In ancient Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman in the world. Unlike Eve and the other women found in creation myths, she was created specifically as a tool for bringing about human misery. Her story is peopled with many of the humanlike, petty and cruel gods of Greek mythology.
Prometheus and Epimetheus were members of the ancient tribe of Greek gods called the Titans. Prometheus means "forethought," and he could see into the future. His brother was Epimetheus, or "hindsight." Prometheus created man from clay and water. When the gods called the Olympians denied man knowledge of fire, Prometheus stole it from them and gave it to man.
Zeus was the king of the Greek gods called the Olympians.The Greeks worshipped him as a god of the sky, law, justice and morality. He ordered Pandora's creation as retribution for Prometheus's rebellious behaviour. Although beautiful, she would be the bane of man's existence. He also had Prometheus bound to a stake where every morning an eagle or a vulture ate out his perpetually regenerating liver.
Hephaestus was the god of volcanoes, fire, blacksmiths and craftsmen, especially those who worked with metal. He sculpted Pandora out of earth and water. He also made her a golden headband decorated with etchings of all the world's monsters.
According to the poet Hesiod, Aphrodite was born when the Titan Cronus castrated Uranus, father of the gods, and threw his genitals into the sea. Aphrodite rose from the resulting foam. Aphrodite was the goddess of love, sexuality and beauty. She granted Pandora physical beauty and grace.
Apollo was the son of Zeus and the Titan Leto and twin brother of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. He is the god of light, music, prophecy, medicine, plague, dance, poetry, intellectual curiosity, herds and flocks. He granted Pandora the gift of musical talent.
Hermes was the gods' messenger and the god of travellers, merchants, weights, measures, orators, literature, athletes and thieves. He is known for his shrewdness, cunning and trickery. He granted Pandora a thieving, conniving personality.
Athena was the goddess of wisdom, the arts, justice, skill and war. She sprang fully grown and fully armed from her father's skull. Athena became the patron goddess of Athens after a contest with Poseidon to see who could give the people the better gift. Poseidon presented seawater but it was too salty to be useful. Athena gave them the olive tree, which provided food, oil and wood. She gave Pandora the gifts of clothing, ornamentation and craft making.
After the gods completed Pandora, they presented her to Epimetheus as a bride. Prometheus warned Epimetheus against taking gifts from Zeus, but the warning went unheeded. One of the wedding gifts was a sealed jar or box containing all of the world's misery. When Pandora opened the box, it released misery such as disease, poverty and war into the world. Only hope remained. "The Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology" compares Pandora to the biblical Eve for their similar roles in releasing misery into the world.
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