Why couldn’t Pandora just leave the damn box alone?

When we think of Pandora, we often associate her with her infamous Box - the box that unleashed all evil into the world. But what if it wasn’t a box at all? In fact, there are different interpretations of the story involving Pandora and her “box”. Oftentimes, she purpose fully opens the box, sometimes it’s a jar, and in some iterations of the story, she doesn’t open the box at all. So why does it matter if it is a box or a jar?

Pythos = large unstable jar due to its wide lip and small base.
Pyxis= more closely related to our concept of a box today.

The different versions of Pandora’s Box reflect who we want her to be and who she has become to us - the curious girl who brought evil into the world. Pandora, in the most prominent contemporary version of the myth, wilfully opens the box- instead of accidentally pushing a large unstable jar over, that just happens to contain all the world’s evils. Why does this matter? Because Pandora’s motives, or lack thereof, are vital to informing our attitudes towards her - is she a troublesome temptress, or an innocent, and perhaps slightly clumsy, young woman?

According to ancient Greek sources, Pandora was created by Zeus to be a beautiful, charismatic woman: “a beautiful evil” to bring chaos and destruction to humans as revenge for Prometheus gift of fire, which entirely transformed their previously rather miserable existence. And Zeus succeeded. Haynes argues that Pandora, still blamed for so many of our societal ills, is merely a puppet. Many gods helped Zeus carry out his plan. Hermès sent Pandora down to earth to meet Prometheus' brother, Epimytheous, and she just so happened to carry a jar that unleashed hell on Earth? “No wonder Pandora gets all the blame”, says Haynes. And we agree.

If Pandora was designed and created solely to unleash the jar/box of doom, why have we completely villainized her, conveniently forgetting Zeus’ central role in this chaos? Why have we come to blame someone who has no agency - someone who has been designed, manipulated and coerced into following a path of action dictated by the most powerful god of all?

The original myths focused on the creation of Pandora and her Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. As Christianity became more prominent in Greece, however, and stories such as Adam and Eve’s took centre stage, Pandora became less associated with being ‘the first woman’, and instead the myths came to focus on her sly, manipulative and deathly curious character - she became a temptress. Like Eve, Pandora is someone we all love to hate. Visual artists through the centuries have been fascinated by her beauty, often depicting her as young, fragile and erotic, while she commits the unforgivable act of opening that damn box.

So, what does Pandora represent to you? Who is she without the jar (or box)? What lies beyond her beauty and her curiosity? What lies beyond her betrayal?

What we want to know is:
Who is Pandora today?

Continue exploring...

How to Apply

Please submit your proposals to contact.kleio.collective@gmail.com by 11:59PM SUN 22 AUGUST 2021 Sucessfull submission will be presented in an online exhibition on our website, here on www.kleiocollective.co.uk , launching in September 2021.

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