Pandora's Jar

    • 4.7 • 40 Ratings
    • $19.99

    • $19.99

Publisher Description

“Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to, and how they sometimes made idiots of . . . but read on!”—Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale

The national bestselling author of A Thousand Ships returns with a fascinating, eye-opening take on the remarkable women at the heart of classical stories Greek mythology from Helen of Troy to Pandora and the Amazons to Medea.

The tellers of Greek myths—historically men—have routinely sidelined the female characters. When they do take a larger role, women are often portrayed as monstrous, vengeful or just plain evil—like Pandora, the woman of eternal scorn and damnation whose curiosity is tasked with causing all the world’s suffering and wickedness when she opened that forbidden box. But, as Natalie Haynes reveals, in ancient Greek myths there was no box. It was a jar . . . which is far more likely to tip over.

In Pandora’s Jar, the broadcaster, writer, stand-up comedian, and passionate classicist turns the tables, putting the women of the Greek myths on an equal footing with the men. With wit, humor, and savvy, Haynes revolutionizes our understanding of epic poems, stories, and plays, resurrecting them from a woman’s perspective and tracing the origins of their mythic female characters. She looks at women such as Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother-turned-lover-and-wife (turned Freudian sticking point), at once the cleverest person in the story and yet often unnoticed. She considers Helen of Troy, whose marriage to Paris “caused” the Trojan war—a somewhat uneven response to her decision to leave her husband for another man. She demonstrates how the vilified Medea was like an ancient Beyonce—getting her revenge on the man who hurt and betrayed her, if by extreme measures. And she turns her eye to Medusa, the original monstered woman, whose stare turned men to stone, but who wasn’t always a monster, and had her hair turned to snakes as punishment for being raped.

Pandora’s Jar brings nuance and care to the millennia-old myths and legends and asks the question: Why are we so quick to villainize these women in the first place—and so eager to accept the stories we’ve been told?

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

Natalie Haynes
hr min
March 29

Customer Reviews

MamaLegume ,

Borrow to proof it, then buy it to revisit again and again.

This book was so good that after I checked it out at the library, I had to own it. I’ve been through it again and again not to miss anything she offers. And the easiness and thorough rendering of the myths is matched with a sharp wit. I admit the comic asides are so subtle as to make them nearly invisible in the weave of the book. I think it might have been two to three of these barbs before I realized that she meant it to be a razor cut rather than a serious observation and admit the rereading is more fun because I look for these personal reflections. Enjoy the written for the art and the audio for the artistry. I highly encourage this sort of classical examination and look forward to more of the same from this author.

Amara.B ,

Clever and captivating

I loved this! Interesting and deep takes on well known myths and the women in them. I learned and lot and was entertained the whole time!

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