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One of my favourite ones is Prometheus Bound...Aeschylus' version is the one most people in Greece are familiar with.

Before the play begins, Kronos, the ruler of the pre-Olympian gods, had been overthrown by an insurgency lead by Zeus. In that revolt, Prometheus had sided with Zeus. As the new king, Zeus intended to destroy and replace humankind. Prometheus frustrated this plan, showing humans the use of fire, which Prometheus had stolen. Prometheus also taught humanity the arts. For these acts of defiance, Zeus intends to punish Prometheus by chaining him to a rock in the mountains of Scythia.

At the outset of the play Prometheus is seen accompanied by two faithful proxies[7] of Zeus, namely (Kratos and Bia), respectively personifications of brute power and callous violence who will see to it that Zeus’s punishment is carried out. Also begrudgingly present is Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, whose skills are needed to apply the hardware used to fasten Prometheus to the rock. Zeus, an off-stage character in this play, is portrayed as a tyrannical leader.

Only one of Zeus's two agents, Kratos, speaks in this scene, and he announces his orders harshly and insolently. Kratos states that the punishment meted out to Prometheus is due to the fact he stole fire and revealed the secret of how it is produced to humanity, adding that the punitive measure taken will compel Prometheus to take cognizance of the sovereignty of Zeus. For Prometheus, his punishment occurs because he dared to rescue mankind from being annihilated by Zeus. The penalty exacted is particularly galling since he himself had been instrument in securing Zeus's victory in the Titanomachy.

Hephaestus performs his task, shackling Prometheus to the mountain, whereupon all three exit, leaving Prometheus alone on stage. Prometheus now speaks, and appeals to the powers of Nature, which are all around him. He calls on the wind, the mountains’ springs of water, the Earth and the Sun — to witness how he suffers unfairly. Somewhat elliptically he intuits what the future might portend in positive terms, and his outrage diminishes.

Prometheus becomes aware that something is approaching. He hears the beating of wings, and inhales the scent of the ocean. A chorus enters, made up of the daughters of Oceanus. From within their deep sea-caves, they had heard the sound of the hammering, and were drawn by curiosity and fear. They have arrived without stopping to put on their sandals. Before they come closer, they hover in the air just above Prometheus, who hints to them that he is keeping a secret that will eventually cause him to have power over Zeus. The chorus thinks that he is speaking out of anger, and may not actually be prophetic. Responding to their questions, Prometheus tells the story of his offense against Zeus admitting that it was deliberate. He complains that the punishment is too harsh. At last, Prometheus invites the chorus to stop hovering and come down to earth, to listen to more of what he has to say. They agree, and arrange themselves downstage in order to listen.

Prometheus’ story is interrupted by the entrance of Oceanus — the father of the chorus of nymphs. Oceanus arrives in a carriage drawn by a winged beast — a griffin. Oceanus is an older god, a Titan son of Earth, who has made peace with Zeus. He has heard of Prometheus’ troubles, and has come to offer some sympathy and advice. Prometheus is proud, and is hurt by this offer. Prometheus responds coldly, and wonders why Oceanus would leave his caves and streams to see such a miserable sight chained to a rock. Prometheus suggests that Oceanus should not intervene, out of concern for his own safety. Oceanus is annoyed by this, but wants to help, and offers to leave only when Prometheus tells him that if he attempts to intervene it will only increase the punishment Prometheus is suffering. Oceanus notes that his winged beast is eager to get home to his own stable, and he exits.

Prometheus is alone again with the chorus of Oceanus’ daughters, who did not speak while their father was visiting. Prometheus speaks to the chorus of Ocean nymphs. He asks pardon for his silence, which is because he was thinking about the ingratitude of the Gods. He describes the positive things he had done for humans. In the so-called Catalogue of the Arts (447-506), he reveals that he taught men all the civilizing arts, such as writing, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, architecture, and agriculture. He suggests that he will one day be unchained, but it will be due to the intervention of Necessity, which is something directed by Fate, not Zeus. When asked how that will happen, he keeps it secret. The Chorus sings an Ode that is a prayer that they will never cross Zeus.

Io, the daughter of Inachus, king of Argos, arrives. Io had become the object of Zeus’s affections and desires, which angered Zeus’s wife, Hera. Io’s father was advised to banish his daughter from his house, which he does. Io then wanders the Earth. Hera turned Io into a heifer and the herder Argus drove her from land to land. After Argus was killed by Hermes, a new torment was inflicted on Io — a plague of gad-flies. She has now arrived at the desolate place where Prometheus is chained. Prometheus is familiar with her story, and she recognizes him as the great friend to humans. The chorus doesn’t know Io’s past, and persuades Prometheus to let Io tell them. The chorus is shocked and saddened and asks Prometheus to tell of Io’s future wanderings. He hesitates because he knows it will be painful.

