Mythology Part 1, Chapter 3: How the World and Men were Created
Chaos existed before everything. Night and Erebus are children of this chaos. From this void, love was somehow born and it created light and day. From this, earth emerged. Earth was simultaneously geography and an entity, as was heaven. Earth (Gaia) and Sky (Ouranos) gave birth to monsters that were terrible. First came hundred handed beasts, then the Cyclopes and their last children, the Titans. Ouranos hated the Titans. Gaia appealed to them and Cronus castrated his father. From his blood the Erinyes were born.
Cronus ruled with his sister Rhea. He ate his children as they were born because he had learned that one would overcome him. Rhea rescued the sixth child and hid him on Crete. She had fed her husband a rock wrapped in cloth, instead of a baby. This child, Zeus, forced his father to disengorge his siblings and together they fought the Titans. Zeus won by joining with the hundred-handed monsters. He bound many of the Titans. Atlas was condemned to bear the weight of the sky and the earth forever. Zeus was not completely victorious, however. There were many times afterward when he had to struggle with the giants. The gods of Olympus overwhelmed the gods of earth, enforcing the supremacy of heaven over earth. "As yet there were no human beings, but the world now cleared of monsters was ready for mankind." Chapter 3, pg. 83
The earth was a disc of land divided by water and surrounded by the ocean. On the sides of the ocean were mysterious people who lived near the Muses. According to some sources, the dead also lived on this far edge. There is more than one account for the creation of man. This job was given to Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. Their names mean forethought and afterthought respectively. Epimetheus gave all the good traits to animals first. Neither speed nor strength was left for humans. He gave the botched job to his brother. Prometheus made men in the image of the gods and gave them fire as the best protection against the animals of the world.
In another account, the gods made men together. The first race was a golden race that had neither work nor pain. The next race was an inferior silver race. The following was the brass, who were terrible and followed by a race of heroes that fought glorious wars and went on to blessed lands. The fifth race was that of iron, modern man. This race grows more wretched with each generation, and someday Zeus will have to destroy them.
Both stories agree that there were no women in the early age. Zeus created them as revenge because Prometheus tricked the gods into accepting fat wrapped around bones instead of real meat for sacrifice. Zeus swore by Styx to keep this sacrificial procedure and made women as a punishment. He created Pandora. In one story she was evil but in another she was naive and her curiosity made her open a box that held all the evils that came to men. The only good thing that came out of the box was hope. After punishing men, Zeus had Prometheus bound to a rock because he wanted him to disclose a secret only he knew. Prometheus knew which woman would bear a son greater than Zeus. He hung in torture for many years. Chiron one day offered himself as a substitute, but Hercules ultimately released the Titan.
Another account is that men descended from a race of stone. They grew so wicked that Zeus sent a flood to drown them all and only one peak was uncovered. A son of Prometheus and a daughter of Epimetheus survived on this peak. Deucalion and Pyrrha were allowed to survive because Zeus thought that they were pious. They returned to the earth and other people formed out of stones. The newer race of men was harder and more enduring.