I’ve never understood the story of Pandora’s box. Pandora opened the box, allowing all the evils of the world to escape. The only thing left was hope.
So. If the box was full of evils, why was hope in there in the first place? If opening the box is what unleashed evil upon the world, how is it a good thing that hope didn’t make it out? Doesn’t that mean the world doesn’t have hope?
To hear it told, that doesn’t seem to be the point of the story.
Of course, the whole thing was a set up. An elaborate plan to punish man and degrade us in response to our burgeoning capacity.
Prometheus defied the gods and gave man fire. For that he won an eternity chained to a rock having his liver devoured by an eagle.
Like Sisyphus, though, one must imagine Prometheus happy – the sheer torture of being eaten alive balanced by the knowledge of what he’d done. Not only had he created man – shaping us out of clay – he’d truly given us life. He gave us fire. He gave us knowledge. He made us conscious.
It was that gift of consciousness which the gods could not abide.
And so, Prometheus endured eternal torment, a daily cycle of liver devoured and regrown. The worst punishment the gods could muster. But even knowing his fate, Prometheus would commit his crime again. I imagine him calmly greeting his winged tormentor – a painful reminder that what he’d accomplished was truly miraculous.
But punishment for Prometheus was not enough. He was made to suffer for his act, but what of the young upstarts, recently blessed with consciousness, empowered by Prometheus’ fire? How should the gods punish them?
Pandora and her box were gifts to Prometheus’ brother: Epimetheus was as near sighted as Prometheus was far sighted. The perfect rube for a celestial con. Pandora, created specially for the occasion, was endowed with insatiable curiosity and, perhaps, a healthy dose of defiance.
Pandora was told she must never, ever open the box with the full intention that she would, of course, open the box. She was the unwitting time bomb sent to unravel the power of man.
So she opened the box – as she was instructed not to and as she was designed to. All the evils of world were unleashed.
The moral here, I suppose, is this: even with all forms of evil forever tormenting us, even with despair, illness, conflict and worse, even in a world without hope – we still have life.
We still have fire.