CHAPTER I – PANDORA OPENS
Whatever is heard cannot be unheard & every interesting lie bears repeating.
I cannot & would not, attempt to refute all the legends attached to my name
Instead I only want to add my own story to those told by others about me.
My version is biased & certainly coloured by needs greater than Truth.
Tales are always told for a reason & Truth’s rarely their best raison d’etre.
But my reasons for telling this story don’t include ‘clearing my name’.
Villains must have names, mine apt as any, since I’ll readily admit this Villainy:
The devastation I caused was motivated, in part, by sheer boredom with Innocence.
So, I don’t warrant a new reputation, but my tale damns others who do.
Foremost among those unfairly maligned are
Inquisitive Women & Disobedient Girls
Like Eve of Eden, my name now defames the wilful, curious & female
But, in the upheaval I caused none of those factors played a part in my decisions
The Sins that drove me included (among others) Resentment, Rage & Disdain.
But Curiousity wasn’t then, & never will, be a Sin
Anymore than Obedience was, or is now, a Virtue.
I’ll admit all my crimes & their ignoble motives, but they’re only part of this story
I’ll take the blame for unleashing depravity, devastation, disease & misery
But I’ll no longer be the silent namesake of a cautionary tale
That implies catastrophe is the consequence of Curiousity!
My name is Pandora which means “all endowed”.
I’m the ungodly daughter of the God-king Zeus.
A Motherless Child with a Bad Reputation
A sample of slurs regarding my character & birth:
“She was made out of dirt”
“A booby-trapped sex toy & the first Bitch on Earth!”
“She was sent as a Gift, but designed as a Curse!”
Still, with such libels & half-truths I’ve earned immortality
And I can’t despise, or dispute, what has so therefore sustained me!
Rather, to those familiar myths about me, long told by others
I merely add my less familiar perspective
I am Pandora, who parents warn children about,
And this is the story they don’t tell.
CHAPTER II – REALM OF GODS
In the Old World, where I was born, wars were neither distant or brief.
They filled the skies & shook the mountains
They left the cities below us in flames.
History was always closer there.
Our charnel-house past was ever-present.
The old blood feuds spilled over, into everything.
Until, even the future seemed gore-stained with vengeance due.
Nature in the Old World was bellicose too.
Tempests shattered the stars & the heavens rained fire.
Thundering sea mountains avalanched ashore.
The volcanic underworld gave violent birth
To molten rock rivers & red magma isles.
While those dangers outside never frightened me
The dangers inside always did.
Great walls gave protection from outer elements
But offered no sanctuary from perils within.
The gargantuan Olympus was conceived to overawe enemies
While daunting & dividing its’ denizens:
Ancients, the ungodly, the otherworldly & bestial
Stalked labyrinthine corridors plotting demigod disaster & godly favour.
Zeus’s gilded Great Hall purred with sycophants concurring,
Shadowy alcoves hissed with the minor gods’ intrigue,
Private chambers bristled with Hera’s murderous reprisals,
& I hid fascinated, wherever I could, terrified of everyone else.
The realm of my father was no place for children,
Who were preferred unheard, unseen or dead.
Silent, hidden, alive & observant
I saw & heard everything I shouldn’t
Though dangerous & unpredictable my childhood was a rich tapestry
Historic events & legendary figures paraded under my secret gaze.
My loneliness, fear & uncertain place in that world,
Seemed a high, but not excessive, price to pay.
CHAPTER III – MALIGNANT RELATIONS
My father ruled everything.
Family. Fortune. Empire.
With that rapacious, careless privilege of the nearly-all-powerful.
He was always told exactly what he wanted to believe.
This included, among other lies:
That he was always right.
That he was hard but fair.
That his disastrous mistakes were masterstrokes of strategy
& that his short-sighted plans were visions for eternity
As power is corrupting, so vanity is crippling.
And a crippled, corrupt tyrant, drunk on power,
Gluttonous for flattery & lies-
Is neither the ruler or the parent anyone would choose.
Luckily for parents they aren’t chosen.
Unchosen, though not unloved, Zeus was my only parent.
I was emphatically not his only child.
Zeus & his wife Hera had three children: Aries, Eiliethyia & Hebe.
Meanwhile, Zeus & his many mistresses parented a pantheon:
(Apollo, Artemis, Calliope, Dionysius, Hercules, Hermes, Persephone,
The 3 Horae, The 3 Morae, The 3 Graces & 9 Muses…)
But Zeus only had two motherless children, Athene & I.
Being vain, Zeus loved us far more than the others
Regarding our half-siblings as ‘tainted’ by their mothers.
