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Pandora's Box

Tales beyond belief

The Myth of Pandora's Box
Prometheus had a brother named
Epimetheus, who was also very wise, and, like Prometheus, he was called the " common blessing of mankind." Epimetheus did not arouse the anger of Zeus, as his brother had done. Indeed, instead of binding him to a rock, Zeus sent a valuable present to Epimetheus' palace. And what do you suppose it was? A dear little maiden, Pandora, who was to live in the palace as a friend and helpmate for Epimetheus.

Pandora came in the swan chariot of the lady Aphrodite, and stood in the doorway to greet Epimetheus upon his return from the fields. It was a happy surprise to him, for he had grown very lonely in his grand and gloomy palace, which needed the sunshine of little Pandora's presence. Epimetheus was very rich, but very generous; and he could but grow more gentle and kind to the little Pandora, who reminded him constantly of the needs of others.

But we must not forget the strange gift which the gods had sent with Pandora. This was a strong box which Pandora desired at once to open. But when Epimetheus attempted to do so, he found this inscription upon the lid:

"OPEN NOT THE BOX UNTIL THE GODS SHALL SO DECREE."

So Epimetheus carried the box into the palace, and told Pandora that she could see it whenever she liked to do so, but begged her never to try to open it. Pandora promised.

She often found pleasure in sitting upon the box, tracing with her slender fingers the delicate scrolls and queer designs. The beauty of the box was a constant temptation to her. She often dreamed about the contents, and longed to take just a peep. But the kind face and warning voice of Epimetheus always prevented, for somehow he always appeared just at the dangerous moment. One day Epimetheus went to the fields early in the morning; to stay until the shades of evening had fallen.

Pandora tried to forget the box, but it seemed to call to her. That very morning she had found a curiously shaped key, and she was tempted to try it in the lock. She would not open the box; she would only see whether the key really did belong to it. Her hands trembled, and her breath came quickly; she thought she heard a footstep. No; it was only the water splashing in the fountain. With a little click, the key slid into the lock. It was a perfect fit. Pandora's left hand rested under the edge of the lid. She raised it gently, and peeped in. Oh-o-o-o! Whiz! Whir-r-r-r!

The room was filled with tiny, fluttering creatures, so tiny and so lovely that they might have been winged blossoms. Thev fluttered about the room, while Pandora looked aghast, then floated out between the great pillars, and away across the fields. Pandora had shut the lid down quickly after a very short space, and she hoped that they had not all escaped. She leaned her pretty head against the box and sobbed bitterly, listening; between sobs for the footsteps of Epimetheus.

How she dreaded his return! It seemed as if a whole year passed while she waited. It was so silent in the great room. All at once a tiny voice which seemed to come from the box cried, " Pandora! Pandora! open the box, and let us out." Pandora raised the lid again, and seated upon the edge of the box were two little beings, who said, " Foolish little Pandora! You have not prized the blessings which the gods sent you, else you would have guarded them more carefully. They have flown away, but we will stay with you. We are Love and Hope. We will help you to undo the mischief; but it will take much patient effort, little Pandora, to bring back the blessings to mankind."

Just at that moment Epimetheus returned; and as he saw at a glance what had happened, his face grew sad, and he said, " Pandora, we have offended the gods by holding their command so lightly. We must now strive to regain the blessings, for if they come not to us, they will never be a gift to mortals." So Pandora became very patient and earnest in all that she did. One by one the blessings came back for short periods, then for longer ones, until Pandora had grown to be a beautiful old woman, when all of the blessings were hers once more; and they did not remain in the box, but hovered around her wherever she went, bringing happiness to all who knew her. 

The Legend and Myth about Pandora's Box

The Myth of Pandora's Box
The story of Pandora's Box is featured in the book entitled Stories of Old Greece by Emma M. Firth first published 1895.

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