It all started in Ancient Greece, when Pandora opened a box that let out all the evil into the world. Some say that the essence of Hope was lost that day but it wasn’t. When Hope left the box, it filled the body of a baby and as long as she remains alive, the human race would be safe from Zeus. Yet for how long could Hope be protected from a God?
Chapter Chapter 1
In the beginning there was Nothing. It became lonely and began to long for Something- Anything really. Then one day, Nothing got its wish. Everything fell into place and the Universe was born. First came the planets, and then stars or was it the stars, then the planets? Doesn’t matter. The Universe came to be and that’s all we need to know.
Next to come into existence were the Titans, followed by the Gods. It’s funny how they both argue that they created the universe, but it was really the other way around. The Gods and Titans were both children of the universe, but no matter how much alike they were, they could never get along. Centuries of fighting turned into millennia of violence. A dark and cruel place the world used to be. It was only after the Gods triumphed that civilization came into being. Most of the remaining Titans were imprisoned in a bunker of sorts, deep underground. A few Titans were spared the embarrassment of defeat for they swore a dying allegiance to the Gods. It wasn’t like Prometheus and Epimetheus preferred the company of the Gods, they just understood that it was better to back a winning side. The Gods mistook the Titan brother’s allegiance as true, so the Gods granted them a wish of anything Prometheus and Epimetheus wanted. The wish was a small gift in comparison to what the Titan brothers gave the Gods. By defeating the Titans, the Gods gained eternity, power, and, of course, divine ego.
To ensure their longevity, the Gods established laws and all that other frilly junk that came with enlightened rule. With their safety now secure, the Gods settled in and began to pair off, which in turn created little God babies. The more Gods there were, the more secret and not-so-secret animosities grew within their social circles. The Gods, much like the Titans, weren’t meant for a civilized world. I think it bored them too much. Sure, the power plays and backstabbing almost looked like a refined art, but strip away the decadence, and all that is left is death.
Don’t get me wrong; there were moments of peace. They were lonely, shallow moments of peace, but peace nonetheless. It was during the quiet times, that planets such as Earth began to thrive and mortal life began to flourish. The plants, the oxygen-filled air, the water, the birds, and all those animals came to be. See a history book if you haven’t a clue. Eventually, the upright man came to be, and the rest is known. Or is it?
Let me take you back to a time, when Greco-Roman history was in the making and Zeus was in charge. They were many Gods before the almighty Zeus, but none seemed to stay in power for long. What is long to a God when their life span’s eternity?
Any way, back to the story I was telling. Several thousand years ago, Epimetheus got tired of the subservient-subject game. Tired of being a slave to Zeus’s whims and tired of feeling like he had to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, Epimetheus decided to disappear. He didn’t want to waste his wish, after all. By the way, sorry, Atlas, for that horrible verbiage, but I couldn’t resist a bit common trivia.
As Epimetheus roamed the Earth as a newly freed but on the run Titan, he got lonely. For the first time, since Epimetheus could remember, he was the master of his own fate. Epimetheus decided he needed a wife so he began to look but found no one. In eventual despair for a quest not complete, Epimetheus decided to end his life. Just as Epimetheus was about to commit suicide, the most fetching creature he ever laid eyes on, saved his life.
Pandora was not only Epimetheus savior, but she gave him a newfound reason to be alive. So it came as no shock, when Epimetheus asked for Pandora’s hand in marriage. Pandora said she would only marry him on the condition that Epimetheus stopped running from Zeus as her people were devote worshippers of the King God. So mustering up all his courage, Epimetheus asked Zeus for the privilege of marrying his beloved Pandora. Instead of giving Epimetheus, his blessing, Zeus said that no Titans or Gods was allowed to marry a human as it would foul up the purity of what was deemed the purity of the superior species and create half breeds. The only way that Epimetheus could be with Pandora was if he gave up his immortality. The problem was this was the time before ambrosia was invented and also before anyone surrendered eternity for a mortal.
