According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on earth. Zeus had ordered Hephaestus to create her from mud and give her dazzling beauty. Then, according to Hesiod, Gods contributed with a little something to form her personality that according to Zeus should be gifted but mischievous. So, Athena taught her sewing and weaving, Aphrodite gave her patience and taught her the art of seduction, and Hermes put in her mind a wicked nature and an inconsistent character. Zeus named her Pandora that means “all gifts” in Greek, and send her to the mortals and immortals that lived together in harmony in earth, in order to take vengeance for their acquaintance with fire by Titan Prometheus. He gave her a box full of illnesses, plagues and misfortunes and forbade her ever to open it. Pandora, a real woman, could not resist her curiosity. She opened the box and all these sorrows flew out and inundated the world. Frightened she managed to shut the lid, fast. Hope could not make it out, so till today is mankind’s only consolation. Continue reading →
HESTIA was the virgin goddess of the hearth (both private and municipal) and the home. As the goddess of the family hearth she also presided over the cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. Hestia was also the goddess of the sacrificial flame and received a share of every sacrifice to the gods. The cooking of the communal feast of sacrificial meat was naturally a part of her domain.
In myth Hestia was the first born child of Kronos and Rhea who was swallowed by her father at birth. Zeus later forced the old Titan to disgorge Hestia and her siblings. As the first to be swallowed she was also the last to be disgorged, and so was named as both the eldest and youngest of the six Kronides. When the gods Apollon and Poseidon sought for her hand in marriage, Hestia refused and asked Zeus to let her remain an eternal virgin. He agreed and she took her place at his royal hearth.
Hestia was depicted in Athenian vase painting as a modestly veiled woman sometimes holding a flowered branch. In classical sculpture she was also veiled, with a kettle as her attribute. Continue reading →
Whichever gods and satyrs, nymphs and muses still inhabit the peaks and glades of Crete, they smile benevolently on visitors to their island home. Crete is, after all the home of a dynastic soap opera to top all dynastic soap operas. The cast of characters includes Zeus, born in a mountain cave to keep him out of reach of his father, Kronos, who considered him a threat to his throne; Pasiphae, wife of king Minos, who fell head over horns in love with a handsome bull and gave birth to the part-man-part-bull creature known as the Minotaur; Theseus of Athens, who entered the labyrinth built by Daedalus, killed the Minotaur, and escaped to tell the story with the help of a spool of thread supplied by Ariadne, Minos’s daughter-whom he seduced, carted off to the island of Naxos, and promptly abandoned, thus inspiring Richard Strauss to create one of the twentieth century’s most glorious operas, Ariadne auf Naxos. (Extract from “Gourmet” magazine of an article written by Ian Keown in 1987).