Comparing Pandora and Eve | Gender & Sexuality in Ancient Greece pandora first woman

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Gettysburg College Class Blog 2017 Main menu Skip to primary content Home About Useful Links Getting Started Topics Week 1: Introductions Week 2: Origin Myths and Epic Beginnings Week 3: Representing the Female in Homer’s Odyssey Week 4: (Homo)eroticism in Archaic Greece Week 5: Gender Performance Week 6: Gender Roles in the Greek City Week 7: Medical Constructions of the Body and Reproduction Week 8: Marital Trouble on the Tragic Stage Week 9: Gender-Deviance in Athenian Tragedy Week 10: Gender-Bending in Aristophanic Comedy Week 11: Enforcing Norms of Gender and Sexuality Week 12: Platonic Love Week 13: Sexuality in the Shadows Week 14: Greek Sexualities in the Roman Empire Post navigation ← Previous Next → Comparing Pandora and Eve Posted on February 2, 2017 by caitlinconnelly

At first glance, the stories of human creation in Hesiod’s The eivfawps. pandora butikslokalerogony and Works and Days , and in the Biblical book of Genesis reveal certain surface similarities. Hesiod and Genesis share a basic pattern: mankind exists in close proximity to divine beings in a paradise where there is no need to procreate or labor; a woman is introduced into this paradise; the actions of the woman result in the loss of paradise. This pattern is used by both traditions to explain the presence of problems such as disease and hunger in human existence, and both Hesiod and Genesis credit the first woman with these problems.

In Works and Days , Hesiod recites the well-known story of Pandora, to whom Hermes gave “lies and wheedling words and the heart of a thief,” opening the jar, which released many terrible things out onto the earth and “contrived grief and trouble for humans.” 1 He goes a step further in the Theogony , where he refers to the first woman as a “lovely evil,” and says of her, “from her is the race of female women,/from her is the deadly race and tribes of women,/a great plague to mortals.” 2 Pandora’s beauty makes her attractive and irresistible to men, but she is deceitful or evil not just by her actions, but by her very nature below that beautiful exterior. She then passes down these traits to all other women.

In Genesis, the fall of mankind is similarly connected to a woman. Here, Eve is persuaded by a serpent to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which she shares it with Adam. 3 When God realizes what they have done, he punishes them. Women will now suffer pain when they give birth, men must farm the earth to provide sustenance, and their lives will be finite. 4

But despite these similarities, Eve and Pandora are inherently different. Unlike Pandora, Eve is not innately malignant. She was either created at the same time as Adam, or shortly after from one of his ribs, making Eve of the same substance and nature as her husband. 5 Pandora, on the other hand, is fundamentally different from man. Hesiod does not offer a relevant story of the creation of man in these sections, but Pandora’s gifts from the gods, including both her beauty and her deceitfulness, mark her as separate. Whereas Eve is meant in all seriousness to be a companion for Adam, the status of Pandora as a gift is clearly ironic. This distinction is at the heart of the difference between the women. Pandora herself is the punishment for man. Both the Theogony and Works and Days reveal this, either in calling her an evil for man or through the incident with the jar, which is a manifestation of her treacherous nature. Neither poem specifies if Pandora then suffers alongside man. Eve, however, is as much a victim of her actions as Adam, and the two suffer together, if not entirely equally.

Moreover, a different interpretation of the events in Genesis further distinguishes Eve from Pandora. Traditionally, Western Christianity has regarded the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden as a fall from grace. Other traditions, such as Judaism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, regard this event instead as a kind of coming of age for mankind. While Adam and Eve still suffer after leaving the Garden, it is less so in punishment and more as a result of “outgrowing” paradise and having to face a world that is naturally difficult and unjust, unlike in Hesiod’s tradition where it is Pandora who creates these challenges for man.

