Who Was Deucalion’s Mother? Some Say Pandora…

Schol. Ad Hom. Od. 2.2 hypothesis

“Deukaliôn, in whose time the deluge happened, was the son of Prometheus and his mother—according to most authors—was Klymenê. But Hesiod says that his mother was Pronoê and Akousilaos claims that it was Hesione, the daughter of Okeanos and Prometheus. He married Pyrra who was the daughter of Epimêtheus and Pandôra the one who was given by Epimetheus in exchange for fire. Deukalion had two daughters, Prôtogeneia and Melantheia, and two sons, Ampiktuôn and Hellen, whom others say was actually an offspring of Zeus, but in truth he was Deucalion’s”.

Δευκαλίων, ἐφ’ οὗ ὁ κατακλυσμὸς γέγονε, Προμηθέως μὲν ἦν υἱὸς, μητρὸς δὲ, ὡς οἱ πλεῖστοι λέγουσι, Κλυμένης, ὡς δὲ ῾Ησίοδος Προνοής, ὡς δὲ ᾿Ακουσίλαος ῾Ησιόνης τῆς ᾿Ωκεανοῦ καὶ Προμηθέως. ἔγημε δὲ Πύρραν τὴν ᾿Επιμηθέως καὶ Πανδώρας τῆς ἀντὶ τοῦ πυρὸς δοθείσης τῷ ᾿Επιμηθεῖ εἰς γυναῖκα. γίνονται δὲ τῷ Δευκαλίωνι θυγατέρες μὲν δύο Πρωτογένεια καὶ Μελάνθεια, υἱοὶ δὲ ᾿Αμφικτύων καὶ ῞Ελλην. οἱ δὲ λέγουσιν ὅτι ῞Ελλην γόνῳ μὲν ἦν Διὸς, λόγῳ δὲ Δευκαλίωνος. ἐξ οὗ ῞Ελληνος Αἴολος πατὴρ Κρηθέως.

This story is a bit strange but repeats the typical connection between man and Prometheus. Here, however, mortal man is descended from Prometheus via Deucalion. He married his cousin, which was not all that uncommon, and the rest of the story proceeds somewhat as is typical (leading to the birth of Hellen, the origin of the ethnonym Hellenes).

Color photograph of a chalk on paper portrait of Pandora, a woman holding a box with the lid slightly open. The color scheme is primarily red
Dante Gabriel Rosetti, “Pandora”, 1869
Faringdon Collection Trust

The Schol. In Ap. Rhod. 3.1086 tells this part of the story, except, he gives us another mother:

“Deucalion was the son of Prometheus and Pandora, which is what Hesiod says in the Catalogue [Of Women] and that Hellen was the son of Deucalion and Pyrra, from whom the Hellenes and Hellas were named. He also said that Deukalion was king of Thessaly…”

ὅτι Προμηθέως καὶ Πανδώρας υἱὸς Δευκαλίων, ῾Ησίοδος ἐν α′ Καταλόγων (fg 2 Rz.2) φησί, καὶ ὅτι Δευκαλίωνος καὶ Πύρρας ῞Ελλην, ἀφ’ οὗ ῞Ελληνες καὶ ῾Ελλάς. ὅτι δὲ Δευκαλίων ἐβασίλευσε Θεσσαλίας, ῾Ελλάνικος ἐν α′ τῆς Δευκαλιωνείας (4 fg

This passage is, of course, more than a little messed up, since it makes Pandôra into Deukalion’s mother. West in the edition with Merkelbach (1967, 4) comments “locum funditus corruptum varie sanare conati sunt viri docti” (“learned men have tried to correct this deeply corrupt passage in different ways”)

The names given for Deucalion’s mothers are interesting. Hêsione is the same name as the Trojan princess rescued by Herakles but not the same figure. She appears in connection with Prometheus in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. Klymene—whose name may have something to do with weeping or flowing—may be associated with Deucalion because of his relationship with the flood (κατακλυσμὸς). And the other alternative, Pronoê, is merely a parallel formation for Prometheus (both mean forethought).

The problem of Deukalion’s mother goes on: Herodotus (4.45) makes her Asia. Thought the scholiast says that “most authors” make Klymenê Deukalion’s mother, this is a bit of a problem if we look to Hesiod’s Theogony (507-511):

“Iapetos took as wife the fine-ankled Okeanid
Klumenê and put her in his own bed.
She bore to him the strong-minded child Atlas.
She also bore overawing Menoitios and Prometheus
Fine and clever minded, and then messy-minded Epimetheus.”

κούρην δ’ ᾿Ιαπετὸς καλλίσφυρον ᾿Ωκεανίνην
ἠγάγετο Κλυμένην καὶ ὁμὸν λέχος εἰσανέβαινεν.
ἡ δέ οἱ ῎Ατλαντα κρατερόφρονα γείνατο παῖδα,
τίκτε δ’ ὑπερκύδαντα Μενοίτιον ἠδὲ Προμηθέα,
ποικίλον αἰολόμητιν, ἁμαρτίνοόν τ’ ᾿Επιμηθέα·

So, it is clear that Klumenê is not likely to have been Prometheus’ mother and his wife. This also explains why Hesiod listed a different mother for Deukalion—Hesiodic poetrymade the Okeanid Prometheus’ mother. To generate a wife, it seems to have created one based on the idea of her husband’s name. It is thoroughly possible for different genealogical traditions in Greece to attribute offspring to different parents. Deukalion, as the survivor of a flood, makes sense as a son of an Okeanid.

Of course, this means we have no universal choice for his mother. Personally, I kind of like the choice of Pandôra…even if it it comes from a locum funditus corruptum. But the sensible choice, seems a compromise. If Klumene is Prometheus’ mother, then the Okeanid Hesione can be Deukalion’s mother, giving him all that association with the ocean.

Of course, this is not the end of it: in the Works and Days 159a, Epimetheus is made the father of Deucalion and Pyrra..

Works Consulted For This Mess:

R. L. Fowler. Early Greek Mythography. Volume 2: Commentary. Oxford, 2013.
R. Merkelbach and M.L. West. Fragmenta Hesiodea. Oxford, 1967.

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