Zeus decided to punish humanity for its evil
ways. Other Gods grieved at the destruction because there would
be no beings to worship them. Zeus promised a new stock, a race
of miraculous origin. He was going to use thunderbolts when he
remembered one of Fate's decrees: that a time would come when
sea and earth and dome of the sky would blaze up, and the massive
structure of the universe would collapse in ruins. With Poseidon's
help, he caused storm and earthquake to flood
every part of the land except the summit of Mount Parnassus. When
Zeus crushed the hanging clouds in his hand, there was a loud
crash, and sheets of rain fell from heaven. The rivers began rushing
to the sea. When Neptune struck the earth with his trident, the
rivers raced across the plains. Sea and earth could no longer
be distinguished; all was sea without any shores, covering every
living being except for one fortunate couple, Deucalion and Pyrrha.
Earlier, Deucalion and Pyrrha had consulted Themis at her oracular shrine. She warned
of a future flood, and they prepared by acquiring a boat. In time,
their boat ran aground on the summit of Mount Parnassus. (Note:
This is the mountain at Delphi, "navel of the earth"
and home of the great oracle.)
Recognizing their piety, Zeus allowed them to live and withdrew
the waters. It was then that Deucalion and Pyrrha remembered the
other oracle given by Themis: to repopulate the world by throwing
"behind you the bones of your great mother." Pyrrha
didn't want to injure her mother's ghost by disturbing her bones.
Prometheus soothed her fears. "Oracles are righteous and
never advise guilty action..." They decided that the "bones"
were stones in the body of the earth ("Great Mother").
They threw the stones, which became humans; men of the stones
thrown by Deucalion; women, of those cast by Pyrrha. Animals were
produced by earth of its own volition. According to Plato: "Many
great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years."