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[edit]

Africa[edit]

The San peoples, the indigenous Southern African hunter-gatherers, tell how ǀKaggen, in the form of a mantis, brought the first fire to the people by stealing it from the ostrich, who kept the fire beneath its wings.[1][2]

The Americas[edit]

  • 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]
  • In Algonquin myth, Rabbit stole fire from an old man and his two daughters.[4]
  • 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 or a silk net.[5]
  • According to a Mazatec legend, the opossum spread fire to humanity. Fire fell from a star and an old woman kept it for herself. The opossum took fire from the old woman and carried the flame on its tail, resulting in its hairlessness.[6]
  • According to the Muscogees/Creeks, Rabbit stole fire from the Weasels.[7]
  • In Ojibwa myth, Nanabozho the hare stole fire and gave it to humans.
  • According to some Yukon First Nations people, Crow stole fire from a volcano in the middle of the water.[8]

Eurasia[edit]

  • According to the Rigveda (3:9.5), the hero Mātariśvan recovered fire, which had been hidden from humanity.
  • In Greek mythology, according to Hesiod (Theogony, 565-566 and Works & Days, 50) and Pseudo-Apollodorus (Bibliotheca, 1.7.1), 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 divination, and are punished in an abyss of fire.
  • In one of the versions of Georgian myth, Amirani stole fire from metalsmiths, who refused to share it – and knowledge of creating it – with other humans.
  • The Vainakh hero Pkharmat brought fire to mankind and was chained to Mount Kazbek as punishment.

Oceania[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, Penny. Myths and Legends of Southern Africa. T. V. Bulpin. ISBN 978-0-949956-16-3.
  2. ^ How the ostrich lost his fire and other stories. Tales By Roohi. ISBN 978-1-4763-8843-4. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  3. ^ Judson, Katharine B. Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Chicago, 1912.
  4. ^ Alexander, Hartley Burr. The Mythology of All Races. Vol 10: North American. Boston, 1916.
  5. ^ Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York, 1984.
  6. ^ "La leyenda del tlacuache que trajo el fuego a la humanidad". México Desconocido (in Spanish). 14 December 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  7. ^ Swanton, John. "Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians." Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 88: 1929.
  8. ^ Janke, Daniel (2008). "How People Got Fire (animated short)" (DVD). National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  9. ^ Westervelt, W.D. Legends of Maui – a Demigod of Polynesia, and of His Mother Hina. Honolulu, 1910. Ch. 5.
  10. ^ Mudrooroo (1994). Aboriginal mythology: An A-Z spanning the history of the Australian Aboriginal people from the earliest legends to the present day. London: Thorsons. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-1-85538-306-7.

External links[edit]