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Pandora facts for kids

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Pandora Loison cour Carree Louvre
Pandora (1861), by Pierre Loison (1816–1886)

In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first mortal woman. According to Hesiod, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to mould her out of Earth. This was part of the punishment of mankind, because Prometheus had stolen the secret of fire. All the gods helped by giving her gifts. Another name was found for her was Anesidora, she who sends gifts. This name was found inscribed against her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum.

According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar (pithos) and released all the evils of mankind. With the exception of plagues and diseases, Hesiod does not specify the evils in detail. When Pandora closed the jar again, only Hope was left inside. The word pithos has been translated the wrong way, which may have led to the idea of "Pandora's box". Pandora opened the jar because she was curious what was inside, and not because of malice.

The myth of Pandora is ancient, and there are several different Greek versions. It has been interpreted in different ways. In the literary versions, the myth is a kind of theodicy, it addresses the question why there is evil in the world. The oldest versiion is that of Hesiod, who wrote it in the 7th century BC. He shortly mentions it in his Theogony, in line 570, but does not name Pandora. In his Works and Days he gives the oldest known literary version of the story. There is an older story that tells that urns and jars can contain blessings and evils which is told in Homer's Illiad:

The immortals know no care, yet the lot they spin for man is full of sorrow; on the floor of Zeus' palace there stand two urns, the one filled with evil gifts, and the other with good ones. He for whom Zeus the lord of thunder mixes the gifts he sends, will meet now with good and now with evil fortune; but he to whom Zeus sends none but evil gifts will be pointed at by the finger of scorn, the hand of famine will pursue him to the ends of the world, and he will go up and down the face of the earth, respected neither by gods nor men.

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