Thursday, October 7, 2010


Pandora in Greek mythology was said to be the first woman. She was created by Hephaestus mixed out of earth and water adding a human voice and strength, shaped like the goddesses. She was taught crafts by Athene to weave the embroidered web. Aphrodite showered charms about her head and gave her painful yearning and consuming obsession. Hermes then put in a bitch's mind and knavish nature. Pandora was created by these gods at the command of Zeus to be given as a gift to Epimetheus, Prometheus' brother. She was created to punish Prometheus and mankind for disobeying Zeus. Pandora's purpose was to open the jar and to unleash all the evils and misfortunes on the world


The book of Genesis in the Bible states that Eve was the first women. She was created by God to be a companion for man. Eve was formed from the rib of the first man, Adam. She was named woman because she came from man. Both Eve and Adam were created in God's image. God put Eve and Adam in a paradise that he created for them, the garden of Eden. Everything was beautiful, the garden blossomed and produced food without the need of rain or toil. At the centre of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God told them to eat the fruit of any tree but not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good or evil. Eve was tempted by the serpent, Satan to eat the fruit of the tree. When she ate and then Adam ate their eyes were opened and sin was brought into the world. Eve is often held responsible for bringing sin into the world.


There are many similarities between Hesiod's Pandora and Eve of the bible. One similarity is that in both accounts they were said to be the first woman, both created with a purpose. Although Pandora and Eve purposes differed they were both in one way a gift or companion for man. In Hesiod's Theogony and Days and Works Pandora was created as a gift of a wife for Epimetheus but also as a deceptive trap. Although Eve was not created as a trap she was made to be a suitable companion for man Adam. The main similarity and focus of these two stories is the unleashing of grim cares and sin into the world. Pandora unstopped the jar that released grim cares and misfortune into the world that had previously not existed. And Eve similarly ate of the apple which brought sin into the world separating man from God. Both are often held accountable for the down fall of man.


There are many similarities between the ancient myth of Pandora and the Bible's writings of Eve. Both of these women are held responsible for bringing evils or sin into the world. But although there are many similarities there are also a number of differences. One difference is that Pandora was created for the sole purpose of bringing evil and suffering into the world as a punishment for mankind and Prometheus. Where as Eve was created as a companion, she had free will but was tempted and chose to eat the fruit. Pandora's personality and attributes were created in the image of imperfect goddesses with the purpose for deceit and destruction. Eve was created for good and in the image of a perfect God. But the main difference in these to stories is that in Hesiod's myth of Pandora, she lets all the misfortunes into the world but she contains hope in the jar. This means that hope cannot and does not exist, that people have no optimism. This myth also shows that Zeus is all powerful and that there is no real escaping the misfortunes poured out by Pandora. In the Bible's telling of the story of Eve, even though sin is brought into the world there is still hope. The spiritual separation or death that occurs due to Eve and Adam gaining the knowledge of good and evil can be removed through the blood of a sacrifice, with Jesus being the ultimate atonement for the sins for all mankind.

Pandora's Jar

Pandora's jar more commonly know in modern interpretations of the myth as Pandora's box. Pandora or woman, was created for the purpose of bringing ill fortune to mankind. She opened the jar that contained all the misfortunes of the world and one good hope. She opened it she let out all the misfortunes but keeping in the one good, hope.'For formerly the tribes of men on earth lived remote from ills, without harsh toil and the grievous sickness that are deadly to men. But the woman unstopped the jar and let it all out, and brought geim cares upon mankind. Only hope remained there inside in her secure dwelling, under the lip of the jar, and did not fly out, because the woman put the lid back in time by the providence of Zeus the cloud-gattherer who bears the aegis.' The message of this myth as Hesiod states is 'there is no way to evade the purpose of Zeus.'

Eve and the Apple

The apple is the fruit that is closely associated with Eve although it is not actually specified in the bible what fruit it was. Eve and Adam lived in the garden of Eden, in the centre of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent, who was Satan, tempted Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree, even though God had told them not to. He tempted her by saying that if she ate of the fruit she would gain the wisdom of good and evil and become like God. When she ate the fruit and then Adam ate, their eyes were opened and they realised they were naked. This brought sin into the world and separated them from God causing spiritual death. In Genesis God hands out punishment for what they have done.
  'The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'
 So the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this
Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the animals!
 You will crawl on your belly
 and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
 And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
 and between your offspring and hers;
 he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.'

 To the woman he said,
 'I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to your children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.

