Sons and Daughters of Deucalion and Pyrrha – Urbana, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Sons and Daughters of Deucalion and Pyrrha

Fragments of a massive unfinished sculpture sit near the main quad of the University of Illinois. 


Originally designed to be the companion sculpture to The Fountain of Time in Chicago, Lorado Taft’s Fountain of Creation sculpture was never completed. Instead of the planned 38 figures, only four were finished. They were then given as a gift to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Mrs. Ada Taft in 1937.

The statues depict the Greek myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha. As the story goes, Zeus wanted to end the Bronze Age with a flood. Prometheus was able to foresee the flood and told his son Deucalion to build an ark. He and his wife (also his cousin) Pyrrha were the only survivors.

After consulting with the oracle of Themis, they were told to repopulate the Earth by throwing the bones of Deucalion’s mother over his shoulder. Deucalion and Pyrrha interpreted this to mean Gaia or mother earth, and they threw rocks over their shoulders, which softened and became people. The rocks Deucalion threw became men, or “The Sons of Deucalion,” and the rocks that Pyrrha threw became women or “The Daughters of Pyrrha.”

The “Daughters of Pyrrha” can be found in front of the east entrance of the main library, and the “Sons of Deucalion” sit on the south side of the Foellinger Auditorium. 

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