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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Hesiod (fl. Eighth Century B.C.)

From the ‘Works and Days’: Translation of William Cranston Lawton

ZEUS in the wrath of his heart hath hidden the means of subsistence,

Wrathful because he once was deceived by the wily Prometheus.

Therefore it was he devised most grievous troubles for mortals.

Fire he hid; yet that, for men, did the gallant Prometheus

Steal, in a hollow reed, from the dwelling of Zeus the Adviser;

Nor was he seen by the ruler of gods, who delights in the thunder.

Then, in his rage at the deed, cloud-gathering Zeus did address him:

“Iapetionides, in cunning greater than any,

Thou in the theft of the fire, and deceit of me, art exulting,—

Source of grief for thyself, and for men who shall be hereafter.

I in the place of fire will give them a bane, so that all men

May in spirit exult, and find in their misery comfort!”

Speaking thus, loud laughed he, the father of gods and of mortals.

Then he commanded Hephaistos, the cunning artificer, straightway

Mixing water and earth, with speech and force to endow it,

Making it like in face to the gods whose life is eternal.

Virginal, winning, and fair was the shape; and he ordered Athenè

Skillful devices to teach her, the beautiful works of the weaver.

Then did he bid Aphroditè the golden endow her with beauty,

Eager desire, and passion that wasteth the bodies of mortals.

Hermes, guider of men, the destroyer of Argus, he ordered,

Lastly, a shameless mind to accord her, and treacherous nature.

So did he speak. They obeyed Lord Zeus, who is offspring of Kronos.

Straightway out of the earth the renownèd Artificer fashioned

One like a shamefaced maid, at the will of the Ruler of heaven.

Girdle and ornaments added the bright-eyed goddess Athenè,

Over her body the Graces divine and noble Persuasion

Hung their golden chains, and the Hours with beautiful tresses

Wove her garlands of flowers that bloom in the season of springtime.

All her adornment Pallas Athenè fitted upon her;

Into her bosom Hermes the guide, the destroyer of Argus,

Falsehood, treacherous thoughts, and a thievish nature imparted,—

Such was the will of Zeus who heavily thunders; and lastly

Hermes, herald of gods, endowed her with speech, and the woman

Named Pandora, because all gods who dwell in Olympus

Gave to her gifts that would make her a fatal bane unto mortals.

When now Zeus had finished this snare so deadly and certain,

Famous Argus-slayer, the herald of gods he commanded,

Leading her thence, as a gift to bestow her upon Epimetheus.

He then failed to remember Prometheus had bidden him never

Gifts to accept from Olympian Zeus, but still to return them

Straightway, lest some evil befall thereby unto mortals.

So he received her—and then, when the evil befell, he remembered.

Till that time, upon earth were dwelling the races of mortals,

Free and secure from trouble, and free from wearisome labor;

Safe from painful diseases that bring mankind to destruction

(Since full swiftly in misery age unto mortals approacheth).

Now with her hands Pandora the great lid raised from the vessel,

Letting them loose; and grievous the evil for men she provided.

Only Hope was left, in the dwelling securely imprisoned,

Since she under the edge of the cover had lingered, and flew not

Forth; too soon Pandora had fastened the lid of the vessel,—

Such was the will of Zeus, cloud-gatherer, lord of the ægis.

Numberless evils beside to the haunts of men had departed;

Full is the earth of ills, and full no less are the waters.

Freely diseases among mankind by day and in darkness

Hither and thither may pass, and bring much woe upon mortals,—

Voiceless, since of speech high-counseling Zeus has bereft them.