Legends talk of a woman, blessed by the Gods themselves, ‘the all gifted’. Created by Hephaestus, at Zeus’ behest,molded from the very earth- the epitome of femininity. Athena dressed her in a shimmery white gown , taught her art and endowed her with wisdom,strength and valor , Aphrodite blessed her with beauty and grace enough to entice the hearts of even the strongest of men, Charites gave her chains of gold and silver , charms to grace her lithe body and alabaster skin, the Horae gifted her a garland crown with green sprigs, red-gold autumn leaves and crystal snowflakes to adorn the cascade of her ebony hair. Hermes gifted her a crafty mind and taught her wiles to beguile the minds of mortals and Gods alike. And as she opened her eyes – darker than the darkest night, parted her crimson lips and drew her first breath, he gave her a name- “Pandora”.
She wanted for nothing for she had it all – the love of scholars and warriors alike,to enthrall her with tales long forgotten and to lay their swords and lives at her feet, the admiration of women who sought to hide the seeds of envy blossoming in their hearts. She was the warmth that one craved during winter nights, the breeze that soothed summer evenings, the vibrant hues of spring.She was everything any mortal would desire.
And yet, her heart was listless. A longing from deep within, for in their haste the Gods had forgotten the greatest gift of all- to be content,fulfilled and to know peace.And so she continued her quest to find that piece of her that would render her complete, driven to a frenzy in her pursuit for that which surrounded her and yet was beyond her grasp. Why was it that the mortals that thronged around her- imperfect creatures- could indulge in joy and pleasure, but she alone denied?
And then came that fateful day, when Zeus himself entrusted to her care a bejewelled jar, engraved with secrets and shrouded in mystery. To her many questions and her curious glances, He gave terse, cryptic replies- revealing only that it contained the greatest gifts to mankind. Driven by her inquisitiveness, her greed to know joy- for she knew with iron- clad certainty that happiness was the gift on which mankind thrived- she opened the jar, her hands trembling with anticipation. And in her blind pursuit of happiness- she doomed the whole of the mortal realm for aeons to come.
She watched helplessly, as if in a trance , as Salus escaped and man knew of fear that lies in wait, biding its time, poised to strike.Then fled Concordia, leaving the world bleak and the minds of men filled with poison. They were followed by Aequitas, Clementia, Libertas and Pax and the lands ravaged by war, men shackled in chains ,cruelty reigned , mercy and goodwill towards brethren long forgotten. Felicitas, Leatitia weren’t far behind- and in front of her very eyes, all that she craved, all that for which she had forsaken mankind, slipped away as if they never were. The most treacherous blow , however , came from Virtus, draining away her sense of self- her self worth, her pride smashed to smithereens. And yet, that final blow shook her out of her reverie, and before Spes could follow her sisters, she trapped her again with the confines of the jar.
And so goes the tale of Pandora-
“Of all good things that mortals lack,
Hope in the soul alone stays back”
But the Gods never were a trustworthy lot, and that leaves one to wonder if Hope is the promise of a new dawn or merely expectation designed to decieve?Is it the last of our blessings or the worst curse bestowed upon us?