The term 'Pandora's Box' is commonly used to describe a situation with potential for trouble, unpleasantness. However let's not forget that it also brought Hope into the world!|
A long time ago, when the world was newly made, only men and Gods walked upon it. All was as it should be, until Prometheus, a God of fire and Divine trickster, stole fire from the heavens and bestowed it upon mortals. Zeus, the Father of the Gods, had forbidden this, and he became extremely angry.
In an effort to counteract this blessing, Zeus commissioned Hephaestus (the patron God of craftsmen) to fashion a woman out of earth. Upon her the gods bestowed all their blessings and gifts, and named her Pandora, meaning "all gifted". What Zeus gave her, however, was a tightly sealed jar, which he forbade her to open, and she swore she would not. Pandora was unaware though, that inside this jar were things that the gods had excluded in the making of the world, including all manner of evils and vices. Then they took her down to become the first mortal woman and wife to Epimetheus.
Epimetheus was Prometheus' brother, but upon sighting Pandora he fell in love with her, and, ignoring his brother's warning, agreed to marry her. They were very happy together for many years, and Epimetheus would travel the world over to find beautiful gifts to bestow on his beloved wife.
Over time, Epimetheus' journeys took him farther from home and he spent longer away from his loving wife in his efforts to find her worthy gifts. One day after they had been married for many years, Epimetheus told Pandora that he would be gone for nearly 6 months, by far the longest time he had ever left her alone. She was upset, but he assured her that the time would fly by and he would be back before she began to miss him. So Pandora smiled as she bade her husband goodbye, and looked forward to his return.
For the first few months it was as Epimetheus had promised; the time flew by and she kept herself so busy she really did not have time to miss him. But as spring faded and the leaves began to turn,
Pandora had less to occupy her time and missed her husband deeply. More and more she found herself drawn to contemplation of the jar that Zeus had bestowed upon her for safekeeping. Always she managed to pull herself away, keeping in mind the promise she had made and which she had every intention of keeping.
By now, however, Epimetheus had been gone for five and a half months and Pandora was growing restless. The weather had become too cold for outings and there was not enough to do to occupy her time, and Pandora spent hours cradling the jar between her hands, wondering what lay inside.
Epimetheus should have returned days ago and Pandora was worried. To distract herself she focussed on the contents of the jar until her curiosity became so great that she could stand it no longer. Pandora shook the jar again, intrigued by the sound and wondered aloud what could be so precious that it could not be seen? Ignoring the whisper of conscience, she retrieved a sharp knife and began to scratch at the wax seal. Finally, when it had all been removed, she took a deep breath and unscrewed the lid.
To her horror, tiny demons in the form of the ugliest of insects flew out. Lies, Fear, Anger and Spite scratched and bit at her face while Gossip, Bitterness and Hate tangled themselves in her hair, pulling hard. Pain and Cruelty chewed on her hands as she tried to brush the others away, and Jealousy, Thievery and Thoughtlessness used their long claws to tear at her clothing and body.
Pandora now knew why Zeus wanted this jar to remain unopened. Bloody and distraught, she sank to the floor, weeping bitterly as Guilt gave her a final bite and turned with laughter to fly out the door after the other Evils. Pandora was filled with remorse and regret at having been so stupid as to break her promise and release all these terrible things mankind had never previously known.
Just then Epimetheus returned to find his wife sobbing uncontrollably, and with halting words she explained to him what had happened. Epimetheus had been touched by many of the insects as he approached and he slapped Pandora and shouted angrily at her, "You stupid, foolish woman! Could you not be content with all the blessings the world held for you?" Pandora had never before seen Epimetheus angry and was very frightened. Turning from the wretched Pandora, Epimetheus noticed the discarded jar and picked it up. Looking inside, he saw what Pandora had not - a tiny, beautiful white butterfly. At that moment the butterfly gently fluttered its wings and flew from the jar, resting for a moment on the cheek of Epimetheus.
"Oh Epimetheus, do you think the world will ever forgive me?" sobbed Pandora.
"I hope so," replied Epimetheus very gently, "I hope so."
Gently the butterfly landed on Pandora and she stopped crying and looked with wonder at the fragile thing. "Hope…" she whispered, as it too floated out the door.
For Zeus was not angry enough to leave mankind to battle the evils without some measure of defense. He had placed the butterfly in that jar also, so that no matter how horrible the things mankind has to face, or how dark the world appears, there will always be Hope to help us through.