Pen Turning Lore X - Pandora's Box

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mark james

IAP Collection, Curator
Sep 6, 2012
Medina, Ohio
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables - X

Pandora’s Box
Blame Prometheus - He started it all.

As told by the Greek historian Hesiod, Prometheus stole fire from heaven and gave it to humankind. But to give him credit, Prometheus (who was nice enough to create man out of clay) knew that fire would allow man to progress, prosper, become civilized and become self-sufficient; he meant well. However Zeus, that thunder-bolt toting king of the gods, had a real hissy-fit.

Zeus would deal with Prometheus later (a very gruesome fate), but he first had to punish humankind. So he instructed the resident handyman - Hephaestus (the Greek god of blacksmiths, metalworking, carpenters, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, fire, and volcanoes - very talented, but whoa… no plumbing) to create: Pandora.

Pandora was, according to the myth, the first woman on Earth and was given a gift from each of the Gods; thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”.

The gifts she received were both beautiful and evil. Hephaestus created her perfect form from clay, Aphrodite gave her beauty, Apollo gave her music and healing, Poseidon gave her pearls from the sea.

But Zeus gave her idleness, mischievousness and foolishness. Hera made her curious, and Hermes was ordered by Zeus to teach her to be deceitful, and stubborn.

Hermes also gave her a box constructed by Hephaestus (You know, the handyman). But in actuality, it was a turned-wood lidded box! Inside the box, Zeus had placed all the eventual evils of the world: sickness, death, famine, greed, love of the NY Yankees. As the crafter of the box, Hephaestus also slipped in a few evils of his own.

Upon gifting the “Box” to Pandora (actually by Epimetheus, but this tale is getting too long), specific instructions were given by Zeus -

“Never open the box!”

Yea, right. We can see this one coming…

So Pandora is foolish, stubborn, and curious and has a magical box filled with goodies from the Gods! Whoosh, the lid is off in a greek minute. And thanks to the generosity of Zeus, out flows all the evils of the world mentioned above (sickness, death, etc).

But, thanks to that sneaky Hephaestus, out came the REALLY, REALLY bad stuff:

- The need to buy more tools.
- Wood hoarding.
- A fascination of Lathes, drills, gouges, glue, acrylics.
- The neglect of family, career and health while toiling in solitary pastimes.
- The need for Air filtration, dust hoods, grinders, more, more, more…

Oh that was a sad day. Humankind was doomed.

Zeus wanted to let people suffer in order to understand that they should not disobey their gods. And boy are we suffering. And while It is generally believed that one last gift was trapped in Pandora’s box, Hope, here’s the final footnote to the story.

When constructing the box, Hephaestus used a beautiful burled wood, and decided on on end-grain turning. Due to the impatience of Zeus and his request to be promptly satisfied, the wood was a bit green yet. Obviously it was only a matter of time for the bottom of the box to have the expected crack at the Pith, and thus “Hope” was eventually able to escape.

So while this Tale is a very depressing account of why there is evil in the world and why “we do what we must do,” it also illuminates why we should embrace our “Design Opportunities.”

So to all the Box Makers,
cherish your “design opportunities,”
they may be your best “Hope” to win the
Pen Box Contest.

Fun Fact: What is the Greek term for “storage container?” - PITHOS! Even the Greeks embraced their Pith.

Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables I - John Hancock's Signature
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables II - Elon Musk and the Chase for his Roadster
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables III - The Scribe, the Master Segmenter and World Peace.
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables IV - The Path to Pen Turning Enlightenment.
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables V - The Tortoise and the Hare.
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables VI - The War of the Roses.
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables VII - The First Marathon
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables VIII - The Fountain of Youth
Pen Turning Lore, Myths and Fables IX - Banjo O'Leary and the Call of the Kookaburra.

Addendum: The Four Little Penturner's
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