While the term "Pandora's Box" is familiar, not everyone knows the story behind it. Just what was Pandora's box? The story goes like this:
Once upon a time the gods lived on Mt Olympus. Some, such as the brothers Prometheus and Epimethius enjoyed mankind. But others were jealous of them, or simply felt that they should be left alone.
At this point women hadn't been created yet, so it truly was mankind (although there were plenty of goddesses). Everything was fine and dandy until the two brothers gave man the gift of fire.
Zeus, the king of gods, was furious at them for giving away fire, so he decided to punish mankind by introducing death, disease, pain, despair and everything else that plagues us today (that seems a little unfair, since it was gods who gave them fire, but no one said life was fair).
Zeus took all these evils and put them in a box (in the original Greek the box was actually a jar, but for the sake of the story I'll stick to the box). Zeus then created Pandora, the first woman.
The other gods and goddesses were interested in her so they gave her many gifts, one of which (along with the usual beauty and seductiveness) was the gift of curiosity. Zeus then gave Pandora the box, filled with all the evils, and told her never to open it. Once again it seems a bit like a set-up, but there you go.
You know what comes next. For a while it seemed everyone would live happily ever after, but in the end Pandora couldn't resist opening the box. When she did all the evils flew out. She quickly slammed the lid shut, but everything escaped except Hope which was left in the box. So Hope remains with us to this day to help us survive the trials we face.
That's the most common story of Pandora's box although there are plenty of variations, including one where Pandora represents the earth goddess and the opening of the box refers to the ending of her reign and the rise of the Greek gods. In another variation the box contains gifts from the gods.
Regardless of the variation, the story is always of Pandora opening the box with unexpected results. Now, when we say someone has opened Pandora's box, we usually mean something that has, or will, quickly get out of control. It also means something with unintended consequences.
Click here to see what happened when I opened my own Pandora's box.
Don't be shy, click away.
After all, curiosity is a gift from the gods.