Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pandora and the pithos of pansies



You know when all this time you have been working based on a principle of one thing, only to find that a key part of that information is wrong?  Well……

Pandora didn’t have a box, she had a jar, a pithos to be precise, though Pandora’s Pithos doesn’t quite have the same ring about it.  Anyway, I have always rather liked Pandora, I like the story and I think I can relate to it in that if I was given a box and told not to open it I am sure I would have to peek in just a little.  Its only the same as when someone tells you a plate is hot so you touch it to make sure, or check that paint really is wet by sticking your finger to it.

Pandora was the first woman and was made out of clay.  She was created as a part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus stealing fire.  So basically women are a punishment for men, what a strange view of the world that is.  Anyway, part of her composition as being a punishment was to have ‘seductive gifts’, well that was a silly thing to give as a punishment wasn’t it?  I am sometimes not convinced that these gods actually thought things through.  Of course ‘seductive gifts’ in reality means she was deceitful and men were mesmerised by her (not really her fault if they…. Oh I give up).  Anyway, she had a box/pithos that contained all the evils of the world.  Maybe if someone had mentioned that small bit of detail she wouldn’t have opened it?  It also contained hope, now we all like hope, hope is considered a good thing.  Before you all leap around saying, ‘so all is not bad she also gave us hope’, in some tellings of the tale it is false hope and therefore yet another evil.  Also, can I point out that clearly up until the great pithos disaster that there was no hope in the world, (in fact no hope and only men) that doesn't sound much fun.  Pandora means ‘all gifted’, referring to her as being a gift from the gods, except she was a punishment gift so is that really a gift?  It is also a play on words in that her gifts to the world was plagues and diseases and as mentioned before, hope.
 
So where is Pandora in terms of my garden, well I have the above picture in my kitchen.  It is by John Waterhouse (1896).  I am very fond of this picture, though I worry a little that the act of opening the box does appear to be making her dress fall off; that must be her seductive talents I suppose.  The box is in a nice naturalistic setting though, Pandora was obviously close to nature.
 
I do sometimes think that gardening, especially starting new projects, is a bit like opening Pandora’s pithos.  You start out in all innocence thinking, ‘oh I’ll just do this’ and suddenly all manner of things start to go wrong/come out of the woodwork.  So you dig up something you didn’t mean to (hopefully not a main electricity cable) or you discover a seam of thick clay, or as I often do, discover another patch of paving stones that have just been grassed over rather than being removed.

Sigh….

and I’m fairly sure that Pandora also kept pansies in her pithos.  Pandora’s pithos of pansies, it has quite a ring about it.

4 comments :

  1. Isn't that the case most of the time, you start a project and discover other things along the way, making the project take much longer that you thought. And more complicated than first perceived, then find you can't go back anymore and have to carry on till you finish...

    At least there's hope... And pansies :))

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    1. there is usually something lurking that you haven't accounted for - and its rarely pleasant! Got to love the cheerfulness of pansies though :-)

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  2. So the Pandorica should have been shaped like a jar rather than a cube? Interesting. I do like your picture. I'm a sucker for the Pre-Raphaelites. It's very true that there's no such thing as a "small project" in the garden - every job you do leads to at least three others, usually more difficult. But I am a bit confused about the Pansies - are they a plague or are they hope?

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    1. Ah, pansies, plague or hope, that's a post in itself :) I like pansies, I find them cheerful especially in the dark winter days, I think they are hope. Too many of them though, and especially peach coloured ones, they might then become a plague....

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