Theft of fire

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Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind (1817) by Heinrich Füger

The theft of fire for the benefit of humanity is a theme that recurs in many world mythologies. Examples include:

  • According to the Rig Veda (3:9.5), the hero Mātariśvan recovered fire, which had been hidden from humanity.
  • In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus steals the heavenly fire for humanity, enabling the progress of civilization.
  • In the Book of Enoch, the fallen angels and Azazel teach early humanity to use tools and fire.
  • In Polynesian myth, Māui stole fire from the Mudhens.[1]
  • In Cherokee myth, after Possum and Buzzard had failed to steal fire, Grandmother Spider used her web to sneak into the land of light. She stole fire, hiding it in a clay pot.[2]
  • Among various Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest and First Nations, fire was stolen and given to humans by Coyote, Beaver or Dog.[3]
  • According to some Yukon First Nations people, Crow stole fire from a volcano in the middle of the water.[4]
  • According to the Creek Native Americans, Rabbit stole fire from the Weasels.[5]
  • In Algonquin myth, Rabbit stole fire from an old man and his two daughters.[6]
  • In Ojibwa myth, Nanabozho the hare stole fire and gave it to humans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Westervelt 1910, Ch. 5.
  2. ^ Erdoes/Ortiz 1984.
  3. ^ Judson 1912.
  4. ^ {{cite web According to mythology, Wan, the first Avatar, stole fire from the lion turtle and used it to bring balance to the world. | last = Janke | first = Daniel | title = How People Got Fire (animated short) | publisher = National Film Board of Canada | year = 2008 | url = | format = DVD | accessdate = 2010-02-10}}
  5. ^ Swanton 1929.
  6. ^ Alexander 1916.


  • Alexander, Hartley Burr. The Mythology of All Races. Vol 10: North American. Boston, 1916.
  • Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York, 1984.
  • Judson, Katharine B. Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Chicago, 1912.
  • Swanton, John. "Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians." Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 88: 1929.
  • Westervelt, W.D. Legends of Maui – a Demigod of Polynesia, and of His Mother Hina. Honolulu, 1910.

External links[edit]