If Pandora were alive today, she would probably sneak a peek at every gift under her Christmas tree. However, Pandora lived in very ancient times, according to a Greek myth. She herself was a gift, a special gift that Zeus sent to Earth. Zeus was the head god of all the gods and goddesses who lived on Mount Olympus in ancient Greece. He was angry at the human race because a rebel god, Prometheus, had given people the gift of fire. But that's another story.
In this story, Pandora went to Earth and caused a huge problem because of her curiosity. When Zeus sent Pandora to Earth, he gave her to Epimetheus as a wife. Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, paid no attention when Prometheus said to be careful of any gift from Zeus.
In fact, Epimetheus thought Pandora was a wonderful gift and a wonderful wife. She was bright and she was beautiful and she was a good musician. She was also curious, of course, but Epimetheus had no reason to worry about that.
Epimetheus also liked a second gift that Zeus presented. So did Pandora. The gift was a beautiful wooden box that anybody who saw it would admire. There was only one hitch. The box was locked, and Zeus warned them never to open it.
For a while, that was not a problem. Life was beautiful in those days. There was no sickness. People never grew old or died. Everyone was happy, and that included the newlyweds.
Except for one thing—that box. Pandora could not stop wondering what was in it. Every time she looked at it, she wondered more. She asked Epimetheus to open it, but he said no. He wanted to make Pandora happy, but he was not about to cross Zeus.
Then one day Epimetheus left the house. Pandora tried to keep her eyes off the box, but she could not. She was just like a little kid left alone with the Christmas tree today. First, she looked at the box. Then she touched it. Then she lifted it up and shook it. Then, finally, after hours and hours of smelling and feeling and shaking and wondering, she could not stand the temptation any more. She broke the box open.
Instead of the jewels she hoped to find, instead of the pleasures she wanted, evils flew out; evils that still fly around today. One was hate and another was jealousy. Then came anger, hunger, cruelty, poverty, sickness, and death.
Pandora screamed and slammed down the lid. But it was already too late, and the lid did not quite close. She lifted it again to slam it even harder, and one more thing came floating out. This one last thing was good. It was hope.
Maybe Zeus was happy about Pandora's Box, but humans were not. The world now had evil in it. Things would never be the same. Still, not everything was ruined. People had the one thing they needed to keep going despite their new problems. They had hope.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Sidebar Content, Page Navigation
More Ways to Search
Donate to Support This Program and the Ongoing Work of the UUA
Read or subscribe to UUA.org Updates for the latest additions to our site.
Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.