The gods desire to keep the stuff of life
Hidden from us. If they did not, you could
Work for a day and earn a year’s supplies;
You’d pack away your rudder, and retire
The oxen and the laboring mules. But Zeus
Concealed the secret, angry in his heart
At being hoodwinked by Prometheus.
And so he thought of painful cares for men.
First he hid fire. But the son of Iapetos
Stole it from Zeus the Wise, concealed the flame
In a fennel stalk, and fooled the Thunderer.
Then, raging, 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.’
So spoke the father of men and gods, and laughed.
He told Hephaistos 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 Kronos 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.
Hesiod. "Works and Days." Hesiod and Theognis. Trans. Wender, Dorothea. Penguin Books, 1973. 60-1.
Works and Days
- Son of Iapetos - Prometheus
- Pandora - translates as ‘all giving’ or ‘all the gifts’ / ‘gifts from all’
- Epimetheus brother of Prometheus.
- Epimetheus translates as ‘hindsight’ and Prometheus as ‘foresight’