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Fire Stolen from the Gods

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"In other words, the art we call magic was originally the authority invested in a god. ... Looked at another way, it is what remains of the god this world once had. We rebelled against its control, slew god with our own hands, and robbed it of its authority."
Professor Demitrio Aristides, Reign of the Seven Spellblades volume 5

Fire stolen from the gods, named for the Greek myth of Prometheus, is a type of Creation Myth or similar narrative that posits that a particular knowledge or power now possessed by mortals was originally taken from the gods without their knowledge and/or consent. The knowledge doesn't specifically have to be fire, though this is a common implementation.

This trope invariably involves some form of Rage Against the Heavens, though the portrayal can vary. Often it posits that the gods are indifferent to or actively hostile to mankind and keeping knowledge from them that they need to prosper. However, it's also possible that mortals are supposed to be the bad guy here and the "fire" was something mankind was never meant to have. The god(s) whom the knowledge was taken from also may or may not have actually survived the event: it's possible the theft was an "armed robbery" of sorts during which the god was killed.

It's also possible that the theft was the doing of one deity or deity-adjacent being who went rogue and smuggled the knowledge to the mortal world without permission. The latter is likely to be an Expy patterned after Prometheus.

Note that the mythology can be literally true, but it does have to be a mythic origin story: merely stealing an item from a god is not sufficient.

May involve Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?, which may have Do Not Taunt Cthulhu results and/or result in a Divine Punishment. Versions where the god didn't survive the theft overlap with Kill the God and/or Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?. See The Discovery of Fire for mythic origins of mortals' use of fire specifically, which often but don't always overlap this trope. Closely related to Intangible Theft in most cases.

If the god itself gets stolen, it's a Captured Super-Entity.


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    Film — Animated 
  • Moana: The Heart of Te Fiti has the power to create life and raise islands, and originally belonged to the Goddess, Te Fiti. Many wanted the heart for themselves, but it wasn't until Maui came along that anyone actually succeeded. As for why he stole it, he was hoping to give it to man so that they'll use the heart's power and hail Maui as a hero. It all eventually failed, and the heart never reached man. If someone steals the Heart of Te Fiti, she turns into a lava monster named Te Ka, bent on destroying as much as she can until she gets the heart back. Maui eventually learns from his mistake, and together with Moana, they give her the heart back.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): In the story that Conan's father tells him as a kid at the beginning of the movie, the secret of steel was once the province of Crom, the god of the Cimmerians who lives in the earth, but was stolen from him by giants who tricked him. Crom was angered and with the gods of fire and wind from the sky struck down the giants. Amidst the chaos, the gods inadvertently left the secret behind on the battlefield, where humanity found it and claimed it for its own.
    Niall the Smith: ...But in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel, and left it on the battlefield. And we who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men.

  • Discworld:
    • The Discworld version of Prometheus was also the first thief (and its first hero), named "Fingers" Mazda, whose first mention in Men at Arms is a double pun (the narration says he got burned on that deal as it was too hot to fence). The gods made him immortal and also chained him to a rock to have his liver eaten every day.
    • The Last Hero concerns the efforts of Cohen the Barbarian's Silver Horde to "return" fire to the gods, in the form of a keg of explosive powerful enough to destroy Cori Celesti (and thus the Disc) as a form of Rage Against the Heavens for the gods letting one of their friends die of choking on a cucumber. Eventually they are stopped, but steal the horses from the Valkyries who came for them and head off into the stars, only stopping by Mazda's rock to break his chains and leave him a sword. Mazda doesn't quite get what's happening, but for the first time, he can't wait for the eagle to get there.
  • According to A Description of the Northern Peoples, mankind learned of the runes because a man called Kettil Runske stole them from Odin in the form of three staves on which the runic alphabet was inscribed.
  • Mordew: The warring Sorcerous Overlords known as the Masters were once a group of occultists who dragged God into the material world, killed him, and stole his power. This formed a Tontine of power-mad immortal Persons of Mass Destruction whose last survivor will become the new God, hence the dismal state of the world.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: What humans call magic was originally the authority invested in this world's god, before an ancient alliance of humans and demihumans killed the god and took that power for themselves, ushering in the current magocratic world.
  • Inverted in Wulfrik, which states that it was the Chaos god Tzeentch who gave the Norscans fire in order to defend themselves against the treemen. Of course, Tzeentch being the god of backstabbing, mutation, and sorcery, it wasn't exactly from the goodness of his heart...

