Greece - Creational Myths

King Lycaon of Arcadia was typical of the mortals of his day, without respect for other men, beasts, or the gods themselves. It so happened that Zeus was traveling the earth in human guise, becoming more and more dismayed at the inhumanity of the mortals he was encountering, when he chanced upon the castle of King Lycaon. He entered when he heard sounds of revelry within, and found the king, his family, and his nobles eating their evening meal.

He requested hospitality and a meal as was the custom among the gods when welcoming a stranger. The king bade him sit at the table, and whispered instructions to a servant, saying to the stranger that he was ordering a hot meal for him. When the servant returned, the king took the platter from him and set it before the stranger. Zeus took one look at the platter and exploded into a burning rage, for before him, strewed amid the meat and bones on the platter, were dismembered parts of a human being. In his fury Zeus literally burned all before him; the only survivor was Lycaon, who found himself transformed into a wolf.

Upon his return to Olympus, Zeus ordered the gods to unleash a flood onto the earth; his aim was to destroy the human race. The Titan Prometheus, who had fashioned these humans, secretly sent a message to his mortal son Deucalion, in a dream, warning him of what was about to happen, and instructing him to build a huge chest, stock it with provisions, and embark in it, with his wife, Pyrrha, when the floods came.

When Zeus looked down upon the earth and saw that all below had perished, except for Deucalion and Pyrrha whom he knew for kind god-fearing people, he relented, and ordered the gods to return the dry lands as they had been. Deucalion, and his wife, floated in the chest for nine days and nine nights, before coming to rest on Mount Parnassus. When they discovered they were the only beings left alive they prayed to Themis, the Great Goddess of the Titans, and asked for her advice.

She advised them to go forth and cast the bones of their great mother over their shoulders behind them. It took them awhile to understand exactly what she meant before they strode the land casting stones from the great mother as instructed. The stones so thrown turned into a new race of mankind; men from the stones thrown by Deucalion, and women from the stones thrown by Pyrrha.