Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pandora's Box

"For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills [kakoi] and hard toil [ponoi] and heavy sickness [nosoi argaleai] which bring the Keres [baleful spirits] upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly." (Hesiod, Works and Days).

The first mortals lived on earth in a state of perfect innocence and bliss. The air was pure and balmy; the sun shone brightly all the year; the earth brought forth delicious fruit in abundance; and beautiful, fragrant flowers bloomed everywhere. Man was content. Extreme cold, hunger, sickness, and death were unknown.

Jupiter, who justly ascribed a good part of this beatific condition to the gift conferred by Prometheus, was greatly displeased, and tried to devise some means to punish mankind for the acceptance of the heavenly fire.

To that end, Zeus demanded that the other gods make Pandora as a poisoned gift for man. Pandora was given several traits from the different gods:

  • Hephaestus molded her out of clay and gave her form
  • Athena clothed her and the Charites adorned her with necklaces made by Hephaestus
  • Aphrodite gave her beauty
  • Apollo gave her musical talent and a gift for healing
  • Demeter taught her to tend a garden
  • Poseidon gave her a pearl necklace and the ability to never drown
  • Zeus made her idle, mischievous, and foolish
  • Hera gave her curiosity
  • Hermes gave her cunning, boldness, and charm.

Thus the name Pandora—"all gifts"—in Hesiod's version derives from the fact that she
received gifts from all deities.

Until then, mankind had lived a life in a paradise without worry. All this changed when Pandora's curiosity got the better of her and she opened a jar given to her by Zeus, releasing all the misfortunes of mankind. Once opened, she shut it in time to keep one thing in the jar: hope. The world remained extremely bleak for an unspecified interval, until Pandora "chanced" to revisit the box again, at which point Hope fluttered out. Thus, mankind always has hope in times of evil.

It was well for Pandora that she opened the box a second time, for the gods, with a sudden impulse of compassion, had concealed among the evil spirits one kindly creature, Hope, whose mission was to heal the wounds inflicted by her fellow prisoners.
"Hope sole remain'd within, nor took her flight,
Beneath the vessel's verge conceal'd from light."
Hesiod (Elton's tr.)

Lightly fluttering hither and thither on her snowy pinions, Hope touched the wounded places on Pandora's and Epimetheus' creamy skin, and relieved their suffering, then quickly flew out of the open window, to perform the same gentle office for the other victims, and to cheer their downcast spirits.

Thus, according to the ancients, evil entered into the world, bringing untold misery; but Hope followed closely in its footsteps, to aid struggling humanity, and point to a happier future.

" Hope rules a land for ever green:
All powers that serve the bright-eyed Queen
Are confident and gay;
Clouds at her bidding disappear;
Points she to aught ? - the bliss draws near,
And Fancy smooths the w

During many centuries, therefore, Hope continued to be revered, although the other divinities had ceased to be worshipped.

In order to pay homage to Zeus the Merciful, here is HOT HOT HOT Louise Brooks and HOT HOT HOT 80s rockers, OMD, yum:

Excerpted from: Wikipedia and Phys2622

No comments: