The subtitle The Modern Prometheus refers to the figure in Greek mythology who was responsible for a conflict between mankind and the gods. In order to help the people, Prometheus stole Zeus's fire from the sun. The people were thereby given an advantage to the animals since fire gave man the ability to make weapons and tools. Prometheus was severely punished by Zeus who chained him to a rock in the Caucasus. Every night, Prometheus was visited by an eagle who ate from his liver. During the day, however, his liver grew back to its original state.
It also refers to the story of Prometheus plasticator who was to said to have created and animated mankind out of clay.
These two myths were eventually fused together: the fire that Prometheus had stolen is the fire of life with which he animated his clay models.
Because of the 'creating' aspect, Prometheus became a symbol for the creating artist in the eighteenth century.
Victor Frankenstein can indeed be seen as the modern Prometheus. He defies the gods by creating life himself. Instead of being the created, Victor takes God's place and becomes the creator. Just as Prometheus, Victor gets punished for his deeds. He is, however, punished by his creation whereas Prometheus was punished by the god who he stole from.
- Encarta '95. CD-ROM. United States of America: Microsoft Corporation, 1994.