Zeus decided to punish humanity for its evil ways. Other Gods grieved at the destruction because there would be no beings to worship them. Zeus promised a new stock, a race of miraculous origin. He was going to use thunderbolts when he remembered one of Fate's decrees: that a time would come when sea and earth and dome of the sky would blaze up, and the massive structure of the universe would collapse in ruins. With Poseidon's help, he caused storm and earthquake to flood every part of the land except the summit of Mount Parnassus. When Zeus crushed the hanging clouds in his hand, there was a loud crash, and sheets of rain fell from heaven. The rivers began rushing to the sea. When Neptune struck the earth with his trident, the rivers raced across the plains. Sea and earth could no longer be distinguished; all was sea without any shores, covering every living being except for one fortunate couple, Deucalion and Pyrrha. Earlier, Deucalion and Pyrrha had consulted Themis at her oracular shrine. She warned of a future flood, and they prepared by acquiring a boat. In time, their boat ran aground on the summit of Mount Parnassus. (Note: This is the mountain at Delphi, "navel of the earth" and home of the great oracle.)
Recognizing their piety, Zeus allowed them to live and withdrew the waters. It was then that Deucalion and Pyrrha remembered the other oracle given by Themis: to repopulate the world by throwing "behind you the bones of your great mother." Pyrrha didn't want to injure her mother's ghost by disturbing her bones. Prometheus soothed her fears. "Oracles are righteous and never advise guilty action..." They decided that the "bones" were stones in the body of the earth ("Great Mother"). They threw the stones, which became humans; men of the stones thrown by Deucalion; women, of those cast by Pyrrha. Animals were produced by earth of its own volition. According to Plato: "Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years."