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THE ANCIENT MYTH OF PANDORA
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Pandora - Greek Mythology

The story of Pandora is most famous for Pandora’s box, and it is still said today that when someone probes out of curiosity and something bad ensues from that curiosity, they have opened Pandora’s box. Pandora is known to be the first woman of earth and her story is a sad one indeed.

It began when Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus, made Zeus very angry by providing the mortal men of earth with fire, against the orders of Zeus. The god was very angry with the brothers for going against his direct wishes and yet, couldn’t punish them outright for they had played a pivotal role in the war against the Titans. Instead, he devised a way to seek revenge on the brothers that would teach them a lesson but appear to be a gift of gratitude.

Zeus commanded Hephaestus to create a woman by taking water and earth and making the form of a woman. To ensure that she was created perfectly, Zeus had Aphrodite model for Hephaestus. When the god was finished creating the woman, the Four Winds breathed life into her and the new woman lay sleeping and breathing on her own. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Zeus had this creature made so she could bring misery and unhappiness to those on earth. Once she was alive, Zeus called the other Olympians and asked them each to bring a gift for the new woman.

Aphrodite brought her beauty, grace and desire while Hermes bestowed upon her cunning and boldness. Demeter taught her how to take care of a garden and Athena taught her how to spin, giving her manual dexterity. Apollo taught her how to play the lye and also how to sing beautifully. Poseidon gave her a gift of a beautiful pearl necklace and the god of sea gave her the promise that she would never drown. Zeus gave her the gift of being foolish, idle, and mischievous. The gods then gave her the name Pandora, which means “All-Gifted.” They named her this because of all the presents she had received from the gods and also because each of the gifts she had received would enable her to destroy man.

She was created to go to earth and become the wife of Epimetheus, who had a hand in angering Zeus. Before her journey to earth, the gods held a banquet for her where she was presented by a box that had wonderful images on it. Hermes gave her the box but told her that must never, ever open it. Shortly after, Hera, the wife of Zeus, gave Pandora the gift of curiosity. They bestowed upon her other gifts at the banquet including a silvery raiment and an embroidered veil and they placed colourful garlands of flowers in her hair. They also gave her a crown made of gold. All of these gifts were given to her so that she would be the most beautiful woman on earth upon her arrival.

Hermes was Pandora’s escort to earth and taking her by the hand, led her to Epimetheus. Although Prometheus had warned his brother to never accept any gift from the god Zeus but upon seeing Pandora, Epimetheus was too struck by her beauty to heed Prometheus’ warning. Hermes explained to Epimetheus that Zeus felt bad about his reaction to the brother’s actions and wanted to do something nice for them that would make up for his anger. This is why he had sent Pandora to become Epimetheus’ wife.

Epimetheus was more than happy to take Pandora as his wife and she was happy fulfilling her role. She used the gifts she had been given from the gods to work in their garden, cook, spin, sing, play the lye, and dance happily for her husband. But she never forgot about the box that Hermes had given her and she was continually wondering what the mysterious box held.

Pandora placed the box on the table and polished it often, every day in fact, so that those who visited her and her husband would be impressed by how beautiful it was. She desperately wanted to open the box, due to the gift of curiosity that Hera had given her. But she knew that she had made a promise to Hermes and she knew that she must not break that promise. Deciding that having to see the box every day was too much for her, she decided instead to hide it in an old storeroom where it would rarely be seen. This made no difference though as she would just walk by the storeroom, sometimes even going inside and holding the box for a moment, thinking about how much she wanted to open it!

She decided she needed to take much more drastic measures. She placed the box inside a heavy wooden chest and locked the chest before tying large chains around it. She then dragged the chest out to her garden and buried it. To make sure that she would resist temptation, she rolled a gigantic boulder on top of the spot where she buried the box.

The night that she buried the box, she couldn’t sleep. She still desperately needed to know what was in that box. She walked out to the garden and touched the boulder that was in place over the buried box. The boulder moved on its own and Pandora took this as a sign that Hermes had changed his mind and wanted her to open the box. She decided that she would dig up the box and use the golden key around her neck to open the box. She was only going to look for a minute before closing the box up again forever.

She opened the lid of the box and immediately knew that something was wrong. An unpleasant odour immediately filled the air and she heard things moving about inside. She closed the lid as tightly and quickly as she could but it was too late. Along with bestowing the gifts upon her, the gods had also placed evil inside of the box. These evils included old age, sickness, insanity, vice, passion, greed, crime, death, lies, and many of the world’s horrors. Once Pandora had opened the box, these evils escaped and were set free into the world.

Pandora was miserable about what she had done. But there was one thing at the bottom of the jar that was the last to fly out. It was hope. This hope was to provide comfort for all of the despair that the evils had caused. The hope sustained the men of earth during Pandora’s day and it still remains today as a reprieve from the evils.


Pandora mythology.

 The myth of Pandora.

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