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God is A Kachina Doll: Prometheus

An animal more like the gods than these,
more intellectually capable
and able to control the other beasts,
had not as yet appeared: now man was born,
either because the framer of all things,
the fabricator of this better world,
man out of his own divine
substance—or else because Prometheus
took up a clod (so lately broken off
from lofty aether that it still contained
some elements in common with its kin),
and mixing it with water, molded it
into the shape of gods, who govern all.

-Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book One(Trans. Charles Martin)

The first scene of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) resembles Ovid’s creation myth, particularly the description of Prometheus in these lines (and given that Martin’s translation is one of the more popular versions of Ovid, I would not be surprised if Scott had read them). There are important revisions as well. The Promethean figure we see in Scott’s sequence – member of a humanoid race called “Engineers” – is more clod than god, and it is “he” who get thrown in the mix when he falls into water, poisoned by a black liquid that rewrites his DNA at an alarming clip and dissolves him into..into what, exactly? Scott may be making a bad pun here: as the figure dissolves, so too does his film, and Prometheus is off to the space races.

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