100 Days of Wonder Woman, Mythology

Pandora

The Amazons were not the first women created by the gods. That distinction belongs to Pandora, the first woman, the “Eve” of Greek mythology. 

Unlike Diana and Galatea, who were rewards from the Goddess of Love for her worshippers’ devotion, Pandora was created as a punishment. The Titan Prometheus had defied Zeus, stealing fire from Olympus and giving it to mankind. For his insolence, Prometheus and all men had to suffer. 

At Zeus’s command, Hephaestus molded Pandora from clay, fashioning her after the goddesses themselves. The Olympians endowed her with great beauty, charm, skill at weaving, and insatiable curiosity, which is where she gets her name meaning “all gifted,” or perhaps “all-giving.” Zeus also gave her one additional gift, a mysterious jar, which he told her she must never open.

Prometheus knew better than to trust a gift from Zeus, but his brother Epimetheus fell instantly in love with Pandora and married her. She fascinated him, and he wanted to know every inch of her and the gifts she brought from Olympus. As her name implies, she freely gave him all she had, but her jar was strictly off-limits. 

Then one day, while she was alone, curiosity rose within her, and temptation overwhelmed her. She stroked and fiddled with the lid, delicately at first, then with more purpose, until the wax seal broke and out poured the evils hidden within. Illness, Deceit, Misery, and Want came to Earth and have never left.

Pandora clamped down the jar before the daughter of Nyx could escape—Elpis, she was called. Hope. The subtext of this myth has been a matter of debate by philosophers for centuries.

Diana is Pandora’s opposite, a blessing instead of a curse, a champion to lead humanity into loving and peaceful co-existence, overcoming the demons released from what became known as Pandora’s Box.

In 1990, writer George Pérez picked up this thread and wove it into an incredibly complex mini-series, War of the Gods, in which the sorceress Circe pitted the gods from various pantheons against one another. To lay the groundwork for that story, Perez added a new element to the accounts of both Pandora and Diana, imagining them both as incarnations of the Earth goddess Gaea, formed from the same clay. (Wonder Woman vol. 2 #45)

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