Jasmine Li Lysistrata was an American child genius born on the 13th of March 1991. She started reading at age 1 and at age 13 she became the youngest student to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in Mathematics. Although her life seemed to be nothing short of miraculous and filled with bright prospects, an unfortunate tragedy later struck her so hard and nearly destroyed her life. She changed her name to a four-part Greek moniker: Promethea Olympia Kyrene Pythaitha or better known as Promethea Pythaitha while she was waiting for her graduation.
Her mother Georgia Smith, a Greek-immigrant, who was 36 at the time had already had two children from an unsuccessful short-term marriage when she was in her early twenties. She was enrolled at Montana State University in Bozeman to pursue a degree in Literature when she discovered she was pregnant yet again.
Though she was alone and financially meager she had decided not to terminate the pregnancy as she saw it as a gift from God saying that, “If God has put it in, then I’ll let God take it out.” To make matters worse her doctor warned her that due to the fact she had a preexisting medical condition, going through with the pregnancy would mean that complications are bound to occur. The chances of her baby surviving were extremely low and the risk of Georgia suffering from hemorrhage were exceptionally high. Taking all these factors into consideration she was still adamant on going through with the pregnancy.
Photo of Georgia Smith with Jasmine as a toddler
Credits: Lynn Donaldson
The Discovery of a Child Prodigy
On March 13th 1991, Sunday, Georgia gathered all the strength she could muster in order to alert her midwife that the time had come for her baby to be born as she had already gone into labor. She waited in her single-floor weatherboard home for her midwife to come straight from helping her veterinarian partner deliver a calf some miles away. By the time the midwife arrived, Georgia had lost a copious amount of blood but the delivery was a remarkable success. She finally welcomed her third child, Jasmine Li Lysistrata, into the world safely but in the several days post-delivery she found that her daughter had developed an infection. Her suspicions were directed to the instrument her midwife used to cut the umbilical cord which was the same instrument used for the birth of the calf. She deduced that it wasn’t sterilized appropriately but the pair eventually came through and recovered from that ordeal with no lasting impairments.
As the months wore on Georgia started to realize that her child was far from ordinary as she had immensely high learning capabilities. By the time Jasmine was at the tender age of 6 months she could already speak in fairly complete sentences which was incredible as the average age for an infant to start speaking is at 18 months.
Jasmine also started to recognize words and read them by the time she was 9 months old. She read copious amounts of books ranging from illustrated novels to science texts which Georgia checked out from the MSU library where she was a full-time student. She did so in order to keep Jasmine occupied while she was away and it served as a substitute to replace her inability to home school her daughter because of the fact she needed to fulfill her role as a student.
Jasmine plays the piano
Credits: Promethea Pythaitha
Georgia knew deep down that her daughter was gifted which thrilled and worried her at the same time due to her circumstances of a single parent living on welfare and having to provide for a genius would prove to be a challenge.
When Jasmine was 2 years of age in 1993, they had to move out of California as Montana’s Department of Child and Family Services thought Georgia to be incapable being able to raise her son Apollo and Jasmine because of her financial shortcomings. Instead of giving up her children to the authorities, Georgia rented a truck, packed up everything they owned and left for San Francisco before family services came a second time and before she could finish her degree in literature. Her eldest child, Vanessa, who was 18 at the time stayed behind with her newly-wed husband.
Studying with her professor
Credits: Promethea Pythaitha
They found and rented a grimy shoe-box basement apartment which had distorted ceilings and veteran mice to keep the three occupants company. Georgia also secured a job working the night shift at a post office nearby which paid her a meager seven dollars an hour and she would work all seven days of the week. Her resilience and sheer willpower kept her going as she was desperate to secure for her family. While she was away working, Jasmine would stay up reading anything and everything that was procured for her, she especially loved mathematics. She would do this because she had trouble sleeping when her mother was not around and the books provided a kind of solace for her.
Jasmine visiting the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Credits: Promethea Pythaitha
Jasmine picked up maths as easily as learning the alphabets and soon enough she was mastering fractions, multiplications and decimals. She grasped mathematical concepts so quickly that by the time she reached four years of age she was doing algebra. Georgia also introduced her daughter to the subjects of geography, history, literature and music or more specifically thought her the piano.
The next year when Jasmine was at the ripe age to be put through school her mother had an arduous time searching for a public institution to accommodate her child, given her talents. She then stumbled upon the Nueva private institution solely dedicated to nurturing gifted children. It was the perfect place for Jasmine to jump start her formal education but the exorbitant fees proved to be beyond Georgia’s means and she simply could not afford it. As an alternative however, Georgia had paid $200 for her daughter to take an IQ in the hopes that if the institution saw just how brilliant Jasmine was, they could provide her with a scholarship.
Jasmine sat for the test and completed it within an hour and all they had to do then was to wait for the results which would arrive via mail. The results came a few days after and to Georgia’s bewilderment, her daughter had scored in the 99.9th percentile. Though she already knew her daughter had amazing learning capabilities she now had black and white proof that her daughter was undoubtedly a genius. This elation was short lived though because they received news that Vanessa and her family were involved in a horrid motor vehicle accident where their car was overturned. Georgia notified her landlord as well as her superiors at the post office and left with Apollo and Jasmine to Montana.
Vanessa was paralyzed from the chest down, her husband was pronounced brain dead as soon as they reached the hospital but Vanessa’s son and brother-in-law who were also involved in the accident came out unharmed.
