The Origin of Fire


Henry Horne, Staff Reporter

This is the story of how humans came to be and acquired the resources of fire. In Greek mythology. There was a group of deities called the Titans; they were the sons and daughters of the primordial elements, and they ruled the world with an iron fist. One Titan, the King Titan, named Kronos had children who would become known as the Gods in Greek mythology, they were named Hestia; Demeter; Hera; Hades; Poseidon; and Zeus. Kronos felt intimidated by the power his children held—so he ate them. Once the Gods escaped their father’s stomach a War began between the Gods and the Titans—this would be called the Titanomachy. Amongst the Titans, there was one named Prometheus who could see the future, and he foresaw the Titans losing the Titanomachy War. So, he aligned himself with the Gods and in doing this, insured that once the Titans lost, he would not be imprisoned in Tartarus or Hell. 

Once the Titans lost the war, Zeus, the King of the Gods, ordered Prometheus to populate the earth. He created many creatures and gave each one of them a certain talent. Birds got flight, elephants got strength, fish got the ability to breathe underwater, and so on. When he came to his last creation, the human, he had no talents left. So seeing this problem he went to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and because she was so impressed with Prometheus’s humans, she gave humans the power of knowledge. And that was that. Prometheus was satisfied with his creations. 

He then went to live amongst the humans, and what he saw made him sad: they were living in caves and hiding from all the creatures in the world. So he went to Zeus and asked him if he could give the humans the gift of fire. Zeus said no, but Prometheus was not satisfied with this, so he stole a spark from Hephaestus’s Forge as Hephaestus was making weapons for the gods and he gave it to the humans. With this spark they began to hunt and cook their food and build homes. 

But, one cold winter’s night, Zeus saw the flames from the hearths on Earth and knew that Prometheus had disobeyed him. Zeus took back the fire from the humans, and since they no longer had fire, they began to regress back to when they were in caves hiding from everything. Prometheus was furious, and not wishing to return to Olympus, he walked along a beach thinking of a way to give fire back to the humans. When he was walking, he saw a thick reed. That gave him an idea, so he snapped a piece of reed off and filled it with soft material that would burn. 

 After his idea came to him, he dashed back up to Olympus and stole a spark from Zeus’s own lightning bolt by concealing it in the reed, and he ran back to the humans to give them the gift of fire once more. They were delighted, and they began to evolve again until they were back where they were before Zeus stole their fire. But again, Zeus saw the flames and knew that he had been disobeyed by Prometheus once more. This time, he knew he must punish Prometheus, and so he took Prometheus to the top of the Caucasus Mountains and chained him there. But his punishment was not merely eternal imprisonment, Zeus instructed one of Prometheus’ own creations, a vulture, to come every day to eat his liver. For centuries, he sat on top of that mountain being tortured until Zeus came down one day and offered him release if he would take fire back from the humans. Prometheus refused and by his martyrdom fire was left to the humans.