The Greek Genesis

In his Library, Apollodorus relates two stories that closely parallel some of the first chapters of Genesis. Both involve Prometheus: first, the Titan creates human beings from earth and water, but then, on giving them fire, finds himself cruelly punished by Zeus (1.7.1). This, as Nietzsche recognized in The Birth of Tragedy, is the Greek “fall narrative,” but told in a heroic and defiant tone. Next, Prometheus’s son Deukalion, warned by his warned of an impending flood engineered by Zeus, builds a “chest” (λάρναξ) and escapes in it with his wife, after which he offers sacrifices to Zeus (1.7.2). This is just one, of course, of an extraordinary number of “flood myths” with this pattern (one or two people rescued from a global flood, often along with plants or animals).

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