Where were we? Oh yes, the world had been formed and populated, man now had woman and Prometheus had fallen foul of the gods for giving us a chunk of the sun to burn things with.
Prometheus is seen as the civilizer of mankind, because his gift gave us the agent needed to heat our homes and craft metal tools, but other sources cite Dionysus (Bacchus) as man’s liberator because he introduced us to alcohol, which facilitated social interaction. Cheers!
The fate of Prometheus was not a happy one. For giving us the fire of the sun Zeus had him chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, where an eagle (or vulture according to Virgil) kept eating his liver, which just grew back as fast as it was gobbled up.
He could have ended his torment at any time though because Prometheus knew a secret about the stability of Zeus’ throne. We don’t know what this secret was, but it must have been something more than just sticking a piece of cardboard under the wobbly leg. He only had to reveal this secret to win the favour of Zeus, and land the celestial chair-maker in hot water, but chose not to. Because of this Prometheus has become a symbol of dignified endurance of undeserved suffering and strength of will in the face of oppression, and of generally sticking it to the man.
We don’t know the fate of Epimetheus, presumably he stepped out in front of a chariot or stared at the sun too long then fell off a cliff.
Later sources reckon he and curious Pandora were the parents of Pyrrha, who was the wife of Deucalion. These two are central to the creation myth, which we’ll discover about now.
The earth had gone from the super-sweet Golden Age to the uber-lame Iron Age (more on the ages in another post) and Zeus was not a happy bunny. In fact he was so pissed off he decided to throw a big party to announce his intention to destroy the world and recreate it with a better class of fawning sycophants who would worship him more sincerely than the current lot.
Everyone liked the idea of being worshipped more and settled back with another glass of ambrosia as Zeus stood up and whipped out his thunderbolt.
Poised to fling the deadly bolt at the earth a thought occurred to him. If he burned up the earth the flames might set heaven on fire, or at least singe it a little, so he changed his mind and decided to drown us all instead. What a pleasant chap.
He first set about trying to achieve this by chaining up the north wind. Yes, that’s right, he chained up the wind with special wind-chains. The north wind usually got rid of the clouds, and the south wind brought them back, so he let the south wind out of its box.
Soon there were lots of rain clouds loitering about, getting it on and raining all over the place. All this achieved though was ruining the crops, and everyone just went indoors or sat under an umbrella.
So Zeus turned on the garden hose and pointed it at the earth, but decided this was going to take forever so he asked his brother Aquaman, I mean Poseidon, to lend a hand with the killing-us-all-by-excessive-quantities-of-water thing.
Surfing had yet to become popular so the tidal waves Poseidon brought onto the land were most unwelcome by all. Everything was washed away and no fun was being had by anyone. Those clever enough to hop into a boat died off from starvation.
There was one spit of land though. Parnassus was the only mountain tall enough to see above the waves. Presumably Mount Olympus was safe too, but nobody was allowed up there.
On Parnassus Deucalion and his missus Pyrrha took refuge from the water. These two were of the race of Titans (of them, but not them, if that makes sense – cheers Hesiod). He was a herdsman and she a devout worshipper of the gods.
Satisfied by his spectacular act of genocide Zeus was about to bugger off to bed, but noticed Deucalion and Pyrrha huddled together on the soon to be underwater mountain top.
He thought of their harmless lives and pious nature and decided to spare them. Aww, so he does have a heart after all. He ordered the north wind to sort the clouds out and his little brother to sort the water out.
Deucalion turns to his wife and says ,“phew, that was a close one,” and the pair head into the nearby temple which conveniently didn’t get washed away with everything else. There they pray to the local goddess to help them out with ideas on how to repopulate the world.
“No worries,” the goddess says, “leave here with your clothes stripped off and a veil over your heads and throw the bones of your mother over your shoulders.”
Deucalion and Pyrrha look at each other. He makes cuckoo noises while she swirls a finger round and round beside her head.
“That’s just great,” he says “I didn’t expect there to be any digging.”
“And my mum won’t like being dug up,” she adds.
Now, Deucalion was very fond of crossword puzzles, and decided this was a cryptic clue. “The earth is parent to us all, right?” he says. “And the stones could be its bones. So let’s chuck some of those behind us and see what happens, eh?”
“Can’t hurt to try,” she says and the pair strip down and veil up. Once outside they pick up some stones and, with Deucalion muttering something about a more fun method of getting naked and repopulating the world, throw them over their shoulders.
The stones became squidgy, and started taking on a human shape. The wet slime covering them became skin, the veins in the rock became people veins and the hard stony part became bones. Those thrown by Deucalion became men and those thrown by Pyrrha became women.
These new folk were a hard bunch, well adapted to hard labour, as we are today, giving us conclusive proof of our own origins.
So that’s how the world was created. Next up, a look at the mythical land the ancients lived in. But for now
Love and Peas x