DEUCALION AND PYRRHA
Story by Brandon L Parsons
Flooding the earth!!!
Flooding the earth!!!


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The Biblical story of Noah and the Ark...
Here’s one you may have heard before: A supreme being creates humans. Humans get a little big for their britches, start acting all big and bad and ignoring the wishes of their creator. The creator gets really miffed that His creations are screwing around and dissing Him behind his back and decides to squash them like bugs and start over with Humanity 2.0. To do that, the creator asks two of His not-so-bad creations, an old man and his wife, to build a big boat, climb aboard, and stand by while he commences to splatter the rest of the humans with a huge, crushing flood that submerges EVERYTHING, drowning all life and effectively exterminating his pesky, mouthy creations. The man and his wife ride the surf in the big, air-tight boat, sticking it out for days and days while rain falls like it’s never fallen before. Then, when it’s all over, He allows the two humans (and the family that’s tagged along for the boat ride) land safely on dry earth, the water slowly disappearing and receding. From there, the dude and his family get to start all over again and try the experiment of humanity from scratch. Remember that story? It’s not a unique one; not even close! It’s not just a tale told in the Christian and Jewish Bible; flood stories are something that many, many cultures across the globe have told in their poems, holy books and legends. The Mesopotamians tell almost the EXACT same story, only instead of Noah, they name the guy who builds the boat Utnapishtim. The Hindu religion in India tells a similar story. And, it should come as no surprise, the ancient Greeks had their own myth that told of a pair of humans that escaped the wrath of the gods as well!


The Pelasgians; the "first people" of Greece...
The Pelasgians; the "first people" of Greece...

The story of the super Titan brothers, Prometheus, Epimetheus, the first men, the handing over of fire to them, and the punishment laid down by Zeus in the form of Pandora, the first woman, is pretty well known (or if not, you can read up on it here first!). Prometheus got chained to a mountain with his liver being ripped out daily by a giant eagle for his going behind Zeus’ back to give man fire, and Epimetheus wound up marrying the first woman. After that, it didn’t take long for the newlyweds to have a ton of kids, which in time went on to populate the world. The ancient Greeks called these “first people” the Pelasgians. That state of affairs went on for quite a while, with the Pelasgians spreading out and forming kingdoms all over the place, but, as humans will, the creations of the two Titans began to stray a little from their originally intended purpose; worshipping the gods. OK, they strayed A LOT. The word for this kind of behavior is hubris, which means to go up against the gods and believe that you’re equal to or greater than they are. NOT a good idea, because there is only one punishment for that kind of behavior. Yep. You guessed it. Death. Smiting. The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred when a rather foul dude named Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, decided that it would be a hoot to sacrifice a young boy to Zeus. The king of the Olympians was completely disgusted by that kind of uncivilized and brutish behavior, and decided that he’d had more than enough. Zeus was about to lower the boom on humanity, and big time.

Deucalion and Pyrrha...
Deucalion and Pyrrha...

One of Prometheus’ sons, a guy by the name of DEUCALION (doo-cal-ee-on), who was the ruler of an area of pre-Greece called Phthia (or in some records, Haemonia) and a much better guy than many of his fellow humans, had been forewarned by his old man that this would probably someday happen and that when Zeus started getting riled up, he was to grab his wife, PYRRHA (pie-rah), build a large water-tight chest, climb inside and hang on for the ride of their lives. Sure enough, Zeus began unleashing his rage upon the Mediterranean area; rivers flooded way, WAY over their banks, the seas washed over all of the flat, low-lying areas of Greece and completely clobbered any and all human beings living there. Water came smashing down on the Pelasgians, and within hours, the whole civilization they’d created was squished out of existence by the tidal waves Zeus had busted out. Nine days later, after the deed was done, the king of the gods snapped his fingers and the water came back down quickly, leaving the land squeaky-clean, freshened up and completely pesky-human-free! The wooden chest that Deucalion and Pyrrha were riding the flood out in finally came to rest upon one of the mountains of Greece, though the different versions of the tale can’t make up their mind about which it was; many accounts say the two came down onto Mount Parnassus and some swear it was on the volcanic tip-top of Mount Etna in Sicily, while still others bet their lives that it was Mount Athos in Chalkidiki or Mount Othrys in Thessaly. No matter what version you decide to go with, Deucalion and Pyrrha DID finally breathe out a sigh of relief when the chest stopped bobbing in the waves and finally bumped solid ground. Taking that as a sign to finally open the top of the chest for a peek outside, the couple looked out at a landscape that had been completely wiped clean of any human beings except themselves. They were completely and totally alone in the world; the last two humans in existence. What a bummer to make that realization!

