The Greek myths speak of many different ages of humanity. At one point in time, humans lived long lives, walked among the gods, and did not need to work hard to find food. There was no war, disease or hunger. So how do the myths explain the state of the world right now?
All of humanity’s suffering can be traced back to one incident; the time Pandora opened a box given to her by the gods. Pandora was a beautiful mortal woman who was wedded to the titan Epimetheus by the gods. But to understand why Zeus gifted Pandora to Epimetheus, we must first look at his brother Prometheus.
Prometheus and Epimetheus
Prometheus and Epimetheus were two titans, ancient beings who walked the Earth before the Olympian gods were even born. In the war for supremacy between titans and the Olympians, the brothers sided with the gods of Olympus. Thus, they did not share the fate of their titan relatives who were banished to the deepest darkest depths of hell.
Understandably, Prometheus and Epimetheus were not too fond of the Olympians and preferred the company of humans instead. Prometheus in particular loved humanity. He is the one who bestowed crafts and sciences upon humans, setting us apart from all other animals.
Prometheus’ love for humanity was so strong that he wanted humans to live a life that rivaled that of the gods. In the early days of humanity, it was established that humans must present a portion of the meat they ate as an offering to the gods.
For the first offering, Prometheus took the best pieces of meat and stuffed them inside the stomach of a cow. Then, he took the bones and undesirable organs and wrapped them in the rich fat that usually surrounds meat. Then, Prometheus asked Zeus which of the two piles must be presented to the gods as an offering. Zeus naturally picked the pile that looked the most appealing, and received a most unpleasant surprise.
This incident angered Zeus greatly, but Prometheus’ next adventure added fuel to the god’s rage. Hoping to advance human civilization even further, Prometheus stole some fire from Hephaestus’ forge. He hid the flames in a fennel stalk and gifted it to humanity.
Zeus never intended for humans to live such comfortable lives. For going against his wishes, Zeus tied Prometheus to a rock, where an eagle would tear out the titan’s liver every day. However, this gruesome punishment was not enough for Zeus. he wished to take vengeance against humanity as well.
Thus, Zeus and the Olympians created Pandora, the perfect woman. Hephaestus crafted her into a perfect form, while Aphrodite gave her beauty and charm. Athena gave Pandora feminine skills such as knitting and weaving. Hermes, the god of mischief, gave Pandora the power of speech, but along with it came the power to lie and deceive. But the most significant trait, curiosity, was bestowed upon her by Zeus. Pandora was also given a box, which the gods warned her not to open under any circumstances.
Pandora’s box contained all the evils in the world such as famine, plagues and war. The gods could not have given the box directly to Epimetheus as Prometheus had the foresight to warn his brother about gifts from Zeus. However, Epimetheus could not resist the temptations of wedding a beautiful woman like Pandora. And after Pandora was settled in the mortal realm, it was only a matter of time till her curiosity led her to open the box. And thus, Zeus completed his revenge upon humanity.