A brief dialogue reveals that Prometheus and Io are both victims of Zeus and that in the future Prometheus will eventually be freed by the descendants of Io. Prometheus asks Io to choose: Does she want to hear the rest of her own future, or the name of her descendant that will rescue him? The chorus interrupts — they want both: One answer for Io and one for themselves. Prometheus foresees that Io’s wanderings will end at the mouth of the Nile. There Zeus will restore her. She will give birth to a son, Epaphus, who will father fifty daughters, all of whom will murder their husbands, except for one, who will bear a line of kings, and another one who will rescue Prometheus from his torment. Prometheus’ future rescuer is not named, but is known to be Hercules.[8] Io bounds away.

Prometheus proclaims that no matter how great Zeus may be, his reign will eventually come to an end. Zeus may do his worst but it won’t be forever. The chorus express caution, which he responds to with even more defiance. Prometheus’s words have reached Zeus, whose messenger, Hermes, appears to urge Prometheus to reveal his secret about the marriage that threatens Zeus. Hermes reveals Zeus’ own threats — the earthquake, the fall of the mountain that will bury Prometheus, the eagle that will attack Prometheus’s vital organs. Prometheus states again that he knows all that is to come and will endure it. Prometheus warns the chorus to stand aside. They don’t. The end comes: Earthquake, dust-storm, jagged lightning, whirlwind. Prometheus has the last line of the play: “O holy mother mine, O you firmament that revolves the common light of all, you see the wrongs I suffer!” Prometheus vanishes along with the chorus.
Well, I know little of Native American various mythologies but without a doubt, they are the most metal ones and I should definitely dabble in them more. But I am more familiar with Indian texts and I actually do like Mahabharata a lot, out of the two great epics, Ramayana tbh is a pretty bland good vs evil story but Mahabharata is a whole different beast.

So one of the stories in Mahabharata goes (background: Pandavas and Kauravas, two sets of brothers are fighting a war against each other).

The eldest Pandavas brother Yudhisthir is probably the most morally righteous person on earth and he has never uttered a lie in his life and as a result, his chariot doesn't touch the ground but is always floating a few feet above the ground. Now the issue here is that in the enemy camp i.e. Kaurava's camp there is a warrior Dronacharya who incidentally also was the teacher of both Pandavas and Kauravas and he is too good and Pandavas need some strategy against him or the war is gone. They come up with a plan and that plan is to sow the rumour that Dronacharya's son Ashwathama died in the battle. I won't go into detail here but because of boon and curses, this will create an opportunity to kill Dronacharya. The only issue with this plan is that Dronacharya will definitely ask Yudhisthir who as you remember is a righteous person and never lies.

They the Pandava camp ask Yudhisthir to play along but he obviously refuses but then another Pandava brother Bhim comes with a plan that he will slay an Elephant named Ashwathama and if Dronacharya comes asking Yudhisthir is Aswathama dead, he can say yes and that will be technically correct and winning the war is important too.

So after an interesting discussion on truth and lies, this plan is given a green signal and Dronacharya asks Yudhisthir, Is Aswathama dead, he says, "Yes". Dronacharya dies (because of boon, curses, not going into that detail) but shocking everyone, suddenly the Yudhishthir's Chariot stops floating and falls on the ground.

This is quite an interesting tale and I quite like it, even the perfect man can fall from grace.
I read the Ramayana for the first time last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I keep meaning to read the Mahabharata as well.

As for my favourite ancient story, I love Norse mythology, particularly because it's often quite apparent that the Norse people didn't really like their gods very much - as demonstrated by the story of the Fortification of Asgard.

TL,DR: The gods promise Freya's hand in marriage to a master builder if he can fortify Asgard in one winter, with no help from anyone but his horse. The thinking is: it's obviously impossible in that time, but we might as well get some free labour. The dude does 99.5% of the work, at which point the gods panic and desperately look for a way to screw him over. In the end, Loki transforms into a mare and then fucks the guy's horse as a distraction, stopping him from finishing the job. Then, for good measure, Thor kills the builder with his hammer. :lol:

There are quite a few more examples of the Norse gods being slippery little shits, bit this one has always stuck with me :D

The Fortification of Asgard

A certain smith arrived at Asgard one day and offered to build the gods a high wall around their home to protect them from any who might wish them ill. The smith (certainly a giant himself) said he could complete his work in a mere three seasons, but demanded a steep compensation: the hand of the goddess Freya in marriage, as well as the sun and moon.

The gods took counsel together. Freya was adamantly against the giant’s terms from the start. But Loki suggested that the builder should obtain that which he desired, although only if he could complete his work in a single winter, with no aid from anyone but his horse. After much deliberation, the gods consented to Loki’s plan. Of course, the gods had no intention of actually giving Freya away, nor the sun or the moon; they thought that the task they demanded was impossible.

The giant smith, however, agreed to their terms, provided that the gods swear oaths to ensure that, if their conditions were met, they would fulfill their end of the bargain, and that he himself would be safe in Asgard while he worked.

