Have a seat.
Have some wine.
Make yourself comfortable.
We have many stories to tell, but I think we should start from the beginning of our narrative. As luck would have it, the events related here happened shortly after the beginning.
At first, there was only emptiness. Then there were Gods. These Gods were bickering, as they were wont to do. Since there was nothing, they had nothing to do but bicker. Wotan would wax poetics about himself, Ganesh would drown him out, Mictlantecuhtli would brood in a corner of the abyss, Jupiter and Zeus would breed in another. One day, before days were even a thing, Yahweh created heaven and earth, out of spite. This is when the trouble really started.
Now the Gods had something to do.
The big ones took big chunks of the world for themselves, the small ones took small chunks, all of them had some toys to play with. At first, they played with the animals. They would have raccoon play pranks on possum, they would persuade giraffe to grow her neck, they would poke dolphin in his sleep. This is why dolphin now sleeps with one eye open. Then one day, out of Africa (or Eden, according to Yahweh. He likes to take credit, that one) came the people. Now, them people weren’t interested in staying still. They moved around and around, all over the world. To the Gods, this was new. And exciting. Now, some of these people moved to the Aegean Sea, they settled in every nook and cranny of the Balkans, under the eye of those Gods that lived on Mount Olympus.
From that big mountain, these Gods looked at the people. At this time, the people were all together, they had fun together, they talked to one another. Now, that was boring. The Gods didn’t want boring.
One went down the mountain and gave fire to the people.
All the other Gods thought that was a grand idea, but since he hadn’t asked anyone about it, he got hung to a rock, an eagle eating his vittles for eternity.
For the Gods, this was the start of fun. With fire, the people started cooking their food. They started to light their homes. They started to make tools. Then, they started to make weapons. Other Gods would come and look, they would exclaim at the shiny toys these people made, they would bring the idea back home, their people would make weapons too.
The people in the Balkans built cities. Big cities with small names, like Minos, Small cities with big names like Lacedaemon.
But it was still boring. Even with their weapons, these people wouldn’t fight with each other. The weapons served against tigers, against lions. Sometimes against aggressive sheep. But those Gods wanted to see big battles, between small and big cities, between brother and cousin.
So, one day, Hera sees a young woman. That woman is Pandora. She lives in a big city with a small name, and she is well-liked in that city. Every man in that city wants to be her companion, philosophers seek her advice, seers want to know the future she sees, Archons host her at their palaces, Hetaeras learn conversation from her. She took a man named Andros for companion. Now, Andros wasn’t a smart boy. Had he been given a lightbulb, he would have spent eternity trying to eat it. But Pandora held him in her heart; she thought him sweet and kind, two things that the smartest of men lacked.
Seeing that girl, Hera went to her husband Zeus. He was busy looking at swans, pondering whether or not that was something he could fuck. Hera dragged him by the ear, so that he may see the girl.
-Look at this girl.
-Let me tuck it back into my toga first!
-Fine, but look at this girl.
-She’s pretty. Should I…
-Aww come on….
Hera kneed Zeus’s lightning rod, then sent him sulking back to the swans. Instead, she went to Hades. Hades was brooding under Olympus. The sun gave him a rash, he said. He preferred the damp caves instead. Better for his bones, he said.
-Hades, come with me.
-Why? Emo’s not been invented yet, so I’m not coming out.
-I have something to show you.
-Mmkay, but it better be gloomy.
Hera showed him Pandora, out in the countryside picking flowers.
-That girl deserves a special gift.
-I already have one like that at home. She’s there half the year, and she’s super bummed out all the time.
-That’s because you kidnapped her from her mother. But this is not what I’m talking about. This girl here can help us make things fun in the world. You still have your box?
-Yeah, but I don’t see what this will…
-Give me the box.
-Okay, but be careful with it. It’s super secret and dangerous. It contains all the evils, from greed to corporate HR, through nukes and British pop bands.
Box in hand, Hera went to Pandora. In the countryside, Hera stood out like a sore thumb. Her clothes were alright, she was not monstrous, and her haircut was on point; she mostly stood out because she was 15 feet tall. However, only Pandora was there to see the 15-foot woman materialize out of thin air. She gasped, fell to her feet, pleading for her life to this mysterious amazon with a box.
