Pandora Unleashed

Pandora Unleashed

A Story by Al R. Arce
"

For the Gods to maintain the mortal spirit restrained, they would have to expose its greatest horrors...

"

Pandora

I was the chosen one: rescued from the depths of a meaningless emptiness, to be brought up to godly existence.  From those early times I only remember Hephaestus as being the one who rescued me from oblivion to a brand new Olympus.  The Gods adopted me as one of their own. 

They cleaned off the grime that stuck to my skin like limpets to a rock.  My black hair was washed, turned blond, treated with oil and perfumed.  My skin was slathered in honey, olive oil and flower petals until it was as silky as butterfly’s wings.  The flaws on my face disappeared, as I turned white with rosy cheeks and lusciously red lips.  My eyes were shadowed, making my gaze deep and mysterious.  Aphrodite showed me how my body was my temple, and thus I needed to live for it.   She taught me the art of love; that lust was my right - that one kiss, one word or one look was enough to bring men against each other.

My body was clothed within mountain clouds and rays of light.  My clothes did not restrain me; I felt as if I was naked.  The silhouette of my body was visible, like a shadow " suggestive yet explicit; enhancing the desires it provoked.  On sandals made of golden leather my feet rested, never tiring despite the distance walked.  It was as if I were floating, I never felt the ground underneath my feet.  Jewelry was also a useful tool for me to use.  Earrings, just bright enough, would dance as I turned my head, just enough so a stranger’s attention would focus on my long svelte neck.  Then, a necklace, of just the right length; a pendant, of just the right shape " would bring unaware eyes towards my neck, onto my cleavage.  Beyond my body, the way I looked and how I looked, was as subjugating as the strongest chain.

Apollo taught me the enchantments that entice men: the arts of music and poetry, the mastery of healing with my hands and my words.  He educated me in the ways of arts and science.  I became sophisticated - that beyond my appearance, being intriguing yet assured, was bait too alluring to offer escape.  Fragility, care and gentleness can capture the souls of those around me.  Demeter tutored me on the ways of nature.  I learned about plants and flowers, herbs and spices, what grows above and below the ground.  Perfumes and flavors, medicines and poisons, were all needful things I learned to use.  Poseidon’s gift was a pearl necklace that would never allow me to drown.  Hera gave me self-confidence, that despite the ways of men, it was us women who wielded the power of men.  She introduced me to Ate, a spirit in the shape of a woman, who taught me how to speak, as words were mightier than any weapon, divine or of man.  Hermes made me cunning, bold and charming.  Then last was Zeus.

“You are the first of your kind” he said to me.  “You are not to be possessed but to be cherished.  You will be nobody’s servant.  You are to be served.  For your presence alone should be considered a gift from the Gods.  You are not to be bothered with the trivialities of mortality, for you will always be under our grace.  Your life shall serve no purpose other than your own satisfaction.  You are not to question your status as it is your right as given by me.  Do you understand?”

How could I not!  I was a God amongst Gods.

“There is one thing that I require of you.” he continued.  “You are to wed Prometheus.”

I knew of him, the great hero from the Titanomachia: the war against the Titans. Prometheus was a Titan himself.  Titans had rejected they ways of the forefathers, leaving behind the godly ways, while adopting the rugged earth and its natural ways.  They were unrefined, harsh and simple.  They chose to live off the land while denying themselves of the pleasures of immortality.  I was not too happy about becoming his wife. There was nothing I could do.  This was Zeus bidding and I had to obey.

“Do not worry child” he went on, as he saw the distress on my semblance. “I have one last gift for you.”

He presented me with a jar, a pithos.  It was made of clay, about half my height.  It was beautifully carved with scenes from Olympus.  The outside was brightly painted with decorative handles on two of its generously curved sides; it stood in precarious balance over its small circular base.   I opened it.  It was empty.

“This pithos is not meant to hold anything inside.” Zeus continued.  “It is a covenant.  As long as you keep this close to you, and care for it, you shall always be under our protection no matter where you are, no matter the circumstances.”

I smiled…  I had no fears.

