2 PROMETHEUS AND EARTH'S FIRST INHABITANTS After the world was created and the gods had fought theirwars, the land that lay below Mount Olympus remainedunpopulated, even though Gaia, the first goddess, had longyearned to make creatures to inhabit the earth. Finally,Zeus decided it was time.It was a good time to be created. No monsters roamedthe earth, and the world was at peace. Zeus began to makecreatures to populate this beautiful world. However, just ashe was beginning, he was called away to settle a matterdividing his fellow Olympians. He decided to appointPrometheus and Epimetheus, sons of Titans who hadfought with the Olympians, to continue the project ofcreating earth's first inhabitants.Although the brothers were Titans by birth, they hadsided with the Olympians in the war against Cronus and theother Titans because, blessed with the gift of being able tosee the future, Prometheus had foreseen the Olympianvictory. Prometheus was the more sensible of the twobrothers, and he always planned ahead. Epimetheus, onthe other hand, always meant well, but he never plannedahead. Epimetheus never thought about the consequencesof his actions until after he had completed them.
3 Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology Zeus had chosen these brothers for the project ofcreating the first people and animals on earth becausePrometheus was an excellent potter and sculptor.Prometheus could make just about anything, and he had agood imagination. Epimetheus was invited to work on theproject because he was always eager to help his brother.Because Zeus had only just started to make the variousearth creatures, the brothers had a lot of work ahead ofthem. After using clay to sculpt the new creatures into theirbasic shapes, Prometheus went to Athena, the goddess ofwisdom, for advice on how to complete the work.Epimetheus stayed behind to give the unfinished creationstheir final distinguishing features.Athena's advice was simple. She told Prometheus thatsince the creatures were already composed of earth andwater, having been fashioned from clay, the only elementlacking for life was air. So, Athena advised Prometheus tohold each of the newly shaped creatures up to the sky.When the wind blew into them, she promised, they wouldbreathe and be truly alive.Meanwhile, Epimetheus continued to work. Heenjoyed showing off his creative powers and granted awide variety of interesting physical attributes to all thedifferent creatures. Epimetheus gave some of them fur andhair, which would protect them from the elements. Hegave others teeth and claws so that they could easilycollect and eat food. In addition, he gave some of thecreatures strength and speed.When Prometheus returned from his talk with Athena,he found that once again, his brother had acted beforethinking. Epimetheus had been so excited about designingthe new animals and so generous with his creative powersthat he had completely forgotten to save any special giftsfor the human beings. By the time the sculptor had gotten
4 Prometheus and Earth's First Inhabitants around to the humans, he had run out of ideas. They wereleft weak and defenseless, and they would have remainedso forever if Prometheus had not stepped in. Once herealized that his brother had created a species unable tostand on its own in the new world, Prometheus set forth tofix the mistake and make human beings strong andcapable of surviving among earth's other inhabitants.First, Prometheus decided to help the humans standupright like the gods. He turned their heads upward to thesky. This adjustment gave them the power to reason. Thenhe raced to the heavens where he lit a torch, using the fireof the sun. He used this fire to light up the new creatures'powers of thought and speech. These special powershelped set the humans apart from the other animals.At first, the gods approved of Prometheus's work. Theywere glad to see that there was a species on earth that hadthe ability to think and speak. But Prometheus was still notsatisfied. He saw that Epimetheus's poor planning had leftthe new humans physically weak compared to the otherinhabitants of the earth. They were hungry, sad, andscared. Finally, to help the humans, Prometheus left MountOlympus and went to live on earth with the people, inorder to teach them the skills they would need to survivein the new world.First, Prometheus showed the humans how to buildhouses so they would not have to live in caves. Then hetaught them how to read, and how to write numbers andletters. He helped the people learn how to tame animalsand how to sail on the seas. He showed them how to healthemselves when they were sick. After he had shown thepeople how to foretell the future and recognize omens bylooking at the way birds flew, some of the other godsbecame impressed by the new people. They decided tohelp, too. Demeter, the Olympian earth goddess, taught the
