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The First Woman on Earth

Presented by:
Prof. Dr. Mr. Maqsood Hasni
Free Abuzar Barqi kutab'khana Aguest 2017
The First Woman on Earth

Painting by
John William Waterhouse
"...the woman opened up the cask ,And scattered pains
and evils among men."
Works and Days, Hesiod
When Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods, was young and
trying to establish his rule, he was challenged by a group
of ferocious Titans, who tried to keep him from gaining
power. A long and terrible war ensued, with all the
Olympian gods joined against the Titans, who were led by
Cronus and Atlas.
After ten years of fighting, and with the help of the
Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires (The
Hundred-Handed-Ones), Zeus and his fellow Olympians
defeated the Titans. Only a few Titans, including Themis,
Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus, fought on the
side of Zeus - against their fellow Titans - and once Zeus
won, he rewarded them.
But soon Prometheus made Zeus very angry by stealing
fire from Mount Olympus and giving it to the race of
mortal men living on earth, who were cold and hungry.
Zeus had warned Prometheus not to give fire to men, and
was outraged that anyone had the nerve to ignore his
Still, he would seem ungrateful if he appeared to forget
the importantrole that Prometheus and his brother
Epimetheus had played in the war against the Titans, and
he couldn't just kill the brothers, so he cunningly devised
a scheme to get even! PANDORA IS CREATED
In revenge, Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the god of smiths,
to craft a gorgeous woman out of earth and water. The
beautiful goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was asked to pose
as a model, just to make sure the woman was perfect.
Once this was done, the Four Winds (or some say
Hephaestus himself) breathed life into her and there she
lay sleeping, brand spanking new!
The first mortal woman on earth was to be bestowed
with unparalleled charm and beauty, and her unknown
mission would be to bring mischief and misery upon the
human race. Zeus then summoned the other Olympians
and asked them each to give this new creation a gift
Creation of Pandora, interior of Cylix,
470-460 B.C., British Museum,
London, England
Aphrodite adorned her with beauty, grace and desire;
Hermes, the Messenger god, gave her cunning and
boldness; Demeter showed her how to tend a garden;
Athena taught her manual dexterity and to spin; Apollo
taught her to sing sweetly and play the lyre; Poseidon's
gift was a pearl necklace and the god of the sea
promised her that she would never drown.
But Zeus also made her foolish, mischievous and idle.
This was the first woman, divine in appearance but quite
human in reality.
The gods called her Pandora, which means "All-gifted",
or "The gift of all", because each god had given her a
power by which she would work the ruin of man, and
because of the many presents bestowed upon her at
Lovely Pandora was created to become the wife of the
Titan Epimetheus, who was the not-very-bright brother
of Prometheus, the one who had gotten on Zeus' bad side.
Before sending her to earth, the gods held a big banquet
and Hermes, the Messenger god, presented Pandora with
a splendidly crafted jar (some say a box), adorned with
wonderful images. But Hermes warned Pandora that she
must never open the jar (box)!
She must NEVER open the box...And then Zeus' wife, Hera,
gave her the quality of curiosity! Tell me, is that fair?
They also gave her silvery raiment and a broidered veil,
and in her hair they placed bright garlands of fresh
flowers and a wonderful crown of gold. Her gowns were
most sumptuous and she was truly a vision from heaven.
When Pandora was finally brought out and shown to the
gods, resplendent in all the finery she had received,
great amazement and wonder took hold of them, such
was the effect of her beauty...
Desperate, Pandora took the box and locked it inside a
heavy wooden chest. She placed chains around the chest,
dug a hole, and buried it in her garden. With great effort
she rolled a huge boulder on top of the "grave",
determined to forget all about this object of her
She couldn't sleep that night. No matter how she tried,
her thoughts kept returning to the buried golden box.
She put on her robe and went out to the garden. As if in a
trance, Pandora found herself drawn to the boulder. She
reached out and touched the stone and like magic it
moved, revealing the hole. This must be a sign from
"You must never open the box!" As she dug the earth to
get to the box, the Messenger god's words rang in her
mind. "Never open the box!"
Pandora wanted to obey the command of the gods, and
she really wasn't wicked, but at last she could no longer
contain her curiosity. Taking the little golden key from
around her neck, she fitted it into the keyhole and gently
opened the box. Just a tiny bit, so that she could have a
little peek, you see, and then she was going to close it up
again. Just a little, tiny peek...It was her wedding gift,
after all...
Painting by John William Waterhouse
Bad move. No sooner had Pandora opened the box, that
she realized her mistake. A foul smell filled the air and
she heard swarming and rustling inside. In horror she
slammed the lid shut, but alas it was too late! The evil had
been unleashed!
You see, the vindictive gods had each put something
harmful inside the box. All the plagues and sorrows
known to humanity were released once Pandora opened
the jar. Old Age, Sickness, Insanity, Pestilence, Vice,
Passion, Greed, Crime, Death, Theft, Lies, Jealousy,
Famine, the list went on and on...every evil, that until then
had been trapped inside the gift from the gods, was now
loosed upon the earth.