So it was that I became Prometheus wife.  From the moment I lay eyes on him I detested him and everything he stood for.  He didn’t want to do anything with me at first, but as I, he had no other option but to abide by Zeus bidding.  He refused to have an appropriate wedding.  One day I just moved with him.  His shed showed the scars of many winters gone by.  The sun dried bricks showed disrepair as they were barely holding up together.  They were mostly clutters of mud crumbles held together by mercy.  The roof did not have a single intact clay tile.  The rotten wooden shutters had not been open in many seasons.  It was a ruin in the middle of nowhere.  One day I walked over floors of marble, the next day I walked over dusty dry ground.  My sandals and clothes got dirty from the moment I stepped on his land.  There was no running water, much less fresh food.  The bed was a pile of hay, and the wooden chairs as hard as wood.  It was warm.  As I began to sweat my makeup started running.  I did not want to be there.

The first thing I did was to place my pithos safe in a corner of the shed, away from any traffic.  Then I faced him.

“I don’t know why Zeus has punished me this way.  However be certain that I am not here to be your maid.”

He ignored me.  He left me behind in solitude as I cried until I had no more tears to shed.  In my despair I fell asleep.  When I woke up the next morning I saw on the table, fresh milk, eggs and fruits.  By the table were two jars: one full of fresh water for me to bathe, and another with olive oil for my hair.  On a chair were some clothes made of sheep skin.  I ate but bathing was another story.  No matter how hard I tried to get cleaned, dirt clang onto my skin like a disease.  Then there were the clothe skins…  I could not bear their feel against my body.  Once again sorrow overflowed my soul.  I kneeled in desperation and I prayed to the Gods for their mercy.

Later that day, Prometheus returned.  I was clean, clothed and beautiful once again.  He seemed uncomfortable but not surprised.  He did not ask me anything.  He never did!  Every morning and evening he brought me things: food, water, flowers, oil and clothes.  I never touched any of it.  The Gods provided me.  When I complained about the bugs that infested the house, they were no more.  When I got tired of the heat, a constant gentle breeze flowed through the windows.  When the dust made me sick, it would remain settled.  To all of this, Prometheus remained quiet.  That was the case until one day he saw the bed the Gods provided me.  It was made of soft furs over a slab of smooth marble.  Resting on top of it was like sleeping on a cloud of bliss.  He became furious.  He took all the furs and burned them on a pit outside the shed.

“At some point you must realize you are not in Olympus anymore!” he told me.  “You are my wife, and as such you will live with the means I can provide.  You will do as I say…”

“YOU ARE NOT ZEUS!” I yelled back…

“Can’t you see what he is doing to you?  You are wrapped in veils of fiction which imprison you within the depths of your own mind.  Open your petals to the wind.  Feel the river caress your toes.  If you get cold, seek the warmth of the stars.  Let the moon be your pillow and dream of us and what we may become.  Leave Olympus behind and embrace the earth.  We don’t need the wonders of the Gods, but rather the rainbow above our heads.  Close the day and night and let everything around us be ours.”

I was moved...  Maybe for an instant…  Why should I renounce what was mine?  I didn’t ask for Olympus favors.  They were given to me.  I was entitled to them.  Why should I feel cold or hot?  Why should I let him have me?  His body: leathered skin, unshaven face, and dirty-smelly self; would never touch me.  My rejection frustrated him. 

“I am your husband and when you married me you married my ways.” he finished as he stormed out of the shed.

I paid little concern to his warnings.  That day, as I paced myself around the ruins I lived in; I found a small box, hidden within the stack of hay that Prometheus pretended me to sleep on.  I could not believe my eyes once I opened it.  It was the hilt of a sword.  It had a nut shaped silver pommel with a large diamond like stone embedded within it.  The grip was made of wood, wrapped in shark skin.  The cross-guard was made of a silver-like metal, it was narrow and thick.  The sword had no blade. 

“Could this be it?” I asked myself.  There was only one way to find out.  I grabbed the hilt, went to the water pithos and submerged it.  The stone within the pommel turned as bright as a star.  The water got very cold.  As I slowly took it out of the water, a blade that looked like ice formed from the hilt.  The surface of the blade was not smooth but rather wavy, resembling ripples over water.  I pulled a hair strand and let it fall on its edge.  The blade cut the strand in two as it fell gently on it.  Further, once cut, each half became brittle, breaking into pieces as it dell on the table top.  I let go of the sword and the stone in the pommel turned off while the blade immediately became water.  There was no question this was Hyperion’s Bane, the weapon Prometheus used against the Titans.  A weapon made by the Titans, long before they embraced the earth.  I silently smiled…

When he returned the next morning he found me, cleaned, clothed and beautiful, resting on my bed furs.  Once again he was furious at my defiance.  But before he could do anything I stopped him.

