from Hesiod's Theogony


Zeus Outwits Prometheus--

The Creation of Women


For when the gods and mortal men fell to disputing
at Mekone, Prometheus, acting in a spirit of kindness,
divided and dished up a great ox, deceiving the mind of Zeus.
On the one side he put the flesh and the rich and fat inner parts
hidden under the skin, concealed in the paunch of the ox;
on the other side he put the ox's white bones, arranging them
well with skillful deception, concealed in silvery fat.
Then the Father of Gods and of Men addressed him as follows:
"Son of Iapetos, lord surpassing all others in glory,
ah my good fellow, how very unfairly you make this division!"
Thus did Zeus, whose plans are unfailing, chidingly speak.
And Prometheus, the clever deviser, made him this answer,
gently smiling the while and mindful of skillful deception:
"Zeus, most glorious and greatest of gods eternally living,
choose for yourself of these helpings the one that your heart desires."
Thus he spoke with deceit, but Zeus, whose plans are unfailing,
saw through the trick and wasn't deceived, but planned in his heart
evil which he would bring to fulfillment for mortal men.
Then as in both hands he took up the helping shining with fat
anger swelled in his breast, wrath entered into his heart,
for he beheld the white bones of the ox and the skillful deception.
(This explains why the tribes of men who dwell on the earth
burn white bones on the fragrant altars to the immortals.)
Then, greatly angered, Zeus of the Storm Cloud addressed him as follows:
"Son of Iapetos, you who suprass all others in planning,
ah my good fellow, you ever are mindful of skillful deception!"
Thus in his wrath Zeus, whose plans are unfailing, spoke.
And he never forgot this act of deception but thereafter
no longer gave to the ash trees the strength of weariless fire,
which is a boon for mortal men who dwell on the earth.
But the goodly son of Iapetos deceived him by thievery,
stealing the strength of weariless fire, that far-shining brightness,
caught in a fennel stalk's hollow--a deed that pierced to the heart
Zeus the Thunderer on High, stirring his spirit to anger,
when he beheld among men the far-shining brightness of fire.
Immediately he made as the price of fire an evil for men,
for the famous Lame-Legged One [i.e. Hepaestus or Hephaistos] fashioned of clay,
as Zeus decreed, an image resembling a virgin demure.
And the goddess gray-eyed Athena girdled and dressed her
in a silver-white gown and over her head drew a veil,
one that was woven with wonderful skill, a marvel to look at;
and over this a garland of spring flowers, bright in their freshness.
Pallas Athena set on her head, a lovely adornment;
and a gold crown, encircling the brow, she put in its place,
which had been made by the famous Lame-Legged One himself,
using the skill of his hands, gladly obliging Zeus Father.
On it were made many intricate shapes, marvels to look at,
resembling the terrible monsters spawned by earth and sea;
many of these he put there with charm breathing over each one,
marvelous beings which seemed to be living and able to roar.
When he had finished this beauty, this evil to balance a good,
Hephaistos brought her among the other gods and men,
glorying in her adornment by the gray-eyed Daughter of Great Zeus.
Then the gods and mortal men were struck with amazement
when they beheld this sheer inescapable snare for men.
From her descend the race of women, the feminine sex;
from her come the baneful race and types of women.
Women, a great plague, make their abodes with mortal men,
being ill-suited to Poverty's curse but suited to Plenty.
Even so Zeus the Thunderer on High created women
as an evil for men and conspirers in troublesome works.
And in exchange for a good he gave a balancing evil.
Whoever flees from marriage and women's mischievous works,
being unwilling to wed, comes to baneful old age with
no one to care for his needs, and though he has plenty to live on
while he is living, collateral heirs divide his possessions
when he is dead. As for the man who is fated to marry,
if he obtains a virtuous wife, one endowed with good sense,
thoughout his life evil and good alternate endlessly.
But that man who obtains a wife who is thoroughly bad
lives having deep in his breast a pain which never subsides
fixed in his innermost heart, and this is an evil incurable.
Thus to deceive Zeus's mind is impossible or to get round it,
for not even the son of Iapetos, crafty Prometheus,
avoided his deep wrath, but he in spite of his shrewdness
suffers under compusion great inescapable bondage.