Illustration by Padraic Colum (18811972) from

The Golden Fleece and the Heroes
Who Lived before Achilles, 1921.
First the scourges stung Pandora and Epimetheus on
every part of their body, then the evils scattered
throughout the world and mixed with the good, so that
they were indistinguishable, and humans had a hard time
telling between the two extremes. Entering a house,
these monster hang from the rafters and bide their time,
waiting for the perfect moment to swoop down and sting
their victim, bringing pain, pestilence, sorrow and death.
Woe was Pandora! The poor girl was terror-stricken at
what she had caused, and at this unexpected eruption of
evil. But just as she thought all was lost, one little Sprite,
a solitary good thing, hidden at the bottom of the jar, flew
It was Hope! Deep down inside the hateful jar was the
only thing that has sustained humanity in times of
sorrow, pain and misery - Hope. The endless Hope that
things will soon get better. And it's this Hope that keeps
us going to this very day, our sole comfort in times of
But before you go blaming all of society's ills on poor
lovely Pandora, the first woman and the ultimate pariah,
first consider the following question: Would you have
been disciplined enough to keep the jar/box shut, or
would you, like Pandora, let your curiosity get the best of
Hey, if it was MY wedding gift, I'd be opening it! Just so I
could send a Thank You note!
Here's an interesting aside: At a still later period, rather
than all the ills of the world, the box was said to have
contained all the blessings of the gods. These were
meant to have been preserved for the future benefit of
the human race. Pandora was instructed never to open
the box, but once again her curiosity got the better of
her, and she had a peek.
The winged blessings at once took flight and escaped,
rarely to be seen again. If only Pandora had kept the box
closed! Who knows what our world would be like!
Image from an ancient Greek vase
"And in her breast, the messenger, killer of Argos,
created lies; deceiving words, a deceitful heart, just as
Zeus with his angry mutterings had wished. Then the
herald of the gods gave her the power of speech and the
name of Pandora, because that name represented all the
inhabitants of Olympus who, with this gift, made a
present of misfortune to mankind."
Hessiod, Theogony
Examine the sequence of myths concerning Prometheus'
trick of the sacrifice, his theft of fire and the creation of
woman (Hesiod, Theogony 535-616, Works and Days
42-105), considering the following issues:
How are these myths related thematically to each other?
And in particular:
How do they collectively define and justify the
relationships between men and gods, men and animals,
men and women?
Compare and contrast what you consider to be the
purpose of these myths with that of the myth of Eden and
Adam and Eve in Genesis.
The works of Hesiod regarding the trick of the sacrifice,
the theft of fire and the creation of women have long
been regarded by analysts as being thematically linked
through the concept of the deceptive gift, the fall of
mankind from an era of utopia and the establishment of
relationships. In a purposive analysis, it is equally
possible to compare these myths and that of Adam and
Eve in the Eden of Genesis, with a number of striking
parallels and contrasts occurring. This essay will
attempt to account for the above thematic links, and
draw conclusions regarding the state of mankind in
Greek and Hebrew thinking.
Thematically, the myths found in Theogony 535-616 and
Works and Days 42-105 are interwoven, and it is
generally accepted that the differing versions of the
trick of the sacrifice, theft of fire and creation of woman
(and the ensuing results of this line of events) are
complementary, and that each myth elaborates the
barely-mentionedelements of the other. Three major
themes which are found in these myths are those of
deceptive gifts, the gradual fall of mankind, and the
establishment of relationships between gods, men,
women (once created), and animals. Regarding the
theme of deceptive gifts, it is possible to discern a
pattern which runs through the myths in question,
namely that each event is triggered in response to a
trap, trick or deception, finally establishing social norms
and causing humans to suffer more grievances than in
the past.
Although the different versions of the myths (Theogony
and Works and Days) do not agree whether men and
gods begin in a state of harmony or opposition1, both
versions agree that a state of tension between
Prometheus and Zeus occurs when the Titan attempts to
publicly deceive Zeus2 during the sharing of ox portions.
It is the deceptive gift offered by Prometheus to the
father of the gods - bones, not meat, concealed under fat
- that sets in motion a series of events that will have
serious ramifications for social hierarchies and ritual
practices; additionally, in allotting the various shares of
ox for both gods and men, men and gods are finally split
from an age where they dined together in harmony.
The theme of the deceptive gift is developed further in
the myths, with Zeus no longer giving (I.e., hiding3) fire
from the mortal men on earth, who have benefited
thanks to their protector's "tricking" of Zeus. It is
through this action that men are reduced to a state of
primitive bestiality, in that they are no longer able to
cook meat (thus eating raw meat, the practice of
omophagia, just like animals) and can no longer
communicate to the gods through sacrifice. Not on par
with gods in that they cannot breach the gap between
mortality and immortality, men are no longer stationed
above wild beasts, but are their equal. This lowering of
status is reversed by Prometheus, who steals fire and
carries it to give to men by hiding it in a fennel stalk4,
infuriating Zeus. In a way, however, the gods also benefit
from this theft, as they may now receive once more the
smoke of the burnt sacrifices.
The final deceptive gift is the woman created by various
gods on the command of Zeus - Pandora, "all-gifted"5, as
she is named in Works and Days. Created from the earth
by Hephaestos and animated by the power of the gods,
Pandora is not just given the face of a goddess and the
body of a beautiful virgin girl, but she is also given the
talents of deception, of lying, of consuming both food and
sex6, yet contributes nothing to the household. Pandora
is the ultimate dolos (trap), as she is irresistible, quite
literally: not only is she physically attractive to men, they
must marry for if they do not, then they are doomed to a
miserable aged existence. With the face of a goddess,
Pandora is linked to the immortals; with the "morals of a
bitch" (Hesiod, Works and Days), she is linked to animals.
Thus, as with man, woman is given a social status
halfway between the gods and the beasts that walk the
earth - not quite either, but a complex mixture of both. It
is the human condition, then, to be apart and ambiguous.
Marriage, sacrifice and ills that plague mankind are the
by-products of the standoff between Prometheus and
Zeus. Marriage, a crucial institution, governs the
relationship between men and women7, and is the second
evil that Zeus sends to men as a punishment,
simultaneously to the giving of Pandora in the very
best scenario, marriage is described by Hesiod as being
a mixture of good and evil. When Prometheus' foolish
brother Epimetheus (ignoring his older brother's
warning to accept nothing from Zeus) accepts Pandora,
he sets the precedent for marriage, which is considered
to be unprofitable - indeed, it is a liability. Pandora is
portrayed as a gaster8, a stomach which is never
satisfied. She has a relentless appetite for food (and
implicitly, sex), yet contributes nothing to the
household9. Even the children which she may bear are
ambiguous in nature: on the one hand, they will care for
their parents during their old age; on the other, the
division of the estate may occur if there is more than
one heir (it could also be insensitively argued that if a
child dies, then they may be considered to be an
economic loss to the household). Beautiful on the
outside, internally Pandora is worth no more than the
dirt from which she was formed, and exists solely to
make the lot of men harder in life. It is thus that she is a
deceptive gift, and that the relationship between men and
women are defined - this relationship is one of hardship.
The communications between gods and men through the
newly established ritual of sacrifice (the product of
Prometheus' trick at Mecone, and final splitting of men
from the gods) is another relationship set up due to the
sequence of events told by Hesiod in these myths. In
apportioning the shares of ox, men and gods are
irrevocably split. Yet more curiously, however, is the fall
of mankind, a theme which finds parallels in the myth told
in Genesis. Pandora carries with her, or within her, a
pithos (jar10) which contains all the evils of the world in
addition to the enigmatic elpis (hope). It is these evils,
when released by Pandora, which further contribute to
the degeneration of the state of man (as well as a
women, now that they exist), and this theme is analogous
to that of Adam and Eve. Moreover, hope is now the
perpetual state of human existence, and also defines man
as being halfway between gods and animals: "Whoever is
immortal, as the gods are, has no need of Elpis. Nor is
there any [... for beasts who are] ignorant of their
Genesis begins, as Hesiod, with a utopian setting, the
Garden of Eden, where man rules over animals, yet is
lesser than God. Woman, Eve12, is created not as a
deceptive gift to punish man, but as a companion for
Adam13 - unlike Pandora who is "unquestionably
inferior"14 to men. Despite this contrast between the
myths, a parallel lies in the fact that in both cases, it is
woman who directly causes the fall of mankind, ignoring
the progression of preceding events. Pandora wilfully
opens the mysterious jar (any admonition that she
should not do so has either never existed, or has been
left out by Hesiod on the assumption that the audience
would know of the jar and its significance), causing evils
to roam the earth by night and day, harming humans
forevermore - no longer do men die peacefully as they
once did before the advent of woman. This releasing of
evil is comparable to Eve partaking of the fruit15 on the
tree of knowledge of good and evil. Although forbidden to
eat this fruit, Eve does so, and additionally encourages
Adam to follow suit. Upon eating the fruit, Adam and Eve
lose their state of child-like innocence, and become
aware of their nakedness - this fall from innocence
compounds to be a fall from a blissful existence, when
the couple are banned from the Garden of Eden and
punished further by God's decree.
The punishments of Adam and Eve - to have to work hard
to gain sustenance (Adam), and to bear children with
hard labour (Eve) - correspond to the punishments on
humans which resulted from the original Promethean
trick of the sacrifice. Henceforth, men must work hard
to obtain food from the ground which had once simply
given grains without any difficulty16. Agriculture has been
established, another point of differentiation between man
and beast, who does not cultivate, but kills at random.
Not only must the ground be ploughed in order to gain
anything worthwhile, but the fertile ground of Pandora
must also be seeded in order for children to eventuate, a
necessity ordained by Zeus - if man has no children, then
his estate will be in jeopardy in the future, and he will
have nobody to look after him in his old age. Like with
Pandora, Adam and Eve are forced to have children by
God's decree " labour you shall bear children."
(Genesis 3:16)
The concept of the deceptive gift may also reside in
Genesis - why is the tree of knowledge of good and evil
placed in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Yet the
more prominent parallel theme to that of the Hesiodic
myths, aside from the fall of mankind, is the
establishment of relationships. Adam, like Pandora, is a
creation of earth - God forms him, animates him, and
places him in charge of the animals in Eden, as shown by
the fact that Adam is able to name them (and thus hold
mastery over them). Adam is thus subordinate to God,
yet above animals. The situation with Eve is more
ambiguous: it is interesting to note that after their fall
from grace, Adam names Eve, perhaps implying mastery.
This viewpoint has been questioned, as discussed earlier
in the essay.
The sequence of myths in Hesiod regarding the trick of
the sacrifice, the theft of fire and the creation of woman
are thematically linked through relationships, deceptive
gifts and the fall of man from a state of near-perfect
existence. A parallel to this set of myths may be found in
Genesis, in the myth of Adam, Eve, and the Garden of
Eden. In both, man originally exists in a world without
trouble; after the creation of woman, humans begin to
suffer as the woman in question (either Pandora or Eve)
sets in motion events which lead to a worsened situation
and future. Additionally, these myths show that man
holds a tenuous and ambiguous position between the
gods and beasts, and lives in a possibly unequal
partnership with his wife. The establishment of important
social customs such as marriage, agriculture and
sacrifice are the direct result of the original deception
of Prometheus. In sum, the myths contained in Theogony,
Works and Days, and Genesis are thematically
intertwined, all explaining why humans stand alone
between immortality and bestiality, why they must
suffer, and what roles both sexes must play. This is
perhaps best summarised by Jean-Pierre Vernant, who
Henceforward, there is a reverse aspect to everything:
contact can only be made with the gods through sacrifice
which at the same time consecrates the impassable
barrier between mortals and immortals; there can be no
happiness without unhappiness, no birth without death,
no abundance without toil, no Prometheus without
Epimetheusin a word, no Man without Pandora.17
1. In Theogony, men and gods are still united when they
meet to share the ox, whereas in Hesiod's Works
and Days, the scene is different, apparently a
confrontation in metis (wisdom) between the Titan
Prometheus (representing men) and the Olympian
Zeus (representing the gods).
2. It has long been a point of scholarly contention as to
whether or not Zeus was fooled by Prometheus at
this point. Zeus, embodying wisdom, technically
cannot be tricked according to Hesiod, who says that
"...there is no way to flee the mind of Zeus..."
(Hesiod, Works and Days). Others argue that this is
simply a glossing-over, and that Zeus has been
fooled, exactly like his father and grandfather before
3. That the text uses the word "giving" is significant, as
it links in with the theme of gifts: "He bore the trick
in mind, and would not give, / To wretched men who
live on earth, the power / of fire, which never
wearies." (Hesiod, Theogony)
4. It has been argued that gift giving is a cultural
refinement of the act of taking, and that in giving a
gift, social obligations are imposed (refer to Nagy, p.
191 for further discussion). Here, Prometheus takes
what is not given, then gives it through deception
(hiding it in the fennel stalk).
5. Hermes names Pandora this as she receives a skill,
item or element from many different gods. It is
interesting to note that "Pandora" was also a title
connected with the concept of the earth mother, in
that the earth gave life to all. Hesiod does not
recognise this connection, nor does he recognise
that men henceforth are from women born -
Pandora is said to be the progenitor of the female
"race" "From her comes all the race of
womankind..." (Hesiod, Theogony).
6. For further discussion of the concept of Pandora as
an economic liability to men, refer to Zeitlin, pp.
7. It is additionally a point of separation between men
and beasts, who often mate somewhat at random.
For the purposes of this essay, I defined 'marriage'
in a traditional way.
8. This word corresponds to the gaster in which the ox
meat is hidden during the trick of the sacrifice.
9. Hesiod choses to ignore the fact that Athena is said
to have taught Pandora how to weave.
10. The jar has long been under academic scrutiny.
Many analysts believe it to represent female
sexuality, and yet others connect it to the general
concept of fertility. For further discussion of these
matters see Reeder, pp. 195-99 and Powell, pp.
11. Vernant, p. 184
12. Eve means "mother of all", a link to the earth
goddess connections regarding the name Pandora.
13. It has long been a matter of debate as to
whether Eve, created from the rib of Adam, is
subordinate to him or not. Although traditionally
regarded as such, it has been argued that "...the
woman is created as the man's full, equal partner..."
O'Brien and Major, p. 92
14. Reeder, p. 278
15. Long regarded as being an apple, the more
general word 'fruit' has been used to acknowledge
the belief of several academics that this naming is
formed merely from the fact that in Latin, the word
malum is used to mean both 'apple' and 'bad'.
16. In Hesiod's Works and Days, the situation is
given at the trick of the sacrifice that men and gods
are already split, as the gods are portrayed as
having hidden bios (grains) from humans. This may
be considered to mean that the ability to easily gain
food by cultivation is no longer an option for men.
17. Vernant, p. 185

