The fire had long gone out of the totalitarian regime of the Capitol, depicted in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009), and Mockingjay (2010). Two teens, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark and their peers overcome formidable odds to kill President Snow, the evil perpetrator of starvation and death within the thirteen districts of his realm. Intended for young adults by Scholastic Publishers, this science fiction novel has struck a chilling nerve and captivated the imaginations of all ages. Indeed, such callousness seems to mirror what is occurring around us.

For centuries, a similar horror story, Theseus and the Minotaur, evolved around ancient Crete and Greece, until recorded by the Latin poet, Ovid, in the Augustan Age, and by Plutarch and Apollodorus in the first century A.D. Each year the Cretan Minotaur, with the face of a bull and the body of a man, housed in an underground labyrinth, devoured fourteen of Athens’ finest youth, until killed by the Athenian hero, Theseus. In both the myth and science fiction novel, however, there is little evidence of the restoration of fire.

Yet within Greek and Roman antiquity emerged a response to these chilling scenarios, the virgin goddess Hestia/Vesta, keeper of the hearth fire. In honor of her, women tended the embers in their hearths, critical for their families’ warmth, light, and food and drink. Survival depended upon such humble service.

In a related sense, we do well to quicken the inner flame within our psyches, given the chilling winter of our existence. Practices of listening to silence, of lowly kindness to others, of enlarging our worlds will fan these embers into a blaze. Through us, others will find their way.

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