5 Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology new race of creatures about edible plants. With this help,the humans had better access to food, and they began toprosper and live happily for the first time.Although some of the gods were excited about thedevelopment of the humans, other gods were beginning toworry that the humans were becoming too powerful.However, despite the growing concerns of his fellow gods,Prometheus was so pleased with his creations that hedecided to help the humans even more. Until this time,humans were only allowed to slaughter other animals ifthey were performing a sacrifice to the gods. They ate onlythe plants that Demeter instructed them to eat.Prometheus could see that the humans would probablyneed to eat the meat of other animals to survive.So Prometheus came up with a plan. First, he cut up anox, as if for a sacrifice. Then, he divided the sections intotwo piles. In one pile, Prometheus wrapped up the bonesof the ox and hid them under shiny morsels of fat. This pilelooked like the more attractive offering in a sacrifice. Forthe other pile, Prometheus took the lean meat and otheredible parts of the ox and wrapped them in hide, toppingthe pile with entrails to make the offering look disgusting.Once this was done, Prometheus asked Zeus to chooseone of the two piles and keep it as the sacrificial offering;the humans would take whichever pile Zeus rejected. Notknowing that the good meat was actually hidden beneaththe hide and entrails, Zeus chose the pile shimmering withfat. Once Zeus had made his choice, he had to stick withit, even after he discovered that he had chosen a pile withno edible meat in it. From then on, people offered the fatand bones of animals to the gods, and they kept the savoryparts of the animals for themselves. Zeus was outragedthat Prometheus had tricked him, but he decided to savehis revenge for later.
6 Prometheus and Earth's First Inhabitants This was not the only trick Prometheus played on theOlympian gods for the sake of the humans. Since the newrace of creatures had no fur, they were often cold, andeven though they were now allowed to eat meat, they hadno way to cook it. Human beings did not know about fireor how to control it because, until this point, fire belongedonly to the gods. Prometheus decided to change things.He went up to heaven and secretly stole fire from the gods.Hiding the fire inside the stalk of a fennel plant,Prometheus brought it back to the people on earth. Thenhe taught the people how to cook grains and meat, andhow to keep fire burning so that it would always beavailable. Prometheus also showed the humans how theycould use fire to forge metal, just as Hephaestus, the godof fire and the forge, was doing on Mount Olympus.Prometheus did all these things to help the humansbecause he wanted them to survive in the world nowpopulated by other, more physically powerful creatures.Unfortunately, Prometheus's efforts angered some of theother gods. The new people were getting too powerful andtoo smart. Zeus thought they needed to be stopped beforethey believed their own powers were supreme and they nolonger heeded the authority of the gods. Furthermore, Zeuswas furious with Prometheus for all his tricks.To punish Prometheus for tricking the king of the godsand for making humans so powerful, Zeus had himcaptured and chained to a rock on the crest of one of theCaucasus Mountains. Every day, an enormous eagle cameto the spot where Prometheus was tied. The eagle wasfierce and relentless, and each day it swooped down andpecked away at Prometheus's liver, devouring the greaterpart of it. Because Prometheus was immortal, his livergrew back every night, and he never died.
8 INTRODUCTIONIn ancient Athenian society, women lived very difficultlives. They had no economic or political independence,and even in the home, women were treated as inferior andoften lived in a special part of the house known as thewomen's quarters. Girls were not formally educated liketheir brothers. They lived in their father's house until theymarried as young teenagers, at which time they moved totheir husband's home. They did not speak to men outsidethe intimate circle of family members. When Athensbecame a democracy at the start of the fifth century B.C.,women could not vote.Despite the fact that Athenian women were not offeredequal opportunities in their society, women often playimportant, and sometimes menacing, roles in Greekmythology. It is a contradiction then that, in both myth andreality, women were expected to be virtuous and good; atthe same time, however, it was commonly believed thatthey were devious and wicked beneath their noble facade.In mythology, Pandora was the first human woman,and her story may represent the contradictory issuesassociated with Greek women. Hephaestus, the god of fireand the forge, created Pandora at Zeus's command. Zeusintended her to be a form of punishment for the newlycreated human males. Zeus and some of the other godswanted to put the humans back in their place after theirpowers had been so greatly enhanced by Prometheus. Toachieve the gods' ends, Pandora is endowed with manygifts, among them great beauty and charm. The gods alsogive her a gift that will ultimately set free all the evils in theworld-an ornate box, or a jar, depending on the version of
