Friday, 16 November 2012

Hesiod on women II.

From Hesiod's Works and Days, c.700BC:

... spoke the Gatherer of Clouds,
'Prometheus, most crafty god of all,
you stole the fire and tricked me, happily,
you, plague on all mankind and on yourself.
They'll pay for fire; I'll give another gift
to men, an evil thing for their delight,
and all will love this ruin in their hearts.'

... he told Hephaestus quickly to mix earth
and water, and to put in it a voice
and human power to move, to make a face
like an immortal goddess, and to shape
the lovely figure of a virgin girl.
Athene was to teach the girl to weave,
and golden Aphrodite to pour charm
upon her head, and painful, strong desire,
and body-shattering cares. Zeus ordered, then,
the killer of Argos, Hermes, to put in
sly manners, and the morals of a bitch.

The son of Cronus spoke, and was obeyed.
The lame god moulded earth, as Zeus decreed,
into the image of a modest girl.
Grey-eyed Athene made her robes and belt,
divine Seduction and the Graces gave
her golden necklaces, and for her head
the Seasons wove spring flowers into a crown.
Hermes the Messenger put in her breast
lies and persuasive words and cunning ways.
The herald of the gods then named the girl
Pandora, for the gifts which all the gods
had given her, this ruin of mankind.

The deep and total trap was now complete.
The Father sent the gods' fast messenger
to bring the gift to Epimetheus.
And Epimetheus forgot the words
his brother said, to take no gift from Zeus,
but send it back, lest it should injure men.
He took the gift, and understood, too late.

Before this time, men lived upon the earth
apart from sorrow and from painful work.
... but now the woman opened up the cask,
and scattered pains and evils among men.
Gatherer of Clouds, the son of Cronus, the Father = Zeus
The lame god = Hephaestus
The herald of the gods, the gods' fast messenger = Hermes

Epithemeus means 'hindsight.' His brother is Prometheus, whose name means 'foresight.' Pandora means 'all the gifts,' i.e. all the gifts that the gods had contributed to her creation, hence Hermes' naming her this.

- Mojo

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