The Letter for Prometheus

Defiance in front of divinity is so delec­table it requires a cer­tain fierce intel­ligence, at least as a star­ter, if not as the main dish.


For the West, it was Prometheus who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals, and whose punish­ment was to be chained to a moun­tain, which happened to be in the Caucasus, his liver being eter­nally torn out by the beak of an eagle.


For the Ossetians, it was Amiran who got into a rock-​throwing match with Jesus. After an enor­mous boul­der hurled past Jesus and lodged itself deep into a mountain, Jesus chal­len­ged Amiran to unearth the rock. Amiran did not succeed, and as punish­ment was chained to the peak of Mt. Kazbek. Amiran was a repeat offender, to use the legal lingo of his foe’s fol­lowers: the son of a sor­cerer, he singled out Christians for punish­ment. To this day, it is said that his despair and struggle to break free of his chains is what causes the avalan­ches and earthquakes in the greater region.


Finally, for the Abkhaz, it’s Abriskil, who is a paradigm of com­plexity. An ancient hero, Abriskil killed all men with blue eyes (if ever there were reverse racism, this was it), and yet primarily spent his time com­bating evil for his people. He too competed with a higher being, this time the Supreme God Ant­svah, claiming to be able to accom­plish all that He could, such as rid­ding the earth of weeds harmful to the harvest. The apostles had a tough time cat­ching him though, as he jumped between moun­tain­side and seaside with his large blud­geon in hand. They even­tually came up with a scheme: spread cow-​skins where he would land so that he would slip. Chained to a deep cave for his arrogance, Abriskil warns passersby: 

 Get out! But before you leave, tell me one thing: are the evil still oppres­sing the weak? Are ferns, black­berry bushes and weed still plaguing the earth?


Dear Abriskil,

It pains us to answer in the affirmative: the weeds, black­berry bushes and many many more evils still plague us and the Earth. The situation has become sligh­tly more com­plicated as it seems we con­stitute one of those very evils our­selves. On the brigh­ter side, though, we do now seem to have the means to break through those chains of yours.

Slavs and Tatars 

The Letter for Prometheus

2009, ink on letterhead, 66 x 51 cm, ed. of 3 + 1 A.P.