Book Notes

Book 1: Deucalion and Pyrrha Notes from Metamorphoses

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Metamorphoses Book 1: Deucalion and Pyrrha

Deucalion and Pyrrha were the only survivors of the flood. Their raft grounded at the peak of Mount Parnassus, and they immediately gave thanks to the gods of the mountain and to the prophetess Themis, guardian of the oracle. Because Deucalion and his wafer (wife?) were righteous, Jove made the storms abate. Neptune called the waters back into their banks and Earth was restored.

When the mortals realized that they were the only remaining humans on earth, they were daunted by the prospect of repopulating the earth. Desiring to do the gods' will, Deucalion and his wife went to an oracle to seek guidance from Themis. The couple asked the goddess how to restore mankind to the earth, and the goddess told them: "'Leave / My temple, veil your heads, loosen your robes, / And cast behind you your great mother's bones.'" Book 1 -- Deucalion and Pyrrha, line 376-9 This command baffled Pyrrha because throwing her mother's bones would be disrespectful to her mother's ghost, and so Deucalion decided that Themis meant that Earth is their great mother and her bones are stones. So Deucalion and Pyrhha followed the command, and as the stones landed behind them, they lost their rigid shape and grew into mortal forms. The stones that Deucalion had thrown became men and the stones that Pyrrha threw behind her became women. The warmth of the sun and the moisture of the recently flooded earth combined to sprout new forms of life and to rekindle other life forms that the great flood had destroyed.

In this production of life, the earth even formed a great serpent never seen before. Men called this monstrous snake, Python, and it sprawled across an entire mountainside striking fear into the hearts of mortals everywhere. Apollo, the Archer god, destroyed the enormous snake with a thousand of his arrows, and then to ensure that man would not forget the great feat he had performed, Apollo founded the sacred games known as Pythian.

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