To open Pandora’s box

To open Pandora’s box

This expression too comes from ancient Greek mythology.


The Greek god Zeus was believed to be the most powerful god in the Greek family of gods.

He was wise and very compassionate but also jealous, petty and harsh on his sons and daughters.


When one of the gods, Prometheus gave the gift of fire to humans on earth, Zeus did punish him by chaining him to a cliff where an eagle viciously attacked him every day.

But not even this harsh punishment of Prometheus could satisfy Zeus. He still wanted to inflict more pain on humans, who now owned the secret of fire.

To get even with humans, he asked his son, the god Hephaestus, who was an artisan to the gods, to create a woman, using clay and water.

When the woman was created, the gods endowed her with many gifts: Athena breathed life into her and clothed her; Aphrodite gave her beauty; Apollo gave her musical ability and Hermes gave her speech.

Zeus called her Pandora, meaning “all-gifted” or “all-endowed”.

Now, Zeus decided to present Pandora to the dim-witted brother of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and so he asked Hermes, the message god, to send Pandora to Epimetheus.

Before he sent Pandora along, he gave her a box which contained all the evils one can think of.

But Zeus did not tell her the box contained every conceivable evil. He instead told her it contained untold wealth.

“Do not open this box, Pandora,” Zeus told her. “It is your dowry, which contains many many treasures.”

When Pandora had grown tired of the attention she received from Epimetheus, she began to think of the box that Zeus had given her, wondering what it contained and why she was not allowed to open it.

Initially she played with the lid and, then, finally, she gave the lid a strong push and the box opened.

Out of the box came death and many other evil which were released into the world.

She quickly closed the lid, but by then all the ills had left the box, with only hope left, so that mankind would never lose the gift of hope.

It is from this Greek myth that the expression to open pandora’s box has come.

It means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent but which turns out to have severly detrimental and far-reaching consequences.

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