(insert best Catra voice) Heeeeeey, Pandora!
Meeting 4: In which a guest artist, Hesiod, channels all his rage against his ex into a very strange story of the First Woman Ever.
Have you ever wondered how your favorite Classical Myths came to be? This is absolutely not how that happened, but it could have happened, maybe, and that’s the point of mythology. Shout-out to Ryan George, whose Pitch Meeting video series inspired the Muses.
CALLIOPE, MUSE OF EPIC POETRY: So you have a Classical Myth to pitch to me?
HOMER, UNCONTESTED G.O.A.T OF ANCIENT POETRY: Actually, today I thought I’d bring a friend who has a myth to pitch to you. Calliope, meet Hesiod.
HESIOD, SIXTH CENTURY POET AND JUST EPIC MISOGYNIST (hissing): Evil woman! Be gone with you!
HOMER (whispering): Hesiod, we talked about this…
HESIOD: Why what?
CALLIOPE: Why was he looking to punish mankind?
HESIOD: Behold, Zeus is cruel and wishes all mankind to suffer, he needs no petty reason. Also he was really, really mad at the Titan Prometheus, for he…
HOMER: We’ll cover that in a prequel.
HESIOD (glaring): As I was saying…Zeus had mighty Hephaestus create a woman, comely in form, that she might entice man, and mighty Athena put a clever mind within her, that she might be deceitful, and Aphrodite herself dressed her…so that she might entice man, again. And Zeus gave her unto Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus…
CALLIOPE: Wait a tick, *Pro*metheus has a brother named *Epi*metheus? The Forward-Thinking-One and the Backward-Thinking-One? What was up with their parents?
CALLIOPE: Thank you, I get it.
HESIOD: AND BEHOLD, Zeus also gave unto Pandora a vessel, in which he hid all the evils of the world. Hunger! Strife! Illness! Envy! And he told Pandora not to open the vessel, but deceitful creature that she was, she did open the vessel, and all the evils escaped into the world to plague mankind forevermore!
CALLIOPE: I see what you did with “plague” there. Good word play.
HESIOD: (stares blankly)
CALLIOPE: Never mind, proceed. Didn’t mean to throw you off your game.
HESIOD: And behold, Zeus was not yet done with his cruelty, for he made it so that when Pandora closed the lid at last, she trapped Hope inside the vessel, thus increasing man’s suffering all the more!
CALLIOPE: And what is the significance of Hope staying in the vessel?
HESIOD: What do you mean?
CALLIOPE: Well, does Hope staying inside the vessel mean mankind doesn’t get any hope? Because they do get all the bad stuff that got out. Or does it mean Pandora gets to keep it, since it’s in her vessel? Is it bad to have Hope or to not have Hope?
HESIOD: It is obvious what I mean. You can’t understand because your female brain is too squishy.
CLIO, MUSE OF HISTORY (interrupting): Actually, no one will ever figure out what you mean. Scholars will debate it for millennia and reach no conclusions.
CALLIOPE: Let’s put a pin in it for the time being. What sort of vessel were you thinking?
HESIOD: Obviously a pithos.
CALLIOPE: Like those big clay jugs you store wine and grain in? Why would Zeus give her one of those?
HESIOD: Again, the symbolism eludes you, stupid female. The pithos has a gaping inside and a narrow mouth, like the womb that disgorges such filth from a woman!
CALLIOPE: Wait, are you saying that…figuratively…the first woman gives birth to all the evil in the world?
HESIOD: The evil spews from her birth canal! All women are gaping mouths that consume all a man’s earnings and birth only bile in return!
CALLIOPE: Ok, shut this down. Whatever woman hurt you Hesiod, I’m sure she had her reasons. I’m going to let this myth go ahead, but only because it is so looney it will never catch on. Your poems will be the only source for this nonsense.
CLIO: At least until the Middle Ages. Then they’ll be all about the myths where women bring evil into the world. Through apples, of course.
HOMER: It seems like it will be pretty hard for anyone to make sense out of a “giant jug as womb” metaphor.
CLIO: Nope, it’s going to be super easy, barely an inconvenience. The early monks will drop the giant jug, because it will be so far outside of their conception, they won’t be able to translate the idea properly. They’ll give her a box instead.
HESIOD: They will ruin my masterpiece!
CLIO: Maybe if you had made your story more pithy, they wouldn’t be so confused. See what I did there?
For more crazy stories about the beginning of the world, and how creation myths shaped Ancient Greek and modern societies, enroll in CLAS-C 205 Classical Mythology, coming up as in Fall 2023, and earn GEC credits while you’re at it! Or to learn more about ancient conceptions of women, try our 1-credit “appetizer” course CLAS-B 313 Extraordinary Ancient Women, also coming up Fall 2023 with no pre-reqs! Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!