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The myth of Pandora's box - Iseult Gillespie

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Pandora was the first mortal woman, breathed into being by Hephaestus, god of fire. The gods gave her gifts of language, craftsmanship and emotion. From Zeus she received two gifts: the trait of curiosity and a heavy box screwed tightly shut -- never to be opened. But what treasure could never be seen by human eyes, and why was it in her care? Iseult Gillespie explores the mystery of Pandora’s box.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Silvia Prietov
  • Storyboard Artist William Cifuentes
  • Animator Jorge Moyano, Mauricio Piraquive
  • Compositor ALETA Diseño Audiovisual
  • Art Director Alejandro Mesa
  • Composer Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The story of Pandora is a powerful exploration of some of the most mysterious human traits, including agency, desire and, of course, curiosity. Visit this page for a beautiful meditation on the cultural history and representation of curiosity.

Check out Ian Leslie’s book “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It.”

The first iteration of the Pandora myth has been traced back to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, who believed that Pandora’s experiences were a metaphor for the root of all evil. But her legacy is much more complicated—and Hesiod’s Pandora has been revisited and scrutinized over time: click here for an exploration of the ways in which women have historically been treated in myths, as well as a discussion on how we move on from earlier versions. This article also provides a detailed overview of the myth’s development over time - including what’s been lost and what’s been gained.

For painters and poets, the rich moral quandary of Pandora’s box was a source of inspiration. The pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted her with the fiery red hair of the movement’s muses, and wrote of her releasing unknown forces into the world. Later, the French Surrealist artist René Magritte took an entirely abstract approach to the myth. He titled a 1951 painting of a figure surveying an empty street “La boîte de Pandore.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Silvia Prietov
  • Storyboard Artist William Cifuentes
  • Animator Jorge Moyano, Mauricio Piraquive
  • Compositor ALETA Diseño Audiovisual
  • Art Director Alejandro Mesa
  • Composer Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez
  • See more