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Fast Facts on: Pandora

The releaser of the world's troubles

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Harry Bates - Pandora - Tate Britain Sep 2010 detail of right hand and box front
65986072@N00/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Pandora gets the blame for releasing all troubles into the world - but did she deserve it?

Pandora's Appearance: A beautiful young girl

Pandora's Strengths: Pandora evokes strong desire in all who see her.

Pandora's Weaknesses:Deceitful but the gods made her that way; in later, kinder interpretations, her curiosity.

Parents: One account has Pandora made by Hephaistos at the request of Zeus and adorned by Athena and Aphrodite. But another story says she was the creation of Prometheus and Epimetheus.

Pandora's Spouse: She was given as a gift to Epimetheus.

Children: None known; symbolically she is known as the releaser or "mother" of troubles.

Associated Sites: Mount Olympus, where she was created.

Basic Story: Zeus, upset with the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus for having successfully brought fire to humankind, making for all those annoying sparkling lights on the ground at night, decides to even things up by introducing disease, death, and sorrow to humankind. In the original tale these things are held in a jar, not a box. He orders Pandora to be created and gives her as a gift to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus. She is told to never open her jar, but the gods and goddesses have also made her curious. Eventually, she opens the jar, which in some versions was not given to her by Zeus, but was instead kept locked up by Epimetheus, who did not want humankind to suffer. But in either case, the vessel is opened. Pandora is horrified when realizes what she has done, even though she was designed to do just that, but she cannot slam the lid back on fast enough. The only thing left in the jar is Elpis, or Hope.

There are several variants to Pandora's tale, even more than the usual for Greek myths. In one, Zeus actually sends her with great gifts for mankind rather than evils. In most tales, she is also considered to be the "First Woman", brought into a world inhabited only by gods, goddesses, and human males. In this aspect, as an original woman bringing trouble into the world, her story is similar to that of Eve.

Alternate name: In one early image she is called "Anesidora", the sender of gifts.

Interesting Fact: Pandora's name means the "one who gives all gifts" and actually has a positive connotation. In earliest times, she may have been perceived as a bountiful earth goddess whose gifts were all good.

If you are looking for information about James Cameron's fictional world of Pandora from the movie "Avatar", here is the official "Avatar" movie Pandora site.

More Fast Facts on Greek Gods and Goddesses:

The 12 Olympians - Gods and Goddesses - Greek Gods and Goddesses - Temple Sites - The Titans - Aphrodite - Apollo - Ares - Artemis - Atalanta - Athena - Centaurs - Cyclopes - Demeter- Dionysos - Eros - Gaia - Hades - Helios - Hephaestus - Hera - Hercules - Hermes - Kronos - Medusa - Nike - Pan- Pandora - Pegasus - Persephone - Poseidon - Rhea - Selene - Zeus.

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