Primary Sources:
References to Hesiod (Theogony 535-616 and Works
and Days 42-105) and Genesis are from my Classics
lecture handout - sorry, I can't give specific
bibliographic details.
Secondary Sources:
G.S. Kirk, Myth Its Meaning and Functions in
Ancient and Other Cultures (London, 1970) pp.
G.S. Kirk, The Nature of Greek Myths
(Harmondsworth, 1974) pp. 136-143
J.F. Nagy, 'The Deceptive Gift in Greek Mythology' in
Arethusa Vol. 14 (1981) pp. 191-204
J. O'Brien and W. Major, In the Beginning Creation
Myths from Ancient Mesopotamia, Israel and Greece
(1982) pp. 80-122
B.B. Powell, Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River,
2004) pp. 111-23
E.D. Reeder, 'Pandora' in Pandora Women in
Classical Greece, ed. E.D. Reeder (Baltimore, 1995)
pp. 277-279
E.D. Reeder, 'Women as Containers' in Pandora
Women in Classical Greece, ed. E.D. Reeder
(Baltimore, 1995) pp. 195-199
J-P. Vernant, Myth and Society in Ancient Greece,
trans. T. Lloyd (Brighton, 1980) pp. 168-85
F.I. Zeitlin, 'The Economics of Hesiod's Pandora' in
Pandora Women in Classical Greece, ed. E.D.
Reeder (Baltimore, 1995) pp. 49-55
the first woman on Earth

