1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pandora

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PANDORA (the “All-giving”) in Greek mythology, according to Hesiod (Theog. 570–612) the first woman. After Prometheus had stolen fire from heaven and bestowed it upon mortals Zeus determined to counteract this blessing. He accordingly commissioned Hephaestus to fashion a woman out of earth, upon whom the gods bestowed their choicest gifts. Hephaestus gave her a human voice, Aphrodite beauty and powers of seduction, Hermes cunning and the art of flattery. Zeus gave her a jar (πίθος), the so-called “Pandora’s box” (see below), containing all kinds of misery and evil, and sent her, thus equipped, to Epimetheus, who, forgetting the warning of his brother Prometheus to accept no present from Zeus, made her, his wife. Pandora afterwards opened the jar, from which all manner of evils flew out over the earth (for parallels in other countries, see Frazer’s Pausanias, ii. 320). Hope alone remained at the bottom, the lid having been shut down before she escaped. (Hesiod, W. and D. 54–105). According to a later story, the jar contained, not evils, but blessings, which would have been preserved for the human race, had they not been lost through the opening of the jar out of curiosity by man himself (Babrius, Fab. 58).

See J. E. Harrison, “Pandora’s Box,” in Journal of Hellenic Studies, xx. (1900), in which the opening of the jar is explained as an etiological myth based on the Athenian festival of the Pithoigia (part of the Anthesteria, q.v.), and P. Gardner, “A new Pandora vase” (xxi., ibid., 1901). Pandora is only another form of the Earth goddess, who is conceived as releasing evil spirits from the πίθος, which served the purpose of a grave (cf. the removal of the lapis manalis from the mundus, a circular pit at Rome supposed to be the opening to the world below, on three days in the year, whereby an opportunity of revisiting earth was afforded the dead). See also O. Gruppe, Griechische Mythlogie (1906), i. 94.