Pandora’s Box

I’ve heard Pandora’s Box applied to the current crisis as the unraveling of the financial services kicks into other industries. Who is Pandora? And why is her box such a problem?

Pandora was the first woman on earth according to Greek mythology, created by Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, using water and soil. The gods gave her many gifts, including the gift of curiosity.

picture-25Zeus gave her a jar, pithos, with instructions not to open it. Ever.

That was doomed, you can’t give a curious woman an instruction like that and expect her to follow it. Of course she opened it and unleashed all the evil on the world. Although she closed the lid quickly almost everything had been released except for hope, which lay at the bottom of Pandora’s jar.

Pandora’s jar?

It seems there was a translation error from the Greek pithos (jar or urn) to the Latin pyxis (box), and the error is usually accredited to Erasmas.

It’s a term that’s inspired art and puzzles.

And if it’s an accurate term for the current global financial crisis, at least there’s still hope in the bottom of the box.

image from takomabibelot via flickr, of a sculpture of Pandora at the Victoria and Albert Museum

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