After Prometheus had stolen fire and given it to mortal Man, king Zeus was not pleased. He resolved to weaken Man again, and counteract the blessing. He commisioned the Gods to fashion a mortal woman from the earth. She was bestowed many gifts, including beauty, persuasion, and musical talent. Hermes bestows curiousity. Her name, Pandora, represented her creation, all gifts.
Prometheus’s brother Epimetheus met her, they grew to love each other, and they wed. The couple, along with humankind, lived without the evils that we know. One day, however, Hermes brings along a box (some translators call it a jar) and asks them to store it. Despite warnings, Pandora’s curiousity gets the better of her, and the lid is lifted. The contents of the box escape.
What was in Pandora’s Box? The miseries of the world: disease, plague, sorrow, depression, envy. And one other thing. As Hesiod writes,
“Hope sole remain’d within, nor took her flight, Beneath the vessel’s verge conceal’d from light.”
Why hope? Most people look at hope, the remainder, as either cover for the evils, or a gift enclosed in a moment of compassion. I’ve heard another version. At times like these, I wonder if that’s true. Perhaps hope was enclosed, and remained, not because of Zeus’ compassion, but because it was the most pernicious evil of all. Perhaps?