Pandora’s stories: Pandora’s Jar

Pandora was the world’s first woman. Zeus had ordered Hephaestus to create her, which he did using water and earth.The gods endowed her with many gifts: Athena clothed her and taught her how to weave, Aphrodite gave her beauty, Apollo gave her musical ability, and Hermes gave her speech (along with the potential to mislead).

When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. Pandora was given as a wedding gift a beautiful jar, with instructions not to open it under any circumstances. Driven by curiosity, Pandora opened it and all the evils contained inside escaped and spread over the earth. She hurriedly closed the lid, but the whole contents had escaped: Apate (Deceit) and all the others, except for one that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope (Elpis). As Hesiod says:

Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house, she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing Zeus the Cloudgatherer.

Pandora, deeply saddened by what she had done, feared that she would have to face Zeus’ wrath since she had failed in her duty. However, Zeus did not punish Pandora because he knew that she could not resist her curiosity.

Yet the outcome is ambiguous: remember that hope is a fickle mistress according to whether she is true or false; if false she can prolong our agonies.

Allegory of Vanity - does it remind you of Pandora?

Allegory of Vanity – does it remind you of Pandora?

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