“Here you are, preaching for a life of denial.  You are not of this earth, yet you turn your back against your true nature.  You are no man; you are a Titan!  You desire to live like man, but like I, you just can’t let go of who you are.”  I said to him as I threw towards his feet the hilt of Hyperion’s Bane.

“If you truly lived what you preached, you would not hold on to that.  You lie to yourself and those around you.  So don’t you dare to tell me anything, and much less burn my bed again...”

My words exposed the fury which conquered the Titans.  He picked up the hilt and secured it on his belt. After burning my bed, he once again turned to me.

“You think I don’t know, but you are ill conceived.”

He then walked towards my pithos and held it above his head with both hands.  I yelled horrified and ran towards him, trying to stop him.  He threw it on the ground, shattering it to a dozen pieces.  Silent, in disbelief, I looked at the remains of Zeus gift.

“I am your husband.  I provide.” 

He stormed out of the house.

I kneeled before the remains of the pithos, sobbing uncontrollably.  From that moment on, I only felt hatred towards Prometheus.  I vowed that I would make him suffer the way no immortal had suffered before…

Prometheus

Even before I set eyes on her, I knew she would be my undoing.  Pandora was more than a woman.  She was a challenge that against my own best judgment, I decided to take.  Underneath the mask the Gods had placed upon her face, I saw the innocence of mankind. Foolishly I thought I could undo her.  I knew I would fail, but I had to try…

She did not care for all the attentions and offers I would give her.  So long as she had the Gods to provide her, I would only be an anchor preventing her from setting sail to wherever her heart desired.  She was a mortal, but she did not think of herself as one.  She always referred to Olympus as home, and the Olympians as family.  She thought she was something she was not.  My relationship with her was irritating at first.  She was like spoiled child ranting about the things she wanted, rather than focusing on the things she needed it.  But after the day I broke her pithos, things changed.

Her desire for Olympian intervention intensified after I severed her connection to Olympus.  She spent days praying, and making offers to the Gods.  There would be no answer.  She tried to repair the pithos.  Patiently she would piece together, one by one, the thousand pieces of clay, pasting them together with clay.  Sometimes the bond would be weak, and whatever she had reconstructed would crumble to the ground onto a greater number of pieces.  She would begin again.  She would not eat or drink.  She stopped taking care of herself.  Her hair turned black once more, and her skin began to be burned by the sun.  Her attachment to Olympus intensified to the point of becoming her one and only overwhelming thought.

There was no point in talking to her about anything.  All she would say was about her need of vinegar so she could make herself blond again; or the need for someone who could bathe her, and feed her.  She would constantly be seeking materials to make up her clothing, but no textiles or skins were ever good enough for her.  She would constantly be washing her feet and hands, as there was nothing she despised more than the feel of dirt upon her skin.  At one point she began talking about herself in third person.  It was as if she had become detached from herself. 

The few times she would find things that appeased her: fresh fruits, a piece of jewelry, comfortable sandals, a diadem, or some olive oil.  She would grab more than what she needed, with the desperation of a hungry lioness.  Leftover food would rot, and I would have to throw it away and clean up after it.  There were piles of clothes, never worn; jars full of makeup, hair accessories or cheap jewelry, all collecting dust.  The house became almost unlivable in the midst of all the clutter.  She did not realize that no matter how much she hoarded, she would never replicate the opulence of Olympus.  

I was frustrated.  I had no clue as to how to rescue her from the abyss she had fallen into.  I would force her to go on walks with me.  I would bathe her on a waterfall; I would place flowers on her hair, offer her milk sweetened with honey.  I repaired the shed and planted flowers on a garden.  Nothing would appease her.  It was Olympus or nothing.  I was failing, but it was this sense of failure that kept me going.  When I took her as my wife, I became responsible for her.  I was determined to make her fate, mine.  At least that was my thought until that one night when she finally undid me.

It was a cool early autumn night.  Critters and other night creatures were in vociferous unsettledness. Clouds warned of foul weather.  Inside our house a storm brewed.

“I don’t know why you are still here.” she told me.  “I don’t want you here.  I despise you with every breath I take.  Your mere presence makes me sick to my stomach.  Why don’t you just leave?”

