Symbols of Fire

Hephaestus is the Greek god related to fire and to all the uses we can do of it, including arts and crafts where the burning flame has an essential role. Hephaestus is described as an excellent blacksmith, who realized even the armour, the weapons and the shield of Achilles! It is evident that he is connected with the terrestrial fire, rather than the heavenly fire (the Sun).

The episode when Hephaestus was thrown from the top of Olympus by Zeus (his father, since it is from the Sky that the lightning [an attribute of Zeus] comes, causing, through its contact with trees, the birth of fire) represents the potential inherent of the lightning to bring in itself fire.

The Greeks represented Hephaestus with a blue headgear, to symbolize the Sky from where the fire god comes (via the lightning) and the place where resides the most pure and primordial form of fire, the Sun.

Ptah and Hephaestus:
god-ptah2

Anyway the terrestrial fire – came down on the Earth via the lightning or kindled by man – is less intense than that of the Sun and needs to be rekindled and sustained or it will fade. That’s why one of the epithets of Hephaestus is “the lame” (after the fall of which we talked before he broke one of his leg), since he can’t walk by himself and needs a wooden support, just like the fire on Earth can’t continue to live without the wood that feeds it.

falo-fuoco-misano

***

Prometheus on the other hand is a more complex figure, but still related to fire. He stole some fire from Olympus to donate it to men, meaning that the latter aren’t anymore dependant on Zeus (via the lightning) for their need of fire, they can now obtain it whenever they want. That’s what happens when men learn to kindle a fire.

However, I want to focus on the enchainment and torture of Prometheus: in this case he represents the Sun itself and the myth explains the process of self-combustion through which the Sun feeds of itself and destroying itself stays alive and continues to shine eternally, a sort of unceasing death and rebirth. That’s what happens and our ancestors maybe didn’t knew this process of self-combustion of the Sun, but they noticed that the terrestrial fire needed to be rekindled and sustained while the one on the Sky not, it was self-sustaining and continuous.

Note: a symbolism linked to the same process can be found in the figure of the Phoenix (known as Bennu among the Egyptians), the eternal bird able to be reborn from its own ashes.

Prometheus is tortured by an eagle, a heavenly symbol as well as a solar symbol, so we have more solutions in relation to how we can interpret the torture: if we look at the eagle as a solar symbol we have the Sun that devours and sacrifices itself continuously, coming back to life every day and therefore continuing to shine; if we look at the eagle as a heavenly symbol then we have the Sky nourished by the liver of Prometheus, because the Sky to keep on shining must be fed by the vigor (that was believed to reside in the liver – the part of the body devoured everyday by the eagle – where vitamin D, the “vitamin of the sun”, resides and accumulates) of the Sun, by the power of its rays.

Prometheus’s torture:
il-prometeo-incatenato

Only at night Prometheus is exempt from his punishment, as indeed the Sun from its eternal self-sacrifice: at sunset it sinks to the west, in the depths of the underground – the subterranean regions, the realm of death – only to reappear again in the east the next morning, resurrected. The same journey was accomplished by the spirits of the dead, to then come back again among the living…

una-notte-guardammo-al-cielo-pieve-di-cadore

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9 thoughts on “Symbols of Fire

  1. To go off topic a bit, Vedic traditions were originally Aryan(Indo-European) before being assimilated culturally and genetically by Northeast Asian peoples. For example both Hinduism and later Buddhism visually incorporated symbols and motifs which were already prevalent to Denisovian descended people i.e. Snake symbolism.

    However I understand the nature of covering this topic is debatable considering how long said cultures have been kept alive by Oriental curators.

    On a side note I like your analogy of Ethon and Prometheus as both the nuclear fusion process of the sun and also how we metabolize essential vitamin via sunlight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that the good asiatic religions/traditions stems from the european one (and that explains why many europeans are attracted by them), but I also think that we shouldn’t insist much about it. The asiatic peoples have evidently put their own, modeling those traditions and symbols according to their mindset, a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

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