PANDORA'S BOX

Refer to the earlier mention of Pandora in the story of Prometheus and the stealing of fire from the Gods.

The original Pandora, the All-Giver, was an Earth goddess in prehistoric matriarchal Greece. She was sent to Earth with a jar which contained all ills; of good things, it contained only hope. Primitive man lived in this world of hope. He relied on the munificence of nature, on the handouts of gods, and on the instinct of his tribe to enable him to subsist. Classical Greeks began to replace hope with expectations.

There is a distinction between hope and expectation. Hope, in its stronger sense, means trusting in the goodness of nature, while expectation, in the sense used here, means reliance on results which are planned and controlled by man. Hope centers desire on a person from whom we await a gift. Expectation looks forward to satisfaction from a predictable process which will produce what we have the right to claim.

Classical Greeks, when they began to replace hope with expectations, believed that Pandora released both ills and goods when she opened the box. But they remembered her mainly for the ills she had unleashed. And, most significantly, they forgot that the All-Giver was also the keeper of hope.

The Greeks told the story of two brothers, Prometheus and Epimethius. The former wanted his brother to leave Pandora alone. But Epimethius married her. In classical Greece, the name 'Epimethius' means 'hindsight' and was interpreted to mean 'dull' or 'dumb.' By the time Hesiod retold the story in its classical form, the Greeks had become moral and misogynous patriarchs who panicked at the thought of the first woman. They built a rational and authoritarian society. Men engineered institutions through which they planned to cope with the rampant ills. They became conscious of their power to fashion the world and make it produce the services they learned to expect. They wanted their own needs and future demands of their children to be shaped by their artifacts. They became lawgivers, architects, and authors, makers of constitution, cities, and works of art to serve as examples to their offspring. Primitive man had relied upon mythical participation in sacred rites to initiate individuals into the lore of society, but the classical Greeks recognized as true only those citizens who let themselves be fitted by paideis (education) into the institutions their elders had planned 

To the primitive, the world was governed by fate, fact, and necessity. By stealing fire from the gods, Prometheus turned facts into problems, called necessity into question, and defied fate. Classical man framed a civilized context for human perspective. He was aware that he could defy fate-nature-environment, but only at his own risk. Contemporary man goes further; he attempts to create the world in his own image, to build a totally man-made environment, and then discovers that he can do so only on the condition of constantly remaking himself to fit it. We now must face the fact that man himself is at stake.