Boxed In A Curse –
Short Story by Perth author Luciana Cavallaro
See trailer below for ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…
Teacher and historian, Luciana Cavallaro, is adept at weaving ageless legends within a modern motif, and in this case, a fable that can also hold children spellbound.
Boxed In A Curse is a story most of us have known as ‘Pandora’s Box’. However, the vessel that held the curse was actually a pithos or large jar, sealed tightly with wax to keep ‘the evil’ within. Many archaeologists and Ancient Greek historians interpret the pithos as an analogy for Pandora’s vagina, and the fear that men associate with the wicked female temptress, the cause of man’s ‘downfall’. The author’s title is a telling one; ever since Pandora unwittingly released ‘bad things’ [via menstruation] into the world, women have been confined by deep prejudice to a role as the ‘ruin’ of mankind.
The Greek mythological narrative informs us that numerous gigantic and powerful gods fought for supremacy over the earth and universe. Wars were commonplace, but after a particularly vicious and bloody war that lasted ten years, Zeus entrusted loyal brothers Prometheos and Epimetheos with the task of creating creatures. The former constructed man in the image of the gods while the latter created all kinds of animals and birds. Zeus, an over-zealous and jealous god, was very concerned with Prometheos’ creation; man with intelligence and guile could challenge the will of the gods! And to make matters worse, Prometheos gave the gift of fire to man, after stealing it from the home of the gods. Zeus was furious! In his anger he ordered Hephiastos, the divine smith, to make an entity that would ‘serve to be a gift of poison to man’.
Various gods in the hierarchy were summoned by Zeus to fashion this new entity with dexterity, sexuality, love, fertility and other qualities. Hera, queen of the gods and of marriage, endowed Hephiastos’ project with curiosity, a trait that would ultimately set off a chain of catastrophic events for mortals. The first mortal woman, she who was infused with the gifts of the gods, was named Pandora. Both man and gods were enthralled and fascinated by Pandora’s beautiful perfection.
Pandora’s early life was filled with carefree days enjoying the wonders of the world until Zeus gave Pandora as a gift to Epimetheos, which didn’t exactly please her. After a struggle with her desire to control her own life, Pandora accepted that she could not defy the gods. Later, during the marriage ceremony, the gods watched each other and Pandora, constantly making smart remarks laced with sarcasm and at times, snarls. Needless to say, Zeus was not impressed with the heckling and bantering.
A quiet lull in the festivities enabled Hermes, on behalf of Zeus, to present the bridegroom with the sealed pithos. He warned Epimetheos not to ever open it, but could say no more. Hermes advised him to issue the same warning to Pandora.
Over the years, Pandora and Epimetheos lived happily enough, although Pandora’s curiosity about what was contained in the un-opened wedding gift, never left her in peace. She thought it odd that she and her husband were forbidden from opening what was rightfully theirs. Cunning Zeus knew how to exploit the weaknesses of Hephiastos’ creation. When Pandora could resist temptation no longer, she broke the wax seal and opened the jar. From that moment on life changed for both mortals and immortals, but in the end, Pandora does manage to partly redeem herself.
Many Christian legends about the first man and woman on earth, and the creation of the world, have obviously been transposed from Ancient Greek mythology. Luciana Cavallaro juxtaposes the two in her own unique style. She depicts many scenes between mortals and immortals with vivid detail, almost as though she was there in person at the time. This, along with the modern setting in which she places Pandora’s story, made Boxed In A Curse such a relevant and enjoyable read for me. Available here in e book format via Amazon
Anne Frandi-Coory 22 August 2013
Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of 5 Greek classics including: ‘Boxed In A Curse‘