thrown fire
in law
love's fire




Fire's Greatest Achievement

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

...And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:

And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.

And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.

And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.










1 Kings 18:


Now after many years, when it pleased God, Neemias, being sent from the king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those priests that had hid it to the fire: but when they told us they found no fire, but thick water;

Then commanded he them to draw it up, and to bring it; and when the sacrifices were laid on, Neemias commanded the priests to sprinkle the wood and the things laid thereupon with the water.

When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone, which afore was hid in the cloud, there was a great fire kindled, so that every man marvelled.

And the priests made a prayer whilst the sacrifice was consuming, I say, both the priests, and all the rest, Jonathan beginning, and the rest answering thereunto, as Neemias did.

... Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Neemias commanded the water that was left to be poured on the great stones. When this was done, there was kindled a flame: but it was consumed by the light that shined from the altar. So when this matter was known, it was told the king of Persia, that in the place, where the priests that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared water, and that Neemias had purified the sacrifices therewith. Then the king, inclosing the place, made it holy, after he had tried the matter.

...And Neemias called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, a cleansing: but many men call it Nephi.


II Maccabees 1:20-36
  In Media and Persia are burning fires, in Persia so large and bright that kitchens are constructed near them.  
the Peripatetic De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus (117-38? CE), cited in Partington 4.

'The matrons dressed as Bacchae ...rushed down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunged them into the water and drew them out again, the flame undiminished, as they were made of sulphur and pitch mixed with lime.'


Livy XXXIX.13


He says that that which is productive from the eternal of hot and cold was separated off at the coming-to-be of this world, and that a kind of sphere of flame from this was formed round the air surrounding the earth, like bark round a tree. When this was broken off and shut off in certain circles, the sun and the moon and the stars were formed.



Ps-Plutarch, Stromateis 2

G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M. Schofield. The Presocratic Philosophers, 2nd ed. Cambridge UP, 1983 (1957), 131




This world-order [the same of all] did none of gods or men make, but it always was and is and shall be: an everlasting fire, kindling in measures and going out in measures.



Fr. 30, Clement Strom. v, 104, 1


Fire's turnings: first sea, and of sea the half is earth, the half 'burner' [i.e. lightning or fire] ...<earth> is dispersed as sea, and is measured so as to form the same proportion as existed before it became earth.

Fr. 31, Clement Strom. v, 104, 3

All things are an equal exchange for fire and fire for all things, as goods are for gold and gold for goods.


Fr. 90, Plutarch de E. 8, 388D

  Thunderbolt steers all things.  

Fr. 64, Hippolytus Ref. IX, 10, 6


Fire, by the regularity with which it absorbs fuel and admits smoke, while maintaining a kind of stability between them, patently embodies the rule of measure in change which inheres in the world process, and of which the Logos is an expression. Thus it is naturally conceived as the very constituent of things which actively determines their structure and behaviour -- which ensures not only the opposition of opposites, but also their unity through "strife".


Kirk & Raven p. 199

matter is a field of action in which cold and heat exert themselves. 'antiperistasis': simultaneous, mutual displacement of two forces or substances. all where each is. concentration of heat by cold causes recoil: this explains its effect on human organs.

Is Aristotle's view of fire conditioned by his tutelage of Alexander? 'Fire which Aristotle invented when he travelled with King Alexander in dark places, wishing to make in a month what the sun accomplishes in a year as in the brass sphere. Take red copper 1 lb, tin and lead, iron filings, 1/2 lb of each. Melt them together and make a flat disc like an astrolabe. Smear it with the following fire, dry for ten days, and repeat the operation. This fire once kindled burns for a whole year without pause."

"Another kind of fire with which Aristotle burnt houses situated in the mountains and burnt the mountain itself. Take petroleum 1 lb., pitch 5 lb, oil of eggs and quicklime 10 parts of each. Grind the quicklime with the oil and make one mass of them all. Then anoint [with the mixture] stones, grass, and young plants during the dog days, and bury it in horse-dung in those places underground. When the autumnal rains begin to fall the earth takes fire and its fire burns the inhabitants. Aristotle affirmed that this fire lasts nine years."








Marcus Graecus, Liber Ignium, trans. Partington, 47


fire alone of the elements can be fed. it seeks nourishment.

it can generate itself through force: striking a flint, lightning. only element which can be created.

"everything that is burning is, in a sense, in generation, comparable with motion, for which reason it somehow is destroyed as it is created, and with the exhaustion of the fuel, it itself is done away with." (§3)

none of the other elements is "so able to penetrate everywhere and be distributed so universally" (§9)

"why is something left over when corpses are cremated, while the Lycian stone (and similar stones elsewhere) from which coffins are made, consume all bodies and make ashes of everything they contain?" (§ 46)

Lycian tomb, Olympos, Greece

Lycian Tomb

Lycian Tombs

"flame is not yet itself where it originates nor is it still itself where it dies". in the middle it is most itself: transparent, pure and unmixed (§51)

extinguishing power of liquids is due to their ability to penetrate the burning edge of fire. "hence we are told that the most efficacious means is a mixture of white of egg with vinegar; part is vicous, part is penetrating. this is the most helpful against the conflagrations caused by siege machines." (§59)

the best firebowl is made of ivy, clematis, or the auger of bay (§64)



De Igne











Lycian tombs, Olympos, Turkey, June 2005.


'the fire must be put out with vinegar, for then it cannot be reignited, or better yet, smeared beforehand with birdlime, for this does not catch fire'

Aeneas the Tactician, Poliorcetica XXXIV

"Fire is the truest symbol of the suddenness and velocity of crowd growth."

"Fire joins what is separate, and in the shortest possible time." It is contagious. "The more life a thing has, the less it can defend itself against fire." Fire is never sated; it is ruthless. Sudden. Never a surprise, always expected. Fire is multiple, destructive, full of animosity to water. It is kept captive and fed like an animal, treated as if it were alive.


source: Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power 164, 76-8.