A son of Prometheus and Clymene. He was king in Phthia, and married to Pyrrha. When Zeus, after the treatment he had received from Lycaon, had resolved to destroy the degenerate race of men who inhabited the earth, Deucalion, on the advice of his father, built a ship, and carried into it stores of provisions; and when Zeus sent a flood all over Hellas, which destroyed all its inhabitants, Deucalion and Pyrrha alone were saved. After their ship had been floating about for time days, it landed, according to the common tradition, on Mount Parnassus; others made it land on Mount Othrys in Thessaly, on Mount Athos, or even on Mount Etna in Sicily.
These differences in the story are probably nothing but local traditions; in the same manner it was believed in several places that Deucalion and Pyhrra were not the only persons that were saved. Thus Megarus, a son of Zeus, escaped by following the screams of cranes, which led him to the summit of Mount Gerania;1 and the inhabitants of Delphi were said to have been saved by following the howling of wolves, which led them to the summit of Parnassus, where they founded Lycoreia.2
When the waters had subsided, Deucalion offered up a sacrifice to Zeus Phyxius, that is, the helper of fugitives, and thereupon the god sent Hermes to him to promise that he would grant any wish which Deucalion might entertain. Deucalion prayed that Zeus might restore mankind.
According to the more common tradition, Deucalion and Pyrrha went to the sanctuary of Themis, and prayed for the same thing. The goddess bade them cover their heads and throw the bones of their mother behind them in walking from the temple. After some doubts and scruples respecting the meaning of this command, they agreed in interpreting the bones of their mother to mean the stones of the earth; and they accordingly threw stones behind them, and from those thrown by Deucalion there sprang up men, and from those of Pyrrha women. Deucalion then descended from Parnassus, and built his first abode at Opus,3 or at Cynus,4 where in later times the tomb of Pyrrha was shown. Concerning the whole story, see Apollodorus5 and Ovid.6
There was also a tradition that Deucalion had lived at Athens, and the sanctuary of the Olympian Zeus there was regarded as his work, and his tomb also was shown there in the neighborhood of the sanctuary.7
Mount Parnassus was originally called Larnassos after larnax, "ark," referring to Deucalion's ark which had stranded there. After the oracle of Delphi was built at its foot it received the new name of Parnassus.
- Hyginus. Fabulae, 153.
- Scholiast on Pindar's Olympian Odes ix, 64.
- Servius on Virgil's Eclogues vi, 41.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.