The ancient Greek myth of Tityus is related to liver regeneration in the same way as the well known myth of Prometheus is. Depictions of the punishment of Prometheus are frequently used by lecturers on liver regeneration; however, Tityus remains unknown despite the fact that he received the same punishment and his myth could also be used as a paradigm for the organ's extraordinary ability to regenerate. Nevertheless, there is no convincing evidence that ancient Greeks had any specific knowledge about liver regeneration, a concept introduced in the early 19th century. We describe and analyze the myth of Tityus and compare it to the myth of Prometheus. We also explore artistic and literary links and summarize recent scientific data on the mechanisms of liver regeneration. Finally, we highlight links of the legend of Tityus with other sciences.
Copyright 2010 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.