Pandora

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Pandora

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

pan-DOR-uh

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days, Aesop's Fables

Lineage

Created by the gods

Character Overview

In Greek mythology , Pandora was the first woman, infamous for bringing evil into the world and causing humankind's downfall. She was sent to earth by Zeus (pronounced ZOOS), king of the gods, who wanted to take revenge on the Titan Prometheus (pronounced pruh-MEE-thee-uhs). Prometheus had created mortals and had stolen fire from the gods and given it to them. Zeus ordered the divine crafts worker, Hephaestus (pronounced hi-FES-tuhs), to form the first woman, Pandora, from clay. The goddess Athena (pronounced uh-THEE-nuh) gave life to Pandora, Aphrodite (pronounced af-ro-DYE-tee) made her beautiful, and Hermes (pronounced HUR-meez) taught her to be cunning and deceitful.

Zeus sent Pandora down to earth, but Prometheus—whose name means “forethought”—would have nothing to do with her. However, his brother Epimetheus (pronounced ep-uh-MEE-thee-uhs)—whose name means “afterthought”—married Pandora, who brought with her a sealed box (or often a jar) as a gift from the gods. Some accounts say that Epimetheus opened Pandora's box; others maintain that Pandora herself opened it. Inside the container were disease, old age, poverty, evil, war, and all the other ills that have plagued humans ever since. They flew out into the world when the box was opened, leaving only hope at the bottom of the box to give people a scrap of comfort. A few accounts say that the box contained all the good things that Prometheus planned to give the human race, but when Pandora gave in to curiosity and opened the box, she let all the blessings escape. Pandora and Epimetheus had a daughter, Pyrrha (pronounced PEER-uh), who appears in a Greek myth about a great flood. Pyrrha and her husband, Deucalion (pronounced doo-KAY-lee-uhn), were the flood's sole survivors and became the parents of a new human race.

Pandora in Context

Pandora is viewed much differently today than she was in ancient times. To the ancient Greeks, Pandora was sent to earth as revenge for humans getting fire from Prometheus. The myth, especially as documented by Hesiod, is very clear in its view of women as the bringers of countless troubles to men. However, Hesiod notes that even though women are the source of many problems, a man cannot simply live trouble-free by avoiding marriage—for a man who does not marry will never have heirs and will have no one to care for him when he is old. While no doubt exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, Hesiod's description is likely to be an accurate reflection of how many ancient Greek men viewed women: necessary and vital, but troublesome.

Key Themes and Symbols

For many, Pandora symbolizes curiosity. This comes from her opening the box and releasing bad things into the world (though in some versions she simply brings the box as a gift from the gods). For the ancient Greeks, Pandora was more a symbol of the wiles of womanhood: a potentially dangerous figure who carried out the gods' punishment of men. As the first woman, Pandora also stands as a symbol of femininity, both beautiful and cunning in her way. The box represents the vengeance of the gods, since it contains all the bad things that eventually escape into the world and plague humans for the rest of time.

Pandora in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

The story of Pandora has endured and transformed itself over the centuries. Most people familiar with the tale today are not aware of the box as punishment by the gods for humans possessing fire, but know instead of a version where Pandora disobeys after she is told not to open the box. Pandora has been the subject of paintings by artists such as John William Waterhouse and Dante Rossetti, and the myth loosely inspired the 1929 G. W. Pabst silent film Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks. The mythical box of Pandora is often referenced in modern art and culture, and the term “Pandora's box” is commonly used to refer to a thing or situation that can lead to a great deal of unforeseen trouble.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Pandora, as the first woman in Greek mythology, can be compared to Eve, the first woman in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Both women are directly responsible for introducing evil into the world, although they had not intended to do so. But while the Greek gods deliberately sent Pandora for that purpose as a punishment to man, Eve had been created by God to be a helper to the first man Adam, and it was only her disobedience that unleashed evil. What does this tell us about the differences between the Greek and Judeo-Christian attitudes towards women, as well as the way the divine relates to mankind?

SEE ALSO Adam and Eve; Greek Mythology; Prometheus

Pandora

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Pandora

In Greek mythology, Pandora was the woman who brought evil into the world and caused humankind's downfall. She was sent to earth by Zeus, king of the gods, who wanted to take revenge on the Titan Prometheus*. Prometheus had created men and had stolen fire from the gods and given it to the men. Zeus ordered the divine crafts worker Hephaestus* to form the first woman, Pandora, from clay. Athena* gave life to this creation, Aphrodite* made her beautiful, and Hermes* taught her to be cunning and deceitful.

Zeus sent Pandora down to earth, but Prometheuswhose name means "forethought"would have nothing to do with her. However, his brother Epimetheusafterthoughtmarried Pandora, who brought with her a sealed jar or box as a gift from the gods. Some accounts say that Epimetheus opened Pandora's box; others maintain that Pandora herself opened it. Inside the container were disease, old age, poverty, evil, war, and all the other ills that have plagued humans ever since. When the box was opened, they flew out into the world, leaving only Hope at the bottom of the box to give people a scrap of comfort. A few accounts say that the box contained all the good things that Prometheus planned to give the human race, but when Pandora gave in to curiosity and opened the box, she let all the blessings escape.

Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus

Pandora and Epimetheus had a daughter, Pyrrha, who appears in a Greek myth about a great flood. Pyrrha and her husband, Deucalion, were the flood's sole survivors and became the parents of a new human race.

See also Adam and Eve; Greek Mythology; Prometheus.

Pandora

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Pandora in Greek mythology, the first mortal woman. In one story she was created by Zeus and sent to earth with a jar or box of evils in revenge for Prometheus' having brought the gift of fire back to the world. Prometheus' simple brother Epimetheus married her despite his brother's warnings, and Pandora let out all the evils from the jar to infect the earth; hope alone remained to assuage the lot of humankind. In another account the jar contained all the blessings which would have been preserved for the world had they not been allowed to escape.
Pandora's box a term for a process that generates many complicated problems as the result of unwise interference in something.

Pandora

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Pandora In Greek mythology, the first woman. She was created on Zeus' orders as his revenge on Prometheus, who had created men and stolen fire from heaven for them. When she opened a great jar that Zeus had ordered her not to look into, all the evils of the human race flew out. Hope alone remained inside the jar. In later tradition, the jar became a box.

Pandora

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Pandora (Saturn XVII) One of the lesser satellites of Saturn, discovered in 1980 by Voyager 1, with a radius measuring 55 × 44 × 31 km; mass 0.0013 × 1020 kg; mean density 420 kg/m3; visual albedo 0.9.

pandora

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pandora, pandore stringed musical instrument of the cither type. XVI. — It. †pandora, -iera, pandura — late L. pandūra — Gr. pandoûra, -doúrā three-stringed lute.

pandora

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pandora, pandore. See cittern.

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