The story of Pandora came into prominence in

Theogeny, Hesiods epic poem, written circa 800 BC.
The myth dates back to the first centuries of humanity,
just after the Titanomachy, the Great War between the
Titans and the Olympians. It is interesting to note that the
reference to Pandoras Box came only in the 16th
century from Erasmus of Rotterdam. The bottom line is
that the entire story about Pandora was fabricated. It
may be considered as a misogynist stand that the
creation of woman was the harbinger of all evil on this

The creation of Pandora

All started from a gathering of the gods, where the

Titans were also invited. The gathering had been
organized to decide who would be favored with the better
portion of a sacrifice. Prometheus, the Titan who later
stole the fire from the Gods and gave it to humanity, had
deviously presented the sacrifice in such a manner that
Zeus chose the portion that looked more appealing when
in fact it was just bones presented in a tempting manner.
Outraged at this mockery, Zeus decided to take revenge
and get even with Prometheus. Zeus charged
Hephaestus, the god of smiths and master of crafts, with
creating a dazzlingly beautiful woman, one that would
appear irresistible to either god or man. To accomplish
this feat Aphrodite, the goddess of love, posed as a
model for the creation of the statue.

The woman was molded of earth and water and once the
body was ready, the Four Winds breathed life into it. She
was then given gifts from all the Olympian gods.
Aphrodite gave to her unparalleled beauty, grace and
desire. Hermes, the messenger god, gave her a cunning,
deceitful mind and a crafty tongue. Athena clothed her
and taught her to be deft with her hands. Poseidon
bestowed on her a pearl necklace that would prevent her
from drowning. Apollo taught her to play the lyre and to
sing. Zeus gave her a foolish, mischievous and idle
nature and last but not least, Hera gave her the wiliest
gift, curiosity. Thus, the first mortal woman was born
and she descended down to earth. Her name was
Pandora, meaning all-gifted, implying all the gifts she had
received from gods. Along with her, Hermes gave a
gilded and intricately carved box, a gift from Zeus with
an explicit warning that she must never open it, come
what may. Draped in raiment fit for the gods, she was
presented to Epimetheus, Prometheus' half-brother.

Opening the box

Epimetheus had been told by his brother never to accept

any gift from Zeus. Prometheus was well aware that Zeus
was still angry with him for his effrontery at the
gathering and would try to get his revenge. However, one
look at Pandora was all it took for Epimetheus to fall in
crazy love with her and marry her without thought or
consideration. He was truly enchanted with her. To
congratulate them, Hermes came to the wedding
ceremony and told Epimetheus that Pandora was a gift
from Zeus, a peace-offer signifying that there were no
more ill feelings between the chief of the gods and
Prometheus. He also told Epimetheus that the gilded box
of Pandora was a wedding gift from the Olympian King.
Being a bit credulous, Epimetheus believed Hermes
words to be true. Unfortunately, Prometheus advice had
fallen on deaf ears.

The days were passing quickly and the two were leading
a happy, married life but one thought was still at the
back of Pandoras mind: what was in the box that Zeus
had given her? She kept thinking that maybe the box had
money in it, nice clothes or even jewelry. Without thought
or reason, she would find herself walking past the box
and involuntarily reaching out to open it. Every time, she
was reminding herself that she had vowed never to open
the box. Heras gift of curiosity had worked and one day,
unable to take it any more, she decided to have just a
brief look inside. When nobody was around, she fitted a
golden key hanging around her neck to the lock on the
box. Turning the key slowly, she unlocked the box and
lifted the lid only for a while. Before she knew it, there
was a hissing sound and a horrible odor permeated the
air around her. Terrified, she slammed the lid down but it
was too late.

Pandora had released all the wickedness and

malevolence that Zeus had locked into the box. That time,
she understood that she was a mere pawn in a great
game played by the gods. In that gilded box, Zeus had
hidden all everything that would plague man forever:
sickness, death, turmoil, strife, jealousy, hatred, famine,
passion everywhere the evil spread. Pandora felt the
weight of the world on her shoulders and looked at the
gilded box that had turned rusty and hideous. As if
sensing her need, a warm and calming feeling shrouded
her and she knew that not all was lost. Unknown to her,
along with the evil feelings, she had also revealed hope,
the only good thing that Zeus had trapped inside the box.
From now on, hole would live with man forever, to give
him succor just when he felt that everything was coming
to an end.

Pandora's box

The modern phrase Pandoras box derives from this

myth. It is used to say that a certain action provoked
many evils, just like Pandoras action to open the box
released all the evils of humanity. However, despite
these evils, we humans still have hope to encourage us.
This phrase was produced by the Dutch humanist and
theologian Erasmus of Rotterdam in the 16th century,
when he translated the poem of Hesiod.

Pandora and Eve

In this myth, we can observe some similarities with the

Christian story of Adam and Eve. Just like Pandora in
ancient Greece, Eve was known as the first woman on
earth in Hebrew history. Even the creation of the two
women is similar:

Pandora was made of earth and water and Eve from the
rib of Adam, the first man on earth, who was in his turn
made of slay.
Another similarity is that they both disobeyed god:
Pandora opened the box and unleashed evil in the world
and Eve tempted Adam to eat the forbidden apple, against
Gods will.

Some accounts maintain that Pandora tempted

Epimetheus into opening the box. However, both women
brought ruin and misfortune upon men who had so far
lived in a paradisiacal world, free from all sins.

Pandora and Eve are considered as the progenitors of

the human race and because of their curiosity, the world
is cursed today. Interestingly, Pandora was created with
vicious intentions but not so Eve, who was simply created
to be Adams companion.
The treachery lay in the role of Hermes and the Snake
respectively. In Pandora, Hermes instilled that she must
never open the box and had Hera not gifted her
curiosity, it may have remained closed forever. In the
Garden of Eden, the Snake tempted Eve to eat the
forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and Life,
bringing about realization and shame. From these two
stories, we can imply that women have forever been
seen as perpetrators of all that is deceitful and
therefore women are to blame for every evil on this
Pandora & Hephaestus

Pandora & Hephaestus, Athenian red-figureamphora

C5th B.C., Ashmolean Museum
PANDORA was the very first woman who was formed out
of clay by the gods. The Titan Prometheus had originally
been assigned with the task of creating man. But
because he was displeased with their lot, stole fire from
heaven. Zeus was angered, and commanded Hephaistos
and the other gods to create a woman, Pandora, and
endow her with the beauty and cunning. He then
delivered her to Epimetheus, the foolish younger brother
of Prometheus, for a bride. When he had received her
into his house, Pandora opened the pithos (storage jar)
which Zeus had given her as a wedding present, and
released the swarm of evil spirits trapped within. They
would ever afterwards plague mankind. Only Elpis (Hope)
remained behind, a single blessing to succor mankind in
their suffering.