Zeus drowns out the world...
Zeus drowns out the world...

Deucalion and Pyrrha knew that it was a pretty special thing that they’d been spared, unlike all the rest of their unfortunate neighbors, friends and fellow humans, but weren’t really sure how just the two of them were supposed to get the whole “humanity 2.0” thing going again. They KNEW of course HOW to have kids, but couldn’t see a way for just the two of them to make it happen; that’s a large order for anyone to handle! Plus, Deucalion and his wife weren’t exactly spring chickens; many versions of the story clock them both in at about 80 years old. Not exactly an age where you want to attempt having a kid, much less thousands of kids.
Themis, Titaness of Justice...
Themis, Titaness of Justice...

So, the somewhat-elderly duo did what ANYBODY would do in such a situation where no solution was ready-made; they went to the gods. They’d gotten them this far, so surely the gods could send them in the right direction on this whole “repopulating the earth” business! Deucalion and Pyrrha traveled to a distant location to get answers and after many days of travel, they somehow found themselves at an oracle (a place where fortunes can be told) of a very old Titaness (who were around before even Zeus was a thing!) named Themis. Themis was the Titan who handled divine order, law, natural law and custom’ pretty much the perfect godly being for the job of explaining how they should go about their task. Themis gave them instructions: “Cover your head and throw the bones of your mother behind your shoulder.”

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At first glance, as a reader, you’re probably coming up with all kinds of images of a gnarly old dude tossing his even older mother over his shoulder in some kind of insane, ancient wrestling move. Not exactly. Deucalion’s mom was long dead anyways. As with almost every prophecy that oracles would give out in those days, it was done in a riddle, which Deucalion and Pyrrha had to figure out. It didn’t take long for them to come up with the answer; the “mother” was Gaea, the original Earth mother and first Titaness. She was literally the ground of the planet. The two of them were to pick up stones and launch them back over their shoulders! The two oldsters did as Themis had told them, each picking up a stone and lobbing it back over their shoulders. When the stones hit the ground, those thrown by Deucalion sprouted up into new male humans and those chucked by Pyrrha grew into new female humans. The couple kept tossing rocks until there were thousands of new people to take up the role humanity had once had; respecting and giving up the worship to the Olympians. From those stones, according to the myth, the ancient Greeks we know and love began to spread out over the countryside and begin the Bronze Age, the Age of Heroes!

Tossin' rocks, makin' babies...
Tossin' rocks, makin' babies...

Deucalion and Pyrrha also must have gotten recharged in their adventure, because they had themselves three more kiddos at their advanced age; Helen, Protogenea, and Amphictyon, who all wound up marrying and having their own kids with some of the “new” humans. Looking at the names of both the two old fogeys who saved the day for humanity, their names kind of reflect their determination; Deucalion’s name meant “sweet new wine, or sweetness" and Pyrrha’s name meant “flame-colored, orange.” No word on if Zeus was ticked that two humans escaped his rage to create a whole new gaggle of people on Earth, but he must not have been too upset, because he let the new group stick around and worship him! Not a bad legacy for an ageing king and his steadfast wife! (And still chillingly freakish how similar the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha is to the Biblical flood and the flood myth of the Mesopotamians. Makes you think, doesn't it?)

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The Flood to end all floods...
The Flood to end all floods...