Pandora's Box

Hope is said to have been glad to get out of Pandora's box, and fly away. Why then, are we still searching for the elusive gift that was the last remain in the box? Another myth ending has it that Hope remained in the unbreakable jar because Zeus willed the jar lid to stop her from escaping. Supposedly this is to show that it is impossible to escape the will of Zeus.

Pandora was the first mortal female created, as a result of Zeus's anger at Prometheus for stealing fire. She was created as an evil with a jar. She was a lovely to look at evil, made of earth and water by Hephaestus. A human voice was implanted, as well as a desirable maiden form including a beautiful face. Athena was ordered to teach her loom skills like weaving. Aphrodite was ordered to shed grace and longings to permeate her body. Hermes was ordered to give her the character of a thief, and the mind of a bitch. Her likeness was so ordered and molded -she was clothed and given golden necklaces, adorned with flowers, and a thievish nature with lies was also in her making. Zeus presented her to Epimetheus (brother of Prometheus), and he made her his wife. The poor ignorant guy had been warned by his brother not to accept any gift from Zeus, but he forgot. Together, they are credited with starting the human race. More importantly, Pandora is considered the source of all the evils and ills wandering among and plaguing humans.

The term "Pandora's Box" refers to something that should be untouched because it could breed disaster. The jar became a box sometime ago in the mythology of Pandora. At an even later time the allegory between Pandora and Eve is made evident. Both were created after man, and both credited with giving the troubles to mankind. Maybe that's why hope remains in Pandora's box. The jar (box) could be a symbol for the lust of procreation, the womb, the life source, and the death source from all the dispersed evils. We don't know why hope is the only good in the jar, or is it an evil, not yet allowed out.

Hope baffles me. At times I think it is yet another crutch to use to get by for a short period. Other times hope is the greatest salvation around. Hope is risky, it is a chink in the despair department. Sometimes it diminishes, and sometimes it grows. When I am feeling hopeless I usually exercise or read poetry. It works for me like drinking a glass of holy water. There is some disguised blessing in the poetry masquerading as hope without ever reading the word. Like it has been outlawed and so the reader must let it journey from mind to heart. The best acronym I have heard for the word is this: Heart Open Please Enter. When I know hope as being something worth having in my heart, then an ease grows within me, and the despair department closes down.

Rumi does mention the word in the poem, My Worst Habit:

My worst habit is I get so tired of winter
I become a torture to those I'm with.

If you're not here, nothing grows.
I lack clarity. My words
tangle and knot up.

How to cure bad water? Send it back to the river.
How to cure bad habits? Send me back to you.

When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools,
dig a way out through the bottom
to the ocean. There is a secret medicine
given only to those who hurt so hard
they can't hope.

The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.

Look as long as you can at the friend you love,
no matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back toward you.
Don't let your throat tighten
with fear. take sips of breath
all day and night, before death
closes your mouth.
The poem is copied from The Essential Rumi , (translations from Coleman Barks).

Hope is fleeting. Hope is black and white, no in-between, maybe that's why it is so edgy. One either says, "I hope for.... or I hope not." Is hope a double edged nature that allows humans strength to survive the evils and ills, or does it hook us into prolonged misery in a delusional inspiration? Hope can keep one on the edge of chaos forever. Hope can bring one out of chaos, too.

So, if the myth continues with the idea that once the jar was opened mortals were handed over to the Fates, then we must revisit the three daughters of Zeus and Themis. They are said to have other parents (Night and Erebus), but it doesn't matter for this visit. The three were depicted as old women responsible for each humans destiny. They are named; Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Each Greek word has the meaning for their names. Clotho means spinner, and she spun out the life thread. Lachesis means appotioner, and she measured each life thread. Atropos means inflexible, and she cut the life thread - created death. The spun thread is usually irrevocable with the Fates. Did Zeus have to surrender to the Fates decrees of destiny? Is free will along side the life thread doled out by Lachesis? These are eternal ponderings about the threads of fate, destiny, free will, gods and mortals. They all came about because hope remains in Pandora's box.

Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos represent more to mortals. Plato casts them like this: Clotho represents the present, Lachesis represents the past, and Atropos represents the future, and they are all the daughters of Necessity. Are we in the hands of the Fates? Are our lives re-lived based on previous lives? Do we come before the Fates and choose what to be born into, and if so, is there hope?

Whatever hope is, I like to feel hopeful rather than hopeless. It must be good because so many people want it and wish it upon each other. It is described "to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, etc" (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). So, here's hoping!