Mark A. Holmes

Pandora, asteroid number 55, is a main-belt asteroid like the Big Four and Lilith, with a period of roughly five years, quite a bit fainter than the Big Four. It was discovered in the flurry of asteroid-discovering activity in the second half of the nineteenth century by George Searle in Albany, NY on September 10, 1858.

Pandora's namesake is the first mortal woman in Greek mythology, Pandora, wife of the Titan Epimetheus, sister-in-law of his brother Prometheus, and mother of Pyrrha, who with Prometheus' son Deucalion survived the Deluge (in the Greek version of the legend) in an ark. After the Flood receded, Deucalion and Pyrrha, disembarking from the ark, received a divine command to "veil their heads and cast behind them the bones of their mother," i.e., the stones, the bones of Mother Earth. Accordingly, Deucalion and Pyrrha donned veils and threw rocks behind them, and thus they repopulated the earth from the stones on the ground: those thrown by Deucalion became men, and those thrown by Pyrrha became women. Pandora, therefore, is one of the ultimate ancestresses of all women in Greek mythology. However, she is most famous for bringing Evil into the world through her curiosity (or her innate feminine disposition to do evil, accordiong to one misogynistic version of the legend), by opening a chest or vase given to her by the gods of Olympus who created her, which contained all the evils of the world that have afflicted Humanity ever since, and one more thing...Hope, by which all evil may be overcome. This was the design of the Dii (the gods of Olympus), who sought to punish mankind for having been given the gift of fire by Prometheus. All the Dii got together to create Pandora, giving her every gift that could be put into a mortal woman, in order that she might be the wife of the scatterbrained, impulsive Epimetheus, whose name means "afterthought" and who had been warned to accept nothing from Zeus by his wise brother Prometheus ("forethought"), but who gladly took Pandora as his wife nevertheless. Hermes gave Pandora the box which she was warned solemnly never to open. But her curiosity got the better of her: she had to know what was inside the box, and so she opened it.

The misogyny of the less charitable version of her motivation also appears in the mythology surrounding Juno, Vesta and Lilith and is reflective of the patriarchal fear of feminine power and independence.

Pandora (Greek for "the all-gifted one") represents the power of the feminine to promote growth and maintain against stagnation. If Ceres is the Mother, Pallas the Career Woman, Juno the Spouse, Vesta the Priestess, Chiron the Shaman, and Hidalgo the Crusader, then Pandora is the Adventuress.

Pandora represents the principal of impact: release, possibility, opportunity, growth, mutation, agitation, introduction, adventure, excitement, anti-stagnation, unfoldment, a process of change.


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