Tell how we may restore, by second birth,
Mankind, and people desolated Earth.
Then thus the gracious Goddess, nodding, said;
Depart, and with your vestments veil your head:
And stooping lowly down, with losen’d zones,
Throw each behind your backs, your mighty mother’s bones.
Amaz’d the pair, and mute with wonder stand,
‘Till Pyrrha first refus’d the dire command.
Forbid it Heav’n, said she, that I shou’d tear
Those holy reliques from the sepulcher.
They ponder’d the mysterious words again,
For some new sense; and long they sought in vain:
At length Deucalion clear’d his cloudy brow,
And said, the dark Aenigma will allow
A meaning, which, if well I understand,
From sacrilege will free the God’s command:
This Earth our mighty mother is, the stones
In her capacious body, are her bones:
These we must cast behind. With hope, and fear,
The woman did the new solution hear:
The man diffides in his own augury,
And doubts the Gods; yet both resolve to try.
Descending from the mount, they first unbind
Their vests, and veil’d, they cast the stones behind:
The stones (a miracle to mortal view, But long tradition makes it pass for true)
Did first the rigour of their kind expel, And suppled into softness, as they fell;
Then swell’d, and swelling, by degrees grew warm; And took the rudiments of human form.
Imperfect shapes: in marble such are seen, When the rude chizzel does the man begin;
While yet the roughness of the stone remains, Without the rising muscles, and the veins.
The sappy parts, and next resembling juice, Were turn’d to moisture, for the body’s use:
Supplying humours, blood, and nourishment; The rest, too solid to receive a bent,
Converts to bones; and what was once a vein, Its former name and Nature did retain.
By help of pow’r divine, in little space, What the man threw, assum’d a manly face;
And what the wife, renew’d the female race.
Hence we derive our nature; born to bear Laborious life; and harden’d into care.
– From Ovid’s Metamorphoses