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[iii] When the earth was made, the old Greek stories say,
the gods gave to the two great Titans, the brothers
Prometheus and Epimetheus, the care of men and animals.
Epimetheus took the animals for his special
charge. To some he gave scales that they might be well
protected, to some claws to fight with, to others fangs
or stings, and his gifts were so effective that Prometheus
saw that his darling, Man, would be quite defenseless
and in danger. He went to Olympus, where the
gods lived, and stealing fire from the chariot of the sun
brought it back to Man and taught him to use it. Then
Man was safe. For the animals never outgrew the fear
of fire, but Man with his knowledge of how to use it
became master over all the creatures on the earth.
But Prometheus was not content to stop here. He
wanted Man not only to rise above the animals but to
try to reach even to the gods. He taught him crafts,—how
to use his hands; to build houses and not to live
in holes in the earth like ants; to train the animals
to help him in his work; to understand numbers and
letters,—to figure and to write; to educate his senses
and to develop his mind and memory.
Then life on the earth was a new thing for Man. As
he schooled his mind and worked with his hands, he
[iv] discovered joy and beauty, and he learned to hope and
plan and dream. His skill grew and his dreams grew
with his skill, until he became Man the Artist, whose
brain and hands can create beauty only less perfect
than the gods have made. Sometimes he was rash and
thought himself too easily the equal of the gods, as
Arachne did, who declared that she could weave as well
as Athena, or like Marsyas who thought his music as
sweet as Apollo's. Then for such pride and boasting
he had to be rebuked. But he went on trying and
daring and dreaming.
Scholar, sculptor, painter, musician, poet, and craftsman,—the
artist, whoever he is, works on gladly with
all his might. Blessed with Prometheus' gifts, he knows
no limit to his dreams. He is always trying to outdo
himself and reach the gods.
Acknowledgment is due the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, for its courtesy in allowing the use of photographs
of many objects in its collections.
LAURA WOOLSEY LORD SCALES