And rewriting history —
There’s Cassandra, who knew it all, but couldn’t convince anyone else, and Pandora, who couldn’t leave well enough alone, and Penelope, whose husband came home REALLY late from the office. This is what those three women of Greek myth really thought, as related in Margaret Kaufman’s witty poem, Pandora’s Box:
Cassandra, Pandora, and Penelope
met one winter day — it was centuries later.
Hardly changed, they told one another like old classmates at a reunion.
Then they got down to it.
Telling it like it is
gets you nowhere fast, said Cass,
The mother’s curse.
A little curiosity, that’s all,
one peek, then wham! framed for eternity,
sighed Pandora. Still, I’d do it again,
I’d lift the lid, I would.
Hope would be there.
January always comes around again —
Some things don’t change.
As for me, said wise Penelope,
having something to do with my hands
is what kept me out of trouble.
Broadside, Pandora’s Box,
Traditional quilt pattern,
Tumbling Blocks, in
Wellesley College Library
Just to refresh our memories of these grande dames of Greek mythology, they are
Cassandra: A daughter of Priam, the king of Troy, endowed with the gift of prophecy but fated by Apollo never to be believed. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Pandora: The first woman, bestowed upon humankind as a punishment for Prometheus’s theft of fire. Entrusted with a box containing all the ills that could plague people, she opened it out of curiosity and thereby released all the evils of human life. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Hope, however, was left in the bottom, and Pandora eventually released it; in some views, recompense for the other evils; in other views, the worst evil of all. JB
Penelope: The wife of Odysseus who, while her husband was traipsing around on his lavish extended adventures, kept her importunate suitors at bay for years by weaving a tapestry by day, and unweaving it by night.