The myth of Prometheus stealing the fire from Zeus first appeared in Hesiod’s Theogony (late 8th century BC). Prometheus was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the brother of Menoetius, Atlas, and Epimetheus. In 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 for Zeus to choose from: a selection of excellent beef hidden inside an ox’s stomach (so that it looks less appetizing), and the bull’s bones wrapped completely in “glistening fat” (so that they look more appetizing to Zeus). Zeus chose the latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices where 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 the 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 In this version of the myth, the use of fire was already known to humans but withdrawn by Zeus.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 and restored it to humanity. This further enraged Zeus, who – in yet another a version of the story – sent Pandora, the first woman, to live with humanity. Pandora was fashioned by Hephaestus out of clay and brought to life by the four winds, with all the goddesses of Olympus assembled to adorn her. “From her is the race of women and female kind,” Hesiod writes; “of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”