7. Pandora’s jar

Once upon a time, Prometheus, the son of Iapetus, stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to men. Zeus laughed aloud, for he desired to give an evil thing to men, which while they would embrace with a joyous heart, would actually embrace their own sorrow and ruin.

Zeus bade Hephaestus to fashion a sweet maiden from clay, with a face like an immortal goddess, but having the strength and voice of mortals. Athena clothed the maiden in exquisite garments. Aphrodite gifted her elegant grace, desires and longings that weary the limbs. The Charities and Persuasion adorned her with beautiful necklaces, while the Horae decked her with a crown of spring flowers. Hermes gave her a shameless nature, a deceitful mind, along with the power of speech filled with cunning words and lies. Hermes also gave her the name Pandora, meaning “all-endowed”, since she was endowed with a gift from all the Olympians. Pandora carried a jar full of plagues and diseases that make men quickly grow old.

When this evil, this unfaithful and deceitful snare was complete, Zeus sent Hermes to present Pandora as a gift, to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus. Prometheus had warned Epimetheus, not to take any gift from Zeus, as he feared it might harm mortals. But Epimetheus accepted the gift and Pandora, out of curiosity, opened the lid of the jar. Out flew all the sorrows and scattered around the world, to torment men. Only Hope remained within an unbreakable dwelling, under the lip of the jar, and could not fly away, for Zeus made Pandora close the lid.

The innumerable evils that escaped the jar, suffused the sea and earth with countless plagues and diseases, which always attacked silently, for Zeus had taken away speech from them. Now, the Silver Age of man started. Man experienced death and with woman giving birth, the cycle of death and rebirth also started. Hence, there is no path to escape the decree, of the Aegis-bearing Zeus.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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