What Was Hope Doing in Pandora's Box of Evils?

Discussion in 'Alternative Thought Forum' started by Christian, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Christian

    Christian Knight Moderator

    Original Poster
    Even if you are extremely unfamiliar with Greek mythology, chances are you've heard of Pandora's Box.

    Hesiod's Theogony contains a creation story, but it describes the creation of the gods, not humans. However, Theogony does offer the first account as to how gods and humans interact with each other.

    The problems start for humans when it's being worked out as to how human should offer sacrifice to the gods. Prometheus, the first cousin of Zeux, is present at this meeting and while there, he tries to trick Zeus by disguising the choice cuts as inedible, for which he intends to save for the humans. At the same time, he tries to give the inedible parts to the gods, which were disguised as edible.

    Zeus immediately knows what is going on and his first action in response is to punish humans by hiding fire from them. Prometheus then steals it back for mankind, and this time, Zeus is really angry.

    Prometheus is punished by being chained to a rock (or column) where an eagle (a symbol for Zeus) comes everyday and eats his liver. The liver grows back each night so that the bird can come back to eat it again the next day. The punishment is intended to be forever, but Prometheus is eventually rescued by Heracles some generations later.

    But for humans (according to Greek mythology, the first humans were male ONLY), their punishment is the curse of the nagging, emotional and irrational nature of women, the antithesis to the masculine nature. (Women! Can't live with them, can't live without them!)

    This story is also retold in Hesiod's Works and Days, and in this version, the emphasis is placed on Pandora, the first woman (whereas Theogony concentrates on Prometheus and his punishment.)

    As has been famously told and retold for countless generations, Pandora had a box that contains all the evils that can torment mankind, such as disease, terror, old age, etc. Actually, however, it was really a jar or pot, not a box, but I suppose "Pandora's Box" rolls off the tongue better than "Pandora's Jar." It's important to note that she isn't sent to mankind in general but rather, she is sent to Prometheus's brother, Epimetheus. While with him, she opens her box an unleashes the evils upon mankind. But the one thing that remained inside the box was hope (or Elpis).

    I suppose this is kind of where mythology and the modern world collide. Everyone, I think, should remember the famous "hope" poster of Obama.

    Barack Obama "Hope" poster - Wikipedia

    I only drag Obama into this discussion because his "hope" poster is so widely recognized, but this discussion could apply to any politician or state that is trying to argue that there is "hope" for the people because of the direction things that are moving in politically at the behest of its leaders.

    My question is fairly simple, and I suppose it gets asked of college students of classical mythology all the time, but why do you suppose hope was left inside the jar?

    For that matter, what was hope doing mixed in with all the other earthly evils?

    Is hope evil?
  2. zorkborg

    zorkborg Pawn

    If we look at hope as a means of "hopelessly", in that we see desperation, despair, and lack of faith. The way people tend to use hope is the last resort when you have nothing left. It is kind of like "faith" but faith is tangible where hope is just an emotion. I am not sure if I am wording this right but I remember learning about this when I was a kid at a Christian study class. When we are "hoping" for something to happen, we already lost faith that it can or rather has already happened.
  3. Laurel

    Laurel Pawn

    Hmmm...that is an interesting question!

    What was hope doing mixed in with all of the other evils?

    I wonder if this is a reference to the idea that hope can sometimes lead to disappointment. We can hope for something but if it doesn't work out, it can leave us feeling mildly disappointed to completely devastated.

    Am I on the right track?