In Greek mythology,
Pyrrha (/ˈpɪrə/; Greek: Πύρρα) was the
daughter of Epimetheus and
Pandora and wife of
Deucalion of whom she
had three sons, Hellen, Amphictyon, Orestheus; and three daughters
Pandora II and Thyia. According to some accounts, Hellen
was credited to be born from Pyrrha's union with Zeus.
Latin the word pyrrhus means red from the Greek adjective
πυρρός, purrhos, i.e. "flame coloured", "the colour of fire" or
simply "red" or "reddish".
Pyrrha was evidently named after her red
Horace (Ode, i. 5) and
Ovid describes her as red haired.
Zeus decided to end the Bronze Age with the great deluge,
Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, were the only survivors. Even though
he was imprisoned,
Prometheus who could see the future and had
foreseen the coming of this flood told his son, Deucalion, to build an
ark and, thus, they survived. During the flood, they landed on Mount
Parnassus, the only place spared by the flood.
Once the deluge was over and the couple were on land again, Deucalion
consulted an oracle of
Themis about how to repopulate the earth. He
was told to throw the bones of his mother behind his shoulder.
Pyrrha understood the "mother" to be Gaia, the mother of
all living things, and the "bones" to be rocks. They threw the rocks
behind their shoulders, which soon began to lose their hardness and
change form. Their mass grew greater, and the beginnings of human form
emerged. The parts that were soft and moist became skin, the veins of
the rock became people's veins, and the hardest parts of the rocks
became bones. The stones thrown by
Pyrrha became women; those thrown
Deucalion became men.
The story of
Pyrrha is also retold in the Roman poet
Ovid’s famous collection Metamorphoses. In this retelling, Jove (the
Roman equivalent of Zeus) takes pity on the couple, recognizing them
to be devout worshipers. He parts the clouds and ends the deluge
specifically to save
Deucalion and Pyrrha, who are floating aimlessly
on a raft. When the storm has cleared and the waters have subsided,
Pyrrha are taken aback by the desolate wreckage of the
land, and understand that they are now responsible for repopulating
the earth. Confused on how to carry out their destiny, they go to see
the goddess Themis.
Pyrrha that she must cast the bones
of her mother to successfully reproduce.
Pyrrha is distraught at the
idea of desecrating her mother’s honor by digging up her bones, but
Deucalion correctly reasons that
Themis is referring to great mother
Themis would never advise someone to commit a crime. Both
Deucalion throw a stone over their shoulder – Pyrrha’s
turning into a woman, Deucalion’s turning into a man.
Once the land has been repopulated with humans, mother earth follows
suit and begins to produce all other forms of life.
Ovid uses this
opportunity to inform his audience that heat and water are the sources
of all life – “because when heat and moisture blend in due
balance, they conceive: these two, these are the origin of everything.
Though fire and water fight, humidity and warmth create all things;
that harmony” (
Ovid – pg 15).
Creon, king of Thebes, has a daughter named Pyrrha.
"Pyrrha" was, possibly, the name used by
Achilles while hiding among
the king of Skyros' daughters.
Genealogy of Hellenes
Genealogy of Hellenes
^ Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, Book 1.7.2
^ πυρρός. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A
Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 96.
Pyrrha – http://www.theoi.com/
Pyrrha – http://www.mythindex.com/
Phyrrha, Three translations in English
The Library of Greek Mythology (Apollodorus), translated by Robin Hard
Metamorphoses (new translation by A. D. Medville (2009))