Hesiod ‘Works and Days’ 54-105 (Contributed by Emanuele Pezzani)

This is Hesiod’s account of Pandora’s myth in the Works and Days and there is barely a mention of the famous jar, a story which he had previously told in the Theogony. The whole passage carries an unusual, Archaic vigour, in Zeus’s ominous words and laugh, in the long list of gods who provide Pandora with some gift or item, in the moral teachings of the final section. A stylistic fact that does not go unnoticed is certainly the strength at the end of l. 89 of the verb ἐνόησε, “he understood”: at the end of the line, just like it is only after the acceptance of Pandora, that Epimetheus realizes what he has done.

Emanuele Pezzani


   “Ἰαπετιονίδη, πάντων πέρι μήδεα εἰδώς,

χαίρεις πῦρ κλέψας καὶ ἐμὰς φρένας ἠπεροπεύσας,

σοί τ’ αὐτῷ μέγα πῆμα καὶ ἀνδράσιν ἐσσομένοισιν.

τοῖς δ’ ἐγὼ ἀντὶ πυρὸς δώσω κακόν, ᾧ κεν ἅπαντες

τέρπωνται κατὰ θυμὸν, ἑὸν κακὸν ἀμφαγαπῶντες.”

ὣς ἔφατ’, ἐκ δ’ ἐγέλασσε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε·

Ἥφαιστον δ’ ἐκέλευσε περικλυτὸν ὅττι τάχιστα

γαῖαν ὕδει φύρειν, ἐν δ’ ἀνθρώπου θέμεν αὐδήν

καὶ σθένος, ἀθανάτῃς δὲ θεῇς εἰς ὦπα ἐίσκειν,

παρθενικῆς καλὸν εἶδος ἐπήρατον· αὐτὰρ Ἀθήνην

ἔργα διδασκῆσαι, πολυδαίδαλον ἱστὸν ὑφαίνειν·

καὶ χάριν ἀμφιχέαι κεφαλῇ χρυσῆν Ἀφροδίτην,

καὶ πόθον ἀργαλέον καὶ γυιοβόρους μελεδώνας·

ἐν δὲ θέμεν κύνεόν τε νόον καὶ ἐπίκλοπον ἦθος

Ἑρμείην ἤνωγε διάκτορον ἀργεϊφόντην.

ὣς ἔφαθ’, οἳ δ’ ἐπίθοντο Διὶ Κρονίωνι ἄνακτι.

αὐτίκα δ’ ἐκ γαίης πλάσσε κλυτὸς Ἀμφιγυήεις

παρθένῳ αἰδοίῃ ἴκελον Κρονίδεω διὰ βουλάς·

ζῶσε δὲ καὶ κόσμησε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη·

ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ Χάριτές τε θεαὶ καὶ πότνια Πειθώ

ὅρμους χρυσείους ἔθεσαν χροΐ, ἀμφὶ δὲ τήν γε

Ὧραι καλλίκομοι στέφον ἄνθεσιν εἰαρινοῖσιν·

πάντα δέ οἱ χροῒ κόσμον ἐφήρμοσε Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη.

ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ στήθεσσι διάκτορος Ἀργεϊφόντης

ψεύδεά θ’ αἱμυλίους τε λόγους καὶ ἐπίκλοπον ἦθος

τεῦξε Διὸς βουλῇσι βαρυκτύπου· ἐν δ’ ἄρα φωνήν

θῆκε θεῶν κῆρυξ, ὀνόμηνε δὲ τήνδε γυναῖκα

Πανδώρην, ὅτι πάντες Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες

δῶρον ἐδώρησαν, πῆμ’ ἀνδράσιν ἀλφηστῇσιν.

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δόλον αἰπὺν ἀμήχανον ἐξετέλεσσεν,

εἰς Ἐπιμηθέα πέμπε πατὴρ κλυτὸν Ἀργεϊφόντην

δῶρον ἄγοντα, θεῶν ταχὺν ἄγγελον· οὐδ’ Ἐπιμηθεύς

ἐφράσαθ’, ὥς οἱ ἔειπε Προμηθεὺς μή ποτε δῶρον

δέξασθαι πὰρ Ζηνὸς Ὀλυμπίου, ἀλλ’ ἀποπέμπειν

ἐξοπίσω, μή πού τι κακὸν θνητοῖσι γένηται·

αὐτὰρ ὃ δεξάμενος, ὅτε δὴ κακὸν εἶχ’, ἐνόησε.

