The myth of Prometheus, Epimetheus and Pandora

myth of prometheus, epimetheus and pandora, the box of pandora, pandora's box

The Prometheus myth first appeared in the late 8th-century BC Greek epic poet Hesiod's Theogony. He was a son of the Titan Iapetus by Clymene, one of the Oceanids. He was brother to Menoetius, Atlas, and Epimetheus. In the Theogony, Hesiod introduces Prometheus as a lowly challenger to Zeus's omniscience and omnipotence.[6] In the trick at Mekone, a sacrificial meal marking the "settling of accounts" between mortals and immortals, Prometheus played a trick against Zeus. He placed two sacrificial offerings before the Olympian: a selection of beef hidden inside an ox's stomach (nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior), and the bull's bones wrapped completely in "glistening fat" (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus chose the latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices.

Henceforth, humans would keep that meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering to the gods. This angered Zeus, who hid fire from humans in retribution. In this version of the myth, the use of fire was already known to humans, but withdrawn by Zeus. Prometheus, however, stole fire back in a giant fennel-stalk and restored it to humanity. This further enraged Zeus, who sent Pandora, the first woman, to live with humanity. Pandora was fashioned by Hephaestus out of clay and brought to life by the four winds, with all the goddesses of Olympus assembled to adorn her. "From her is the race of women and female kind," Hesiod writes; "of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth."

Prometheus, in eternal punishment, is chained to a rock in the Caucasus, where his liver is eaten daily by an eagle, only to be regenerated by night, due to his immortality. The eagle is a symbol of Zeus himself. Years later, the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules) slays the eagle and frees Prometheus from the eagle's torment.

Hesiod revisits the story of Prometheus in the Works and Days. Here, the poet expands upon Zeus's reaction to Prometheus's deception. Not only does Zeus withhold fire from humanity, but "the means of life," as well. Had Prometheus not provoked Zeus's wrath, "you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste." Hesiod also expands upon the Theogony's story of the first woman, now explicitly called Pandora ("all gifts"). After Prometheus' theft of fire, Zeus sent Pandora in retaliation. Despite Prometheus' warning, Epimetheus accepted this "gift" from the gods. Pandora carried a jar (known as Pandora's box) with her, from which were released "evils, harsh pain and troublesome diseases which give men death". Pandora shut the lid of the jar too late to contain all the evil plights that escaped, but foresight remained in the jar, depriving humanity from hope.