According to Wikipedia, “philanthropy is the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind.” The term philanthropy was coined around 2500-years ago by the Greek playwright, Aeschylus, in his work Prometheus Bound. The myth of Prometheus is about the primitive creatures who were the first humans. At first, they had no knowledge, skills, or culture of any kind, so they lived in dark caves and in constant fear for their lives. Zeus, the tyrannical king of the gods, decided to destroy them, but Prometheus, one of the Titans, interceded on their behalf and gave early man two life-empowering and life-enhancing gifts. First, he gave them fire, which he stole from Mt. Olympus-the very home of the Gods. Fire symbolizes not only physical light and warmth, but also the ‘light’ of knowledge from which all skills, technology, arts, and science could evolve and uplift man. Prometheus’ second gift was equally as precious—blind hope or optimism. With these two gifts mankind could evolve to be like the gods themselves.
Prometheus’ name arises from the Greek philanthropos tropos or in other words having a humanity-loving character. It also means forethought. Philanthropos is the combination of two words: Philos or loving, in the sense of benefitting, caring for, nourishing; and Anthropos or the human being, in the sense of humankind, humanity, or human-ness. What Prometheus evidently loved, therefore, was their human potential- what humanity could accomplish and become with fire and blind hope. These two gifts, in effect, completed the creation of humankind as a distinctly civilized animal. Philanthropia or loving what it is to be human could be considered the key to civilization.