They say it springs eternal…

Nov 7, 2016 | 1 comment

PandoraTomorrow is Election Day.  I feel like we are all poised on the brink.  I hope the outcome is the best possible one.  I hope that the aftermath is worthy of our pride.  And I hope we can heal the chasms and breaches that these last months have wrought.

Hope.  That’s the operable word.  Sometimes it feels like that is all there is. And if we hearken back to the myth of Pandora and her box (actually, it was a jar), I’m a bit confused about where we might find hope in this old world full of all the evils Pandora released.  According to the earliest records of the story, when she saw what she had brought about by disobeying Zeus, she slammed the lid back on the container leaving hope still trapped within.

Apparently, say the scholars, one’s interpretation of the story hangs on two related questions:  First, how are we to render Elpis, the Greek word usually translated as “hope”? Second, does the jar preserve Elpis for mankind, or keep Elpis away from mankind?



To further complicate the issues, some scholars prefer the neutral translation of elpis which is “expectation” not “hope.” But expectation of what? Classical authors use the word elpis to mean “expectation of bad,” as well as “expectation of good.” Which translation we use leads directly to how we might answer the second question: should we interpret the jar to function as a prison, or a pantry?

The jar certainly served as a prison for the evils that Pandora released – they only affect humanity once outside the jar. Some argue that logic dictates, therefore, that the jar acts as a prison for Elpis as well, withholding it from the human race — a pessimistic outlook for sure.  All the evils in the world were scattered from Pandora’s jar, while the one potentially mitigating force, Hope, remains locked securely inside.  Some suggest it was false hope, anyway.  Others feel that perhaps it was left ready for when it’s finally needed.

Well… so much for that particular line of reasoning.  Way too thought provoking and convoluted for my present frame of mind.  Or maybe I need the Cliff Notes.  In the meantime…I’m sticking to the old “hope springs eternal” quote from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man.”  That and a prayer.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy Russell Stone

    Sydney: Jack and I are able to vote absentee and did so last week. These past few months have been filled with “what ifs”? We cannot give up “expectations” and belief that the greater good will prevail. An event in which we participated, yesterday, at the Senior Center affirmed our belief! Hooray for those who believe that “hope springs eternal”..Thank you for your thoughts.


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