he made an evil thing for men as the price of fire.
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.
But when he had finished the sheer, hopeless snare, the Father sent glorious Hermes, the swift messenger of the gods, to take it to Epimetheus as a gift. And Epimetheus did not think on what Prometheus had said to him, bidding him never take a gift of Olympian Zeus, but to send it back for fear it might prove to be something harmful to men. But he took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he understood. For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills and hard toil and heavy sicknesses which bring the Fates upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered, all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aegis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues, wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils, and the sea is full.Note that the original is a jar (pithos), not a box; the error seems to go back to the 16th-century humanist Erasums, who made a Latin version of the Works and Days from a Greek text that seems to have contained quite a few errors. Incidentally nobody knows why hope stayed in the jar or what it means, indeed it is so obscure that some people think Hesiod must have confused two unrelated myths here, or even that our texts are corrupt.
British Museum. In this painting the central figure is named both Pandora and Anesidora, a word usually applied to goddesses that means "she who brings up gifts." Back when scholars thought there was a matriarchal age somewhere back before the patriarchy that dominates in our earliest texts, they speculated that a formerly boon-bestowing goddess had been transformed by Hesiod and others into a cursed mortal woman.
There are two urns (pithoi) that stand on the door-sill of Zeus. They are unlike for the gifts they bestow: an urn of evils, an urn of blessings. If Zeus who delights in thunder mingles these and bestows them on man, he shifts, and moves now in evil, again in good fortune. But when Zeus bestows from the urn of sorrows, he makes a failure of man, and the evil hunger drives him over the shining earth, and he wanders resepected neither of gods nor mortals.
Pandora and her box/jar seem to be useful metaphors for the fear that dominates our age: that our progress is our own undoing.
Images: John William Waterhouse, 1886; Swedish soprano Christine Nilsson as Pandora by Alexandre Cabanel, 1873; Thomas Kenning, 1908; Attic white-ground kylix, c. 460 BCE; Attic red-figure vase showing Pandora or Gaia, 5th century BCE; Attic red figure vase showing Pandora and Epimetheus; Jean Cousin the Elder, Eva Prima Pandora, 1550; one of at least depictions of Jane Morris as Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Yvonne Gregory, 1919; Odilon Redon, 1914; John Dickson Batten, The Creation of Pandora, 1913.