It has been raining non-stop, it is hard to believe that we have a drought.
There had been a drought in my blog posts over the last year. Curious to note, but an adage comes to mind. “When it rains it pours!” Because of Sisyphus, I need to write about Pandora.
Pandora’s Box seems to be one of the more memorable myths that the general public recalls. When it is used as a symbolic statement in some newspaper, blog, or magazine article there isn’t a flood of confused readers googling the phrase. We get it! A box of evil loosed upon the world by a women who somehow traps hope from escaping.
A couple of questions do arise. Is “hope” particularly slower than plague or cancer? Why was “hope” last in the line? Was “hope” reluctant to go out in the world? Why was “hope” hanging out with all the evils in the world? Is “hope” evil?
This is a particularly dark, pessimistic myth if it is seen this way.
The myth as currently understood, is a late comer to the mythic world, as it first makes an appearance in a writing by Hesiod. The thing to note is that it isn’t a box, it’s a jar. All the world’s evils are in a jar. A big jar… a jar that is often used as a coffin for burial purposes. This puts a different slant on things. Were the evils of the world being prepared for a funeral? Was Pandora’s curiosity like Eve’s, and was the consequence of her action the loss of heaven?
Pandora’s name can be translated as “all giving”, which generally has a positive context. Hesiod turns this to a darker side, and again creates “the myth” that all evils are to be blamed on the woman. Similar to the idea that we would all be in Paradise except for Eve.
What if Hesiod got it wrong? Or, more to the point, what if Hesiod had his own agenda? There is evidence of a pre-Hesiod version of the myth. There is a jar, and Pandora’s curiosity does allow most of the evils to escape, but the most evil thing is still trapped inside the jar. Pandora is now more heroic. Instead of translating “elpis” as “hope”, it could be translated as “expectation”. Pandora traps false expectation, and keeps it from infecting the minds of humanity.
Even “expectation” is not exactly correct, it is the “expectation of evil”. The worst evil in Pandora’s Jar is the “expectation of evil” and it is fortunate for us that it was not loosed upon the world.
So the next-time some negative person spouts a doomsday scenario, you can safely say, “That is still in Pandora’s Jar!”