How the frogs were created: Greek mythology stories about origin of species

Like science, mythology has stories about the origin of species.
Image used for representational  purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

Like science, mythology has stories about the origin of species. The difference between the
two is that in science, species evolve slowly over millions of years, but in mythology, they develop instantly. In Greek mythology, there is a story about the origin of frogs. Latona, also called Leto, the Goddess of night and darkness, was once cursed by Hera, wife of the mighty Greek God Zeus. Latona was banished by Hera to earth, with a warning that none should help her. As a result, Latona was shunned by everyone on earth and she wandered from place to place, carrying her twin infants.

One day, Latona reached a place called Lycia, which was a green and pleasant valley. She was thirsty. When she saw a pond of cool and clear water, she set her twins down on the grass and went to the edge of the water. By the side of the pond, grew some willow trees. These were being cut by some peasants. Afraid of being rebuffed by them, Latona humbly approached the water and gratefully kneeled to drink. At this moment, the peasants saw her. Loudly and rudely, they told her to be gone and forbade her from drinking the water. Latona looked up and spoke to the peasants in a soft and sad voice.

“Nature has given sunshine, air and water free to everyone, so why do you refuse to let me drink water? I come here to take my share in the common blessings of nature. Yet, I ask it of you as a favour. I will not wash my limbs in the water; only drink a little for I am almost dying of thirst. If you do not pity me, at least pity these infants who are stretching their arms out for water.”

The words of Latona were gentle and pitiable, but the rude peasants were unmoved. They jeered at her and threatened her with violence if she did not leave the place. They even waded into the placid pond and churned up the mud with their feet, making the water unfit for drinking. Latona became so angry that she forgot her thirst. She no longer bowed before the peasants. She raised her hands to the heavens and said, “May they never quit that pool, but pass their lives there.”

As she spoke, the peasants jumping about in the pool started changing shape. Their bodies started getting shorter and fatter. Their hands and feet became webbed and their skin turned green, yellow and brown. Their necks disappeared. When they tried to speak, only croaks came out of their throats. To this day, ponds are inhabited by frogs who croak incessantly, especially during the night.

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The New Indian Express