The Pandora Contest: Win $300 for Your Short Story
This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!
The Contest: Write a story of 5,000 words or less about the myth below.
Deadline: February 28, 2017, by midnight.
Entry fee: FREE!
The myth of Pandora is your typical “the first woman is created and promptly ruins everything” story.
In most versions, Pandora is created by Zeus in response to Prometheus’s theft of the fire of Heaven.
It went like this: Prometheus was a Titan, and he was put in charge of creating the race of mankind. This he did, but after a while he thought that it was a shame that they had to live without fire. It kept mankind kind of cavemanish.
So, acting very much against the orders of Zeus, Prometheus sneaked into Olympus and stole the fire of the Gods for mankind. (Shout out to Prometheus, thanks dude.)
Zeus was like, “What did I JUST tell you? Now I have to go all wrathful sky-father on you.”
Zeus’s retaliation was the creation of Pandora. He called upon all the gods to bless her with their gifts, thus her name means “All-Gifts.” (You can read this in two ways: she possessed all gifts, or she bestowed all gifts to mankind.) Pandora was created out of earth, gifted with the beauty of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, the brains and perfectionism of Apollo, and the cunning and mischievous nature of Hermes. Pandora was essentially endowed with all of the good and bad things on earth. She could cook, but she could also lace your dinner with poison. She could hold long heartfelt conversations, or put a curse on you with her words. She was gifted with creative genius, but she could also go around with a hammer just fucking things up.
In most versions of the myth, Zeus gave Pandora a box or a jar full of all these good and bad things in the world—fortune and misfortune, virtue and vice. He doesn’t seem to have told her what was IN the box.
Zeus creates her, and he wants to send her to men. As a “gift.” He knows Prometheus will be on the lookout for tricks, so he doesn’t try sending Pandora to him. Instead, Zeus sends Pandora to Epimetheus, Prometheus’s dumbass younger brother. (Seriously, this is what happened.)
It worked. Epimetheus was like, “Prometheus, man, I know you told me not to accept gifts from Zeus, but…she pretty.”
So Pandora now has a place among men. And she opens her box (or in some versions, Epimetheus opens the box), and all the evils and blessings in the world pour out. Most of the blessings are too heavenly and light to stay down on earth, so earth gets stuck with all the heavy shit, like greed and murders and jealousy and plagues and famines and shitty jobs and bipartisanship. When Pandora realized what was happening, she quickly closed the box. The only thing that she managed to keep inside was Hope.
Write a story of 5,000 words or less about the Pandora myth.
Deadline: February 28, 2017, by midnight.
Entry fee: FREE!
I’ll judge entries based on:
— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)
— Writing prowess. You don’t have to be endowed with the gift of writing by Hermes, but just give it your best shot. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count).
— An understanding of the Pandora myth.
Send your entry to my email: HelloL@Mythraeum.com. Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “Pandora Contest.” Please write your entry in English and in prose. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner by March 10 2017. Subscribe to Mythraeum to see the winner.
Have questions? See if your answers are in the Writers’ FAQ.
Did you notice any parallels in Pandora’s story to a more popular creation myth? Say, Eve?
Both Pandora and Eve were the first women created. Before them, the world had been a Utopia. We have the Garden of Eden and a world where Prometheus had brought heavenly fire to men. Then the ladies come along and ruin it all.
There are many interpretations of the Eve/Pandora myth. But what it really amounts to is a transformation of consciousness.
This is essentially the beginning of the world as we know it. You could see it as “the event” in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or you could see it as a fall from grace. We go from a utopia, to a world of struggle and disconnection of all things.
Why does it come through a woman?
There are several reasons this could be. Some of the Greek writers are pretty adamant that it’s because women are actually the incarnation of evil, and are the cause of all the evil things in the world. (Hesiod goes on a particularly nasty rant against us.) Some of the Christian writers are pretty enthusiastic about the exact same thing.
But we also know how Ancient Greek and Christian cultures have seen women throughout history. Keywords: Not. Very. Good.
Let’s look past all that boring biased crap to see if there might not be some genuine mythological or psychological theme alluded to here.
If we look at things from a Jungian or Campbellian point of view, it would probably be because women are often symbolic of transformation—life into death into life into death, etc. Why? Because women birth children, and bleed every month on a cycle with the moon without dying. (Seriously, what is up with that “on time with the moon” thing? Even with everything we now know, it’s amazing.)
This was actually seen as kind of mysterious in very ancient times. I am not fully on board the bandwagon that says, “Nobody knew what periods were, so all women were magic!” But I do think that women could be seen as tied to both the physical and spiritual worlds in a way that made them a kind of “portal”—in that life passed through the portal of their womb, and blood poured from there pretty regularly, too.
Basically, women were a symbol of transformation because they were the portal of life and death.
And on another note about Pandora, in some versions of the myth, we get allusions to the “box” or “jar” actually being Pandora’s MIND. The THOUGHTS of Pandora created all the good and evil things in the world.
You can use some of these ideas in your story, or none of them. Your Pandora can be a mythical woman created by the gods, or a deli clerk from New Jersey. Your story doesn’t have to be set in Ancient Greece (but it can be). You can set it in modern times or on a spaceship. Turn it into a Western or steampunk, or even do the Jane Austen regency version.
You don’t have to tell the whole story. You can write a quick vignette, or get as sweeping and epic as you can in 5,000 words. You can focus on Pandora or Prometheus or Zeus, or another character. Be creative!
Good luck arche-typers!
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