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Pandora in Literature

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Jessica Reyes

on 20 May 2014

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Transcript of Pandora in Literature

The tale begins with the Titan Prometheus who stole fire from Zeus to give it to all of mankind. This was apparently bad and Zeus was pretty ticked off and he decides to chain Prometheus to a rock for all eternity where his liver would continually be eaten by birds. His liver would regrow every night in order for the birds to feast again once morning comes. For further punishment he decides to inflict the worst punishment he could think of: A woman.

Hesiod, in his Works and Days, ca. 700 BC, has a very early version of the Pandora story.

...Thus Pandora was created and she was given to Epimethius to be his bride and as a wedding gift, Zeus presents her with a jar filled with every possible bad thing in the world and warns her never to open it. (Worst wedding gift ever!) Eventually Pandora gets curious and opens the jar and thereby releasing all the evils of humanity. But not all hope is lost. Literally: the only thing that remained in the jar was hope.
The Story
Cultural Allusions to Pandora
The first part of the story to be obscured by interpretation is the description of Pandora’s dowry as a “box”. This was actually an invention of Erasmus of Rotterdam, a Dutch Renaissance Humanist who translated the myth into Latin.
Further Cultural Allusions to Pandora and her box
Further Cultural Allusions to Pandora's Box
Greek Mythology
Pandora
Essential theme:
Curiosity is a trait in humans that can most easily be, and is most often their downfall.
It can be said that Mary Shelley's
Frankenstein
carries the same theme of "curiosity killed the cat", alluding from Pandora's box. Victor Frankenstein created his creature out of curiosity, and by creating his creature it was like opening a whole new Pandora's box. The creature became an evil monster that plagued the townspeople, just as the evil unleashed in Pandora's box plagued mankind.
Pandora's Box (1904) (Die Büchse der Pandora) is a play by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind. It forms the second part of his pairing of 'Lulu' plays, the first being Earth Spirit (1895), both of which depict a society "riven by the demands of lust and greed"
A film based on the Wedekind play directed by G. W. Pabst and starring Louise Brooks
Paul Auster's 1998 movie called Lulu on the Bridge
Izzy Maurer is a jazz saxophonist whose life is permanently changed when he is hit by a stray bullet during a performance in a New York nightclub. After his recovery, lzzy stumbles across the body of a stranger in the streets of lower Manhattan—and winds up with the murdered man's briefcase. In it he finds a napkin with a telephone number on it and a box that contains a mysterious stone. The number leads him to Celia Burns, a young actress, and under the magical influence of the stone, the two of them fall deeply in love. When Celia is cast as Lulu in a remake of Pandora's Box, she and Izzy separate for what they think will be just a few days. But people are looking for the stone, and when lzzy is abducted and interrogated by the enigmatic Dr. Van Horn, the story takes a dark and surprising turn—into the Pandora's box of Izzy's soul.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Masque of Pandora"
Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers".
John Milton alludes to the classical myth of Pandora several times in his writings. His earliest reference is in his third profusion, "On the Harmony of the Spheres," which he wrote while a student at Christ's College, Cambridge, between 1625 and 1632. "The fact that we are unable to hear this harmony," says Milton, "seems certainly to be due to the presumption of that thief Prometheus, which brought so many evils upon men". Though Milton does not mention Pandora by name, her eventual role in the Fall is implicit in his remarks. His first explicit allusion to Pandora is in his fourth profusion, "In the Destruction of any Substance there can be no Resolution into First Matter," which he begins by saying: "This is not the place in which to inquire too nicely whether Error escaped from Pandora's box, or from the depths of the Styx, or lastly whether he is to be accounted one of the sons of Earth who conspired against the gods" (CPW 1:249). Milton makes his final reference to Pandora in Paradise Lost (1667 and 1674), where he compares the unfallen Eve to the character from classical myth. Eve is

[...] more adorn'd,
More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endow'd with all thir gifts, and O too like
In sad event. (4.713-16)
Between his Cambridge years and Paradise Lost, Milton mentions Pandora in the 1644 second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. In that greatly expanded version of the 1643 first edition, he alludes to Pandora to illuminate the Fall and to absolve God of responsibility for creating sin
This is a film about a young, care-free, and naive woman who creates havoc to everyone around her.
James Cameron's "Avatar". The story takes place on a planet called Pandora.
Pandora's Box was a key element in the second Tomb Raider movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
The first movie in Steven Chow's A Chinese Odyssey films is subtitled Pandora's Box, referring to a box in the film which can transport people back into time, but is not related to the Greek myth in any way;
In Lost (TV series), Locke is asked what he hopes to find in the hatch, and answers Hope.
Music: The name Pandora means "all-gifted" in Greek. In ancient Greek mythology, Pandora received many gifts from the gods, including the gift of music, from the god Apollo.
Art:
Pandora by Harry Bates
Pandor
a by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Pandora's box by Steele Savage
Games:

