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  • Curiosity:

  • a blessing, or a curse?

  • The paradoxical nature of this trait

  • was personified for the ancient Greeks

  • in the mythical figure of Pandora.

  • According to legend,

  • she was the first mortal woman,

  • whose blazing curiosity set a chain of earth-shattering events in motion.

  • Pandora was breathed into being by Hephaestus, God of fire,

  • who enlisted the help of his divine companions to make her extraordinary.

  • From Aphrodite she received the capacity for deep emotion;

  • from Hermes she gained mastery over language.

  • Athena gave the gift of fine craftsmanship and attention to detail,

  • and Hermes gave her her name.

  • Finally, Zeus bestowed two gifts on Pandora.

  • The first was the trait of curiosity,

  • which settled in her spirit and sent her eagerly out into the world.

  • The second was a heavy box, ornately curved, heavy to hold

  • and screwed tightly shut.

  • But the contents, Zeus told her, were not for mortal eyes.

  • She was not to open the box under any circumstance.

  • On earth, Pandora met and fell in love with Epimetheus, a talented titan

  • who had been given the task of designing the natural world by Zeus.

  • He had worked alongside his brother Prometheus,

  • who created the first humans

  • but was eternally punished for giving them fire.

  • Epimetheus missed his brother desperately,

  • but in Pandora he found another fiery-hearted soul for companionship.

  • Pandora brimmed with excitement at life on earth.

  • She was also easily distracted and could be impatient,

  • given her thirst for knowledge and desire to question her surroundings.

  • Often, her mind wandered to the contents of the sealed box.

  • What treasure was so great it could never be seen by human eyes,

  • and why was it in her care?

  • Her fingers itched to pry it open.

  • Sometimes she was convinced she heard voices whispering

  • and the contents rattling around inside,

  • as if straining to be free.

  • Its enigma became maddening.

  • Over time, Pandora became more and more obsessed with the box.

  • It seemed there was a force beyond her control that drew her to the contents,

  • which echoed her name louder and louder.

  • One day she could bear it no longer.

  • Stealing away from Epimetheus,

  • she stared at the mystifying box.

  • She'd take one glance inside,

  • then be able to rid her mind of it forever...

  • But at the first crack of the lid, the box burst open.

  • Monstrous creatures and horrendous sounds

  • rushed out in a cloud of smoke and swirled around her, screeching and cackling.

  • Filled with terror,

  • Pandora clawed desperately at the air to direct them back into their prison.

  • But the creatures surged out in a gruesome cloud.

  • She felt a wave of foreboding as they billowed away.

  • Zeus had used the box as a vessel

  • for all the forces of evil and suffering he'd created

  • and once released,

  • they were uncontainable.

  • As she wept,

  • Pandora became aware of a sound echoing from within the box.

  • This was not the eerie whispering of demons,

  • but a light tinkling that seemed to ease her anguish.

  • When she once again lifted the lid and peered in,

  • a warm beam of light rose out and fluttered away.

  • As she watched it flickering in the wake of the evil she'd unleashed,

  • Pandora's pain was eased.

  • She knew that opening the box was irreversible

  • but alongside the strife, she'd set hope forth to temper its effects.

  • Today, Pandora's Box suggests the extreme consequences

  • of tampering with the unknown

  • but Pandora's burning curiosity also suggests the duality that lies

  • at the heart of human inquiry.

  • Are we bound to investigate everything we don't know,

  • to mine the earth for more

  • or are there some mysteries

  • that are better left unsolved?


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B2 US TED-Ed pandora zeus curiosity earth mortal

The myth of Pandora's box - Iseult Gillespie

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    shinnis posted on 2019/09/05
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