Pandora was the first human woman created in Greek mythology. She was created to punish mankind for the gift of fire, given by Prometheus. Representing divinity, fire was an asset intended for the gods/goddesses. Once human men acquired this gift, the separation between the gods/goddesses and mortals was diminished. Zeus was outraged by this blurring of divine lines, and upon his order, Pandora was fashioned of “water and earthy” by Hephaestus. Athene, Hermes, and the other gods/goddesses of Mount Olympus each played a role in her formation, infusing her some of their celestial essence. Appropriately named, Pandora means “all-gifts” or “the source of all gifts”. Pandora, in her apparent perfection, was presented to Epimetheus (brother of Prometheus) as a gift, and the two wed. Pandora had with her a jar (or a box) from Zeus. According to Hesiod’s Works of Days, Pandora’s jar was filled with terrors such as misery, sorrow, evil, and disease. Pandora opens the jar, unleashes these infestations onto mankind, then slams the jar closed. The only item left in the jar was hope. Hesiod argued that even hope was a curse, implying that was merely a “false hope” that prevented mankind from accepting their impending doom.
Eve was the first human woman created in Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology. In the creation account in the second book of Genesis, Eve was created as a companion to Adam. After presenting a multitude of animals to Adam, God realizes that none are suitable companions for Adam. Finally, God takes one of Adam’s ribs while he sleeps, and with it he fashions a woman: Eve, meaning “life” or “the source of life”. Eve is exclaimed by Adam as, “bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh”, thus completing him. Adam and Eve, now married, were to live together and maintain the garden of Eden, a beautiful garden rich with fruit trees. God instructed Adam that he may eat from any of the trees in the garden, except from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. One day, Eve is tempted by an evil serpent (Satan) to eat from the forbidden tree. The serpent boasts that by eating the forbidden fruit, Eve and Adam’s eyes will be opened and that they will “be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve succumbs, eating the fruit and sharing it with Adam. As a punishment, God banishes the couple from the garden and inflicts the intense pain of childbirth on woman and the hard labor of harvest onto man. Like the gift of fire from Prometheus, the knowledge of good and evil imparts a form of divinity onto mankind, and, much like Zeus, this angered God.
Pandora and Eve share many similarities, as well as some differences. Both are deemed the first human woman and donned with the task of childbearing, and therefore responsible for procreation. Both women were created by gods unto a male-dominated world. Of their similarities, the most notable is their responsibility for the downfall of mankind. Tough break. Eve was designed to complete Adam and facilitate procreation. By not following the divine rule of God, she incurred a punishment for herself and subsequently all of mankind. Pandora, on the other hand, was designed to be the punishment. While it was Eve’s disobedient action that angered God, it was the defiant act of Prometheus that angered Zeus. Eve made a conscious decision to eat the forbidden fruit, which resulted in the knowledge of good and evil among men, but the curses unleashed by Pandora were innate in her creation.
The names of each woman leaves one wondering why such horrors were endowed such blissful names. Pandora, “all-gifts” and Eve, “life”. I find their names rather appropriate in regard to the outcomes they produced. Although the clay of Pandora was molded by Hephaestus, all of the gods gave a piece of themselves to her creation. From Athene, domesticity; Grace and sexual appeal from Aphrodite; from Hermes, a cheating heart. While acting as gifts to the gods/goddesses, unbound by the constraints of mankind, their attributes created chaos for among humans. Humans had the need for moderation, while the gods/goddess did not. Additionally, each god/goddess was equipped with some gifts, not all gifts, as was Pandora. This combination of “gifts” from the gods/goddess wreaked havoc on earth.
Life, as we know it now, is exactly what Eve brought to mankind. Before Eve ate the forbidden fruit, it was a male dominated world, she was naked, childbirth was painful, good and evil did exist…she just didn’t know it. Although life already existed, one could say that Eve allowed us to know life. Is that a gift? A curse? You’ll have to be the judge of that.