9 Pandorathe tale. Despite her own good intentions, the first femalecauses much grief and pain for mankind.The story of Pandora and her intriguing but destructivebox comes to us through Hesiod's Theogony . Pandora is afigure who has been interpreted in many different ways.Much of the contradiction surrounding this famousmythological character is thought to come from Hesiod'sunderstanding, or misunderstanding, of her name.Mythology scholar Richmond Y. Hathorn explains, "Thename Pandora does not mean `she who was endowedwith all gifts' [as in Hesiod's version of the story] but rather`she who is giver of all,' and as such it was an epithet[name] of the earth-goddess."1
10 PANDORA Zeus was furious. Prometheus had tricked him, and the king of the gods wanted revenge. He also wanted toremind the humans that they would never be as powerfulas the gods.So far, there were only men in the human population.Women did not yet exist, although certainly there werefemale gods, or goddesses. Introducing women to thehuman race was part of Zeus's plan for revenge. First, Zeuswent to the forge of Hephaestus and asked him to designa human being that would be female. Carefully, Zeusexplained that she should be like the men on earth, yetsomehow slightly different.Hephaestus was happy to do Zeus a favor, and he wentright to work. The god of fire and the forge was a verytalented smith. Everything he made was beautiful, and hisnew creation was no different. When he was finished withthe creature he showed his work to Zeus, who was verypleased with the results. The new creature was namedPandora. She was human, but she was clearly a woman.She was very beautiful and looked like a goddess. She hadlong flowing hair, flawless skin, and bright shining eyes.She was as graceful as a soft breeze, and she had a smileprecious to see. Zeus hoped that her beauty would makethe male humans accept and trust her.
11 After Hephaestus had put the finishing touches on the first human woman, the gods showered her with manygifts, including golden-threaded clothes, shining jewelry,and fragrant smelling flowers. Among the gifts was a boxthat was covered with jewels, intricate carvings, anddecorations. The box was very pretty, and Pandora wascertain that such a beautiful object must surely containsomething of equal magnificence. However, the gods hadgiven Pandora the beautiful box on one condition: Shecould look at it as much as she liked, but she was never toopen it. Pandora did not understand the reasoning behindthis rule, but because the box was so pretty, she agreed tofollow the warning of the gods.Soon Pandora went to live on earth with the otherhumans. When she got there, she met Epimetheus whowas living among the humans with his brother Prometheus.Epimetheus was overwhelmed by Pandora's dazzlingbeauty, and he fell in love with her instantly. Prometheus,aware of his brother's infatuation with Pandora, becamesuspicious that Zeus and the other Olympians wereplanning a trick. Prometheus warned his brother to be waryof any gift sent to earth by the Olympian gods. As usual,Epimetheus did not listen to his brother. He was very muchin love with Pandora, and despite his brother's warning, hemarried the wonderful new creature and brought her to hishome. Epimetheus never thought to ask his new brideabout the beautiful box she always carried with her.The couple lived very happily after their marriage.Every day, Pandora would lovingly admire her beautifulbox, but she obeyed the order of the gods and neveropened it. Soon, however, looking at the box was notenough. Her curiosity became stronger and stronger, andfinally one day she could no longer resist the urge to openthe box, regardless of the consequences.
12 When Pandora opened the box and discovered what was hidden inside its beautiful exterior, she knew at oncethat Zeus's revenge had been accomplished. Inside themagnificent box were all the evil spirits known to the gods.Now that the lid was open, they all quickly flew out.Sorrow, hunger, anger, disease, madness, and a hundredother horrible conditions filled Pandora's room and, likesmoke, they escaped out into the world to plague mankindfor the rest of time. As the evils swarmed around her,Pandora became frightened. As quickly as she could, sheslammed shut the lid of the box, but Pandora realized thatit was too late to regret not having obeyed the gods. Theirrevenge was final. However, Pandora noticed that onespirit still remained in her box. This was the spirit of hope.Soon, when they felt the effects of the various plaguesand evil spirits that had flown out from Pandora's box, thepeople on earth understood that their time of peace hadended. The people recognized the power of the gods'revenge, and understood that forces existed that werestronger than their own modest powers. From that timeon, the people vowed to do their best to keep fromangering the gods any further and were comforted by thefact that hope was safe in Pandora's box. The knowledgethat hope had not been destroyed gave the people faiththat peace would return some day.