A woman of consequence: Pandora in Hesiod's Works and Days

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The Pandora myth as told in Hesiod's Works and Days (59–105) has been criticised since antiquity as internally inconsistent. In the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century this led editors to propose radical atheteses and emendations to resolve the inconsistencies. Although in recent decades the impetus has swung more towards conservative editing, and seemingly endless work has been done on the myth, the passage still has not been fully understood in terms of its purpose within the Hesiodic corpus. In this paper I argue that the ‘suspect’ lines are perfectly consistent when understood in terms of the intertextual relationship between Hesiod's Works and Days and his Theogony, a relationship which has been established by scholars such as Jean-Pierre Vernant (1980), Glenn Most (1993) and Jenny Strauss Clay (2003). I argue that, in representing Pandora in Works and Days, Hesiod is engaged in a project of expansion which had its roots in his Theogony. Pandora is of more importance to the Iron Age Works and Days than to the divine Theogony; so she is described in greater detail and becomes more of a prominent figure in her own right. Furthermore, I argue that Hesiod does not stop there, but enacts an expansion of the expansion within Works and Days itself, from Zeus' commands to the gods for Pandora's creation at Op. 60–68, to the execution of those commands at 70–80.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9 - 28
JournalThe Cambridge Classical Journal
Issue numbern/a
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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