A story of Pandora

“The gods desire to keep the stuff of life hidden from us. If they did not, you could work for a day and earn a year’s supplies; You’d pack away your rudder, and retire the oxen and the laboring mules. But Zeus concealed the secret, angry in his heart at being hoodwinked by Prometheus, and so he thought of painful cared for men.

First he hid fire. But the son of Iapetos stole it from Zeus the Wise, concealed the flame in a fennel stalk, and fooled the Thunderer. Then, raging, spoke the Gatherer of Clouds: “Prometheus, most crafty god of all, you stole the fire and tricked me, happily, you, plague on all mankind and on yourself. They’ll pay for fire: I’ll give another gift to men, an evil thing for their delight, and all will love this ruin in their hearts.”

So spoke the father of men and gods, and laughed. He told Hephaestus quickly to mix earth and water, to put in it a voice and human power to move, and to make a face like an immortal goddess, and to shape the lovely figure of a virgin girl. Athena was to teach the girl to weave, and golden Aphrodite to pour charm upon her head, and painful, strong desire, and body-shattering cares. Zeus ordered, then, the killer of Argos, Hermes, to put in sly manners, and the morals of a bitch.

The son of Kronos spoke, and was obeyed. The lame god molded earth as Zeus decreed into the image of a modest girl, grey-eyed Athena made her robes and belt, Divine Seduction and the Graces gave her golden necklaces, and for her head the Seasons wove spring flowers into a crown. Hermes the Messenger put in her breast lies and persuasive words and cunning ways; the herald of the gods then named the girl Pandora, for the gifts which all the gods had given her, this ruin of mankind.

The deep and total trap was now complete; the Father sent the gods’ fast messenger to bring the gift to Epimetheus and Epimetheus forgot the words his brother said, to take no gift from Zeus, but send it back, lest it should injure men. He took the gift, and understood too late.

Before this time men lived upon the earth apart from sorrow and from painful work, free from disease, which brings the Death-gods in. But now the woman opened up the cask, and scattered pains and evils among men.
Inside the cask’s hard walls remained one thing, Hope, only, which did not fly through the door. The lid stopped her, but all the others flew, thousands of troubles, wandering the earth.

The earth is full of evils, and the sea. Diseases come to visit men by day and, uninvited, come again at night bringing their pains in silence, for they were deprived of speech by Zeus the Wise. And so there is no way to flee the mind of Zeus.”

Thury, Eva and Margaret Devinney, An Introduction to Mythology (third edition). (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pps 40 & 41.