A video game called Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow features a storyline in which a terrorist leader prevents smallpox being released into the U.S. (alluding to not opening Pandora's Box) by calling the people in charge of keeping the containers, who are in the U.S., and saying the phrase "Pandora Tomorrow" as a life insurance policy for himself
Jewelry:

A song in 2003 by Louise, "Pandora's Kiss". The lyrics refer to Pandora and the music video features Louise inside a box.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
The Renaissance:
From the early years of the Renaissance, artists portrayed subjects from Greek mythology alongside more conventional Christian themes.
In northern Europe, Greek mythology never took the same hold of the visual arts, but its effect was very obvious on literature. Both Latin and Greek classical texts were translated, so that stories of mythology became available. In England, Chaucer, the Elizabethans and John Milton were among those influenced by Greek myths; nearly all the major English poets from Shakespeare to Robert Bridges turned for inspiration to Greek mythology.
Pandora's myth taught the importance of patience especially in time that was transitioning into a more philosophical and scientific way of thinking instead of turning to religious doctrine.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
The Neoclassical Movement
Neoclassicism arose partly as a reaction against the sensuous and frivolous Rococo style that dominated European art during the early 18th century. However, a more scientific interest in classical antiquity was given great impetus by new archaeological discoveries in southern Italy and Greece. Just before and during the French Revolution, under the leadership of Jacques-Louis David, a rigorous Neoclassical painting style arose. David and other painters adopted stirring moral subject matter from Roman history that celebrated the values of simplicity, austerity, heroism, and stoic virtue that were traditionally associated with the Roman Republic, thus drawing parallels between that time and the contemporary struggle for liberty in France. David's history paintings displayed a gravity and decorum deriving from classical tragedy, a certain rhetorical quality of gesture, and patterns of drapery influenced by ancient sculpture.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
The Victorian Era
The nineteenth century treated mythology as either natural philosophy or nature poetry.
Myths were considered by Victorian scholars as survivals of previous times. Some saw them as evidence for social evolutionary theories of the 19th century. These Victorians scholars (like E. B. Tylor) believed that humans in all cultures progress through stages of evolution from "savagery" to "barbarism" and finally to "civilization." This final, most advanced stage was of course best represented by the men writing the theories.
Greek myths are alluded in many novels, but they are only allusions to clarify a scene or character. Pandora's box was used to portray women as hysterical and irrational.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
The Romantic Era
In a majority of poems from the Romantic era there is a profusion of the use of supernatural and mythological references in reference to the content of the individual pieces. They would come in various states and mean different things, yet they would all serve the same purpose and that would be to help the reader understand and appreciate the sense of awe and creative genius that made a piece what it is.
The Romantic Era used the myth of Pandora to portray women as lovers and romantic beings instead of independent individuals.
Pandora's box was interpreted to embrace the innocence and simplicity of life and that it is ambition and curiosity that leads to ruin.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
The Post-Modern Movement
In a Postmodern perspective, Pandora's box is used to show how women were "constructed" and how she is continued to be known. Pandora is seen as the instigator of mortality in humanity. She is seen to have brought death into the world.
"Pandora's box," her story says a lot about the contemporary suffering of girls and women and the unspoken meanings that lie behind the commodity of female beauty.
Although her beauty is as powerful as fire, it is based on lies and deceit. Men must learn to be wary of it, and to control it. Pandora's beauty is a power commodity among males. It is attractive, but empty. She is dangerous. What she brings to mankind is the ultimate defeat, death itself.
Wolf puts Pandora's story in the framework of contemporary sociobiology and says,
The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called 'beauty' objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women and not for men. . . because it is biological, sexual, and evolutionary: Strong men battle for beautiful women, and beautiful women are more reproductively successful.
Relevance Throughout the Eras
Modern Day
In a modern day perspective, Pandora's box portrays humanity obsession with knowing and being everything. It appears that giving in to our body's natural curiosity is a betrayal of our spirit.
A modern twist might be the lengths we go to for oil. Think Iraq and off shore drilling. We find it, we use it, we poison our world, we bankrupt our societies. The box being that we have to drill to get to it. Many would agree we would live in a cleaner world if we never found the oil in the first place.
If you let your curiosity get the better of you, you will delve into such things as Wrath, Misery and Envy and all the horrors of the world. Yet even still there is a salvation left, Hope. Its sort of talking about taking a bite into the Apple of Truth but the silver lining is free will.
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