'To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your
wife and ate from the tree about which i commanded
you, 'You must not eat of it,'

'Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground
since from it you were taken
for dust you are
 and dust you will return.'"

Variations of Pandora's Jar

The two versions that I used for the story of Pandora were Hesiod Theogony and Hesiod Days and Works. Although written by the same author they do vary slightly. In Hesiod's Theogony lines 502-562 and 585-602, tr. M. West (Oxford 1988) there is more of a focus on the reasons for the creation of Pandora. This version goes into more detail about Prometheus angering Zeus by tricking him into taking the offering that was bigger but was really bones covered in fat. Zeus then to punish Prometheus took away fire from people, Zeus knew this would anger as Prometheus is said to have created people. Prometheus then stole fire off Zeus giving it back to people. Zeus then decided to punish him and mankind by creating Pandora as a wife for Prometheus' brother Epimetheus. This version doesn't go into much detail about the jar but refers to the Pandora and women as the trap and talks about how they are an affliction to men and the world.

In Hesiod's Days and Works lines 42-68 and 83-105, tr. M. West the focus is more on the creation of attributes of Pandora. It goes into detail about how she was created and given characteristics from the different goddesses and gods. This version has more reference to the jar and the releasing of the grim cares and trapping only hope still in the jar. It also sums up to main message of the myth that Zeus is all powerful and that his providence cannot be escaped.

Source of Evil or Source of Life

Both Pandora and Eve are often seen as and portrayed as the sources of evil. Their characters are depicted as villainous or vindictive women. They are blamed for the misfortunes of the world. But is this representation true or fair? Can we rather see both Pandora and Eve as not sources of evil but rather the source of life, prosperity and fertility. Or even can we blame only them for the unleashing of evil within the world.

The name Eve translated from Hebrew means 'living', in the Genesis.3:20 Adam names woman Eve because she is the mother of all the living. Through this idea of Eve being the mother of all living and her name meaning living we can see her as more of a source of fertility and prosperity. Eve isn't even fully held accountable for bringing sin into the world, but rather Adam her husband who is the ruler over her is held accountable. In 1 Corinthians.15:21-22 it says 'For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.' Through this story of Eve and the temptation it can be interpreted not only as the source of all evil but also as a source of life, she is also not wholly held accountable for sin entering the world but all mankind is responsible.

Pandora like Eve can also be viewed in a similar way. The name Pandora in Greek translated literally means 'all gifts', she also is often depicted in ancient artworks as having only half a body with her legs cut off at the bottom looking like she is rising from the ground. This depiction is often common of earth goddesses, this can be then interpreted that Pandora being the first woman and source of all gifts is seen more as mother nature, giving an image of fertility rather than evil.

In both of these stories although the women carried out the task of bringing the sin or misfortune into the world, they weren't the only ones who played a part so why should they get all the blame? In Hesiod's telling of Pandora Zeus was who designed and planned for her to be created with this purpose, he is the one who is responsible for unleashing the evils into the world as it was his providence to do so. This is the same with the telling of Eve and the temptation, the Serpent or Satan as he represents tempted or tricked her into eating the fruit he wanted her to do this in order to bring sin into the world. Although they are not the only ones to blame due to common interpretations and patriarchal stereotypes the women are blamed and held accountable.

Modern Interpretations

The 2009 movie The Box, is an example of a modern interpretation of the characters Eve and Pandora. In the movie three different families are presented with a box that if you press the button you will get 1million dollars but someone somewhere in the world will die. In every instance where the button is pushed it is always done by the wife. Although there many other themes and symbolism throughout the movie, this theme represents the similarities in the story of both Eve and Pandora. Not only does the woman choose to press the button but each of the women who do are punished eventually as they are held responsible. The Box represents the in story of Eve the apple and in Pandora the jar. This particular interpretation represented in this movie is can be more closely aligned with Eve. She is tempted by the box and the outcome of pushing the button. She knows that she will gain something from it, but also knows that there is a consequence.. Like Eve all of the women chose to press the button. It is also very similar to the story of Eve as, it is the woman who succumbs to the temptation not the man. The death of a random person can be related to the sin or evil that is unleashed like in the story of Eve and of Pandora.  Mr Steward the man who gives them the offer is like in the serpent tempting Eve, in the myth of Pandora's jar he can in some ways be compared to Zeus. Mr Steward knew that people who press the button just like how Zeus knew that Prometheus' brother would accept Pandora and then consequently she would open the jar.