The Twilight of the Gods (1888) was originally published containing sixteen stories. After the author’s death, twelve stories published in various magazines were added to the collection. Most of the stories in this collection portray human corruption from various periods in human history. Some are based on actual historical incidents, some of which are identified in the notes at the back of the book. Many of the stories describe failed human attempts to obtain eternal life, divine knowledge, or supreme power through violence, deceit, or manipulation. Other stories portray corruption in supernatural figures from the Greek and Christian traditions. Several stories will serve as examples.
The title story in the collection describes how the Greek Titan Prometheus is freed from his chains upon the death of the eagle that Zeus has sent to torment him each day. Prometheus descends from the mountain and encounters a Christian sect, the members of which first try to stone him and then revere him as a saint, with the dead eagle as one of his relics. Prometheus’ beauty awakens envy and jealousy in the congregation, and he flees a plot to murder him. He lives an ideal life with a former priestess of Apollo and is visited by the neglected Greek gods and goddesses, who bore him with their pettiness.
In “The Demon Pope,” Lucifer makes a deal with Gerbert, a young student, that he will help Gerbert succeed provided that, after forty years,...
(The entire section is 449 words.)