Pandora's Box was not really a box in Greek mythology – it was an old jar, filled with all the evils of the world. The myth of Pandora's box appeared around line 60 of Hesiod's 7th century BC poem, "Works and Days," but jars or urns containing blessings and evils bestowed upon mankind were mentioned earlier in Homer's Iliad.
Pandora was the first woman on earth, according to Greek mythology. The god Zeus ordered the god of craftsmanship, Hephaestus, to make her using earth and water. The gods gave her several talents: Apollo gave her music, Aphrodite gave her beauty and Hermes gave her persuasion, plus she was also given the gift of curiosity. The name Pandora actually means "all-giving."
According to classical Greek Mythology, Prometheus stole fire from heaven, and Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus's brother, Epimetheus. Pandora was given a beautiful jar and she was instructed not to open it under any circumstance. She was stimulated by her god-given curiosity so she opened the jar. The evil contained in the jar escaped and spread all over the world. She tried to close the lid but it was too late. The contents of the jar were gone except for Hope, which was lying on the bottom of the jar. Pandora was afraid that she would have to face the wrath of Zeus and was overcome with sadness because of her actions. She failed to live up to the expectations of Zeus but she was not punished. Zeus knew that she would do exactly what she had done.
The word box was used instead of jar when the Greek word 'pithos,' which was a large jar used to store oil, wine, grain and other provisions, was mistranslated in the 16th century by Erasmus of Rotterdam who translated Hesiod's poem into Latin.
The myth of Pandora appears in several distinct Greek works and has been interpreted in many ways. In all literary versions the myth is a kind of philosophical as well as theological study of why there is evil in the world. When Pandora appeared before the gods and mortals for the first time they were captured by her beauty and grace, but as Hesiod mentions in his poem she was sheer guile and could not be understood by men.
Hesiod wrote about her in lines 590-593 of Works and Days:
From her is the race of women and female kind:
of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who
live amongst mortal men to their great trouble,
no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.
Hesiod said that men who try to avoid the evil of women by not getting married will fare no better, in lines 604-607:
He reaches deadly old age without anyone to tend his years,
and though he at least has no lack of livelihood while he lives,
yet, when he is dead, his kinsfolk divide his possessions amongst them
Hesiod does admit that men will occasionally find a good woman and wife, but the evil still contends with the good. Later Greek writers filled in some minor details in the story of Pandora or added postscripts to Hesiod's version. For example, Hyginus and Apollodorus wrote that Epimetheus married Pandora, but that fact was latent in Hesiodic text. They also said they had a daughter, Pyrrh, and she married Deucalion and survived the deluge with him. But the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, fragment #2, made Pandora a daughter of Deucalion and the mother of Graecus.
The 6th-century BC Greek elegiac poet Theognis of Megara tells a little different story when he wrote:
Hope is the only good god remaining among mankind;
the others have left and gone to Olympus.
Trust, a mighty god has gone, Restraint has gone from men,
and the Graces, my friend, have abandoned the earth.
Men's judicial oaths are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone
revere the immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and
men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of piety.
Theognis thought that the jar contained blessings rather than evils. He said a foolish man (not Pandora) opened the jar, and most of the blessings were lost forever. Only hope remained, "to promise each of us the good things that fled."