According to the Greeks, people were created by two brothers, who were cousins to the gods. Their names were Prometheus & Epimetheus. Epi was the younger of the two and was all excited about making a brand new world and started inventing animals left and right. He had a big pile of wings and claws and fur and such and he just let the creativity flow. Soon, there were birds flying in the air and fish swimming in the ocean and cats prowling in the jungle.
By the time, Prometheus got to work , Epi had used up most of their supplies in making different types of animals. It was Prometheus who had to remind him that Zeus, who was the King of the gods and their boss, had special ordered an animal called “human”. This “human” was supposed to be the caretaker of all the other animals and the entire world, so, in theory, these “humans” had to be pretty special.
“Uh-oh...” muttered Epi, looking around at their workshop.
Their supplies were pretty minimal, so Prometheus was the one who had to get really creative. He used some clay from outside to create the basic structure, bones and skin with some muscles, organs, and veins inside. Then he took what was left of the fur and spread it all over the body, trying to protect it from the cold world. Then he did something really different. He bent the human, so it was standing on 2 legs, instead of 4, like many of the other animals.
“That should make him stand out, don't you think?” asked Prometheus.
“Yep,” said Epi. “Hey, you said 'him'. Is this a boy?”
“Yes. I think we should start out with the males first and see how it goes, before we create any females.” responded Prometheus.
“Um, okay.” Epi thought that was interesting logic, but Prometheus was known for being the smarter brother and Epi had already kinda messed up on the animals.
When man was finished, Prometheus breathed life into him and BOOM! he was alive and ready for the world. Well, kind of ready.
You see, this man wasn't terribly smart or ambitious. He didn't have the fire of inspiration or ideas to drive him, so he mostly just wandered around hunting small animals and gathering berries for food. He didn't know how to make himself a house or clothes or anything civilized. Honestly, he didn't seem like a terribly good “caretaker of the world”.
Prometheus and Epi watched all of this and decided that something was... missing. Hmmm, what ingredient had they forgotten to add?
One day, Prometheus and Epi went to a party in the house of the gods and Prometheus saw the coolest thing. It was a giant fireplace, where the gods could cook their food and stay warm and even make tools, like metal pots and spoons and swords. Prometheus thought that humanity would really benefit from this “fire” and asked Zeus, the King of the gods and his boss, if he could take some down to the Earth and give it to the new humans.
“Absolutely not!” boomed Zeus. “They are perfect the way they are. If they get fire, they will get ideas and creativity and no one should have those things, except the gods!”
That was a bit mean and selfish, don't you think? Well, Prometheus agreed with you. It wasn't fair that the gods should be the only ones who had fire to help them out.
So, at the end of the party, Prometheus snuck over to the fireplace and lifted out one of the pieces of charcoal, which had some of the embers still glowing inside it. Then he quietly tiptoed out the back door, with the stolen piece of fire.
He ran down to earth, as quickly as he could, making sure the fire wouldn't blow out, even though the wind was blowing really hard!
Finally, he found a clearing where some of the humans were gathered in a bundle, trying to keep warm in the cool night. He taught them how to make a ring of stones, so the fire wouldn't hurt the rest of the forest and he gave them lessons on how to build up the flames, keeping the warmth alive, and even how to carry it safely to build fires in more than one place.
The humans were a little frightened, but so happy with their new gift. And soon they were learning how to cook their food and make tools like the gods had.
There was one person who was not happy about this new development. Guess who... Zeus.
Prometheus had stolen his fire and now he was not pleased and wanted to punish him. His guards swooped down and grabbed Prometheus by the arms, dragging him up into the mountains and chaining him to a rock high, high in the air. There an eagle tortured him day and night for thousands of years, until Hercules, the great hero, came along and set him free. Oh, but that's another story.
Anyway, do you know what happened to Epi? Well, he got married. Yeah, Zeus and the other gods made a woman named Pandora. Her name means “Gift to all” and on her birthday she was given beauty, all sorts of useful skills like money management and cooking and knitting and... curiosity.
Zeus hooked up Epi and Pandora and sent them down to earth to celebrate their wedding. This sounds like a pretty great thing, right?
Except it was a trick. See, Zeus knew that Epi wasn't terribly smart. Despite the fact that Prometheus told his brother not to accept any gifts from their boss, Epi completely was fooled by Zeus' insincerity and the god was able to trick him and trick him good.
Pandora was a nice enough girl, but Zeus gave her and Epi a present that was really dangerous. It was a beautiful box, with stones and jewels all over it. Zeus specifically told Pandora to not open the box, but to keep it with her at all times.
Can you imagine toting around this present and not able to open it? Think about all those presents that had to sit underneath your trees this holiday until the right day. You weren't allowed to open them. Imagine if you weren't allowed to ever open them. Wouldn't it drive you a little crazy?
Pandora lasted for a long time, a couple of years in fact. She was already a mom and chasing a little girl around had helped distract her. Still, she did remember the box and she got curious. She thought one peek wouldn't do any harm, right?
So, she crept into the room, where they stored the beautiful box on its shelf. She reached up and brought it down and put it on a table. She looked at the jewels for a while. Then she took the key and placed it in the lock. And then she turned the key and cracked open the lid slowly...
Suddenly, there was a WHOOSH! She was knocked back on the ground and the lid flung all the way open. From her place on the floor, she watched as One Bad Thing after another flew out of the box- poverty, famine, hunger, intolerance, meanness, pollution, self-righteousness, arrogance, envy, vanity... She had to stop it! The bad things were flying out of the box and into the world! She jumped up and ran over to the box and Slammed down the lid.
Panting and sad, she watched helpless as Zeus got his revenge. All of these bad things were now in the world and there was nothing she could do about it.
She was so frustrated and angry! She grabbed the beautiful box which made her so curious. She threw it, into the fireplace. Prometheus' fire ate up the wood and the jewels and metal.
Then Pandora heard a small sound. When she looked into the fire, into the light, she saw a Small Good Thing dancing in the flames. That had been one more Thing in the bottom of the box- it was Hope. As she watched Hope and the Fire dance with each other amongst the ashes and embers, she began to feel better. Even though, Zeus had been mean and there were nasty things in the world, she knew it would be alright.
She had been given one of the best presents of all- hope and the fire of ideas to make that hope grow. She could make it a brand new world full of love, as long as she had the fire of hope in her heart and kept lighting it for others.