Especially Hera, his wife, sister & nemesis
Hera hated all Zeus’s women & all Zeus’s children but her own,
But she loathed Athene & I with the greatest vehemence
For the simple, deadly reason of Zeus’s preference.
While Athene, Goddess of War, didn’t fear Hera’s enmity,
As Zeus’s ungodly child, I found it wiser to hide,
From my Father’s wife & her vengeful minions.
So, terrified, I hid & spied
On all my malignant relations
Happy that in their plots I played no important part.
But, when the intrigues began about the New World,
Everything changed forever.
CHAPTER IV – UNHOLY ALLIANCE
Z eus began to conceive of a ‘New World’
A refuge from Old World violence & intrigues.
From that New World he decided to exclude all Gods & demi-gods
And to give all their godly gifts & powers to Beasts & Men
Throughout the Realm this was greeted with horror
Gods loathed exclusion & demi-gods dreaded Men gaining godly powers.
Unwisely, Zeus entrusted the allocation of those powers to a minor God:
Phaesus, the God of Minutae, a fawning & ambitious calculator.
Easily recruited by disgruntled demi-gods to sabotage Zeus’s plan.
By auctioning the godly powers to the Beasts but none to Men
Godly powers & gifts went to favoured Beasts of the insane, Ancient gods
In return those elemental deities gave the demi-gods arcane magik & secrets
Ancients with fiercest spells gained the best powers for their Beast familiars
In that ruinous orgy of opportunism Men received no new powers at all.
From hidden niches I watched this deliberate sabotage of Zeus’s New World.
Naturally, Hera led that treacherous coalition of Gods, demi-gods & Ancients.
As a combined new force they filled me with terror.
I knew how much Hera hated me & how the demi-gods hated mankind & Zeus
But it was the elemental Gods, hating everyone, that made my blood run coldest of all
From my earliest memories they had been nightmares incarnate.
Muttering ancient incantations, invoking wraiths,
They shambled past reeking, clouded by legions of the dead.
Yet through that haze of lunatic putresence, they always spied me,
Their avid stare, brightly fevered & utterly insane.
I listened, apalled to the avaricious auction of godly gifts for Ancient spells,
I knew I should try to do something, try to find a way to tell Zeus.
But I didn’t. Day after day as his plans were sabotaged, I watched & I listened.
Terrified by the saboteurs, I was also dangerously overawed by Zeus.
By his distance & my uncertainty of what he expected, or even knew, of his daughter.
To me he was omnipotent, aloof, barely known & always utterly unapproachable
Would he laugh in my face, already knowing everything?
Dismiss me as a lying sneak? Or rage at me for not coming earlier?
As days became weeks & the Alliance’s plot became a reality
My forebodings, fears & doubts
Became a paralysis of cowardice
CHAPTER V – WRATH OF ZEUS
Hidden high in the shadows of a long forgotten stairway
I perched, eavesdropping on a conversation between senior saboteurs:
Hera, Phaesus & six demigods were gloating over an arsenal they’d just acquired
(A treasury of Fire spells from an Ancient who’d gained Night Sight for Cats)
Their laughter was cut short by a courtier who burst in screaming:
“ We’re discovered ! Zeus knows! They’re searching for you Phaesus!”
Phaesus fled & the courtier nervously answered a furious Hera:
“ No, he hasn’t named you or any demi-gods. But he knows about the Ancients!
He knows that Men have been given nothing! I’ve never seen him so angry!”
Hera snorted “ My husband has an infantile attachment to his plaything,
This New World has too long distracted him from Olympus
Let his tantrum run its’ course, let that fool Phaesus feel Zeus’s wrath.”
Hera’s dismissive tone calmed the others. With amused disdain she asked:
“ So, does Zeus seek out the naughty Ancients? Who else did he name?
What gifts & Powers still remain? What’s left for his sad little Men?”
“All remaining gifts go to Men, but no Powers are left & few gifts of value,
Logic, reason, some minor crafts & unwanted Sentiments,
Kindness, love, sympathy… things of that nature.”
To the snickering of demigods, the courtier continued:
“Zeus doesn’t seek the Ancients. In madness they’re immune to his rage,
He’s named those closest to Phaesus, but apart from those he seeks only
The one called Pandora.”
At the mention of my name I gasped loudly enough to reveal my presence.
Only Hera’s snarling response made it clear I hadn’t been heard.
“ What has that motherless bitch to do with anything ?
Speak worm! What did Zeus say? Exactly!”
“He called for the Searchers & gave them her… bedclothes to scent.
Apparently she’s often difficult to locate, always sneaking about,
Runs from her own shadow. But Zeus didn’t say why he wanted her.”
