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In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first human woman, created
by Hephaestus on the instructions of Zeus. As Hesiod related it, each god
co-operated by giving her unique gifts. Her other name—inscribed against
her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum—is Anesidora
sends up gifts“
The Pandora myth is a kind of theodicy, addressing the question of why
there is evil in the world. According to this, Pandora opened a jar , in
modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as "Pandora's box", releasing
all the evils of humanity. Hesiod's interpretation of Pandora's story,
sometimes considered as misogynous, went on to influence both Jewish
and Christian theology and so perpetuated her bad reputation into
the Renaissance. Later poets, dramatists, painters and sculptors made her
their subject and over the course of five centuries contributed new
insights into her motives and significance.
PITHOS INTO "BOX"
• The mistranslation of pithos, a large
storage jar, as "box" is usually
attributed to the sixteenth century
humanist when he translated
Hesiod's tale of Pandora into Latin.
Hesiod's pithos refers to a large
storage jar, often half-buried in the
ground, used for wine, oil or grain. It
can also refer to a funerary
jar. Erasmus, however,
translated pithos into the Latin
word pyxis, meaning "box". The
phrase "Pandora's box" has endured
• When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, Zeus created
Pandora as a punishment for mankind. One would think
Zeus had doled out enough punishment after
sentencing Prometheus to spend an eternity chained to a
rock while birds pecked at his liver, but it seemed the king
of the gods had more in store.
• Zeus commissioned the god Hephaestus to sculpt a
beautiful woman out of clay, and she was given gifts from a
few gods before she was sent down to fulfill her purpose.
Pandora was sent to be the wife of Epimetheus
(Prometheus's brother), and only brought one thing with
her: a container full of all the world's evils.
• Of course, Zeus didn't tell Pandora what was inside the box
- instead, he told her to never open it, and then gave the
key to her husband, because when you tell someone to not
do something, you put temptation as close as possible.
Can you blame her for sneaking a peek?
WHAT WAS ACTUALLY INSIDE
• The myth of Pandora is one for the ages. Woman,
created to punish man, accidentally releases all of the
world's horrors, unleashing evil on Earth. Maybe not a
bedtime story for children. But what came out
of Pandora's box? Who knew exactly what was inside
and what would come flying out? And who is Pandora,
the enigmatic first woman, the curious creation of the
• Pandora's story is one told long before modern
language, lending itself to a long history of lore and
misinterpretation. Her myth is a moral story, a warning
to heed that maybe curiosity does kill the cat.
HOW DID THE MYTH
• 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 Pandora’s 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 god’s instructions.
• 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
• Today, Pandora’s box means a source of troubles.
When we talk about opening Pandora’s 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