Prometheus

Keszler Balázs tells the story of Prometheus, and his bravery in discovering fire.

Nothing is more fun on a warm summer night than having an outdoor grill or barbecue party with friends and/or loved ones. Just getting the cool drinks out of the fridge, igniting the coal in the device, listening to the bursting sounds coming from it, putting the food atop, enjoying the delicious fragrances filling the air... But did we ever wonder how mankind got to use fire?

We learn in school about a gentleman named Prometheus, who is said to have stolen the fire from the Gods (and been punished for it nastily). Well, in our times, we do not know our Gods personally any more like Prometheus did. However, I have read an interesting theory in a book by the excellent Hungarian journalist and cook István Váncsa, who in turn took it from a work by Georges & Germaine Blond. Accordingly, the story of the first fire domestication steps goes like this:

As we know, all creatures have dreadful fear from fire. If any of them meets, sees or smells some, he flees in panic. However, our hero named Prometheus must have been pretty drunk. But how could have he been loaded, you might ask, in a time with no pubs and supermarkets open to offer an assortment of drinks like Jack Daniel's or Finlandia, Chablis or Chianti? Even with no access to some Fuller's or Guiness? The answer is, the thirsty individual can be extraordinarily inventive: in nature he finds different kinds of sweet juices, which with some effort of fermentation can be turned into a refreshing drink with a high alcohol content.

Now, after our hero has consumed a considerable amount of it, he might have reduced his fear of fire enough to go off towards the burning forest. Somehow he acquires a burning bough, and staggeringly walks it out of the danger zone with a bright grin on his face. Well, of course, previously there might have been dozens or even hundreds of candidates who tried, but ultimately perished in a similar encounter with fire. But this very one just brought it home, presumably ignited his hut if he had one, and survived the subsequent conflagration generated by himself in a shallow lake or creek.

Just imagine the morning after, when he awoke in his smoky surroundings with a terrible headache, his face full of ash, not having the slightest idea of what has happened...

So today, if we prepare our grill party in the first instance by opening a few beers or wine bottles, we do this to remember that memorable morning and pay tribute to this great, semi-divine man, who we call Prometheus.


This is the 26th article to appear in The Branch. It is 439 words long.

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