Telling and Retelling is a series inspired and dictated by the Theoi featured prominently in each story; in this case, Prometheus and Hestia. These stories are not meant to replace established lore, but instead to expand understanding of the Theoi, and of the events which shaped Their mythology. These stories are given to me directly from the Theoi in question, but are undoubtedly colored through the filter of my individual awareness. Please take from them whatever you find is useful, with this knowledge in mind. Happy reading. <3
Prometheus peered sullenly through the clouds which obscured His sight, and that of the other Theoi, from the grim reality of the beasts of the Earth. Below the Blessed Gods, all the animals roamed, each with their respective gifts, to allow them the best chances for survival upon Gaea’s breast.
Each creature had its specialty. There were those which flew through the skies, with their hollow bones and feathered bodies; and there were those that swam beneath the many waters, aided by sleek scales and powerful fins. The beasts which roamed the land were of great variety, many with hooves for running, and others with great claws for climbing or rending flesh from bone. Still many were blessed with fangs sharp as swords.
And then, there was a curious race. A race of beasts which had no such magnificent attributes, save for maybe their intelligence. However, intelligence would not save them from the other beasts, who all had much more formidable gifts.
Zeus had called this race Man, and the Once Born, King of the Gods, had not looked twice upon the last of the Gods’ creations. He had no pity for such weak and feeble creatures, and so had resigned them to their fate.
Prometheus grasped His beard in pensive thought, as the clouds continued to drift across His view. He was responsible for these creatures. He should have made certain that they received a gift that could enable them to thrive in the harsh world below, yet had He failed them. And before long, a race with great potential would be stricken from the memory of Earth, its like never to be seen again.
The Titan could not let this be. He could not allow Man to be wiped out before they had a chance to show the Theoi what their existence was truly worth. So, He resolved to share with Man the Gods’ ultimate secret, and most guarded treasure.
He would give Man fire, and then watch them evolve.
The plan was a risky one. If He were caught, Zeus would not be merciful. Prometheus could not even imagine what punishment might await Him at the hands of the King, for Zeus was as creative as He was stern. But He simply could not abide the tragedy of Man’s vulnerability. So, with a deep breath, He concealed the torch under His robe, and stepped quietly into the hearth-chamber.
He looked to the right, then to the left. No one. He crept forward, feeling the sacred fire’s heat more intensely as He approached. The fire crackled, and embers flew in all directions, raining down slowly and cooling into ash on the floor.
Prometheus breathed at last, sliding the torch from beneath its sheath of cloth. But, before the Titan could coax a single delicate flame into being upon the cold torch, He was met with the measured voice of Hestia, who was keeper of the sacred flame.
She spoke. “Prometheus, whose name means forethought, were you not wise enough to foresee my presence in this place, which is mine?”
Prometheus immediately halted, pulling the torch back, close to His body. He turned and met Hestia’s fierce eyes, as they reflected the flame back at Him.
“My Lady,” He began, “I had only hoped to avoid your shining presence, as I did not wish to disturb.” It was not a lie. He made no attempt to conceal the torch, however, for He knew that She had already seen it. To do so would only serve to insult the fine Sister of Zeus.
She walked toward Him, with all the surety of one whose command would be obeyed, if She but said the word. “And to what end do you carry that instrument into my sacred dwelling place?” She inquired, with a graceful gesture as She passed Him. “If you require a flame, you have only to ask, and I will provide, as is my duty.”
Upon reaching the hearth, Hestia held Her hands close to the fire, and it licked Her fingers. She turned Her head slightly, to catch Prometheus in Her bright shining stare.
“You would not dare to steal my flame, would you? You would not take what is most sacred without my consent.”
The Titan averted His gaze, unable to lie, yet unable to speak the truth. For, indeed, He had come to take what was Hers, and Hers alone to give.
“Sweet Goddess, you who are lovely beyond all reckoning, and wise beyond myself and so many Others, I meant no offense to you. Truly.” His head hung low and His hands gripped the torch, trembling slightly as passion began to overtake His words. “And yet, I did come here with intent to house some of your fire upon this torch,” He confessed. “But before you judge me a thief, Great Lady, do listen to the reason for my trespass. If you would do that, I will accept any fate you deem appropriate.”
Hestia removed Her hands from the fire, folding Her arms across Her chest in contemplation. “Then speak to me of your reasons, Titan, and I shall judge their worthiness for my fire.”
And so spoke Prometheus of His responsibility and His concerns, of His guilt and of His hope for the future of Man. He told of Man’s intelligence and ingenuity, and He told of their vulnerability, as well.
The many great beasts of the Earth could overtake this soft race easily, for they had not been given a proper gift upon their creation. And as Zeus had looked down on them with dismissal, even with scorn, Prometheus charged Himself with righting the wrong done to them, and was prepared to pay the price for His presumption.
Hestia listened silently, absorbing the Titan’s words, and also His passion for the poor animal, Man. In His voice, She heard the pride of a parent for the unknowable fate of their offspring. Although the future was not His to know, He saw a great one for this small and vulnerable race.
The Goddess silenced Him then, having heard the case made for the necessity of fire, for the use of Man and their descendants.
“Speak no more,” She said in hushed tones, “for it is clear to me that your intentions are pure, indeed. I am the keeper of the sacred hearth, that which warms, and that which prepares nourishment. The Man animal that lives upon the body of Great Gaea could perhaps one day be more like the Theoi than unlike Us, but only if they cultivate civilization.”
As She spoke, She coaxed a tiny ember from the sacred hearth, and it floated into Her waiting hands, where it grew into a robust flame in its own right.
“The spark of true and lasting civilization is the fire of the sacred hearth, which lives forever as the heart of a people. I keep the heart of Olympos for our People, and from our mighty heart, do I make this gift of fire, for the race of Man upon the Earth.” She laid the fire upon the torch held in Prometheus’ still trembling hands. “Go with grace, and be swift,” She whispered.
Prometheus, with face shining in reverence for Hestia, the Twice Born, whose wisdom was like an ever-blooming flower, held the torch aloft and bowed to His Lady. The gift was given, and He saw now that He was not, and never could be, the Giver, for fire was not His to give. Nor was it Zeus’ to withhold.
The Titan fled the hearth-chamber then, leaving behind lofty Olympos, and descended to where Man huddled together in their caves.
By the glory of Hestia, by Her grace and compassion, the weak yet intelligent animal that was Man, would not only survive, but thrive in the wilds of nature. They would build great civilizations, as they expanded upon the face of Earth. And they would come to know and honor the Theoi, giving sacrifice and love unto Those who would have kept them kneeling in the dirt. But such was no longer their fate, for wise and lovely Hestia had seen their potential, and gave them the means to realize it.
© Columbine 2017