Pandora Essay, Research Paper
?Women may appear as dangerous and evil in the myth of Pandora, but this is simply an extension of the roles of Gaia and Rhea, whose maternal allegiances regularly turn them against their husbands.?
This quote possesses a spectrum of interpretations, yet in my opinion contains both precision and falsity. While it is certain that the myth of Pandora portrays women with a great deal of malevolence as well as the fact that, on various accounts, the maternal loyalty of Gaia and Rhea do turn them against their husbands. Nevertheless, to conjoin these statements to say that, according to Hesoid, Pandora?s actions are an extension of the roles of Gaia and Rhea is not entirely accurate.
First of all, one must analyze the myth of Pandora to understand how exactly women are portrayed as a result of Pandora. One quote sums up the attitude in which Hesiod conveys women.
“What else is a woman but a foe to friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil nature, painted with fair colours?”
(The Myth of a Goddess: Evolution of an Image)
Hesoid portrays women as the “beautiful evil”. He characterizes women as being gifts for men, empty vessels used for reproduction, bearers of all evil, temptresses, as punishment for men, and as property of men. Pandora was said to be a perfect, beautiful woman. There are many stories of her birth, as well as what god actually created her. Some accounts cite Zeus as her creator; others state that Zeus appointed Hephaestus to create her. Pandora was sent to earth by Hermes and given to Epimetheus as a wife. She was fashioned using earth and water. She then rose from the earth, lifeless and naked. Pandora was then given gifts from all of the gods; she was clothed in gold, jewels, and elaborate garments. She was somewhat symbolized as a doll, a play toy for the gods to dress up. Pandora was sent out as a toy to lure the unsuspecting male in and trap him with her sexuality. Because some of the gifts given by the gods were harmful instead of beneficial, Pandora was donned the ?beautiful evil.? Women are often portrayed as gifts to men and then become detrimental to them. This ‘good girl gone bad’ image has its roots in Pandora’s myth. Pandora was just curious, it?s as simple as that, weakness and her inferior mind led her to open the container and release all of the evils onto mankind.
An analogous relationship between this container and the creation of women exists. Pandora was created by a male figure for a male and created for a specific purpose. Pandora was created from clay and water much in the same way many of these containers were. She was also an empty vessel until the gods adorned her with gifts. Behind her veil of textiles and jewels, there was an empty clay core.
Pandora was created to bring peril to mankind, but was also created as a beautiful image to tempt her way into the home of Epimetheus. Pandora was born silent and was endowed the gift of speech by a god. A god created her to punish another and she was to perform the task of punishing mankind. Pandora was sent to punish the human race because Prometheus gave them the gift of fire that was stolen from the gods. Epimetheus takes Pandora in, even after Prometheus warns him. The two marry and thus Pandora becomes the mother of all women. Before Pandora there was no evil, no sickness or death and no labor. The world was perfect. The vessel, which contained all of the evils, is said to have been a possession of both Pandora and Epimetheus, as part of their home. Other accounts claim that Pandora brought the container with her to Earth. The most well known accounts cite the vessel as Pandora’s box and the container of all evils that she released onto humanity, leaving only hope behind. Zeus used Pandora as a curse on the human race. That was her sole purpose. This choice to use a woman as a punishment reinforces the patriarchal god culture and their domination over women. The creation of woman was seen as a punishment.
The second part of the quote deals with Gaia and Rhea, and how their maternal allegiances turned them against their husbands. One example is how Cronus feared he would be overthrown by one of his children he swallowed them one by one as they were bore by his wife and sister, Rhea. Because of this, Rhea had to go behind her husbands back and ask her parents, Gaea and Uranus, for advice who then in turn hatched a plan to fool Cronus into swallowing a rock shaped as his children instead of his actual children. At the same time Gaea is tyrannized by Uranus?s sexual demands. For this reason Gaea, although she is the wife and mother to Uranus, schemed with her son Cronus, a way to mutilate and destroy Uranus?s powers. Although Uranus was a horrible father, and very much deserved the mutilation yet Cronus was no better.
There is a great deal of ambivalence by the female in Greek myth. Gaea for example first strives toward progress, and then, because of her resentment of the Titans? overthrow, Gaea changes her mind and opposes progressive change. She does this partially by giving birth to Typhoeus, who is an enemy of the new world order. Later on, Gaea also motivates the Giants to go against the new world order. At this point one can see some of the parallels between Gaea and Pandora. Pandora is beautiful and irresistible to men on the outside, but if one looks inside she is mud just as Gaea is earth. On a broader spectrum of grand mythical ambiguity Gaea and Rhea mirror Pandora. They are dressed in gorgeous attire framed by a wealth of jewels, yet within they are Earth, within men seek to plant his seed in order to produce child, and in a slight way, challenge their mortality. Another parallel is in the descendants of both Pandora and Gaea. Hesoid implies that from Pandoras womb all future humanity will come forth. Henceforth Pandora does for humanity the same as Gaea does during the time in which the world was created.
Returning now to the original quote, which states that Pandora?s actions are solely because of Gaia and Rhea, which I cannot entirely agree with. Although many characteristics of Gaia and Rhea parallel with Pandora one cannot state concisely that Pandora?s actions can be blamed on this. Also, even though Pandora was blamed for the all of the evils and problems present in the world as well as for human mortality. Some accounts depict Pandora enticing and seducing Epimethus in order to convince him to open the box. These accounts claim that Epimetheus did in fact open Pandora’s box. Yet the most well known accounts say that Pandora opened the box. There are also accounts that the vessel contained all good and when opened, all the good escaped and left only evil. These variations on the myth of Pandora greatly contradict the original quote.
In conclusion, although it is certainly true that women appear dangerous and evil in the myth of Pandora, I don?t think in Hesiod?s mind this is simply an extension of the roles of Gaia and Rhea. Even though it is also true that their maternal allegiances regularly turn them against their husbands, this cannot by the sole reason for the way women are portrayed in the myth of Pandora.