Hera seemed satisfied & changed the subject.
Though he didn’t say, I knew why Zeus wanted me. He knew I’d failed him.
I also knew it was only a matter of time before I was found
Preternatural trackers, the Searchers were a lupine race of slavering weremen
Always muzzled lest they devour the prey they ruthlessly tracked
They were relentless, ravenous & they were coming for me.
Blocking my only exit or escape were Hera & her saboteurs.
My shameful paralysis had now become a dreadful trap.
CHAPTER VI – SABOTAGE & THE SPY
From the chamber below me I heard the sudden commotion
The growling of Searchers, the chains of their keepers, the yells of Zeus’s Guard,
Hera & her demigods shouting in outrage, demanding an explanation.
I crept uselessly backward, inching up the darkened stairwell
Stopping only when I could go no further – at the dead-end landing on top.
Over the muffled argument that raged between Hera & Zeus’s Guard
I heard the snarling, predatory advance of the Searchers
Making their bloodthirsty way,
Snuffling, step after step,
Up the stairs.
Suddenly, to the packs outraged yelps & howls
A lone Guard, wielding a truncheon, bludgeoned his way through the Searchers
He climbed the stairs, two at a time, until he stood before me.
His gold chestplate & imposing stature identified him as one of Zeus’s Elite Guard
His booming voice silenced the Searchers, & commanded my reply.
“Are you Pandora?”
Unable to speak, I nodded, wide-eyed.
“Come. Zeus commands your presence.”
When I stumbled on the dark stairs, he kept me from falling, catching me easily
Feeling my uncontrolled trembling, his stern voice softened slightly.
“Don’t fear The Searchers. Chained & muzzled. They can’t harm you.”
We slowly descended the dark stair, following well behind the pack
Before we emerged he stopped & quietly advised.
“ Don’t fear Hera or her companions – they can’t harm you either.”
Though grateful for his reassurance, I questioned its’ accuracy.
“At least not while you take me for questioning by Zeus!”
He smiled, shaking his head, & put a finger to his lips, advising silence.
We emerged into the chamber only after the last snarling Searcher had left.
Hera & the demigods, who remained, were unfortunately just as as ferocious.
As soon as they saw me they erupted, shrieking, hissing & outraged.
“Sneaking bitch!” “Eavesdropping spy!” “ Ungodly snitch!”
The guard tried to shield me, but their rain of spittle still found its’ mark
Muttered insults & growled threats followed me out,
As I was escorted up the corridor I heard Hera’s cold, hard voice:
“ You can never hide Pandora. Hatred surrounds you on all sides.”
Those chilling words had the all force of a curse
And the certainty of a prophecy already coming true:
Gathered behind me was that cabal of powerful enemies.
Ahead lay the deserved wrath of a father betrayed.
CHAPTER VII – ZEUS’s JUDGEMENT
Entering my Father’s chambers, I prepared myself for his world quaking wrath.
To my astonishment he greeted me broadly smiling, with an unfamiliar embrace!
I was further stunned when he said he’d known of the plot & plotters, for weeks!
He also knew all about my eavesdropping & even the threat I’d just had from Hera!
He laughingly said I’d inherited his taste for spying & his talent for making enemies.
But, while hilariously applauding & approving my espionage
He regarded the vengeance of Hera & her demigods, seriously:
“You’re my daughter Pandora & mine alone & it’s your right to conceal yourself,
To be anywhere in my Realm, seen or unseen, that you choose.
Knowing that you’ve bravely served as my eyes & ears makes me very proud.
Still, I’m concerned by the risks you’ve taken & the greater dangers you now face.”
Then, upon a low table between us, he placed a curiously locked old glass jar
He stared at me, smiling, with a strange intensity. I tried to hold his gaze, unblinking.
When he blinked first & then finally spoke, his voice had a new gravity & formality:
“To protect you against your new enemies I’m giving you a powerful weapon.
Inside this vessel is a swarming multitude of daemons, djins & wicked imps.
If released they would drive off any enemy, but with truly terrible consequences:
Uncontrollable calamity & wild upheaval would ensue, affecting everything.
So, only as a last recourse should such a destructive weapon be unleashed.
Unopened, however it serves as a potent deterrant against future attack.
Moreover, the imps within must always warn you of any dangers in your midst
As keeper of their custody, they must do all they can to serve & please you.
But beware of their charming deceits! They should only be trusted as sentinels.
This Gift is a defense & a weapon. It will guard you.Yet you are its’ Guardian.
It will protect you from danger. But you must protect others from its’ danger.