-Get a hold of yourself woman, I am Hera, goddess of marriage, the home, slave masters and tv sets.
-You’ll find out when you’re older. For now, I have a box I want to give you.
-Yes, a box. This box, in fact.
-Because you are the most amazing person around.
Pandora scanned the horizon around her.
-…I’m the only person around.
-Exactly. Most amazing person around. Have this box. Don’t open it.
Hera shoved the box into Pandora’s hands, then disappeared.
Back at Olympus, she saw that Zeus had moved on from swans to cows. She went to her chambers, from where she could observe Pandora.
She was still standing in the same field. She was slightly shocked at what had just happened. But she did keep the box, because it looked nice. Back at her home, she took the box to her bedroom. She ordered one of her slaves to go fetch the nicest table possible, then sat in silence, pondering the meaning of “TV sets”.
When her slave came back with the table, she plopped the box down on it. Just slightly crooked; this to draw the eyes of her guests, triggering their pattern-seeking behaviour.
Of course, Pandora didn’t try to open the box. She knew from experience that when a mysterious, 15-foot tall stranger gave you a box and specified not to open it, you shouldn’t open it. Because these people know that, with these instructions, everyone would open the box. That’s what they want. You open it, and you wind up covered in pig’s blood. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….
In the following days, Pandora organized a feast in her home; mainly to show off her cute new box. People wondered at its content, some even offered boatloads of gold for the privilege of opening it. But Pandora would have none of it. She did not need more wealth, and Gods know what was in the box.
Hera watched from above, angry that Pandora had seen through her ploy. She went to the forest, to Artemis’s sanctuary. Within, she walked to the central fountain. Artemis, entertained by her entourage of nymphs, was just back from a wild week of hunting. She sat atop the fruit of her hunt, in the form of a hill of animal pelts, mostly squirrels and deer, but Hera did spot the pelt of a man in the pile.
-That one? He got a bit too curious for my liking. I’m having his manhood stuffed, to use it as a sword handle.
-How…practical. Listen, I need your help. Could you send a satyr to the home of a human woman called Pandora? He would only have to open a box.
-Hmm….I would, but they’re all drunk off their asses. Plus, imagine the nightmare it would be to send a satyr among all these human women.
Disappointed, Hera started going to every God, trying to find one who could help in opening Pandora’s box. Ares was too depressed to move; being a God of war before there are wars is a bad position to be in. Hephaestus really wanted to help, but his mangled leg prevented him from moving, and no one took orders from him, on account of his baldness. Apollo was busy carting the sun around, fighting off other sun deities who needed the job. Aphrodite was caught up in her business all the time; better to not approach her chambers at all; plus, there was a sock on the handle.
Meanwhile, Andros was coming back from a long journey. He had been sent to deliver a message to the city docks but had inadvertently ended up on a ship headed to Vinland. The journey back, while fascinating, is a story for another time. Floating into port on a goat, he went straight to his home, to his Pandora.
Once he got there, he saw the most beautiful box in their bedroom.
-Oh, Pandora, is this for my birthday?
-…Your birthday isn’t before another 6 months.
-Aww, you shouldn’t have.
-It’s not for your birthday. Don’t open it.
-Oh, don’t tease me, I know it is.
He reached for the lid. As Pandora tried to stop him, he feinted to the side and pulled the lid open.
In one moment, a cavalcade of horrors never seen before was unleashed: mosquitoes, plague, Disney on ice, war, greed, anger, the snuggie, famine, draught, black tar heroin, homophobia, cacti, and so many more. Pandora tried closing the box, but the lid wouldn’t fit. Mostly because Andros’s hand was fumbling about inside, probing for his birthday gift.
Outside, the world was becoming a much more interesting place for the Gods. Ares came out of his aeons-long funk, revitalized by the sudden spike in warfare. Hades started hiring interns, since the increased number of souls meant a lot of paperwork. And Hera smiled from Olympus, content that things would be much more fun from now on. All in all, these evils really spruced up the place.
The angry populace of Pandora’s city saw that the horrors came from her home. They gathered together and went to confront her about it. Every man, woman, child and Doberman pincher armed with pitchforks, torches and/or strongly worded letters, they stormed inside. In the bedroom, Pandora watched the crowd file in. Noticing the commotion, Andros quickly took his hand out of the box.
-She did it.