Study Guide

The Great Deluge Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

It's kind of hard to miss this theme in a story where almost all of humanity is totally wiped out by a giant flood. Zeus enlists the natural world against the human beings who he thinks are past redemption. Interestingly, though, humankind is also regenerated from an element of the natural world. When Deucalion and Pyrrha ask Themis how they can regenerate humankind, they're told to throw the bones of their mother over their shoulders. When they interpret this to mean the bones of Mother Earth, they toss rocks over their shoulders and new humans spring from them. We think it's interesting that in the same story humanity is nearly destroyed by one natural force (water), yet in the end they are created by another (earth).

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Which natural elements destroy and which renew in this story?
  2. How is natural world represented as a whole in this story?
  3. Describe the role of Gaia, the Earth, in the tale.
  4. Describe the ways in which this story shows humanity as being in tune with nature and the ways it shows us as being at odds.

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