So spoke Hesiod, circa 7th Century B.C.
(a paraphrase by blake more)
As the Golden Age slipped into the Silver Age, a new rule of gods took over the heavens. This happened because Zeus swallowed his father Cronos and thus came to encompass all of creation.
In time (in other words, many convoluted and exquisitely treacherous family sagas later), the Titan Prometheus, a dark and earthy immortal holdout in the form of a man, saw that Earth contained no creatures who had the spirit of the gods within them. Luckily, being an offspring of Gaia (the Mother Goddess), Prometheus possessed a secret unknown to Zeus: He knew the seed of heaven lay sleeping in the Earth, under his motherís mantle. So one day, when the sky was cobalt and the other gods were otherwise occupied, he went down to Earth, took some clay into his hands, moistened it with river water, and kneaded until the clay created an image of the gods. Fascinated with Prometheusís earthwrought figure, the goddess Athena infused it with divine breath, causing the shape to rise up and give life to the first mortal man.
More and more men were made, and, soon, the gods in heaven noticed the mortal earthlings. After much discussion, all agreed that the right thing to do would be to protect the mortals in exchange for their homage. So, in the ancient place of Mecone, everybody gathered to pen the duties and rights of mortals. Realizing that the gods were overburdening the mortals with their demands, Prometheus appointed himself as the protector of the rights of men. Wise and reasonable in his counsel, Prometheusís intervention worked beautifullyófor a while. It seems that Pro also had a affinity for pranks, and when one of his antics caught the ire of Zeus, negotiations stalled and the great thunderbolt god retaliated by withholding fire from the poor, defenseless mortals.
Not surprisingly, Prometheus couldnít abide by Zeusís decree. So he excused himself from the meeting and snuck up to the sun, where he ignited a torch from the heavens and took it down to the Earthlings. When Zeus noticed the campfires of mortals glowing and sparking on the distant Earth, he thundered with anger and came up with another penalty for Prometheusís insubordination. This time the supreme god of Olympus directed the fire god, Hephaestus to forge a figure in the shape of a beautiful woman. Zeus named her Pandora*** and (after infusing her with lies and wickedness) offered her to Epimetheus as a wedding gift. Ignoring Proís pleas not to accept any gifts from Zeus, Epimetheus fell under the charms of Pandoraís beauty, and the couple was married amid much fanfare. Some of the gods even threw rice.
As an added surprise, Zeus collected all the evils, sorrows and illnesses he could find, put them in a box, then gave this box to the ill fated couple as a wedding gift; of course, he also forbade them from opening it. Unable to resist the temptation, Pandora opened the box, releasing all the new and horrible things hiding inside. We are told that only blind hope was left inside the box..
To add insult to injury, Zeus punished our hero Prometheus (this time for trying to warn Epimetheus) by chaining him to a high rock on Mount Caucusus and dispatching an eagle to come eat out Proís pink liver. Pro, being an immortal, had no choice but to re-grow his missing organ every night----just in time for the eagleís next meal. This went on anywhere from 30 to 30,000 years (depending upon the translation).
Many other things happen after that.
***Of course, if you ask Thucidides, heíll tell you Pandora was basically Pan with oracular abilityóin other words, she was a future-seeing, god of group orgasm (the kind which can be mutually experienced without ëpalpable skin friction'). Yet, since fear of the inevitable often accompanies a declining civilization, her prophetic Box plummeted to demonic realms. And poor Pan also suffered, since Roman Emperor Juno got tired of all night parties and decreed Panís death.
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