Pandora's daughter Pyrrha (Fire) was the first-born

mortal child. She and her husband Deukalion alone
survived the Great Deluge. To repopulate the earth they
each cast stones over their shoulder. Those cast by
Deukalion formed men, and those of Pyrrha women.
In ancient Greek vase painting Pandora was depicted in
the scene of her creation as either a statue-like figure
surrounded by gods, or as a woman rising out of the
earth (the anodos). Sometimes she is surrounded by
dancing Satyroi, in a scene from a lost S
PANDORA (Pandra), i. e. the giver of all, or endowed
with every thing, is the name of the first woman on earth.
When Prometheus had stolen the fire from heaven, Zeus
in revenge caused Hephaestus to make a woman out of
earth, who by her charms and beauty should bring
misery upon the human race (Hes. Theog. 571, &c.; Stob.
Serin. 1). Aphrodite adorned her with beauty, Hermes
gave her boldness and cunning, and the gods called her
Pandora, as each of the Olympians had given her some
power by which she was to work the ruin of man. Hermes
took her to Epimetheus, who forgot the advice of his
brother Prometheus, not to accept any gift from Zeus,
and from that moment all miseries came down upon men
(Hes. Op. et Dies, 50, &c.). According to some
mythographers, Epimetheus became by her the father of
Pyrrha and Deucalion (Hygin. Fab. 142; Apollod. i. 7. 2 ;
Procl. ad Hes. Op. p. 30, ed. Heinsius; Ov. Met. i. 350);
others make Pandora a daughter of Pyrrha and
Deucalion (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 23). Later writers speak
of a vessel of Pandora, containing all the blessings of the
gods, which would have been preserved for the human
race, had not Pandora opened the vessel, so that the
winged blessings escaped irrecoverably. The birth of
Pandora was represented on the pedestal of the statue
of Athena, in the Parthenon at Athens (Paus. i. 24. 7). In
the Orphic poems Pandora occurs as an infernal awful
divinity, and is associated with Hecate and the Erinnyes
(Orph. Argon. 974). Pandora also occurs as a surname
of Gaea (Earth), as the giver of all.atyr-play of
Sophokles. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Av. 970; Philostr. Vit.
Apoll. vi. 39; Hesych. s.v.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and
Homer, The Iliad 24. 527 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek
epic C8th B.C.) :
"There are two urns (pithoi) that stand on the door-sill
of Zeus. They are unlike for the gifts they bestow : an urn
of evils (kakoi), an urn of blessings (droi). If Zeus who
delights in thunder mingles these and bestows them on
man, he shifts, and moves now in evil, again in good
fortune. But when Zeus bestows from the urn of
sorrows, he makes a failure of man, and hte evil hunger
drives him over the shining earth, and he wanders
resepected neither of gods nor mortals."
[N.B. Later writers describe Zeus giving one of these two
jars to Pandora. The poets were at odds as to which jar
she received--Hesiod says the jar of evils (kakoi), but
Theognis and Aesop claim it was the jar of blessings
(droi). The name Pan-dra ("all-gifts") naturally
suggests the latter.]
Hesiod, Works & Days 54 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek
epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"The gods keep hidden from men the means of life . . .
Zeus in the anger of his heart hid it, because Prometheus
the crafty deceived him; therefore he planned sorrow
and mischief against men. He hid fire; but that the noble
son of Iapetus stole again for men from Zeus the
counsellor in a hollow fennel-stalk, so that Zeus who
delights in thunder did not see it. But afterwards Zeus
who gathers the clouds said to him in anger : `Son of
Iapetos, surpassing all in cunning, you are glad that you
have outwitted me and stolen fire--a great plague to you
yourself and to men that shall be. But I will give men as
the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be
glad of heart while they
embrace their own destruction.'
So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud.
And he bade famous Hephaistos make haste and mix
earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of
human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape,
like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to
teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web;
and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and
cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he
charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in
her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature. So he
ordered. And they obeyed the lord Zeus the son of
Kronos. Forthwith the famous Lame God moulded clay in
the likeness of a modest maid, as the son of Kronos
purposed. And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded
and clothed her, and the divine Kharites (Graces) and
queenly Peitho (Persuasion) put necklaces of gold upon
her, and the rich-haired Horai (Seasons) crowned her
head with spring flowers. And Pallas Athene bedecked
her form with all manners of finery. Also the Guide, the
Slayer of Argus [Hermes], contrived within her lies and
crafty words and a deceitful nature at the will of loud
thundering Zeus, and the Herald of the gods put speech
in her. And he called this woman Pandora (All-Gifts),
because all they who dwelt on Olympus gave each a gift,
a plague to men who eat bread.

But when he had finished the sheer, hopeless snare, the

Father sent glorious Argus-Slayer [Hermes], the swift
messenger of the gods, to take it to Epimetheus as a gift.
And Epimetheus did not think on what Prometheus had
said to him, bidding him never take a gift of Olympian
Zeus, but to send it back for fear it might prove to be
something harmful to men. But he took the gift, and
afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he
understood. For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth
remote and free from ills (kakoi) and hard toil (ponoi)
and heavy sickness (nosoi) which bring the Keres (Fates)
upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the
woman took off the great lid of the jar (pithos) with her
hands and scattered all these and her thought caused
sorrow and mischief to men. Only Elpis (Hope) remained
there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the
great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the
lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aigis-holding Zeus
who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues
(lugra), wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils
and the sea is full. Of themselves diseases (nosoi) come
upon men continually by day and by night, bringing
mischief to mortals silently; for wise Zeus took away
speech from them. So is there no way to escape the will
of Zeus."

T22.1 T22.2 T22.3 DANCING
Hesiod, Theogony 510 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek
epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Scatter-brained Epimetheus who from the first was a
mischief to men who eat bread; for it was he who first
took of Zeus the woman [i.e. Pandora], the maiden whom
he had formed."
Hesiod, Theogony 560 ff :
"[Zeus] was always mindful of the trick [of Prometheus
who won for mankind the meat of the sacrificial beast],
and would not give the power of unwearying fire to the
Melian race of mortal men who live on the earth. But the
noble son of Iapetos [Prometheus] outwitted him and
stole the far-seen gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow
fennel stalk. And Zeus who thunders on high was stung in
spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he saw
amongst men the far-seen ray of fire. Forthwith he made
an evil thing for men as the price of fire; for the very
famous Limping God [Hephaistos] formed of earth the
likeness of a shy maiden [i.e. Pandora] as the son of
Kronos willed. And the goddess bright-eyed Athene
girded and clothed her with silvery raiment, and down
from her head she spread with her hands an
embroidered veil, a wonder to see; and she, Pallas
Athene, put about her head lovely garlands, flowers of
new-grown herbs. Also she put upon her head a crown of
gold which the very famous Limping God made
himself and worked with his own hands as a favor to Zeus
his father. On it was much curious work, wonderful to
see; for of the many creatures which the land and sea
rear up, he put most upon it, wonderful things, ike living
beings with voices: and great beauty shone out from it.