Pandora my daughter, I , Zeus, now entrust you with this enchanted relic
Both an honour & a grave responsibility, it must be kept with you at all times
Pandora, from this day forward I declare you Guardian of the Gift”
With those words he took the vase from the table & passed it to me.
Though it wasn’t very large, it was surprisingly warm & heavy
I held it gingerly to my chest, with both hands
Kissing me gravely on the forehead he then walked me to the door
With a grinning farewell & another kiss, he then strode off towards his War Hall
I stood there happily stunned, half expecting to wake from this dream any minute.
The guard who brought me then reappeared & escorted me to my quarters.
Once there, he quietly told me he’d be on guard outside & I shouldn’t worry.
I thanked him & told him, truthfully, I had never felt safer.
Alone, inside I finally laughed out loud & spun around & around, still laughing
This day which had been the disastrous nadir of my life,
Was now it’s soaring zenith!
CHAPTER VIII – GUARDIAN & GIFT
Alone with the gift I soon realised I was not alone at all
Whether I’d been too overawed in Father’s presence to notice the daemons,
Or whether the daemons had been hiding, wary of Zeus, I don’t know.
But in that peculiar antique jar its’ far more peculiar contents were now revealed :
A teeming microcosm, whose citizens watched me, as I watched them, fascinated !
They were as splendidly varied as they were spectacularly numerous:
Some were winged like tiny faeries, others bestial, there were perfect little men,
Centuars, gargoyles, minotaurs, cyclops, djins, cherubs, dragons, miniature goddesses,
Swarms of dainty beings swam in & out of view, jostling for places on the jar wall,
Their voices were also audible, though at first I couldn’t understand them,
Shrill & clamouring, speaking all at once sounding like a hive of angry hornets,
Thousands were speaking, many in strange tongues, but there was barking too,
Howls & shrieks, hisses, honks, birdsong & chatter, creating odd insectile cacophony
Finally, exasperated by that buzzing, rising, infernal bedlam I shouted:
And blissfully there was! A sudden, perfect hush!
Placing the jar on a pedastal, I then delightedly examined it in peace.
Over a foot in height, smaller around than a plate & vase-like in overall shape
Fashioned from crystal of astonishing clarity that seemed to magnify its contents,
The jar’s circular sides bulged in vertical rows of smaller rounded columns,
Clear bottomed, it was topped by a solid silver cap & an elaborate filligreed lock.
Its’ securely fastened lid was engraved with hieroglyphs, which I studied intrigued,
Countless quiet imps watched while I inspected their prison.
Finally, in a low voice I addressed that patient, soundless throng:
“ I’d like to talk with you now but, please, only one voice at a time.”
A tiny single male voice spoke out immediately:
“Pandora, I am Priapus / Well known for my best trait
Our regrets for noisy rudeness, I can’t overstate
Our excitement to meet you created the din,
I apologise & guarantee it won’t happen again!”
Thus I met Priapus a man-like imp, nearly dwarfed by his obscene manhood,
He charmingly introduced a dozen other daemons, speaking always in rhyme,
He answered all my questions & then suggested I sample some entertainment:
We have singers, magicians, gymnasts & clowns
Orchestral productions & sights without sounds
Any performance or tableau you desire/ A universe of artists to thrill & inspire!
Utterly enthralled by that miniature world, I knew I had never been happier,
Eclipsing even the gift was my new certainty of my father’s affection & pride
And my dire expectations made the surprising events even more exhilarating!
That night, exhausted, I fell deliciously asleep,
dreaming to a daemon’s serenade of risque lullabies
CHAPTER IX – WORLD UPHEAVAL
My happiness was short lived.
I was awakened by the thundering pulse of Zeus’s terrible War Machines
Eerie, unfamiliar shrieks rose in blood-curdling replies,
On a table beside my bed, imps crowded the Gift’s surface, wide-eyed & chattering
When I asked what made that horrific screaming, the havoc daemon Perses, replied:
“It’s a creature of Nyx, summoned by spell /Known by the Ancients,a Gorgon of Hell
Her release from Hades has been a grave error /No God commands her carnage & terror!”
As soon as I heard this ominous news, knocks at my door brought far worse tidings:
Praetus, the Elite Guardsman & my earlier escort, entered in full armour, shouting:
“ Zeus commands to pack your belongings!You’re leaving this Realm immediately.”
All my questions he ignored, & only shouted “NOW!”. Then left, slamming the door
I dressed for travel (destination unknown) throwing all I had in a huge wooden trunk
I placed the Gift in the basket I’d carry, with my few valuables & keepsakes.
Shortly, Praetus returned with two more Elite Guardsmen who carried the trunk,
Signalling me to be silent, Praetus led the Guards & I to a secret passage nearby
Once inside that narrow winding stair, Praetus’s only word to me was: “ Hurry!”
