September 2001 was a momentous month for Promethius as it is the month that we moved out of our tiny downtown office space and into our, seemingly, spacious new offices on the north side. Our always generous landlords were the kind folks at IAHSA (now LeadingAge Indiana), and we would stay there for the next 11 years. Sadly, this was a momentous month for the rest of the country as well.
Coincidentally, the Promethean took its official launch in September 2001. Among other things you can read in this article is documented proof that I never recommended Windows ME! I also had some very good things to say about DSL. Where I’m headed with this article, however, is that I also included in that newsletter a short paragraph on the ancient immortal, Prometheus. This is the number one question I get asked when I mention my company’s name. Why did we name it after a Greek demigod?
Prometheus was not of the Olympian gods, but rather of their predecessors, the Titans. He was the grandson of Uranus (Father Sky) and Gaia (Mother Earth) and the brother of Menoetius, Atlas and Epimetheus. Menoetious and Atlas were punished for their roles in the war against Zeus and the Olympians, but the twins, Prometheus and Epimetheus, were spared as they did not take direct action in the war (Titanomachy). There are many impressive traits attributed to Prometheus and his gifts to humankind are unparalleled among the Greek gods. In Prometheus Bound, the playwright, Aeschylus, asserts that Prometheus, under orders from Zeus, actually creates man from clay. In so doing, he developed a close kinship to man that Zeus had not anticipated. He is most famously credited with stealing fire from Zeus’ lightning and giving it to humans. This fire, coupled with some stolen skills from Hephaestus and Athena, enabled progress and civilization to take root. This betrayal angered Zeus because he had wanted to prevent humans from obtaining the power and self-dependence that fire would provide.
Prometheus again tricked Zeus into accepting a lesser sacrifice from humans by wrapping ox-bones in rich fat and disguising the ox-meat amongst the innards. He presented the two packages to Zeus, who chose the bones. From this day forward, man could feast on the meat so long as he burned the bones as an offering to the gods.
Zeus punished both Prometheus and his beloved mankind by presenting his brother Epimetheus a gift of the first woman, Pandora. As a wedding gift, Zeus gave the couple a mysterious box with a label warning that it should never be opened. Empowered by forethought and expecting retribution, Prometheus advised his brother to never accept gifts from Zeus. Having only the capability of afterthought, Epimetheus was a perfect mark. He accepted the gift and curiosity eventually got the best of Pandora and she opened the box just a crack, allowing all the ills of man to be unleashed. Henceforth mankind would have to labor to survive and would succumb to disease and hunger. The last to emerge from the box, the one good, was hope.
Being the trickster god that he was, Prometheus would continue to defy the mighty Zeus. This time he refused to warn Zeus of what his foreknowledge told him concerning the Nereid, Thetis. Specifically, that it was prophesied that she would bear a son mightier than his father. If Zeus were to take her as his lover, he could be overthrown by his progeny, just as he had overthrown his own father, Kronos.
Prometheus is severely punished for these acts. He is bound to a rock where an eagle eats away his liver. Being immortal, the liver grows back only to be eaten again the following day. This punishment continues for roughly 30,000 years until he is finally freed by the hero, Heracles (Hercules).
Ok, so enough of the humanities lesson. My sincerest apologies for everything above that is not correct. Let’s face it, I’m a computer guy, not a mythology professor. So, the reason we named the company Promethius? The literal translation of Prometheus is “forethought.” We believed, and still do, that forethought is the most important aspect of building IT that works. It’s the very concept that allows us to be proactive and to anticipate those next important steps. How’s that for reasoning from a 28 year-old not long out of the corn fields of rural Indiana? Now, if you think this is a long answer, go ahead and ask about the spelling!