Hesiod, Works and Days 77-78, 94-95. Hesiod, Theogony 585, 590-592. Genesis 3.1-3.6. Genesis 3.16-3.19. Genesis 1.26-1.27, 2.21-2.22. This entry was posted in Week 2: Origin Myths and Epic Beginnings and tagged Eve, Genesis, Hesiod, Pandora, Theogony, Works and Days by caitlinconnelly. Bookmark the permalink. 7 thoughts on “ Comparing Pandora and Eve ” fulkda01 on February 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm said:

The similarities and differences between the two origination myths are interesting to consider, and I think that contrasting the two is a great way to better understand the underpinnings of both Greek and Judeo-Christian thoughts on gender. For example, we clearly see in the works of Semonides and Homer blatant misogyny, which we can trace back to the myth of Pandora. I’m curious if early Abrahamic authors follow the same trend of basing their views on gender off of Genesis, and write female characters with more agency than we see in the works of Homer. Does anyone know of any examples (or counter-examples) that relate to this?

Log in to Reply mcguka03 on February 3, 2017 at 2:37 am said:

Despite their inherent differences, I do believe they are similar in how they are portrayed as the “lesser” sex. Despite Eve being created from Adam, she was not created of an entirely new framework such as Adam, as if she was not important enough to do so. Both Pandora and Eve were created secondly-both as “afterthoughts”; Pandora as a punishment and Eve as a companion for a lonely Adam. Women did not seem to be in the larger plan for humanity and after being created became a plague for mankind.

Interestingly, I do believe that Pandora and Eve share one great difference in the amount of forethought they possess. Pandora is an intelligent woman who uses her beauty and good manners to entice men and then reveal her thievishness, having planned how to trick these men. Eve, although she is also beauty, is easily encouraged into taking the apple from the tree, seemingly with no thoughts of the consequences that it could cause. Unlike Pandora, she does not think things well-out and is naive in this aspect.

Excellent comparison in your last paragraph in discussing how the punishment could be seen as outgrowing paradise, unlike Pandora’s introduction into the world. I didn’t think of that until you mentioned it.

Log in to Reply claire.bickers on February 3, 2017 at 4:43 am said:

Eve and Pandora definitely share many similarities. However, I think the most glaring difference between the two ancient figures is in the intent of their creation. Pandora is intended to be a “great evil” (Hesiod, Theogony 585), but Eve is meant to be a kindness to Adam. I think that the difference in their respective creators’ purposes might be representative of how the society views the entire gender. Although Eve did eat the apple, she was given by God to be something good for Adam. However, Pandora was never intended to be a kindness to humanity. From her very beginning, she was maliciously intended. Perhaps it says something about the Greeks that Woman was never seen in a positive light. Her creation was the beginning of dark times for Man, according to the Greeks. Eve, however, was given as a gift to Adam. While she later proved herself to be a flawed person, she was intended to bring happiness. I think the distinction between the intent of the gift of Woman is a really interesting lens to look at a society’s view of women as a whole.

Log in to Reply sarahtokar on February 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm said:

While the comparison of the different origin stories of women, be they the story Pandora or Eve, is certainly interesting to examine- I am more interested in how this portrayal of women is reflected in the actual societies these stories came from. For example, through the creation story of Pandora we know that women are seen as evil, plaguing men, literally as a punishment for all eternity. In Greek society, while most definitely patriarchal, I find it difficult to believe that women were hated as much as the creation of Pandora suggests. If we look at the excerpts of the Iliad that we read, we can see that women were treated with some degree of respect- despite being shown as the inferior sex. Hector makes sure to respect his wife and care for her, even as he went off to war facing death head on. Briseis and Chryseis, while seen as objects to exchange as war prizes, are still sought after as a prize to be won and something to be proud of. They are certainly not hated. I find this examination to be interesting, because it leads me to wonder if these creation stories accurately show how women were seen in these societies, or if perhaps these societies have evolved past these insincere portrayals of women.