πρὶν μὲν γὰρ ζώεσκον ἐπὶ χθονὶ φῦλ’ ἀνθρώπων

νόσφιν ἄτερ τε κακῶν καὶ ἄτερ χαλεποῖο πόνοιο

νούσων τ’ ἀργαλέων, αἵ τ’ ἀνδράσι κῆρας ἔδωκαν.

ἀλλὰ γυνὴ χείρεσσι πίθου μέγα πῶμ’ ἀφελοῦσα

ἐσκέδασ’· ἀνθρώποισι δ’ ἐμήσατο κήδεα λυγρά.

μούνη δ’ αὐτόθι Ἐλπὶς ἐν ἀρρήκτοισι δόμοισιν

ἔνδον ἔμιμνε πίθου ὑπὸ χείλεσιν, οὐδὲ θύραζε

ἐξέπτη· πρόσθεν γὰρ ἐπέμβαλε πῶμα πίθοιο

αἰγιόχου βουλῇσι Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο.

ἄλλα δὲ μυρία λυγρὰ κατ’ ἀνθρώπους ἀλάληται·

πλείη μὲν γὰρ γαῖα κακῶν, πλείη δὲ θάλασσα·

νοῦσοι δ’ ἀνθρώποισιν ἐφ’ ἡμέρῃ, αἳ δ’ ἐπὶ νυκτί

αὐτόμαται φοιτῶσι κακὰ θνητοῖσι φέρουσαι

σιγῇ, ἐπεὶ φωνὴν ἐξείλετο μητίετα Ζεύς.

οὕτως οὔ τί πη ἔστι Διὸς νόον ἐξαλέασθαι.

(54) “Son of Iapetus, you who know counsels beyond all others, you are pleased that you have stolen fire and beguiled my mind-a great grief for you yourself, and for men to come. To them I shall give in exchange for fire an evil in which they may all take pleasure in their spirit, embracing their own evil.”

(59) So he spoke, and he laughed out loud, the father of men and of gods: He commanded renowned Hephaestus to mix earth with water as quickly as possible, and to put the voice and strength of a human into it, and to make a beautiful, lovely form of a maiden similar in her face to the immortal goddesses. He told Athena to teach her crafts, to weave richly worked cloth, and golden Aphrodite to shed grace and painful desire and limb-devouring cares around her head; and he ordered Hermes, the intermediary, the killer of Argus, to put a dog’s mind and a thievish character into her.

(69) So he spoke, and they obeyed Zeus, the lord, Cronus’ son. Immediately the famous Lame One fabricated out of earth a likeness of a modest maiden, by the plans of Cronus’ son; the goddess, bright-eyed Athena, gave her a girdle and ornaments; the goddesses Graces and queenly Persuasion placed golden jewelry all around on her body; the beautiful-haired Seasons crowned her all around with spring flowers; and Pallas Athena fitted the whole ornamentation to her body. Then into her breast the intermediary, the killer of Argus, set lies and guileful words and a thievish character, by the plans of deep-thundering Zeus; and the messenger of the gods placed a voice in her and named this woman Pandora (All-Gift), since all those who have their mansions on Olympus had given her a gift-a woe for men who live on bread.

(83) When he had completed the sheer, intractable deception, the father sent the famous killer of Argus, the swift messenger of the gods, to take her as a gift to Epimetheus (Afterthought). And Epimetheus did not consider that Prometheus had told him never to accept a gift from Olympian Zeus, but to send it back again, lest something evil happen to mortals; it was only after he accepted her, when he already had the evil, that he understood.

(90) For previously the tribes of men used to live upon the earth entirely apart from evils, and without grievous toil and distressful diseases, which give death to men. But the woman removed the great lid from the storage jar with her hands and scattered all its contents abroad-she wrought baneful evils for human beings. Only Anticipation remained there in its unbreakable home under the mouth of the storage jar, and did not fly out; for before that could happen she closed the lid of the storage jar, by the plans of the aegis-holder, the cloud-gatherer, Zeus. But countless other miseries roam among mankind; for the earth is full of evils, and the sea is full; and some sicknesses come upon men by day, and others by night, of their own accord, bearing evils to mortals in silence, since the counsellor Zeus took their voice away. Thus it is not possible in any way to evade the mind of Zeus.

Vase depicting the myth of Pandora.

Vase depicting the myth of Pandora.


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