LIFE AS MYTH

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JOURNAL

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JOURNAL 2007

Following a white hart

Exploring myth & meaning

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SPRING 2007

The gift of fire

Index 2007

Sisyphus and the rock

The flight of Icarus

The myth of Pegasus

The quest of Perseus

The chariot of the sun

The birth of Venus

The gift of fire

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SPRING 2007
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THE GIFT OF FIRE

Pandora. Dante Gabriel Rosetti. 1869. Faringdon Collection, United Kingdom.

(W)omen can rescue themselves and others through tricks, pursue what they need or desire through tricks, transform what they find unworkable or unworthy through tricks. Even in adversity and oppression, women are capable of tricking their way into more desirable positions, of using tricks to gain advantages for their communities.
Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster heroines and their stories in world literature
, Marilyn Jurich.

Zeus, chief god of all the gods, had tired of the human race. He determined to deny humanity all blessings until the last mortal had died out. Prometheus, however, felt great compassion for humanity. One day he stole fire from Mount Olympus and bestowed it on mankind so that they might have perpetual warmth and light.

On the night following the fire theft Zeus looked down from Mount Olympus and saw the glow of many fires. He was so incensed that he chained Prometheus to a mountain where a giant eagle fed on his ever-regenerating liver. Prometheus was an immortal and would have suffered for all eternity had Hercules not rescued him several generations later.

For both immortal and mortal, every trick has it consequence. Some good, some bad. The theft of fire was no exception. For Prometheus the consequence was a punishment of chains and unrelenting agony. For humanity, the consequence was the great gift of fire. However, there was also a negative consequence for the mortal world and it came in the form of Pandora.

Pandora, meaning all-gifted, was the first woman. And, according to the myth, she is the punishment that Zeus devised for the theft of fire. When the gods and goddesses created her, Pandora received various gifts: beauty, healing, charm, cunning, boldness and creativity. And to this mix Zeus added mischievousness and a deep curiosity. He then presented her to the mortal ruler Epimetheus, with a beautiful golden box as her dowry. Before Prometheus was chained to the rock, he warned Epimetheus of Pandora and her golden box. However, when Epimetheus saw Pandora he fell in love with her and married her despite the warning.

Epimetheus told Pandora to never open the box but eventually Pandora could not contain her curiosity and she opened the golden box. Up to that day, humanity had lived in a paradise free from worry and affliction but when the lid was lifted disease, despair and suffering flooded out into the world. Realizing what she had done, Pandora quickly lowered the lid. But it was too late and the world was forever changed. Some time later Pandora's curiosity sent her back to the golden box. Only one more thing remained inside. It was hope. When she lifted the lid for the final time, hope came into the world.

 

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