The builder set about constructing the wall, and the gods marveled at how quickly the structure was raised. What was even more perplexing to them was that the giant’s stallion, Svadilfari (“Unlucky Traveler”[1]) seemed to be doing almost twice as much work as the smith himself, hauling enormous boulders over considerable distances to add to the edifice. When the end of winter was only three days ahead, the wall was strong enough to be impenetrable by almost any enemy, and – alarmingly – lacking little before it was finished. Only the stones around the gate had yet to be put in place.

The anxious gods seized Loki and rebuked him for giving them such foul advice. They threatened him with death if he couldn’t find a way to prevent the giant from finishing his task and making off with their beloved goddess Freya and the sun and moon, bringing neverending darkness and dreariness to the Nine Worlds. Loki pleaded with the gods to spare his life, and swore an oath that he would do as the gods desired, come what may.

That night, the giant and Svadilfari ventured into the snow-draped forest in search of stones. Along their way, a mare, who was none other than Loki in disguise, whinnied to the stallion from a short distance away. When the stallion saw the mare, his heart wasn’t the only organ that was roused by delight and lust, and he snapped his reins and bounded into the woods after her. The mare ran all night, and all night Svadilfari chased after her. When morning came, the giant’s horse was still missing, and the now-despairing giant knew that there was no way that he could now finish the wall in time.

The Aesir then paid the giant the wages they deemed he deserved: a fatal blow from Thor’s hammer, which shattered his head into pieces no bigger than breadcrumbs.

Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Svadilfari had caught up with Loki, who soon gave birth to a gray, eight-legged horse – Sleipnir, who became the steed of Odin.
I will say I haven't read it but just some bits here and there from youtube but Journey to the west seems like a great epic adventure with numerous little stories contained within which should be a great and wild ride. I should probably read it after finding a good version of it.

Sima Qian's masterpiece story of the legend of Assassinator Jing Ke from "The Records Of The Grand Historian"....

..... Especially when the movie based on it starred the beautiful Gong Li in her prime and was an epic masterpiece.

And this other classic Chinese legend is second:

Since you guys all went with Western stories, I'm representing how awesome ancient Chinese stories are with these two genuine masterpieces.

Spoiler: show
And yes the 1998 Mulan is a goddamn masterpiece, why did Disney have to go and fuck it up?
fuser wrote:I will say I haven't read it but just some bits here and there from youtube but Journey to the west seems like a great epic adventure with numerous little stories contained within which should be a great and wild ride. I should probably read it after finding a good version of it.

The best version ever is the Japanese TV series from the 1970s.....

MONKEY MAGIC!! :excited:
My introduction to Journey to the West was, if I recall correctly, in Heavy Metal magazine. It was a a serial comic adaptation, obviously.

I have a bias towards epic poetry, so my personal favourites reflect that. I mentioned Lattimore’s translation of The Odyssey in another thread, but his Iliad is also incredible.

I also like Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the greatest stories ever. It dates back almost five thousand years and many of its elements were later incorporated into the Bible. It contains one of the earliest versions of the flood myth and its hero, Gilgamesh, loses the plant of eternal life due to the trickery of the snake.

The story sets out with the taming of the wild in the form of Enkido, who is tamed by a harlot. Having been ‘civilized’, Enkido encounters Gilgamesh, the ruthless ruler of the city of Uruk. The two first wrestle and then become friend. They set out together on a quest to kill the monster Humbaba, allegedly because he does not worship the gods of the city of Uruk. Humbaba is the guardian of the forest, in what is today’s Lebanese cedar forest. Recently discovered fragments portrait Humbaba as the benevolent guardian of the forest with well tended paths and a rich wildlife.

"Where Humbaba came and went there was a track, the paths were in good order and the way was well trodden ... Through all the forest a bird began to sing: A wood pigeon was moaning, a turtle dove calling in answer. Monkey mothers sing aloud, a youngster monkey shrieks: like a band of musicians and drummers daily they bash out a rhythm in the presence of Humbaba."
Having killed Humbaba by treachery, Gilgamesh goes about felling the trees of the forest to build a gate for the city.

The gods decide to punish the two by killing Enkido, which puts Gilgamesh into a crisis since he has to face his own mortality. He sets out on a quest to find the plant of eternal life, only to lose it in the end due to the trickery of the snake.

Five thousand years have passed, yet nothing has changed, we keep on portraying those we want to rob and kill as monsters. Back then it was timber, today it is oil. The city continues to exploit nature by trickery.

By comparison, the Journey to the West is a rather silly and superficial popular narrative.
Am I really the only person to be inspired by a story in which a Chinese merc for hire tells the tyrannical corrupt Emperor(who obviously is a stand in for all sleazbag politicians ever) how much everyone in the other kingdoms hate his guts by chasing him around the room and chucking a dagger at him while his guards stand around like idiots and his doctor decides to chuck his medical bag at the assassin and flukes a hit? Sadly the Emperor got the message and acted like a maniac that now knew how much his enemies actually hated him. Still just like Hitler and the suitcase bomber many centuries later, you still wish he'd bloody well succeed killing him.

It's still a classic Ancient Story if the historian does an awesome job recording it guys!

Or is this a fiction thread only?

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