or Eshu. He never approaches problems in a straight line, instead he explores every avenue to achieve his goal. He is the poster child of non-linear thinking.  There is something universal to Prometheus, something so intrinsically human about a being who should be by all accounts cold and terrifying to behold. Instead, he is warm, and given as a standard to try and reach. Prometheus represents a part of you that seeks to buck all rules and tradition, going with what you know is right rather than what you are told to do. He is that innate urge to rebel. With such a wild force he could easily be destructive and anarchic, like so many other Titans, but he rebels and sticks his neck out for others. He fights for a cause. He is the little guy, the underdog- yet he always finds a way to win, again not for himself but for others. He suffers as well, and he does it because he has achieved for others. The memories of those he has helped enable him to make it through his torment. He inspires us, and helps us to create impossible things- he could be rightly called a muse, and don’t think for a second that he wouldn’t get in drag and crash their party! Prometheus is audacious, irreverent, and above all else comes from a place of true, universal love. Wherever you have him in the chart you will instantly realize his influence. He is… not subtle, in anything he does!

To find out where he shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 1809, for Prometheus. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Prometheus affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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