The myth of Pandora’s box

The myth of Pandora’s box is considered one of the most descriptive myths of human behavior in Greek mythology. Ancient Greeks used this myth not only to instruct themselves about the weaknesses of humans, but also to explain several misfortunes of the human race.

Pandora, the first woman on Earth

Pandora was, according to the myth, the first woman on Earth. She was created by Gods; each one of them gave her a gift, thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”.

Pandora was created as a punishment to the mankind; Zeus wanted to punish people because Prometheus stole the fire to give it to them. Her gifts were beautifully evil, according to Hesiod. Hephaestus created her from clay, shaping her perfectly, Aphrodite gave her femininity and Athena taught her crafts. Hermes was ordered by Zeus to teach her to be deceitful, stubborn and curious.

Pandora’s box

Pandora's box

Pandora's box

Pandora was given a box or a jar, called “pithos” in Greek. Gods told her that the box contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Then Hermes took her to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus, to be his wife. Prometheus had advised Epimetheus not to accept anything from the Gods, but he saw Pandora and was astonished by her beauty, thus he accepted her right away.

Pandora was trying to tame her curiosity, but at the end she could not hold herself anymore; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, because she saw all the evil spirits coming out and tried to close the box as fast as possible, closing Hope inside.

According to Hesiod Hope indeed stayed inside because that was Zeus’ will; he wanted to let people suffer in order to understand that they should not disobey their gods. Pandora was the right person to do it, because she was curious enough, but not malicious.

The myth of Pandora’s box has been fascinating people since ever, catching the imagination of countless artists, who created frescos, mosaics and sculptures depicting Pandora and the mythological elements. The myth itself though appears in many different versions; the most distinctive difference is that in some myths Hope does come out. The main purpose of the myth of Pandora though is to address the question of why evil exists in the world.

The birth of Pandora was represented on the pedestal of the statue of Athena situated at the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens.

57 Responses to The myth of Pandora’s box

  1. ihatespam October 24, 2012 at 22:42 #

    Thanks for publishing this article: I actually met someone a while ago who, I just recently learned did not know about Pandora. She thought is was just a place to get an endless supply of music on her phone.
    When I attempted to explain that the radio service’s name as well the whole idea of it (discovering the width and depth of musical diversity) was an allegory to this myth, she had no idea what I was talking about.

  2. Lizzybz January 10, 2013 at 22:37 #

    I am teaching World Literature to my jr. students. And they were amazed with the whole myth since the only one they knew was that due to the Devil all these different bad spirits came to be. Pandora’s box was a great hit with my students! :D

  3. Sara May 22, 2013 at 19:12 #

    This myth I didn’t know about until I found out about it in college when my friend told me about it and I found this article it was the best thing I could have ever in my life read about I’m definitely interested in the myth of Pandora’s box.

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