“Pandora,” I answered.  “You didn’t choose to be born of this earth, much less your life with the Olympians.  You were taken from poverty onto opulence, only to be brought back to your beginnings.  You’ve been had, like a puppet in a game.  What you fail to see is that life is a trail and your decisions make your destiny.  Every footstep becomes a memory, and every memory becomes a star that illuminates your sleep.  As you move through life, our contradictions will come and go like the tide; and as the tide turns stone to sand, time will heal our mistakes.  Don’t be saddened for what you’ve lost.  Look forward to what can be gained.  The laughter of a baby as he looks onto your eyes…  The sounds of spring or the warmth of summer…  The promise of life raining upon us…  A butterfly resting on a bed of flowers…”

“CHILDREN ARE A CURSE THAT DEFORMS OUR BODIES.  They smell like s**t.  All they do is s**t and urinate anywhere, all the time, and then they remain uncleansed.  I am tired of bugs, stinging me, irritating my skin. Then there is the sun, that annoying thing.  It makes me sweat.  It makes me hot.  It makes me feel dirty.  You come to me with your sweet talk of flowers and stars.  Yet, these things that you talk about do not anything for me.  I had everything and you took it all away from me.  Why?  Because you didn’t approve the Gods had me in their grace?  You talk about choices.  You chose to renounce your birth right.  That was your choice, not mine.  Yet you pushed me to live in your abyss.”

“You are not an Olympian!  You are a mortal and you just won’t accept it.  The same way you have never accepted me.  If you would just give me a chance and let me in…”

“TO DO WHAT? “ 

She grimaced.  Her glance became intense.  A lusty smile exposed her grinning teeth as she spoke with a deep voice. 

“You don’t want to be a God.  You are not man.  You are certainly not like your brother…”

“What does Epimetheus have to do with us?”

“Nothing, because he is everything you are not.  It wasn’t hard for me to seduce him.” she revealed as she paced herself in a circle around me. 

“Why do you think he has evaded you recently?  He is in shame but is too weak to reject my favors.  Yes, he was in me, all of him.  I screamed with every single pound from him.  As I scratched his back it was as if I was lashing out at you.  He was the Titan you will never be: savage, brutal and out of control.  It was more than just one night, but all those nights you were out, in the company of those mortals you care so much about.  Now you know.  What will you do?  Kill him?  You don’t have it in you.  Kill me?  You love me, don’t you?  I’ve become your infatuation and you just can’t shake me off.”

Epimetheus betrayal shattered my heart.  I didn’t expect it.  I warned him to keep his distance from her.  I told him she was dangerous.  Ultimately, he was played.  With every word she said, I felt falling further and further in darkness.  The house got cold, really cold.  As she spoke, her body seemed to emit a faint glow.  Her eyes pierced through the night.  Though there was no breeze, her hair seemed to be floating, dancing around her head.

“You think of yourself as the benefactor of mortals.  Every night you leave to teach them to speak, to think, to create.  They are all but your pets, pets that you train to do tricks for you.  You defy Zeus in your doings.  Why?  Because you feel it was your fault that the Titans before you decided to procreate with the beasts that roamed this earth? Because you feel responsible for the fact that Titan blood runs through mortal veins?   Wasn’t the Titanomachia enough?  You killed your kin.  Now you turn your back on Olympus.  You’ve done this all for a bunch of hybrids?  You talk about contradictions when you are the worst of all.  Your mistakes will leave the scars that will remind mortals of what they truly are: a failed experiment.”

She continued, on an on.  Her words were as arrows piercing me and everything I believe.  Yet, what I witnessed was as terrifying as anything else I witnessed during war.  The coldness became almost unbearable.  Then, ghostly, translucent figures emerged from within her.  One by one, they stayed closed to her, waiting for the next one to surface.  They began circling her as she was in somewhat of a trance, unaware of what was happening.  Altogether, six faceless spirits swirled around her in macabre dance.  It was as if they were celebrating to the music of her words.  They fed of the evil she spewed over me.  There was no weapon strong enough to battle her.  There was no shield to protect me against her attack.  There were no words that could appease such a tormented soul.  There was just Pandora, unleashed.  This was Zeus bidding.  This was his punishment to me.  I thought I could rescue her from the web of lies and artifices the Gods weaved around her.  I failed…

Gods

It was I, Hephaestus, whom Zeus ordered to retrieve a woman, any woman and bring her to our realm.  Pandora was a simple, innocent girl, from the outskirts of Korinthos, the daughter of a potter.  As I brought her to the main palace, most of the Olympians looked at her in disgust.  She was dirty, her hands and feet were covered in the clay from her father’s workshop.  She smelled like the sweat of farmer who’s worked far too long under the sun.

