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
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
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.
so thrown turned into a new race of mankind; men from the stones
thrown by Deucalion, and women from the stones thrown by