But when he had made the beautiful evil to be the price

for the blessing, he brought her out, delighting in the
finery which the bright-eyed daughter of a mighty father
had given her, to the place where the other gods and
men were. And wonder took hold of the deathless gods
and mortal men when they saw that which was sheer
guile, not to be withstood by men. For from her is the
race of women and female kind : of her is the deadly race
and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their
great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only
in wealth. And as in thatched hives bees feed the drones
whose nature is to do mischief--by day and throughout
the day until the sun goes down the bees are busy and
lay the white combs, while the drones stay at home in the
covered hives and reap the toil of others into their own
bellies--even so Zeus who thunders on high made women
to be an evil to mortal men, with a nature to do evil. And l
he gave them a second evil to be the price for the good
they had: whoever avoids marriage and the sorrows that
women cause, and will not wed, reaches deadly old
age without anyone to tend his years, and though he at
least has no lack of livelihood while he lives, yet, when he
is dead, his kinsfolk divide his possessions amongst
them. And as for the man who chooses the lot of
marriage and takes a good wife suited to his mind, evil
continually contends with good; for whoever happens to
have mischievous children, lives always with unceasing
grief in his spirit and heart within him; and this evil
cannot be healed. So it is not possible to deceive or go
beyond the will of Zeus : for not even the son of Iapetos,
kindly Prometheus, escaped his heavy anger, but of
necessity strong bands confined him, although he knew
many a wile."
Theognis, Fragment 1. 1135 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek
Elegiac) (Greek elegy C6th B.C.) :
"Elpis (Hope) is the only good god remaining among
mankind; the others have left and gone to Olympos. Pistis
(Trust), a mighty god has gone, Sophrosyne (Restraint)
has gone from men, and the Kharites (Graces), my
friend, have abandoned the earth. Mens judicial oaths
are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone revere the
immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and
men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of
piety." [N.B. Theognis' account is the inverse of Hesiod's :
the good spirits escaped from Pandora's jar, abandoning
mankind in their flight to heaven.]
Aesop, Fables 526 (from Babrius 58) (trans. Gibbs)
(Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"Zeus gathered all the useful things together in a jar and
put a lid on it. He then left the jar in human hands. But
man had no self-control and he wanted to know what was
in that jar, so he pushed the lid aside, letting those things
go back to the abode of the gods. So all the good things
flew away, soaring high above the earth, and Elpis (Hope)
was the only thing left. When the lid was put back on the
jar, Elpis (Hope) was kept inside. That is why Elpis (Hope)
alone is still found among the people, promising that she
will bestow on each of us the good things that have gone
away." [N.B. By "in human hands," the story o Pandora
delivering the jar to mankind is implied. However, in this
version it is apparently the husband who opens it.]
Aesop, Fables 525 (from Chambry 1) (trans. Gibbs)
(Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"The Good Things were too weak to defend themselves
from the Bad Things, so the Bad Things drove them off to
heaven. The Good Things then asked Zeus how they could
reach mankind. Zeus told them that they should not go
together all at once, only one at a time. This is why
people are constantly besieged by Bad Things, since they
are nearby, while Good Things come more rarely, since
they must descend to us from heaven one by one." [N.B.
This fable describes the spirits which had fled Pandora's
jar. It also refers to the two jars by the throne of Zeus in
the Iliad, one containing Good Things, the other Evils.]
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 250 ff (trans. Weir
Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Prometheus : Yes, I caused mortals to cease foreseeing
their doom (moros).f Chorus : Of what sort was the cure
that you found for this affliction?
Prometheus : I caused blind hopes (elpides) to dwell
within their breasts.
Chorus : A great benefit was this you gave to mortals."
[N.B. This is presumably a reference to Pandora's jar, a
curse concocted by Zeus to punish mankind for the theft
of fire. Prometheus seems to be saying that he was the
one who stayed Hope inside the jar, when the other evils
Aeschylus, Fragment 204 (from Proclus, Commentary on
Hesiods Works and Days 156) :
"A mortal woman from out a seed moulded of clay [i.e
Sophocles, Pandora (lost play) (C5th B.C.) :
Sophocles wrote a Satyr-play entitled Pandora or
Sphyrocopi which dramatised the story of the first
woman. Plato, Protagoras 320c - 322a (trans. Lamb)
(Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"Prometheus stole the mechanical arts of Hephaistos
and Athene, and fire with them (they could neither have
been acquired nor used without fire), and gave them to
man . . . But Prometheus is said to have been afterwards
prosecuted for theft, owing to the blunder of Epimetheus
[i.e. because he accepted Pandora from Zeus]."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 46 (trans. Aldrich)
(Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Prometheus had a son Deukalion, who was king of the
lands round Phthia and was married to Pyrrha, the
daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, the first woman
created by the gods."
Euphorion of Chalcis, Fragments (trans. Page, Vol. Select
Papyri III, No. 121 (2b)) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.): "Pandora,
donor of evil (kakodros), mans sorrow self-imposed."
Strabo, Geography 9. 5. 23 (trans. Jones) (Greek
geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[The region of] Thessalia. But speaking of it as a whole, I
may say that in earlier times it was called Pyrrhaia,
after Pyrrha the wife of Deukalion . . . But some writers,
dividing it into two parts, say that Deukalion obtained the
portion towards the south and called it Pandora after his
mother [i.e. his mother-in-law], and that the other part
fell to Haimon, after whom it was called Haimonia, but
that the former name was changed to Hellas, after Hellen
the son of Deukalion, and the latter to Thessalia, after the
son of Haimon." [N.B. Pyrrha was the daughter of
Pandora, and wife of Deukalion. Deukalion named parts of
the region of Thessalia after his wife and mother-in-law.]
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 24. 7 (trans. Jones)
(Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"On the pedestal [of the statue of Athena on the
Akropolis, Athens] is the birth of Pandora in relief.
Hesiod and others have sung how this Pandora was the
first woman; before Pandora was born there was as yet
no womankind."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 142 (trans. Grant) (Roman
mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Prometheus, son of Iapetus, first fashioned men from
clay. Later Vulcanus [Hephaistos], at Joves [Zeus']
command, made a womans form from clay. Minerva
[Athene] gave it life, and the rest of the gods each gave
come other gift. Because of this they named her
Pandora. She was given in marriage to Prometheus
brother Epimetheus. Pyrrha was her daughter, and was
said to be the first mortal born." Nonnus, Dionysiaca 7. 7
ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Aion, Father Time, addresses Zeus :] `But, some may
say, a medicine [Hope] has been planted to make
long-suffering mortals forget their troubles, to save
their lives. Would that Pandora had never opened the
heavenly cover of that jar--she the sweet bane of
o Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
o Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
o Hesiod, Works & Days - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
o Greek Elegaic Theognis, Fragments Greek Elegaic
C6th B.C.
o Aesop, Fables - Greek Fables C6th B.C.
o Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound - Greek Tragedy C5th
o Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
o Plato, Protagoras - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
o Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd
o Greek Papyri III Euphorion, Fragments - Greek Epic
C3rd B.C.
o Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. -
C1st A.D.
o Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue
C2nd A.D.
o Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
o Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
o Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
Did Pandora bring trouble or transformation for women?