With Guards before & behind me, running in armour, I was rushed a huge distance.
Finally we arrived at a vast subterranean port, where the Godship Pontus awaited us.
Hephaestus, God of Fire & one of Zeus few trusted allies, rushed me quietly aboard.
After loading my trunk the two Guards departed, but Praetus & Hephaestus stayed.
Every attempt I made to speak was silenced with frowns & angry gestures.
Finally, soundlessly, the ship began moving, spectral through darkened canals
Exhausted by the run, forbidden to talk, I surprisingly fell fast asleep.
Hours later Praetus shook me gently awake & handed me a letter from my Father
“Zeus said to give this to you once we were safely away.” I tore it open & read :
“ Pandora – In the New World you will marry the ruler Epimethus. In time,
I trust you will love him & shepherd his people to their deserved place.
The New World is not all I had intended, Hera’s sabotage has robbed Men of much it may need.
Your presence will hopefully redress that imbalance.
In your new home all I told you about the Gift is even more important.
It will guard your journey but you are its’ Guardian & as my daughter I believe you will fulfill your destiny.
I was to marry a strange mortal in the New World ? I was to make it my home?
I was being traded as compensation for Hera’s robbery? I was being banished?
Sent from my home, from everything & everyone I’d ever known?
Banished? In my fury I cast the letter away.( Luckily Hephaestus saved it.)
Years later I better understood my fathers intentions:
In Upheaval the Realm was dangerously unstable & Zeus knew I was a prime target.
He knew how lonely I was & wanted me to experience love, intimacy & friendship.
He wanted me to learn, as he had, challenges of power & dangers of responsibility.
Lastly, he wanted me to complete his New World & for it to hopefully complete me.
At the time, however, I only knew I’d been banished.
CHAPTER X – BANISHMENT
Godship Pontus hurtled through the firmament, pursued by a meteoric arsenal,
Hephaestus, Zeus’s ally, was also Hera’s son & recognised his mothers handiwork:
“ She’d be doubly glad to be rid of us both, Pandora,
But Hera’s aim’s unsuited to such crude & Ancient arrows!”
My home Olympus & all I’d ever known, now blazed far behind us,
Gaimboden, the unknown New World lay invisible, far ahead.
Though Zeus had banned other Gods, I discovered Hephaestus had been there
Not as God of Fire but as Zeus’s intermediary in the brokering of my marriage!
Trying to soothe my bitterness about banishment & my fury at his complicity,
Hephaestus dismissed Olympus & began rhapsodising about my “new home”:
“ In the Realm, Pandora you’re ungodly prey, destined for life in hiding, at best,
But in Gaimboden no Gods will wield power over you,
Indeed, you’ll appear Godlike to its’ people.
Freed from from bullying deities, from Upheaval, coups & plots,
You’ll find the race of Men full of wonder & innocence
Safe in their world of perfect harmony & sensory delights…”
Unable to contain myself any longer, I exploded – calling him “Zeus’s pimp”
I then stormed off to spend the rest of that miserable journey, fuming in my cabin.
How could I have so easily believed Zeus had changed?
After a lifetime of indifferent neglect, I’d fawned over him like a grateful cur,
Only to be handed to Mankind like a consolation prize for Hera’s robbery.
Like his letter, even the Gift now seemed an empty gesture of farewell,
To distract me from my banishment & his failure to say even goodbye!
Aboard the god-ship, my angry sorrow gradually became an icy bitterness
An excited Praetus rapped on my door the last morning of our journey
“ Pandora! You can see it! The New World’s now visible! Look!”
Resignedly, I drew my drapes aside, revealing distant Gamboden:
A tiny sapphire waterworld flecked with gold & emerald isles
Underwhelmed, I muttered “A doll’s world, made for Zeus’s childsplay.”
“Shiny little plaything, sweetness, light & grace
Instantly appealing, easy to replace
Sparkling tiny trifle, the perfect toy it makes
Easily forgotten, when baby bauble breaks”
Throughout the trip to Gamboden, the Gift had remained silent.
Its’ imps had watched my rage turn cold & my hurt turn diamond hard,
Now, with characteristic perfect timing & vicious little rhymes,
It found the ideal cruel key to re-enter my black & broken heart.
I laughed & laughed, as sad girls do, at jokes meant to be mean.
Something like a smile lingered, masking my resignation
As I packed my cunning Gift & readied to disembark.
Forsaken, if not friendless, prepared to meet my future.
Though nothing prepared Gamboden to meet her fate.
End of Part 1
(part 2 coming soon)