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Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box

This story is from Greek mythology, and has given rise to the idiom ‘to open a Pandora’s box.’

Epimetheus and his brother, Prometheus, lived on earth a long time ago. They were kind men and Prometheus helped people learn how to create fire. This got them in trouble with Zeus, the king of the gods, who did not want people to know how to do this.

To punish the brothers for this Zeus had a beautiful woman created by a man called Hephaestus. This woman was called Pandora, and she was sent to earth to meet the brothers. She was very charming and Epimetheus fell in love with her and married her.

As a wedding gift Zeus sent Epimetheus a box. This box came with a message from the gods that it was never to be opened. The gods were hoping that Epimetheus would be too curios to leave the box unopened. However, it was Pandora who was most curious and one day she could wait no longer and opened the box.

Pandora had imagined that there would be great riches in the box but when she opened it all that was in there were some moths. These moths represented all the awful things in the world and Pandora had let them all loose. She closed the box as quickly as she could but it was too late.

When her husband returned, she told him what she had done and opened the box to show him. There was one small moth left in the box which was ‘hope’ and they released this into the world too.

As you might have guessed by this time, the idiom ‘to open a Pandora’s box’ means ‘to unleash a lot of unforeseen problems’. A modern version of this idiom is ‘to open a can of worms’.

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