‘Prometheus’ explained: What’s behind the name?

Adam Pockross
Movie Talk

In the movie "Prometheus," a sci-fi thriller and prequel to "Alien," moviegoers may be wondering about the meaning of the name.

The story focuses on a galactic ship called "Prometheus," which is on a search for the origins of humanity. Things don't exactly turn out as planned: The explorers must deal with some kind of alien menace outside the ship, along with fear and loathing that sets in with the crew.

[Related: Five Prometheus Film Facts]

So why are the space vessel and the movie named for a figure in Greek mythology?

The myth itself is this: Prometheus, a Titan, is credited with having made the human race out of clay. According to Edith Hamilton's book "Mythology," the name Prometheus means "forethought," and he was "very wise, wiser even than the gods."

Prometheus was said to have been so enthralled by his human creation that he stole fire from the gods to help the humans along.

Zeus punished Prometheus for his crime with an unimaginable torture -- chaining him to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver. The organ grew back at night, and every day, the eagle came back to peck it out.

[Related: Yahoo! Movies talks to Ridley Scott]

In modern times, the story of the Titan has tended to be more of a cautionary tale for humans as the unintended consequences of scientific discovery. In fact, the full title of Mary Shelley's book "Frankenstein" is "The Modern Prometheus."

The ship isn't the first to be named from mythology. In "Alien," the escape craft is called "Narcissus."

In the latest Ridley Scott movie, we can probably take the name of the ship to be a subtle hint of what's to come. It's safe to say it's nothing good.

Watch Insider Access with the cast and crew of 'Prometheus':