As the world grew older, men became more and more quarrelsome. At last they dug gold out of the ground, where it had lain for so long a time; and they dug out iron too. They quarrelled more sadly than ever over the possession of the bright yellow gold they had found; and, what was worst of all, they made sharp knives and other weapons out of iron, and fought fiercely with each other.
After this, robbery, murder, and many other crimes were common on the earth. Things grew worse and worse, till a man's life was not safe anywhere. Finally, in all the whole world there were only two people who continued to sacrifice to the gods. These two were Deucalion and Pyrrha, who were good and gentle, like the people who had lived in the Golden Age.
Jupiter, the father of the gods, looking down from Mount Olympus and seeing how wicked the people of the earth had grown, made up his mind that he would destroy them all. So he shut up the North Wind in the caves of Aeolus, and sent forth the South Wind, for the South Wind was the wind that would bring the rain.
Clouds gathered over all the earth, and great drops of rain began to fall, slowly at first, then faster and faster. It rained till the grain was laid flat in the fields, still the clouds did not lighten, nor the rain cease falling. The rivers overflowed their banks, and rushed in over the plains, uprooting great trees, and carrying away houses and cattle and men. The sea, as well as the rivers, flowed in over the land, till dolphins played among the branches of forest trees. Sea-nymphs, too, might have been seen peeping out from among great oaks. Still the rain never stopped, and the water rose higher and higher.
Men and animals made their way to the hills as well as they could, wolves, lions, and tigers swimming side by side with sheep or cattle, all in one common danger. They made their way first to the hills and then to the mountains, but the water came creeping up, up, till all but the tops of the highest mountains were out of sight. At last, when the rain stopped, and the clouds broke away a little, only the top of Mount Parnassus, which was the highest mountain of all, remained above water.
Deucalion and Pyrrha were sailing in a little ship, which they had managed to keep afloat. When they saw that the top of Mount Parnassus was still out of water, they anchored their ship there, and sacrificed to the gods.
Now, as you know, Deucalion and Pyrrha had not become wicked like the rest of mankind. When Jupiter saw that only these two were left, he sent out the North Wind to blow away the clouds. Then Neptune, the god of the sea, sent his chief Triton, to blow a long, twisted horn, and the sea heard, and went back to the place where it rightfully belonged.
As the waters rapidly fell away, the earth appeared again, but what a change! Everything was covered with a dismal coating of yellow mud. And it was so very still - not a sound from any living thing! Deucalion and Pyrrha felt as if even the sound of quarrelling would be better than such perfect silence.
Near by, with its fires out, and covered with mud, was the temple of one of the gods. Deucalion and Pyrrha felt a sense of companionship in its familiar porch, so they went and sat there in the shade, wondering what would become of them - they two, alone in such a great world.
Then a mysterious voice told them to throw the bones of their great mother behind them. It sounded like a friendly voice, but neither Deucalion nor Pyrrha could imagine what was meant by "the bones of their great mother." After they had puzzled over it for some time, they came to the conclusion that their "great mother" must mean Mother Earth, and that her "bones" must be the stones that lay around them. So, standing with their faces toward the temple, they threw the stones behind them. When they turned to see what had happened, they found that the stones which they had thrown had changed into men and women.
In this way, after the Great Deluge, the earth was peopled again; but it is to be feared that some of the people of this new race had hearts as hard as the stones from which they were made.
The Legend and Myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha
The Myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha
The story of Deucalion and Pyrrha is featured in the book entitled Favorite Greek Myths by Lilian Stoughton Hyde, published in 1904 by D. C. Heath and Company.