Matt Perryman

Airhead “trophy wife” curses mankind for all eternity

By Matt Perryman

There’s an old Greek myth, you might have heard it, about the Titan Prometheus who stole the divine fire from the gods and gave it to the young human species.

Myths aren’t simple stories. Ancient peoples didn’t tell these tales for entertainment, like we’d read books or watch movies.

Myths carried deeper wisdom in symbolic form.

This story is a powerful example.

Prometheus, whose name is a pun that means “fore-sighted” or “thinks ahead”, symbolizes technology. When he stole from Zeus’s campfire, he gave human beings the power to see at night, stay warm in a brutal winter night, cook food…

…and burn down the other guy’s village.

As the myth tells it, Zeus got majorly pissed off about the whole thing. He punished Prometheus with a grisly fate, and then turned his wrathful eye to the humans dancing around their new bonfires.

There’s a lesser-known part of this tale.

Zeus asked the god of the forge to create a beautiful woman and send her to Earth bearing godly gifts, planning to create even more mischief.

The tale says that Pandora, that being her name, came bearing a box or jar of some kind, along with a warning to never open it.

So of course she ends up opening it.

But Zeus booby-trapped the thing with every imaginable evil. Opening the box cursed mankind with every manner of wickedness.

(There was hope in the jar, too, to keep the cosmic balance.)

What’s the punchline?

First of all, both Prometheus and Pandora show the double-edged blade of technology. You get the cool new stuff… but it comes with a price tag attached.

There’s another angle that isn’t often noticed.

Pandora was no innocent victim. The myth tells that she married Prometheus’s brother, who was a rube and a sucker.

Pandora herself comes off as a mischievous strumpet using her female ways to get what she wants.

She represents the irresistible lure of the fire that lights and burns.

Now that’s worth thinking about. If you’ve ever watched a fire, it’s beautiful, enchanting, hypnotic, even seductive, almost begging you to touch it.

You don’t want to touch it. But it almost compels you.

It’s beautiful, it will destroy you, and you will pursue it in full knowledge of this.

The power of fire is kin to the greed and lust that drive the lesser parts of human nature.

If nothing else, the psychological insights of these two myths help answer one confusing question.

Why are villains, rogues, scoundrels, cheats, thieves, murderers, war criminals, law-breakers and all manner of bad-guy more interesting and charismatic than saints? 

Saints command admiration… but nobody’s reading stories about perfect people. See how our celebrity culture fuels itself on gossip and scandal. Every serial killer has a circle of female groupies.

It’s messed up, frankly, but something in human psychology draws us to the jagged edges.

Freud called this the “death drive”. We throw ourselves recklessly into all manner of self-destructive purposes, almost like we resent consciousness and freedom.

Maybe we do.

Is that uncomfortable? It should be.

But it’s also an accurate description of a wide range of human behaviors and motivations. Comfy or not, it describes the facts as we find them.

If nothing else, this gives you a look “under the hood” at the dynamics of your own mind — and you might even find your own desires for the “beautiful evil”.

Matt Perryman 

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