When Pandora opened the box and released the spites,

was she merely the bringer of spites or the bringer of
the vessel of transformation of feminine energies?
During my studies of goddess mythology I was struck by
the myth of Pandora and her "box". Here was a myth of
the first woman that continues to haunt the image of
women even today. Foolish Pandora, who opened the
forbidden casket and released the Spites - Old Age,
Labor, Sickness, Insanity, Vice, and Passion - to spread
and cover the earth. Was she merely the bringer of
spites, the revengeful curse of Zeus, or was she as the
mother of life also bringer of the vessel of
transformation of feminine energies?
Only examination of the Greek version of the myth within
the larger framework of "creation and fall" mythic
themes, can reveal to us clues about the feminine psyche
and its evolution. All of the psychological literature of the
last twenty-five years has not dispelled the cultural and
spiritual shadow that surrounds the image of woman.
The two myths still prevalent today are the
Adam/Eve/Serpent and
Pandora/Epimetheus/Prometheus stories depicting the
first woman and the fall. In these myths the primordial
images of beauty/hag, innocence/temptation, and
obedience/disobedience are developed. With the coming
of woman, man's paradise is ruptured, and the duality of
time/eternity, good/evil and birth/death is begun. Much
has been written about the Adam and Eve story, but little
has been written about Pandora. The Greek and
Judeo-Christian versions of the Eve and Pandora myths
serve to propagandize the message of the early
patriarchy about the status of women at that time.
Forthwith he made an evil thing for men as the Price of
fire; for the very famous Limping God formed of earth
the likeness of a shy maiden as the son of Cronus willed.
And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed
her with silvery raiment, and down from her head she
spread with her hands a embroidered veil, a wonder to
And she, Pallas Athene, put about her head lovely
garlands, flowers of new grown herbs.
Also she put upon her head a crown of gold which the
very famous Limping God made himself and worked with
his own hands as a favor to Zeus his father. On it was
much curious work wonderful to see; for of the many
creatures which the land and sea rear up, he put most
upon it, wonderful things, like living beings with voices:
and great beauty shone out from it. (Evelyn-White, 1950,
pp. 120ff)
Pandora is portrayed as the product of Hephaestus'
craft and Zeus's guile, - Zeus's curse for the theft of fire
by Prometheus. She was fashioned as a bewitching
beauty endowed with gifts from all the gods and
Feminists have said that women today can "have it all"
which contains an element of truth, as Pandora means
"all gifts", but given the requirements of the patriarchal
society, today's Pandora can manifest only a few gifts if
she is lucky.
And as for beauty, modern day Pandora is fashioned by
the incarnate Hephaestus skilled as plastic surgeon with
liposuction, face lifts, plastic implants and body
contouring. The seductive beautification process has
become limited to the physical body. Instead of Pandora
as an image of the all-gifted, we have the anorexic,
addicted star, princess or first lady who fight the
ravages of time and duality with physical escapes. The
quasi-feminist business woman who adorns herself in
men's clothing and adopts men's behavior, crashes into
the invisible corporate barrier and is dazed and
perplexed. She doesn't realize that her male competitors
sense that it may be Pandora with her box that is
knocking on the doors of power.
The ritual of the bachelor party is still prevalent today,
where the groom is given one last good fling before he
goes to his doom. Professor Henry Higgins in the modern
musical, based on "Pygmalion", Lerner and Lowe's "My
Fair Lady" quips....
Let a woman in your life and you're plunging in a knife.
Let the others of my sex tie the knot around their necks,
I'd prefer a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition than to
ever let a woman in my life!.....Women are irrational,
that's all there is to that. Their heads are full of cotton,
hay and rags. They're nothing but exasperating,
irritating, fascinating, calculating, agitating, maddening,
and infuriating hags! (Lerner and Lowe, 1959, p. 112)
The curse is alive today and Pandora is still the "fatal
attraction", adorned by the fashion designers whose
models may be anorexias in beauty's garb. Poor Pandora
was she really meant to become the projected vision of
an angular masculine twig with no bosom, no rounded
hip, no fertility? What has become of her magic girdle,
her crown of gold, her iridescent gown, woven by Athene
herself, the master weaver? And what of the aging crone
with Aphrodite fading who has nothing left but the blame
because she may be deserted by her husband who goes
off with another Pandora, she is left with Rhea-coronis,
the death aspect.
Owning the myth of Pandora for today's woman means to
be willing to live with the knowledge of the curses and
the gifts, to be wholly conscious of the dark and the light
side of her own psyche, and to be willing to enter into the
process of transformation of the feminine as expressed
within her and as expressed within the collective.
Without fight or flight, without revenge, without sex
change or facsimile, without taking on the appearances
or mannerisms of the masculine, each woman is
challenged as never before to embrace Pandora. To get
in touch with the inner Pandora is to embrace one's
seductress, insatiable curiosity, deceiving beauty,
cunning Trickster, spinner and weaver, politician,
creator/destroyer, daughter/mother, and virgin/whore
For the hope shut up within the box is delusive Hope to
keep us hoping for a return to lost paradise. As Hillman
so aptly puts it:
"Because hope has this core of illusion it favors
repression. By hoping for the 'status quo ante', we
repress the present state of weakness and suffering and
all it can bring. Postures of strength are responsible for
many major complaints today - ulcers, vascular and
coronary conditions, high blood-pressure, stress
syndrome, alcoholism, highway and sport accidents,
mental breakdown. The will to fall ill, like the suicide
impulse, leads patient and physician face to face with
morbidity, which stubbornly returns in spite of all hope
to the contrary." (Hillman, 1976, p.158).
While Hope is considered to be an inherent and
instinctual gift of optimism in humans, it has been
misunderstood in the context of the Pandora myth. This
misunderstanding is still with us today commemorated in
the custom of the bride's Hope Chest, filled with gifts and
adornments to grace a future home.
A delusional Hope is born of the Trickster archetype.
Anthropologist Angeles Arrien approaches the subject
this way: In Wokini, Olympic runner Billy Mills offers eight
lies of Iktumi (the trickster or liar figure) from the
Lakota tradition that can jeopardize happiness or set up
obstacles in a person's life. Iktumi's ancient invitation to
self-deception follows:
If only I were rich, then I would be happy.
If only I were famous, then I would be happy.
If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would
be happy.
If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.
If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.
If only I weren't physically handicapped in any way, then I
would be happy.
If only someone close to me hadn't died, then I could be
If only the world were a better place, then I would be
None of these illusions is true in relationship to our
happiness and salvation. We obsessively strive at work
and at home for as many of the eight illusions as we
can... things that Iktumi tells us will make us happy. Once
these goals are attained we are often stunned to find
ourselves still without satisfaction, still without meaning,
or still without happiness. According to Iktomi's ways,
ceasing to strive for meaning and happiness allows us to
become liberated from our own fear and false
If women can understand that the underlying power and
wholeness of the feminine is the mediatrix of life/death,
consciousness/un-consciousness then they no longer
will carry the reflection of the masculine projection of
the evil "bringer". In turn, the men may be forced inward
to own the feminine aspects within themselves.
The new emerging mythic psychology calls for us to
penetrate these inner domains and encounter the sacred
images normally hidden from view. Like shamans, and
like Orpheus and Persephane, we learn to journey to the
underworld reality and return to the waking world. We
learn to incorporate the mythic dimension within the
physical, and be the knower of both.

