3/15/10

Goddess of the Week: Elpis

Pandora (1861), by Pierre Loison (1816-1886). ...Image via Wikipedia

Missy AKA Little Messy Missy asks for a goddess to "brighten or uplift one's spirit or mood." For her, we have another Greek one: Elpis, goddess of hope.

This story starts with fire. Prometheus gave it to humanity just to be nice, but Zeus was all, "No way! I never said they could have fire. Now they will suffer!"

So Zeus gets all the gods together to make the first woman: Pandora. (Her name is often translated to mean all-gifted because each god gave her a gift.) Pandora goes down to earth with this box -- really a jar. She opens the box and -- wham -- disease, pestilence, blah, blah, blah jump out and ravage us forever. Pandora puts the lid back on the jar and traps the one thing left: Elpis -- goddess of hope.

Now, let me tell you why I don't like this story. First of all, let's blame the victim! Humanity didn't ask for fire, but Zeus still took Prometheus's sin out on us. Totally unfair. Two, Let's blame the woman. Sure, she'll open the stupid jar. Everything's her fault! Three, what's with leaving hope in the jar? Does that mean hope's a prisoner in the jar and we have no hope? Does that mean hope was the last BAD thing left in the jar and hope is a bad thing? Is hope a good thing and can come and go from the jar? And what's up with a goddess being stuck in a jar in the first place? You can't stick gods in jars. They're not like lightening bugs. They'd totally shatter the jar and stick the pieces up your nose.

So, no. I don't buy it. Revisionist history all the way. (If you don't believe me read this.)

Here's what really happened, and here is why Missy AKA Little Messy Missy can trust in Elpis.

Pandora isn't made by the gods. She is the god. In fact, she is the Great Goddess, Mother Earth. Her name doesn't mean "all-gifted"; it means "all giving." She created life, and she reminds of this every year by giving us spring. Her jar isn't full of evil; it's full of blessings: renewal, beauty, love, life itself. It is these blessings she gives to humanity. Alas, as beautiful as these blessings are, they do indeed flee from us. We lose the people we love. Our beauty fades. Our bodies get weak. We die. These blessings are transitory because the greatest blessing we will ever know -- our own wonderful life -- is transitory. Only one blessing can spring eternal: hope.

Elpis stays in the jar so that hope can be given to us over and over again. When we despair, when we are depressed -- even when we are dying -- Elpis points us toward the light. Elpis tells us that in a world of constant change, we can have faith that the bad things change too, that things get better, that good news is possible. If Elpis can't lighten our moods, what can?

Channel this goddess: when you're feeling down, when blessings seem few, and when no one will publish your very superior novel.

Need a goddess: I got goddesses! Post a comment telling me what you need or would just like to know about, and I'll see what I can do.
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19 comments:

Desiree said...

What a whirlwind story! Love its different incarnations and your twist. To recover, from the turmoil that is life, however, I think I will have to travel to Paris and visit that gorgeous statue in the flesh, marble, I mean, at the Louvre.

Daisy said...

Ahh, the "revisionists" ... usually males! I'm glad you found the true story! It's much better!

Rois said...

I had a funny visual for this one a jar of face cream called Pandora with a slogan about the jar being filled with hope.
I never knew that Pandora was/is considered "The" Goddess. Something to ponder.

altadenahiker said...

Too good! And two things: Some of my favorite writers seem to have one foot in winter and one in spring. The other: Some of my favorite writers can make me think their thoughts were mine all along.

... daisy... said...

Awesome... thanks for this... if you read my post you will know by now that my mood isn't exactly over the moon... it's not even over the roof... it's in the basement right now... don't know what it's looking for but I hope it'll find it soon and come back... or fly up! :-D
Anyway a Goddess to lift up spirits: that's what I needed! :-)

Joanne said...

I like the idea that hope is in a jar, symbolic maybe of our hearts, or a good luck charm, or a favorite piece of jewelry. Something where we can carry it with us always, aware of it tucked into our own small place.

Shell Sherree said...

Margaret, what a gem. I love your version of Pandora. And Elpis helps us to be optimistic in the face of the crummiest stuff to the power of twelve. And my wv is optessio, so it agrees.

pasadenapio said...

I want her plastic surgeon.

Missy AKA Little Messy Missy said...

Wow, thank you so much for that little tale and your spin on it. You are a gifted writer...xoxoxoxo

healingei said...

I was entranced waiting for the next twist and turn! Is it interesting how we want everything to stay the same, when the nature of reality is transitory?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Eloquent interpretation Goddess Margaret.

I couldn't help but draw parallels between Greek Pandora and Genesis. I went in search of Lilith and found this link.. I thought she would be Eve's redeemer. Anyhow, I thought you might find this interesting

wv: sadshark

Petrea said...

Thanks to you I'm going to make a hope jar and name it Elpis. I'll keep it where I can find it, put hopeful things in it and check on it when I need to.

I love your (our) goddesses, Margaret.

Deb said...

Elpis sounds like the kind of gal I'd like to hang with...share some wine...have her hope rub off on me... Fun piece, Margaret! :o)

TheChieftess said...

Oooohhh!!!! I so much prefer your version of this story!!!!

Bec said...

I like your take on this. I think hope is confidence in what we haven't seen yet . . . not a vague "I wish."

Margaret said...

Dez: I'm with you. Paris sounds pretty good about now.

...Daisy... Glad this one worked for you.

Messy Missy: Thank you. I am so glad you approve of your goddess.

Healingei: Thanks so much, and thanks for the visit.

PA: Thanks for the link. I'm on my way to check it out.

Margaret said...

PA: I bet there's a feminist take on that too. I'll have to investigate.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Let me know. I found this information rather disturbing

Star said...

A search in your blog using the key word "spirits" (as in "lift your") produced just the right results: this post about Elpis. Much needed. Thank you.