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The Jar of Pandora: Myth or True Curse!!

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Photo: AH/OV

– Shabana Chowdhury Ahmed, Belgium

Greek mythology was steeped with the psychology of human behaviour. The myths portrayed a moral code but humans being fickle only realise too late the consequence of their actions. Such is the story of Pandora’s JAR which became box due to wrong translation.

Prometheus a Titan God of fore thought and crafty counsel was given the task of moulding mankind out of clay. He stole FIRE from Zeus, the king of Olympus and gave it to mankind to better their lives. Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock, where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating liver. Zeus then ordered the creation of Pandora the first woman was gifted with Beauty, Grace and many more positive qualities but Curiosity was added  as a means to deliver misfortune upon mankind. She was sent as a bride to Epimetheus the brother of Prometheus. As a wedding present a beautiful box with a key was given to Pandora with clear instructions DO NOT OPEN! She abided by the rule till Curiosity got the better of her and so she  took the key and opened the box. Out flew all the deadly little winged creatures who bite her and flew away into the world. She had released Death, Sickness, Jealousy, Hatred, Famine, Passion, Lust, Anger, Greed and other unspecified evils. She closed the box but it was too late. Overwhelmed with remorse and sorrow she heard a faint sound coming from the box. She opened it and out came another winged creature. When she asked who it was, the creature said, HOPE!  Now the story teller unfolds her tale in today’s world.

Athena was a historian of ancient Greece and mythology. She taught at the Athens University. The story of Pandora’s box fascinated her the most. She often wandered among the ancient ruins in Athens. Her mother had died at childbirth. She was raised by a wealthy father who was in the Pharmaceutical industry. He also owned a research and development facility.

Athena often wondered about her mother. She knew very little as her father never spoke much about her. Few old photos were her only comfort. Her parents had lived in their country home which belonged to her mother on the outskirts of Athens. After her mother’s death her father came to live in Athens. She always wanted to know why she and her father never visited their country home. Her father’s answer was that the house was old without modern comforts and he had no intention to renovate it.

Life went on as usual till one day she passed by an old curio shop. Something drew her towards the door of the shop. It was dimly lit. No one was around. She looked at the shelves. They were full of old books and decoration pieces. An old man came out from a door behind the counter. His wrinkled face and hands were so prominate that she took a step back in awe! He greeted her and asked her if she had found anything to her liking. She smiled and said that she did not have anything particular in mind. He went into the back room and came back with an old jar. It had seen better days but seemed to be well preserved. It still retained its intricate beauty. Athena was drawn towards the jar from the moment she laid her eyes on it. A deep emotion within made her feel that she and the jar were entwined! The voice of the old man brought her back to reality. This is a gift for you, I have been waiting for a very long time for the one who will right the wrong, the old man said. She was overwhelmed with her own emotions when she took the jar and left the shop. As she walked down the street she realised that she did not thank the kind old man or even offer to pay for the jar. She turned back and walked towards the shop. It was brightly lit, a young man greeted her. She showed him the jar and asked him about the old man. What old man! I own the shop and I do not sell old jars.

Baffled by the incident she was at a loss to understand what had happened!

Back home she placed the jar in her show case. She went to the museum of Greek antiquities. She looked thoughtfully at the portrait of Pandora and her jar. The jar in the portrait had an uncanny resemblance to the jar she had in the showcase. A man who was looking at the portrait turned around and after seeing her exclaimed that she could be Pandora’s daughter!

Next day Athena waited for her father to come back from his business trip. Around noon the doorbell rang, she opened the door and a policeman informed her that her father had died in a car accident. She was numbed with grief! After the funeral her father’s lawyer came to the house to read his last will and testimony. She had inherited all her father’s properties. Trying to sort out her father’s documents she found a report from a biochemist who was working for her father. The report had a drug formula to alter the male genes. It would make him three times stronger but the side effects will also make him much more inhuman. She also noticed that there were a few interested buyers for the drug. She closed the research and development facility, also destroyed all documents. The Pharmaceutical company would provide for what she had in mind.

The world was filled with Man made wars. Man made diseases. Man made famines were just a tip of the iceberg! She cannot change what has occurred but she can try to preserve the future although it was very dim. She opened several orphanages taking only children. The mind set of the future citizens must be changed to Love, Respect, Understanding and Tolerance, so humans can live in harmony with Nature! She finally understood the old man’s words. Pandora was blamed for all the evils of mankind! Zeus put all the evils in the box, created Pandora with good qualities but also gave her curiosity so was Pandora the real evil?

There are still many good men on earth who can turn the tide. HOPE is their name!

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