Once upon a time—wait. That’s not exactly right.
Back in the beginning of time (or shortly thereafter), there weren’t any people. To keep themselves occupied, the gods fought among themselves (that’s what the Big Bang was before it became a TV show). Fast forward to the end middle of the family bickering, and Prometheus and Epimetheus were told to make man and animals.
Epimetheus got right to work on the animals, and with each creature he created, he reached into his Bag of Gifts and bestowed one upon the animal. He handed out swiftness, cunning, fur, shells, wings, and snailness. He handed out slime and scales and extra legs. He gave out super noses and pouches and prickles and quills.
Meanwhile Prometheus was sculpting man out of mud and clay, and Athena breathed life into man. Prometheus strolled over to the Big Bag o’ Gifts to find something nice for his people pets. But Epimetheus had given everything away.
Prometheus thought and thought (but faster than that) and decided he had to find something. So (being the kind of dude he was) he snuck up to Olympus and grabbed some fire which he gave to man. Probably he gave it to a woman because she was a better chef and was in charge of keeping the family warm.
Zeus decreed that man would be required to sacrifice a portion of the mealtime to the gods. And (being the kind of dude he was) his decree said that the bestest, most yummy portion of the meat (and never the lima beans). Prometheus didn’t want his pets to give away the best portions and decided to intervene.
Prometheus mad two piles: one had the bones of an animal wrapped in juicy fat; the other had the best portion. Prometheus covered each pile with animal hides and asked Zeus to choose which portion would go to the gods. Zeus picked the yummy smelling….bones. (As a reminder, Zeus was powerful, but not exactly a rocket scientist.)
Zeus had agreed, but he was annoyed irked angry royally pissed off. And a hangry Zeus was generally a problem for someone. In this case, Zeus took fire away from the people persons.
Prometheus saw all his people huddling around a non-warming pile of sticks and eating cold pop tarts and knew he had to Do Something. So he built a small torch, flew up to the sun to light it, and brought the present back to the people.
While this wasn’t exactly undoing what Zeus did, it was just a miss on a technicality and Zeus reached a whole new level of annoyed irked angry royally pissed off. Zeus decided to punish Prometheus and man.
Zeus was nothing if not diabolical and he sent Pandora (the woman not the radio station—that came later) to punish people. But you already know that story.
To punish Prometheus for tricking him about the sacrifices, stealing fire, and refusing to tell Zeus which ungrateful child would dethrone him, Zeus chained Prometheus to a huuuuuge rock in the Caucasus Mountains and sent a giant eagle to eat his liver every day.
Eventually Prometheus was freed, but that’s another story. Until then, he was pretty miserable which made some of the renaissance artists very happy since they loved painting Greek misery.
And now you know.