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Aboriginal Australian Myths: In Kulin Nation lore, Waah stole the fire from the gods to give to humanity. Unlike Prometheus this was a fairly chill affair; Bunjil the Top God even asks for some coals to cook with, for which Waah screws him over for no reason.
  • Greek Mythology is the Trope Namer. The titan Prometheus is said to have felt the gods were neglecting mankind and stole a burning brand from Hestia's hearth to bring it to them. The gods retaliated by chaining Prometheus to a boulder to have his liver torn out by a bird of prey every day, though he was later freed by the hero Herakles.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Backstory of Assassin's Creed involves the Isu, Ancient Astronauts who acted as Abusive Precursors and subsequently acted as the inspiration for, at the very least, the Hellenic and Roman pantheons. Their "Pieces of Eden" were stolen by the first Assassins, none other than Adam and Eve themselves, and served as a launching point for civilization as a whole, with the Pieces cropping up in world history and mythology: for instance, swords wielded by Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, and Obu Nobunaga are all Pieces of Eden.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In the most prominent Creation Myth, Lorkhan, the deity who convinced/tricked most of the other deities to create the mortal world, is punished by those other deities (who had to make massive sacrifices in the process) by having his heart ripped out and shot down into the world he created. It landed in Vvardenfell, where it became a Cosmic Keystone, and the Red Mountain volcano grew up around it. In the early First Era, the Dwemer (Dwarves) discovered it and attempted to tap into its power. Their rival Chimer (later Dunmer, "Dark Elves"), who worshipped the Daedra (deities who did not participate in creation), considered this blasphemy and attempted to stop it. What happened next is recounted differently by all the surviving parties, but the Dwemer vanished, the Chimeri leader (Lord Nerevar) is killed, and four of Nerevar's advisors tapped into the Heart to become Physical Gods. Azura, one of the Daedric Princes worshipped by the now-Dunmer, is offended by this use of the Heart and prophecies the reincarnation of Nerevar, who will cast down these "false gods" and unbind the Heart. That reincarnation is the Player Character of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the events of the game line up with Azura's plans.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VIII: According to the lore, humans were created by a god called Great Hyne, but he decided humans had grown too populous and tried to reduce their numbers by either killing or kidnapping their children. The humans declared war on Hyne and overwhelmed him with sheer numbers, and he was forced to tear his own body in half and give half of it to the humans as a peace offering—hence the reason that sorceresses and magic exist, and why sorceresses are sometimes referred to as "Hyne's Descendants".
    • Final Fantasy XII: Nethicite is a Mineral MacGuffin with the ability to absorb Mist, the Background Magic Field of the setting, and thus nullify any surrounding magic. The mineral was once property of the Occuria who rule the continent of Ivalice, who occasionally entrusted it to select individuals as a means of manipulating the history of mankind... until one Occuria named Venat committed heresy by teaching an Archadian scientist how to manufacture artificial nethicite, in an attempt to undermine the influence of their kin. The Archadian Empire soon used its newfound power to conquer the neighboring kingdoms of Nabradia and Dalmasca, kicking off the main plot of the game.
  • Glory of Heracles (DS) features Prometheus and his gift to humanity. Here, however, it's not fire, but magic, which was only initially present solely in fire form. Played with, however, later on, when it's revealed that the "gift" was part of a plan on Prometheus' part, who needs a lot of Dark Ether, a byproduct of elemental magic, to take his revenge on the Olympic gods.


    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra: We learn that the first Avatar was a man who stole (well, didn't return) his firebending from the lion-turtle who gave it to him, eventually acquiring all other elemental powers and fusing with Raava the Spirit of Light. On his death, Raava fused with a newborn child, transferring the bending to them and starting the cycle.