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Greek-American Stories: The First Woman: Pandora

Did you ever wonder how women were invented? Well, let me tell you what I learned. In the Bible, Adam invented a woman from his rib. The ancient Greeks had a different version.

Jupiter was angry at Prometheus for stealing the divine fire from the chariots of the sun. He felt that the gods should seek revenge, so he had a staff meeting for suggestions on how to plague and torment Man. It was decided, after many suggestions, that a woman might do the job. (Are you listening to this?)  Prometheus made Man of clay and decided, hey, the recipe was still good, so he created a woman who was named Pandora. She was endowed with many gifts, hence her name: Pan, meaning ‘all’ and Dora, meaning gifts. Venus gave her beauty, Mercury gave her the art of persuasion, love for music came from Apollo, and the Graces trained her in the social arts. (Why didn’t they do all this when Man was invented?) Anyway, Vulcan, a trouble maker, created a box of pure gold into which he placed all the evils; disease, famine, pestilence, fever, envy, greed, hatred, and intolerance. They were about to close the box when he regretted his hasty decision and decided to add one really good gift that would lessen the pains he invented. That gift was called, ‘Hope’.

He warned Pandora not to open the box that was to be given to her husband when she married. Marriage, another invention of Man. The gods brought her to Epimetheus who was struck with her beauty. He asked her, ‘what’s in the box? She said she didn’t know. Full of curiosity,  he left the house and went to the Caucasus Mountains where his brother, Prometheus lived, chained up, telling him about the box. Prometheus suspected a trick and told his brother to go home and hide the box so no one could find it. Hey! What about the chains?

Meanwhile, back home, Pandora was busy bringing in cold water from the brook and collecting honey from the hives and fruit from the trees, making herself useful.

But that box kept her interest the way it glittered. She shook it and wondered. Finally, she took the box in her hands, admiring it. It was dark and she was alone. She thought, “what if I took a peek into it? Just a tiny peek! The gods invented it. So, how bad can it be?” The Furies, invisible, read her thoughts and stung her with tiny arrows. Pandora fumbled with the lock, wondering if rubies or threads of gold were inside. Maybe, she could weave a beautiful robe and become more beautiful to Epimetheus. The Furies stung her repeatedly – but, she thought it was her curiosity doing it. This was before ‘Raid’, remember. Opening it just a crack, she saw nothing at first. Curiosity grew within her as she opened the lid more. Suddenly, an ugly brown cloud arose, filling the air. Loud buzzing followed and hundreds of small things emerged. Her hands shook as she tried to close the box. She saw that the lid wouldn’t close tightly. Don’t forget Man made that box! And, there was no Home Depot, then. Only Hope lay in the bottom. She, hurriedly, placed the box back on the table, and looked around to see if anything was visible from the contents. Then, she set the table for supper, selecting the ripest fruit, most delicious berries and prettiest flowers. When Epimentheus and Man finally returned, he asked her, “What’s new?” She said, “oh, nothing!” He asked about the box. She looked innocent. “Oh, that? Well, I did open it just a little. But, I gotta tell you! Something really beautiful is inside. A rare gift called Hope.” She didn’t mention the ugly, brown cloud that had emerged before he came and she cleaned up. A while later, sniffing around, he realized that more had happened. Epimetheus said, “AHA!”

She admitted that she had opened the box. “But,” she explained in her feminine way, “Just think! Evil has escaped into the world but we’ve got the better of the bargain, honey. We’ve got Hope.” He thought about it and agreed. That era was called ‘The Golden Age’” After that…well, all hell broke loose! Just look around.

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