They stayed and looked after Vanessa and her son until she grew accustomed to her wheelchair. Vanessa was also assigned a health aide by the state. When Georgia was confident that her eldest daughter had acclimatized well, she drove back to her dingy basement apartment in San Francisco only to find herself in yet another gutter as her landlord had evicted them without their knowledge while they were gone. With that she also lost her job at the post office because she no longer possessed a permanent address. Thoroughly appalled and destitute, she felt there was no choice but to send Apollo to stay with some distant relatives and start living in her red minivan with Jasmine. They would drive around during the day and would find a parking lot to park in and spend the night.
Georgia wanted to do something for her daughter as a way to take her mind off the series of unfortunate events and found the perfect way to do it. One morning Jasmine woke up to find they were parked in the parking lot of the university of her dreams, Stanford University which was home to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). Her eyes lit up as she quite literally jumped out of her seat and she explained in a recent interview saying “You know how some kids want to go to Disneyland, because that’s where all the magic happens?” that was SLAC for Jasmine. They followed the first tour of the day along with college students and science enthusiasts.
Jasmine was entranced with talks of electrons and x-rays as the tour went on and it concluded with a question and answer session with one of the university physicists. Jasmine whispered to her mother asking “Is it ok to ask a question?” and with a slight nod of approval she raised her hand. She then proceeded to ask “How do you prevent the accelerator from melting down because of all the heat created by the particle collisions?” and an immediate hush fell over the audience. The speaker paused for a long while and answered the question to the girls satisfaction.
After the session was over the mother-daughter pair was approached by the speaker who went ahead and advised that they see a certain Dr. Yearian to which they obliged. A short session with Dr. Yearian and Jasmine alone impressed him so much that he had given Georgia the suggestion of enrolling her daughter in Stanford’s Education Program for gifted youth which was a series of distance learning classes specifically developed for gifted children. It was at this time that the pair moved back Bozeman and found an apartment with a sum of money Georgia won as settlement from being unlawfully evicted from her San Francisco apartment.
Promethea outside her house
Credits: Lynn Donaldson
An Old Man’s Obsession led to a tragic ending
As time wore on Promethea Olympia Kyrene Pythaitha, who Jasmine had legally changed her name to, began to garner more and more recognition especially among the Greek-American community. She began receiving death threats and fan letters after giving a speech for the Festival of the Three Hierarchs rebuking the Greek Orthodox Church.
In 2007, a few months after giving her notorious speech, Promethea and her mother were involved in a car accident which occurred in a mountain pass in Montana. Georgia, who had suffered broken ribs and facial bones as well as a broken sternum, pleaded with doctors to avoid being admitted as she said “You can’t admit me, I’ve got to take my kid to school tomorrow.” but luckily to no avail. Supporters of Promethea, including a 77-year-old Thomas Kyros, had all chipped in to cover Georgia’s medical expenses and even bought her a new car. Kyros had heard Promethea’s speech at the festival was absolutely impressed with the her that he offered to sponsor the mother-daughter pair to a vacation which they agreed to.
Kyros began to show signs of obsessing over the girl when they returned from their vacation in Greece. He was emailing Promethea everyday, telling her that he abhors the fact she’s in MSU when she could be in one of the Ivy League universities and he also told her to check in with him regularly. Promethea stated in an interview years later saying “I had to go to an Ivy League college so that I could became famous and well-known, so that I could in part reflect that fame on him.” He called himself ‘pappoulis’ which was Greek for ‘little grandfather’ and referred to Promethea as ‘eggnoula’ which meant ‘granddaughter’. Promethea turned huge sums of money which Kyros sent her for her education away because she felt troubled by his overtures. He then kept writing to Promethea who soon refused to entertain his emails and he blamed Georgia for brainwashing her daughter.
He became invested to the point of obsession in the life of this prodigy, so much so that he spent his days searching for clues that Georgia was indeed treating her daughter as a slave and indoctrinating her. “She’s keeping Promethea in a concentration camp,” he would go on to say but Promethea paid no heed. That is until he decided to make his presence known by visiting the town of Bozeman on January 12, 2011. Promethea filed harassment charges and got a no-stalking order against him which did little to dissuade him from trying to make contact with her again.
For Illustration Purpose Only
A few days later on Martin Luther King Day Kyros saw he had no choice but to act in order to ‘save’ Promethea from her mother and thereby liberating her so she can finally reach her full potential. He drove his black Dodge Ram to the girl’s property and started to ram the pickup truck into the green gated residence, subsequently making a lot of commotion.
Georgia and Promethea were hesitant to approach the truck but Georgia decided she had to in hopes of talking down the frenzied driver. She stepped out of the house and to her horror, saw herself standing face to face with the man responsible for harassing her daughter. She ordered him to leave them alone and went back into the house to arm herself with a phone and a recorder so she could have evidence to file Kyros for damages. As she emerged from the house and approached the pint-sized man, she noticed something in his hand. Before she could react, gun shots were fired towards her direction and she fell to the ground bleeding profusely. Promethea who was still in the house witnessed the whole thing, called the police and ran out to her mother.
“Stop!” Promethea screamed. “Stop, you bastard!” to which he retorted with “Why are you weeping? You should be happy she’s going to die.” Kneeling over her mother she remained on the phone with the police while erratically pleading her mother to hang in there. What happened next came as a frenzied blur of events as they happened in quick succession.
The police unit arrived and remained in standoff with the old man until Kyros raised to aim his weapon towards the authorities. They responded by letting loose a shower of bullets in his direction, killing him within seconds. Incredibly, Georgia pulled through even with taking five bullets to her neck, torso and legs.
After this horrendous incident, the mother-daughter duo laid below the radar to this day. Promethea still has big plans for the future but she refused let herself gain any exposure because she deduced, it was exactly that kind of attention that led to the scarring sequence of events that got her mother shot. She does not want take that risk and put herself and her mother in harm’s way ever again.
Promethea and Georgia at the ranch on Outlaw Hill
Credits: Lynn Donaldson
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