The Werewolf and the Flood, pt 2: And the Stones Gave People Their Name

I ended pt. 1 by stating that we would examine life during and after the Flood, and how Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulated the planet without any of that pesky incest stuff (that stuff that is implied when starting a species over with just two individuals).

So let’s get to it:

If you recall, Deucalion was the son of the Titan Promethius, the Forward Looker. Deucalion’s wife Pyrhha (the Fiery One, presumably a redhead), was also his cousin, being the daughter of Epimethius (The One Who Looks Around) and his cursed gift of a wife, Pandora.

Now, if you recall, Zeus, the Head of the Olympians, had gotten very annoyed with the humans that Promethius had created. One in particular, a King Lycaon of Arcadia, had committed the heinous act of trying to feed Zeus human flesh. For this grievous offense, Lycaon was turned into a wolf, but this wasn’t enough for Zeus; He decided to end Humanity, not in Flame (as the World was prophesied to end), but in Flood.

Promethius, foreseeing the impending cataclysm, warned his son to build a barge, which he and his wife did.

Now, according to several myths, Deucalion was no longer spry, being some eighty-two years of age, a little old to be making children. Still, he was able enough that when the flood waters finally abated, he and Pyrhha sought out Themis, the Goddess of justice, wisdom and good counsel, capable of explaining the Will of the Gods to mortals.

Themis’ Oracular counsel came off as strange:

She ordered them to “cover your head and throw the bones of your mother behind your shoulder”.

Pyrhha was appalled; she had no intention of disinterning her dear mother, Pandora.

Deucalion, however, interpreted the advice differently; the Mother in question was Gaia, the Earth herself, and the bones were rocks.

Or so he hoped.

Still uncertain, but sure Themis would not guide them to evil, they started a long walk, tossing stones over their shoulders:

They descended the steps, covered their heads and loosened their clothes, and threw the stones needed behind them. The stones, and who would believe it if it were not for ancient tradition, began to lose their rigidity and hardness, and after a while softened, and once softened acquired new form. Then after growing, and ripening in nature, a certain likeness to a human shape could be vaguely seen, like marble statues at first inexact and roughly carved. The earthy part, however, wet with moisture, turned to flesh; what was solid and inflexible mutated to bone; the veins stayed veins; and quickly, through the power of the gods, stones the man threw took on the shapes of men, and women were remade from those thrown by the woman.  So the toughness of our race, our ability to endure hard labour, and the proof we give of the source from which we are sprung.

-Ovid, Metamorphosis

And so we have at least one creation account with just two progenitors, and humans being formed sans incest. To quote Pindar (Olympian Odes 9.43–46): “. . .Pyrrha and Deucalion came down from Parnassus and made their first home, and without the marriage-bed they founded a unified race of stone offspring, and the stones gave the people their name.”

*

The Take Away?

Well, Deucalion and Pyrrha did have at least one biological offspring, a boy named Hellen.

When some people hear the word Hellenistic to describe anything Greek (people, culture, religion, yogurt), they automatically assume it refers to Helen of Troy, but that’s not where the terms comes from; it refers to Hellen, child of the only two survivors of the Great Deluge.

From the violence of a werewolf, to the retribution of the Gods, we get a tale of cruelty that ends with an act of re-creation;

And so, after the Deluge, the World Begins Anew….

Engraving by Virgil Solis for Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book I, 347-415. Fol. 7v, image 11.

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