Before the Romans came along and appropriated the stories and changed the names (to protect who? No one in them was innocent), it was the Greeks who developed an extensive pantheon of deities and an intricate set of fables and parables to go with them.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? No, let’s not. Let’s start before the beginning, before Creation, when air, land and sea were all mixed up in a formless jumble of mass called Chaos.
God and Nature got together over a beer one night and decided this was lacking some structure, and by some, no doubt effortless, magic caused the sky to form and the land to sink below it, and finally, assumed heaviest of all by the ancients, the water was last, which the land floated pleasantly upon.
Chuffed with his creation the god – we don’t have a name for this guy because none of the ancient sources decided to include it – set about putting everything in its place. Like a prototype simulation game for the soon to be invented xbox the god started putting a little forrest here, a mountain there, arable fields, grassy bits, rivery bits, fountains, valleys. He was getting all the achievements without resorting to you-tube. Bet he kicked ass at Black Ops 2.
With everything pleasantly paradisey he waved his magic finger and filled the air with birds and the sea with fish and the land with DINOSAURS! Just kidding, with four legged fellows like…well, you know what four legged animals are available.
So it was all gravy down on the earth, but it was decided a more noble animal was required, but the god needed a rest after all that creating, so charged with the task of building one was a guy called Prometheus.
Now, we have the ancient poets to thank for these stories, guys like Hesiod and Homer, trouble is they don’t seem to have been able to agree on all the facts, so what does come down to us is a bit contradictory in places.
Ok, so Prometheus was one of the Titans, they inhabited the world before man. I’ll talk about the Titans in another post, but for now let’s get on with this one.
Not only was the creator god a bit of a half-arsed builder-type, but Prometheus was too, because after fashioning a crude looking man-statue out of some mud and water he put his feet up, had a cup of tea, and ordered his brother Epimetheus to get on with the task of portioning out all the faculties needed to keep the various creatures alive and happy.
I’m guessing Epimetheus was the little brother, and more than a little eager to win big bro’s approval as he sped off and got right to it. He also appears to have been a bit of a dimwit because he was so quick at dishing out the courage and claws and swiftness and strength he forgot to save anything for god’s favourite. D’oh!
By then it seems to have been too late to take anything back from the other animals so he went to his big brother for help. After much tutting and rolling of the eyes Prometheus sought the assistance of Athene, who spirited him up to heaven where he lit his torch from the chariot of the sun and brought fire down to man, which enabled him to be more than a match for the other creatures.
This pissed the gods off immensely, and man was royally boned. The story has it that woman was not yet created, and to punish the Titan brothers, and man for accepting their gift, Zeus created woman as the ultimate punishment. He endowed her with the weapon of nagging to make sure man had no peace for the rest of time.
Her name was Pandora, and actually she was quite nice. All the gods chipped in to help make her, and had a jolly time, with much play-doh flying around and paint dabs on noses.
The accounts vary slightly here, with one version describing Pandora as a punishment gift, given to Epimetheus for his stupidity. To compound his dunceness Epimetheus kept in his house a jar, filled with all the world’s evils, plagues and illnesses of the mind.
Pandora was curious to know what was in the jar, and rather than go to all the trouble of asking she decided it would be easier just to open it and see.
We all know what happened next, even though she tried to quickly put the lid back on, and the only thing left in the jar was hope, showing that no matter what evils and harms beset us we still have hope.
Another version has Pandora sent in good faith as a gift to man, to give his wrist a rest perhaps. Along with her she brought a box, containing all her wedding presents from the gods. She carried the box, so it can’t have contained a kettle, food mixer and a toaster, so she probably got some godly i-tunes vouchers and a blank check for the bar tab.
In an uncharacteristic blunder of clumsiness Pandora fumbled the box as she opened it and the blessings all escaped, all except hope.
This story is more likely than the last for how could a gift so precious as hope be contained in a box with all the world’s evils?
There is more to come on the creation story, and on the fate of Prometheus, but for now,
Love and salad x