“Promise me something,” Hera told Zeus aloud, “that you will never again allow any mortal to enter our realm.”

Zeus saw in her eyes the anger of a woman whose house had been usurped.  On one hand he would promise Hera what she asked.  On the other hand he instructed the rest of us…

“You are to take care of this mortal.  Make her beautiful, and teach her to be a goddess…”

“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?”  Demeter yelled.  “She is a mortal!  What can you possibly want to achieve by making her believe she is one of us?”

“Just do as I command.  I assure you this endeavor will be for our own benefit.  This is not a frivolous request.  Teach her to be a goddess.”

Pandora had no idea of what was going on.  She was not scared, she was not curious.  She was unwritten.  Aphrodite took out of the palace.  Little by little, amidst murmurs of disapproval, all of my kin left the palace until there was but Zeus and me. 

“Why?” I asked him.

“It’s Prometheus.  I love him as if he were my own child.  He is better than most of us.  Although his intentions are good, he just can’t see the implications of his actions when it comes to mortals.”

“Are you implying that mortals are evil?”

“No.  But their awareness of their own mortality makes them the vessel of all evil.  Last night, when I found out that Prometheus had given fire to the mortals, I was furious.  I had no choice but to disseminate them.  It was the fourth time I’ve had to do this in order to make man forget what they had learned.  They must remain prey to their environment.  Should they ever master their minds, they will destroy this earth without remorse.”

“I don’t understand.” I replied.

“A dog does not have self-awareness.  As such it does not understand what it has, what it doesn’t have and what it could have.  Thus, he is happy with what he finds or what is given to him.  Mortals are self-aware.  However they only know what they have, and not what else is out there.”

“You mean they don’t know about us.”

“Exactly,” he replied.  “The moment they realize our existence, they will want to be like us.  Beyond their needs, they will seek to rise above nature.  They will build devices that will conquer and destroy.  Finally, when Olympus is no more, they will seek their own divine bidding.”

“The way the ancients did…”

“Yet unlike them, they will never be able to achieve immortality.    Yet they don’t realize it is not on their makeup.   This, however, will not stop them.  The search will become an insatiable thirst that will turn rivers dry and forests into deserts.  Mortal ambitions will only increase their knowledge of their own limitations.  They will become a monster whose hunger will devour earth.  We are here to prevent the mistakes of our forefathers.  In order to do so, we must keep mortals at bay.”

“So what role does Pandora play into all of this?”

“Prometheus weakness is his faith in the mortal spirit.  It is so strong that it will override his foresight.  The only way for him to understand the danger of the consequences of his actions, is for him to see, to experience the torments of human kind, should they be allowed free.  Pandora will be the vessel carrying this message…” 

Hope

So it was that the Gods made and released her into the wild 

Witnessing everything up to that cold night

When five of the fiends that torment human kind were released

Attachment, greed, wrath, lust and conceit

A beaten Prometheus left, never to see her again

In the mortal soul he would never lose faith

Though he would be haunted by her memory

Beyond the reaches of time, forever reminiscent

Pandora remained in the ruin in the middle of nowhere

 For the rest of her days, lost within herself

The sixth fiend remaining with her, petting her,

Whispering silent words of Olympus lost

It brushed her hair, slowly whitening it with every stroke

It urged her to continue to repair the shattered jar

That at the end of the labor she would find what she lost

Her back ached from sleeping on hay stacks

She labored on, day after day, piece by piece

While it encouraged her, smiling, dancing around her

Floating through the air as a gentle breeze

That eased her just enough to keep in task

Then, once she had but one piece left to assemble

It would gently blow upon it, to see it crumble

Into smaller pieces, a greater, more complex puzzle

The fiend would laugh and celebrate her despair

It would share with her thoughts of hope for a past long gone

Swirling around her in ghastly dance

The last fiend, Hope, the one that with her remained

It lingered, unwilling to leave her side

Feeding on her soul until Pandora was one no more

When the pithos turned to sand as it crumbled one last time.


© 2015 Al R. Arce



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Added on August 22, 2015
Last Updated on October 20, 2015
Tags: Greek Mythology, Fantasy

Author

Al R. Arce
Al R. Arce

St. Louis, MO



About
I'm in my 50's. My family is my life. Writing is my hobby. I hope you find here something that you enjoy. Constructive comments are welcomed. If you ask me to read something I will. Thank you for.. more..

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