Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mythology Abridged: Humans Return ... with slightly more hard-headedness

In our next installment of Mythology Abridged, we learn how the ancient Greeks believed the earth was re-populated after the epic flood

(Again, unless otherwise noted, I read these original stories in "The Metamorphoses" by Ovid. It's awesome. Go read it if this stuff interests you!)


So, Ovid tells us that the earth was completely covered by water -- not a single strip of land still dry. But then apparently changes his mind because he later says that any humans who survived the flood eventually starved to death after they found refuge on the mountaintops. (This is why Ovid needed a beta-reader or a good writer's critique group. They catch continuity errors like this.)

But he backtracks again and says that two people actually did survive: Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. Apparently they were always godly people and so when they prayed to Themis (a Titan and daughter of Gaia), she and Zeus took pity on them and saved their lives. Zeus did away with the flood, but there was still the issue of repopulating the earth (Deucalion and Pyrrha don't seem too thrilled at the idea of doing this the old-fashioned way.)

So, Themis tells them all they have to do is scatter their mother's bones. The couple is understandably horrified at this idea. But! Deucalion comes up with a brilliant solution. Mother Earth (aka Gaia) is their mother too, right? And, if they follow that reasoning, rocks are like the bones of Mother Earth. So, they collect some stones and throw them around.

Either this is what Themis had intended all along, or she is as amused with Deucalion's smart-assery as I was, because she makes the stones turn into people who then populate the earth.

So according to Ovid, we are descended from rocks.

(Are we related?)

(Photo source: Me! At a local park.)

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