Pandora (1861) by Pierre Loison (18161886)

In Greek mythology, Pandora (Greek: ,
derived from , pn, i.e. "all" and , dron,
i.e. "gift", thus "the all-endowed", "the all-gifted" or "the
all-giving") was the first human woman created by the
gods, specifically by Hephaestus and Athena on the
instructions of Zeus. As Hesiod related it, each god
helped create her by giving her unique gifts. Zeus
ordered Hephaestus to mold her out of earth as part of
the punishment of humanity for Prometheus' theft of the
secret of fire, and all the gods joined in offering her
"seductive gifts". Her other nameinscribed against her
figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museumis
Anesidora, "she who sends up gifts" (up implying "from
below" within the earth).
According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar (pithos), in
modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as
"Pandora's box" (see below), releasing all the evils of
humanityalthough the particular evils, aside from
plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by
Hesiodleaving only Hope inside once she had closed it
The Pandora myth is a kind of theodicy, addressing the
question of why there is evil in the world.
Pandora's Box - origins
What type of myth is this?

Zeus wishes to punish mankind
Pandora s Box is an origin myth the attempt to explain
the beginning of something.
People have always wanted to know why things happen in
the world the way they do. Before there was much
science, they did not have much understanding of how
the world works, but they still wanted to know, just as
much as we do. Human curiosity always asks why .. and
then human creativity finds ways of giving an answer.
There are many myths, across all cultures, which
attempt to explain the beginnings of human beings and
why there are evil things like disease, hate and war in
the world. In many stories, these evils are released
because humans disobey gods.
You may like to compare the story of Pandora with the
story of Adam and Eve. Do you know any other similar
stories from other cultures?
Are there other versions of the story?
Pandora Creation

The story of Pandora and her box comes from Ancient

Greece and is very old. Because of this, there are
several versions of the myth.
In Greek mythology, Pandora (meaning all-giving) was
the first woman on earth. Before humans there were the
immortals (the Gods and Titans). The brothers,
Prometheus and Epimetheus were Titans (Giant people)
who had fought on the Gods side in a war. Some say they
were cousins of Zeus, king of the gods; he asked
Prometheus to create man out of clay and water (in
many versions Hephaestus helps in this). Epimetheus had
to create the animals and give them their gifts of
courage, swiftness etc. He gave out all the gifts and had
none left for Man. So Prometheus decides to make man
stand upright, like the gods, and give them fire (which
Zeus did not want them to have some say he had
removed it as a punishment). So Prometheus stole fire
some say from Zeus lightning, others from the sun and
yet others from Hephaestus forge.
Most agree that Zeus asked Hephaestus to make Pandora
(the first woman) also out of earth and water, and he
intended her to be a punishment. Each god and goddess
gave Pandora a gift (talent), of beauty, charm, music etc
but also others, like curiosity and persuasion gifts that
could be used for good or ill.
Then Pandora was given a container in the original
Greek stories it was a jar and did not become a box until
the Sixteenth century AD. A scholar called Erasmus, who
lived in Rotterdam in Holland, translated a story of
Pandora from Hesiods work. Hesiod was a Greek poet
who lived about 700BC. Erasmus was translating the
Greek into Latin (which scholars did all their writing in, in
those days) and translated the Greek word pithos
meaning jar into the Latin word pyxis meaning box. And
a box it has stayed to this day!
How did the myth arise?

Pandora's Jar
Originally a Jar?
It arose as a way of explaining why dreadful things
happened, such as people getting sick and dying.
As in many origin myths, man had lived in a world without
worry until this jar / box was opened, which contained
ills for mankind. Zeus knew that Pandoras curiosity
would mean that she could not stop herself from opening
it, especially when he had told her that she must not do
Many other myths also explain the ills of the world by
saying they are caused by human disobedience of a gods
(Though some versions of this story say that the box was
a real gift and the box held good things for mankind,
which Pandora let escape from the box, and fly away
forever, only catching Hope.)
Even Hope itself has been argued about by scholars not
everyone agreeing that it is a great good that maybe
Zeus meant it as an evil also otherwise it would not
have been in a jar of evil. Others believe that Zeus may
have relented a little, and put Hope in to help mankind
through the hard times that the other gifts would bring.
What does it mean to us today?
Pandora's Box

Today, Pandoras box means a source of troubles. When

we talk about opening Pandoras box, we use it as a
metaphor to mean that we may not know what we are
getting ourselves into! Sometimes, that we do not always
know how something we have started may end, that we
do not know the consequences of our actions.
by Mark Cartwright
published on 27 July 2015 Pandora (Lawrence
Pandora is a figure from Greek mythology who was not
only the first woman, but --as an instrument of the wrath
of Zeus-- was held responsible for releasing the ills of
humanity into the world. Pandora was also an unrelated
earth goddess in the early Greek pantheon.
The name Pandora means "gifts" and "all". According to
(and perhaps even invented by) Hesiod in his Theogony
and Works & Days, Zeus had Hephaistos make Pandora,
the first woman, from earth and water. Zeus intention
was to use the beautiful and lovely Pandora as a means
to punish Prometheus who had stolen fire from the gods
and given it to mankind, who would in turn be punished.
Zeus promises:
Son of Iapetus [Prometheus], you who know counsels
beyond all others, you are pleased that you have stolen
fire and beguiled my mind a great grief for you
yourself, and for men to come. To them I shall give in
exchange for fire an evil in which they may all take
pleasure in their spirit, embracing their own evil. (Works
& Days, 54-59)
Before her departure, Pandora was given a range of
divine gifts by each of the Olympian gods. Athena taught
her all the fine crafts and dressed her in silvery robes,
Aphrodite gave her grace and the means to create
burning desire, and Hermes gave her "a dogs mind and a
thievish character" and in her breast "set lies and
guileful words" (Works & Days, 67-68, 77-78). If that
was not enough, she was adorned with fine jewellery by
the Graces, crowned with a magnificent golden headband
made by Hephaistos, and given garlands of spring
flowers by the Seasons. Finally, Pandora was given a
large storage jar to take down to earth which she was
told she must never open under any circumstances.
Pandora, guided by Hermes, was sent to Epimetheus, the
brother of Prometheus. Foolishly forgetting his brothers
advice never to accept a gift from the gods, the beautiful
Pandora was made welcome in Epimetheus home and the
two married, having a daughter, Pyrrha. One day, and
fulfilling her destiny, curiosity got the better of Pandora
and she lifted the lid of the storage jar which released all
the evils of the world. These terrible things included
disease, war, vice, toil, and the necessity to work for
Pandora, realising her mistake, quickly replaced the lid
but it was too late and only one thing remained inside,
caught in the edge of the jars lip --Hope-- so that
humanity might somehow bear its sudden and eternal
"Hope" is the traditional translation from the Greek but
actually may be better represented by "anticipation"
which includes an expectation of both good and bad
events. Through this punishment Zeus thus compensated
for the theft of fire and restored the eternal division
between gods and humans.

A relief frieze showing the birth of Pandora appeared on

the statue base of the gigantic Athena Parthenos by
Pheidias which stood inside the Parthenon. According to
Pliny the scene included 20 gods looking on. Pandora
appears too on a few Attic vases in scenes probably
inspired by the now lost satyr play Pandora by
In one 5th century BCE red-figure krater, now in the
Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Pandora emerges from the
ground, symbolizing her origin from clay. In such scenes
either Epimetheus or satyrs hold mallets but the
significance of these has, unfortunately, been lost and
they once more illustrate the richness of Greek
mythology beyond the surviving literary sources.