Cook, Arthur B.
Zeus: a study in ancient religion (Band 1): Zeus god of the bright sky — Cambridge, 1914

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324 Prometheus' Theft of Fire

stolen fire, different accounts were current in antiquity. Aischylos
possibly, and Accius certainly, represented the fire as stolen from
Mount Mosychlos, a wooded volcano in Lemnos now submerged
by the sea1. Platon supposes that Prometheus stole it from 'the
common abode of Athena and Hephaistos2,' in fact from the
celestial Erechtheion, where presumably, as in its terrestrial counter-
part, a perpetual fire was kept burning. Platon, however, is
philosophising, and an obviously older explanation is given by

' It is said that Prometheus, when he had made mankind, ascended by the
help of Minerva into the sky, and, applying a small torch to the wheel of the
sun, stole fire, which he showed to men.'

An anonymous mythographer of the ninth or tenth century,
plausibly identified by Angelo Mai with a certain Leontius men-
tioned in J. Brassicanus' commentary on Petronius4, expands this
meagre statement:

' Prometheus was helped by Minerva; and about him the following tale is
composed. Prometheus made man out of clay, and moulded him without life
or feelings. Minerva, admiring Prometheus' handywork, promised him what-
ever heavenly gift he would to help him with his work. He said that he did not
know at all what good things there were in heaven, but asked whether it was
possible for the goddess to raise him to the gods above, in order that he might
see with his own eyes and choose what suited his work. So Minerva placed him
on her shield and took him to the sky. When he saw there the heavenly bodies
animated and invigorated by their flaming heat, he secretly applied a reed to
the wheel of Phoebus and stole the fire, which he applied to the breast of man,
thereby making his body alive5.'

Egyptian ferulae are best for the purpose. See further Frazer Golden Boughz: The
Magic Art ii. 260, who notes that Bent is mistaken in calling the i>dpdrj£ or 'giant fennel'
a reed.

1 Aisch. frag. 193 Nauck2 and Acc. 532 ff. Ribbeck3 p. 237 ap. Cic. Tusc. 2. 23.
Cp. Hellanikos frag. 112 {Frag. hist. Gr. i. 60 Midler) ap. Tzetz. in Lyk. Al. 227. On
the submerged volcano see R. C. Jebb's ed.2 of Soph. Phil. p. 243 ff.

2 Plat. Prot. 321 D—E. Hephaistos in Loukian. Prom. 5 says to Prometheus: to irvp
v(pe\6ju.evos xpvxpdv /jlol ttjv k&/xivov aTro\e\oLiras. Cp. Ibyk. frag. 25 Bergk4, Soph. frag.
335 Nauck2, etc. ap. Ail. de nat. an. 6. 51 prefaced by top UpopL-qdea K\e\pai to irvp
'H^atcrrcfj k.t.X.

3 Serv. in Verg. eel. 6. 42 Prometheus, [Iapeti et Clymenes nlius,] post factos a se
homines dicitur auxilio Minervae caelum ascendisse: et adhibita facula ad rotam Solis
ignem furatus, quern hominibus indicavit. The same statement in almost the same words
occurs in Myth. Vat. 2. 64, and is quoted from Servius in Myth. Vat. 3. 10. 10.

4 See G. H. Bode Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini tres Romae nuper reperti
Cellis 1834 pp. x f., xx f.

5 Myth. Vat. 3. 10. 9 clanculum ferulam rotae Phoebi applicans, but later id. a sole
faculam accendit. This version of the myth, which occurs with some slight variations
also in Myth. Vat. 2. 63 Phoebiacis rotis applicans faculam, can be traced back to Fulgent.
2. 9 clam ferulam Phoebiacis adplicans rotis, i.e. to a date c. 480—550 A.D. For the reed
cp. a Zakynthian tale infra ch. ii. § 3 (c).
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