Pandora and the Dragon?

There is another story of the Fall in classical mythology. Although not immediately recognisable as such, on closer examination we find a similar motif.

In the myth the Titan, Epimetheus, “hindsight” gave every creature a gift. When he came to man there was no gift left to give. His brother, Prometheus, “foresight” considered man superior and so gave him a gift far above that of any other creature — fire. Zeus was so enraged that he had Prometheus bound to the Caucausus. Each day an eagle came and ate Prometheus’ liver. And as Prometheus was immortal his liver regenerated every night. Mankind was to be punished with a poisoned gift — Pandora. She was moulded out of clay by Hephaestus and endowed by each of the gods with a gift. She was then presented to Epimetheus as his bride and her dowry was a sealed box (or more accurately a storage jar). Before he was bound, Prometheus warned Epimetheus not to accept any gifts from the gods. But Epimetheus became besotted with Pandora. Hermes told Epimetheus that the box should never be opened. When Epimetheus told this to Pandora her curiosity was awakened and she opened it, releasing all of the misfortunes of mankind. Up until then mankind lived a paradisiacal life, free from care. Realising her mistake she closed the box, all that remained in it was hope. Some say that she opened the box later and let hope out so that mankind has hope even in the midst of the greatest evil. Others say hope is the greatest evil of all, robbing all initiative. And yet others that only a little at a time is let out, like poison used as medicine.

At the beginning of the myth mankind and the rest of creation live in a paradisiacal state, there is no sickness, there is no ageing, there is no death. Then two brother Titans each bestow their gifts. “Hindsight”, the Dragon’s Tail, gives each animal a talent. “Foresight”, the Dragon’s Head, gives mankind his gift of light or fire. Zeus is angered because this light has been separated from the heavenly light, giving mankind a certain independence. And so a gift is prepared. Pandora, who is given not only one gift, but a gift from every god. She carries in her jar the complementary opposite, for beauty there is ugliness, etc. Pandora is Epimetheus’ gift. Mankind’s is what is in the jar. And once freed mankinds condition is complete. Sickness, age, death and all the rest of mankind’s plagues reduce the advantage of the gift of fire considerably.

It is not difficult to see the connection between the Dragon’s Head with the forward looking Prometheus and his gift of fire and the Dragon’s Tail with Epimetheus, the backward looking, and Pandora’s dowry. The north node is associated with the jupiterian quality of increase and the south node with the saturnian quality of decrease. It is not surprising that Prometheus has his liver eaten every day. The quality of increase of the north node is not necessarily benign. The north node is not Jupiter, just as the south node is not Saturn. With the same logic we can also say that the south node is not necessarily malefic. In fact we have the motiv of choice mentioned in the post “Solar Eclipse and new Moon (2)”. Although not explicitly mentioned in the postings on the Bundahisn, choice is also a theme.

Below is a chart that gives an overview of the three gifts in the myth of Epimetheus, Prometheus and Pandora:

pandora.JPG

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s