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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Pandora



The myth of Pandora is rich and complex. The Titan Prometheus, and his dim-witted brother Epimetheus, choose to fight with Zeus against their fellow Titans. Later, Prometheus gives fire to humans contrary to Zeus’ wish. This angers Zeus, who wants to thank Epimetheus for his help against the Titans yet punish Prometheus. Zeus has the god Hephaestus make a beautiful woman, modeled after the goddess Aphrodite, from water and earth. Zeus then has his fellow Olympians each give Pandora a gift. Indeed, her name means “rich in gifts.” He gives Pandora to Epimetheus but also gives her a box or jar with a warning never to open it. Zeus’ wife Hera gives Pandora the gift of curiosity, leading to the inevitable. She opens the box and releases all evil onto the Earth. Hidden at the bottom, though, is Hope, who gives us a reason to continue on through a world filled with evil.

Superficially, the story is about how evil and hope came to the world. It also is a story of godly power and revenge against those who exhibit hubris by going against the will of the Gods. Finally, some modern feminists have pointed out that this is also anti-woman, as it is a woman who is called the cause of evil in the world (similar to some interpretations of Eve in the Bible) even though it is males who are responsible.


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