| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
THE GREAT FLOOD; OR, THE STORY OF DEUCALION
ROMETHEUS turned out to be quite right in
saying that men would give more trouble to
Jupiter than the Titans or the Giants, or anything that
had ever been made. As time went on, men became
more and more wicked every day.
Now there lived in Thessaly, on the banks of a
river, a man and his wife, named Deucalion and
Pyrrha. I think they must have been good people,
and not like all the other men and women in the
world. One day, Deucalion noticed that the water in
the river was rising very high. He did not think
much of it at the time, but the next day it was higher,
and the next higher still. At last the river burst its
banks, and spread over the country, sweeping away
houses and drowning many people.
Deucalion and Pyrrha escaped out of their own
house just in time, and went to the top of a mountain.
But, to their terror, the waters still kept on spreading
and rising, until all the plain of Thessaly looked like a
sea, and the tops of the hills like islands.
 "The water will cover the hills soon," said Deucalion,
"and then the mountains. What shall we do?"
Pyrrha thought for a moment, and then said:—
"I have heard that there is a very wise man on the
top of Mount Caucasus who knows everything. Let
us go to him, and perhaps he will tell us what to do
and what all this water means."
So they went down the other side, and went on and
on till they reached the great Caucasian mountains,
which are the highest in all Europe, and are always
covered with snow. They climbed up to the highest
peak, and there they saw a man, chained to the ice,
with a vulture tearing and gnawing him. It was Prometheus,
who had made the first man.
Deucalion tried to drive the horrible bird away.
But Prometheus said:—
"It is no use. You can do nothing for me. Not
even the Great Flood will drive this bird away, or put
me out of my pain."
"Ah! the Great Flood!" cried Deucalion and
Pyrrha together. "We have left it behind us—are
we safe up here?"
"You are safe nowhere," said Prometheus. "Soon
the waters will break over the mountains round Thessaly
and spread over the whole world. They will rise
and rise till not even this peak will be seen. Jupiter
is sending this flood to sweep away from the face of
 the earth the wickedness of man. Not one is to be
saved. Even now, there is nobody left alive but you
Deucalion and Pyrrha looked: and, in the distance,
they saw the waters coming on, and rising above the
"But perhaps," said Prometheus, "Jupiter may not
wish to punish you. I cannot tell. But I will tell
you what to do—it may save you. Go down the
mountain till you come to a wood, and cut down a
tree." Then he told them how to make a boat—for
nobody knew anything about boats in those days.
Then he bade them good bye, and they went down the
hill sorrowfully, wishing they could help Prometheus,
and doubting if they could help themselves.
They came to the wood, and made the boat—just
in time. The water rose; but their boat rose with the
water. At last even the highest peak of Caucasus was
covered, and they could see nothing but the sky above
them and the waters round. Then the clouds gathered
and burst, and the sky and the sea became one great
For nine days and nights their little boat was tossed
about by the winds and waves. But on the tenth day,
as if by magic, the sky cleared, the water went down,
and their boat was left high and dry on the top of
 They knelt, and thanked Jupiter, and went down
the hill hand in hand—the only man and the only
woman in the whole world. They did not even know
where they were.
But presently they met, coming up the hill, a form
like a woman, only grander and more beautiful. They
were afraid. But at last they had courage to ask:—
"Who are you? And where are we?"
"This hill is Mount Parnassus; and I am Themis,
the goddess of Justice," said she. "I have finished
my work upon the earth, and am on my way home to
the sky. I know your story. Live, and be good, and
be warned by what has happened to all other men."
"But what is the use of our living?" they asked,
"and what is the use of this great world to us two?
For we have no children to come after us when we
"What you say is just," said the goddess of Justice.
"Jupiter will be pleased enough to give this empty
world to a wiser and better race of men. But he will
be quite as content without them. In short, you may
have companions, if you want them, and if you will
teach them to be better and wiser than the old ones.
Only you must make them for yourselves."
"But how can we make men?" asked they.
"I will tell you. Throw your grandmother's bones
behind you without looking round."
 "Our grandmother's bones? But how are we to
find them after this flood, or to know which are hers?"
"The gods," said Themis, "tell people what to do,
but not how it is to be done." And she vanished into
I think Themis was right. All of us are taught
what we ought to do; but we are usually left to ask
ourselves whether any particular thing is right or wrong.
Deucalion and Pyrrha asked one another; but
neither knew what to say. The whole world, after
the Great Flood, was full of bones everywhere. Which
were their grandmother's, and where? They wandered
about over half the world trying to find them, but all
in vain, till they thought they would have to give it
up in despair.
At last, however, Pyrrha said to Deucalion:—
"I have a thought. We are all called the children
of Jupiter, you know, because he is called the father
of gods and men. And Jupiter and all the gods are
the children of Cœlus and Terra. Now, if we are the
children of Jupiter, and Jupiter is the child of Terra,
then Terra must be our grandmother. And Terra is
the Earth; so our grandmother is the Earth, you see."
"But," asked Deucalion, "what about the bones?"
"What are the bones of the Earth but the stones?"
said Pyrrha. "The stones must be our Grandmother's
 "I don't think you're right," said Deucalion. "It's
much too easy a thing—only to throw a few stones.
But there's no harm in trying."
So they gathered two heaps of stones, one for him
and one for her, and threw the stones behind them,
over their shoulders, without turning round—just as
Themis had told them.
When they had thrown away all their stones, they
looked to see if anything had happened. And lo!
every stone thrown by Pyrrha had become a woman,
and every stone thrown by Deucalion had become a
So they kept on throwing stones till the world was
full of men and women again. And Deucalion and
Pyrrha became their king and queen.
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