Monday, March 31, 2014


Because of my relationship with and comments on the word HOPE in my previous post, I decided to check out the myth of Pandora. Wow! There's a lot of confusion around her ~ who she was, what she was, what she did, whether hope stayed in the container, what the container was..... the list goes on and on!

Here is part of the problem ~~ an amphora in the Ashmolean Museum with a depiction of Pandora rising from the earth. In 1903, Jane Ellen Harrison wrote: "Pandora rises from the earth; she is the Earth, giver of all gifts. This is made doubly sure by another representation of her birth or rather her making. ... Pandora, half statue half woman, has just been modelled by Hephaistos, and Athene is in the act of decking her. Pandora she certainly is, but against her is written her other name (A)nesidora, 'she who sends up gifts.' Pandora is a form or title of the Earth-goddess ... entirely humanized and vividly personified by mythology."

So Pandora begins life as a manifestation of the Earth-goddess Gaea... then loses her place when Hesiod writes about her as the blight of humanity? Certainly, a patriarchal culture would continue that mythos.

Why am I so intrigued by the myth of Pandora? Because I believe it, and other myths laying the troubles of the world at the feet or hands of female characters, instills in our youth a subtle and continuing blame of women. We talk about these myths as though they are simply stories that we can easily dismiss. Yet we continue to read them, to teach them, to use them as instructional tools. We've always used myths to explain natural or cultural phenomena. Why would we think that our teaching of these myths would be any different? Do we use other myths to counter them? Do we teach/share all the variations?

What stories/myths have shaped your life? Which ones still do? How do you want to re-vision them?

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