Log in to Reply Horvma01 on February 3, 2017 at 5:08 pm said:

I agree completely with the idea that book of Genesis can compared quite well to Hesiod’s origin myth. Both stories indeed show the creation of woman (who is unfortunately given the blame for the suffering of man). I would be interested to see what knowledge Hesiod had of the bible (I assume the bible predated Greek mythology but I could be wrong). What i find particularly interesting is that Hesiod’s account of the origin myth does not have a woman making a mistake to harm man, but rather, being created with the intention of suffering following. This is very intriguing, as Hesiod’s writing seems so unbelievably sexist, that I would have guessed he’d have blamed the inception of suffering on the woman herself, not the God’s who created her to spread such suffering. In the end I guess it does come back to the notion that women are responsible, but the responsibility certainly varies by a degree. I suppose the origin story of Adam and Eve varies too depending on if you are reading the Rabbinistic or Hellenistic version, which begs the question as to why there are multiple different accounts for something which is supposed to speak of the divine origin of humanity. Both accounts make me ponder why Adam gets scapegoated by Eve, as he should have had the agency to know not to eat the fruit regardless. It just seems unfair that he too willingly ate the fruit without question, yet Eve is to blame for him doing so. (Side note – the site is giving me issues right now, which may make this post go up a couple minutes after 12).

Log in to Reply Professor Lesser on February 3, 2017 at 7:53 pm said:

This is a great analysis of the similarities and differences of Pandora and Eve. You might have further considered what these two different myths suggest about each of the cultures/societies that created them. I would also have loved for you to include a citation or link to the Jewish or Eastern Orthodox interpretation that Adam and Eve simply “outgrew” paradise, or explain where in Genesis this idea is derived from.

Log in to Reply Frissa01 on March 27, 2017 at 8:37 pm said:

While you discussed interesting similarities between Eve and Pandora, I thought you contrast brought up a great point regarding the purpose of the creation of women. Were women meant as a gift, or was there intent to trick and deceive men. By examining Eve and Pandora we can see that this intent is fairly different. You address that Eve was meant as a gift for Adam, that gift being companionship and Pandora was also meant as a gift, but a gift that the gods used as a trap. There lies another important concept, the gifts were both from a God but the difference between Eve and Pandora is that God didn’t think Eve would deceit him however in the story of Pandora the Gods knew of this. However, regardless of their original intentions, these two women are the foundation of the idea that women bring chaos and deception into the world.

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Pandora festival aims to celebrate women in music

Pandora Fest in Scotland features Courtesans, Vodun, Heel, Bugeye and more – with the aim of "redressing the balance in the music industry"

A women-focused festival in Scotland aims to "redress the balance" in the music industry.

Pandora Fest will be held at Carron Valley's DunCarron Medieval Fort on Saturday, July 16.

Organisers say the first female-positive music event of its kind in Scotland aims to celebrate women in music by giving them a bigger platform – with two stages running from 10:30am until 11pm on the day.

Doom rock outfit Courtesans will headline the festival, with female-fronted rock bands Heel and Bugeye, metal band Firesign, voodoo metal band Vodun, punk acts Bravado and Arcade 39 performing at the event.

Other genre-spanning acts include Sofia B, Wolf Ruby, Twist Helix, Emaline Delapaix, Bravado, ContainHer and Erin Bennett.

Festival organiser and singer Caroline Daalmeijer tells TeamRock: "We wanted to launch this because we know from experience the obstacles women face in the music industry.

"We always see festivals which are predominantly full of male bands – and unfortunately, even the women on these festival committees favour male artists."

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She continues: "We are not anti-male – there will be mixed bands on the day and men in the crowd – we just want to do a female-positive music event which celebrates women.

"We hope in future that festivals will re-evaluate their lineup policies, think outside the box and step away from cookie-cutter acts. People should also speak up about who they hope to see at at a festival.

"Festivals are an exciting and fun experience – the main thrust of the day is about listening to good music that is really well played for its own sake – not judged for whether it's a man or a woman behind it. We need to redress the balance in the music industry and give women in art a bigger platform."

There will be camping facilities and yurt hire available at Pandora Fest. Adult tickets start from £25 can be purchased on the PandoraFest website.

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