Many representations of mythological cataclysms and disasters that occur through water appear in the archaic epic Greek poets. Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days represent these disasters as coming about due to the gods and having disastrous impacts on humankind. These disasters are also common themes in some other archaic texts, however, such as Homer’s epic poems, and they appear to build off common traditional oral stories and realities of life in Archaic Greece. There are varying levels of water-related disasters, the more frequent involving flooding, storms, and excessive rainfall, which the archaic epic poets link to disastrous consequences for agriculture. The more extreme disasters like Hellenic-World-wide floods and tsunamis that are consequences of conflicts of the gods are also sung about in the poems. I will compare Hesiod’s watery disasters to those of Homer and argue that myths of disasters are represented in these poems for a number of reasons, including as a medium of entertainment, providing sacred advice, and education for continuing Archaic Greek culture’s history, religion, understanding of its past origins, present rituals, and means of overcoming future watery challenges. Watery disasters were used to achieve these goals because the content included easily understood and relatable traditional myths, and their fear factor ensured an engaged audience. Watery disaster myths could also have served as a warning for what to expect in such events and they educated audiences on how to react to future disasters, with a combination of religious and ‘practical’ knowledge for averting disaster through awareness of nature and belief in divine communications.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

All research seminars begin at 4 pm on Friday (with the exception of special Friends of Antiquity events). 

They will take place simultaneously in person and online.

The in-person venue is room E302 of the Forgan-Smith Building (building no. 1) on the St-Lucia campus of the University of Queensland.

Please contact Associate Professor David Pritchard or for the zoom link. 

For further information please contact the Seminar Convenor Associate Professor David M. Pritchard ( or +61 401 955 160).



E302 Forgan Smith Building (1)