In ‘Cupid and Psyche’, you learned that Zeus was the king of all the gods that lived on Mount Olympus (such as Venus, Cupid, etc.). These gods were called the Olympians.
However, the Greeks believed that the Olympians were not the first gods. Before them, there were the Titans. Zeus and the Olympians defeated the Titans after a 10-year war.
The story of Pandora’s box begins with the story of Zeus, Prometheus, and Epimetheus.
The story of Zeus, Prometheus, and Epimetheus
Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus were Titans, but Prometheus had a special gift – he could make prophecies, which means that sometimes he could see the future. Prometheus made a prophecy that Zeus and the Olympians would defeat the Titans. So, Prometheus and Epimetheus gave their loyalty to Zeus. In return for their loyalty, Zeus gave them a reward. Epimetheus was told to create all the creatures that live on Earth. So, he formed all animals and gave each a special skill and a form of protection. For example, he created birds with wings that could help them fly away from danger. He created beetles with thick armour and powerful claws that could cut their enemies.
Zeus told Prometheus to create man. He took his time, because he wanted to create men perfectly. But when he wanted to give man some form of protection, he couldn’t give anything because Epimetheus had already given every kind away to the animals. Prometheus knew that man needed some form of protection and asked Zeus if he could let man use fire. Zeus refused. Fire was only for the gods. Zeus wanted to use lightning and volcanoes to cause fires and frighten men. Prometheus ignored Zeus and gave man fire anyway. For this, Prometheus was punished. Zeus tied him with chains to a rock far away in the mountains where nobody would find him. Every day Zeus sent an eagle to eat Prometheus’s liver, which grew back every day so that Prometheus would have to endure this torture daily. This continued until a friend found Prometheus, killed the eagle and let Prometheus go.
Zeus wasn’t satisfied with his torture of Prometheus. He also believed that man should be punished for accepting the gift of fire. To punish man, Zeus created the first woman and named her Pandora. She was created to look like the beautiful goddess Venus. She received the gifts of wisdom, beauty, kindness, peace, generosity, and health from the gods.
“Ha ha!” said Zeus. “This woman is beautiful, but she will cause many problems. She has a tender heart and uses her emotions to make decisions. She will cause the destruction of man.”
Zeus ordered Pandora to visit Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus. “They have compassion for humans, so they will take good care of you,” he said.
“Yes, your Majesty,” said Pandora.
“And one more thing… take this gold box,” ordered Zeus.
“Of course, your Majesty,” said Pandora.
“This gold box is very beautiful, but you must never open it!” commanded Zeus. “Opening the box would cause serious problems!”
“I understand, your Majesty,” said Pandora.
When Pandora was alone, she obeyed Zeus’s command and did not think about opening the box. She went to Earth and looked for Prometheus. Pandora knocked on the door of his house and his brother, Epimetheus, opened the door. When he saw Pandora, he thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen! Epimetheus fell in love with Pandora at first sight.
Pandora explained her story. “Zeus created me and told me to come to this house on the earth.”
Epimetheus knew that Zeus was angry with him for supporting his brother, Prometheus. He knew that Zeus probably had a plan to punish him. So, he should have been suspicious of this woman that Zeus had created. But she was so beautiful that he couldn’t help himself. “I’m glad you came! Stay with me,” said Epimetheus romantically.
“What is inside the box?” asked Epimetheus.
“Zeus gave me this box. But he ordered me not to open it,” she said.
“Yes, it is important to obey the gods, they are intelligent,” said Epimetheus. He respected the gods!
Then time passed and Epimetheus married Pandora. They loved each other and they were happy.
One day, the box made some bizarre noises. Mysterious voices seemed to be coming from inside. Pandora listened more closely.
“Open the box! We are in danger! Please open the box!” said the mysterious voices.
“What should I do? Zeus ordered me not to open it,” said Pandora to herself.
“We are stuck in the box! Please open the box!” cried the mysterious voices, even louder.
Pandora felt compassion for the poor creatures inside the box. In a panic, she shouted, “Epimetheus! Come here! It’s bizarre. The box is talking! Here, listen.”
Epimetheus arrived and put his ear to the lid. He heard the same voices and the same plea to open the box.
“They say they are in danger!” Pandora said. “I have to do something.”
“No, do not listen to them! Ignore the box. It’s important to obey the gods, they’re smart,” replied Epimetheus.
Pandora obeyed. She ignored and ignored and ignored the voices. But day after day, the voices continued. They repeated the same pitiful pleas.
Time passed. Pandora felt not only compassion for the creatures inside, but also a deep curiosity. What could they be? After a few weeks, Pandora was desperate. The voices would not stop and she longed for silence. She couldn’t resist it anymore. When Epimetheus was not at home, she went over to the box and nervously lifted up the lid. Then the voices changed. “Ha ha, stupid woman!” Terrible spirits flew out of the open box, one after another. “You listened to us! Now we are going to torment the earth!”
The terrible spirits brought all of life’s miseries into the world, things like greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death. Unwittingly, Pandora had let all these miseries out into the world. Pandora slammed the lid of the box back down, but before she did, one last spirit squeezed out. “Thank you, Pandora,” it said. “I am hope.” Then it flew away like the rest.
When Epimetheus returned home, Pandora told him what she had done, crying big tears. “Compassion is a terrible thing. We can make terrible decisions because of it,” she said.
Epimetheus tried to console her. “Yes and no,” he replied. “Compassion always gives us hope.”
Ever since, humans have been able to hold onto this hope in order to survive the wickedness that Pandora had let out.