Friday, 13 April 2012
In Greek mythology, Pandora (ancient Greek, Πανδώρα, derived from πᾶς "all" and δῶρον "gift", thus "all-gifted" or "all-giving") was the first woman. 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 mankind for Prometheus' theft of the secret of fire, and all the gods joined in offering her "seductive gifts". Her other name, inscribed against her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum, is 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 mankind — although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod — leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.
The myth of Pandora is ancient, appears in several distinct Greek versions, and has been interpreted in many ways. In all literary versions, however, the myth is a kind of theodicy, addressing the question of why there is evil in the world. In the seventh century BC, Hesiod, both in his Theogony (briefly, without naming Pandora outright, line 570) and in Works and Days, gives the earliest literary version of the Pandora story; however, there is an older mention of jars or urns containing blessings and evils bestowed upon mankind in Homer's Iliad:
The immortals know no care, yet the lot they spin for man is full of sorrow; on the floor of Zeus' palace there stand two urns, the one filled with evil gifts, and the other with good ones. He for whom Zeus the lord of thunder mixes the gifts he sends, will meet now with good and now with evil fortune; but he to whom Zeus sends none but evil gifts will be pointed at by the finger of scorn, the hand of famine will pursue him to the ends of the world, and he will go up and down the face of the earth, respected neither by gods nor men