Epimetheus, not believing Zeus, consulted the Book, which was a code of rules, created eons previously. As to who created the Book, or even what rules it contained, no one knows. It turned out that if any of the rules were violated, the captive Titans would be released, for it was the promise to obey that fueled the broken magical crystal which trapped Cronus and his allies. Had the whole crystal been intact, there would be no need for silly rules, but no one knew where the rest of the missing crystal was.
Not wanting to free the other Titans for fear or repercussions, yet still wanting to be with Pandora, Epimetheus decided it was time to use his wish. Epimetheus wished to be a man- not to be a king, or even a rich man, just a simple man who could do his beloved right. It wasn’t long after having his wish granted that Epimetheus and Pandora were married. After all, Zeus could not find a good reason why these two mortals should not be wed. Soon thereafter Pandora and Epimetheus welcomed a daughter, and no, it wasn’t Pyrrha (the daughter everyone knows about). Pyrrha was actually the second born. The girl I am talking about was her older sister.
Zeus decided to do something uncharacteristic by giving the proud new parents a gift. It was technically bending one of the rules in the book, by interfering with lesser being’s lives, but giving a present that could benefit all mankind couldn’t hurt. Zeus decided to give the humans something stronger then conviction, desire and basically everything that ever existed. So Zeus had Aphrodite design the most gorgeous box (rumored to have been made out of Titan bone). This box was irresistible to any man or woman who touched it, for it was filled with the purest, strongest essence ever created. This essence would later be known as Hope. (It was only later that Zeus discovered that he needed Hope but I’ll get to that story later).
Meanwhile, Epimetheus Titan brother, Prometheus, was up to a little meddling of his own. He saw the poor conditions in which the humans lived, especially since Persephone became Hades’ queen. Persephone’s mother, Demeter, Goddess of Harvest, was unhappy with her new son-in-law, so she took it on the entire world. Demeter made the Earth grow cold, and the harvest was no more. Life began to die out, which got everyone’s attention.
The Gods wanted to send Persephone back to her mother, but Persephone had eaten while in the Underworld. If any food was eaten while in the Underworld, a person had to stay there perpetually. Zeus would not have the rules broken to save life on Earth for doing so could loosen the Titans’ prison. After much persuasion from the other Gods, Zeus sent a negotiator to work out a deal between Hades and Demeter. In the end, half the year Persephone would lives with Hades and the other half of the year she would live with Demeter. It was bending the rules ever so slightly, but not enough to damage the Titans’ cage. So seasons came to be. When Persephone was with Demeter, everything was in bloom, and when she left, the world grew cold.
But anyway, getting back to Prometheus; he saw that the humans were suffering during the long, frigid winters because they had no source of heat. The Gods on the other hand, had fire. He petitioned for the Gods to dispense fire to the humans, but they repeatedly rebuffed his pleas. Eventually, Prometheus got tired of waiting for the selfish Gods to come around to his way of thinking. Prometheus decided to steal fire from the Gods and dispense it to the mortals since he related more to the humans then he did to the Gods. To say that the Gods were mad is putting it lightly. The majority of the immortals were ready to destroy all the humans and start anew no matter the consequence. However, Aphrodite managed to calm Zeus down and persuade him only to punish Prometheus. In my opinion, Aphrodite saved the human race that day.
After the Gods captured Prometheus, it was up to Zeus to punish him. He decided to chain Prometheus to a rock. Every single day, a vulture would rip out Prometheus’ liver and eat it before his eyes. Then Prometheus would bleed out and eventually die but nights end. In the morning Prometheus would wake up whole, only to have this torment happen to him again. As an immortal, Prometheus could not truly die and that is why he had a temporary death every evening. Most would despair, in Prometheus’s situation but with that new fangled Hope, Prometheus believed that some day he would be free. Sure, Prometheus could have used his wish to save himself, but that really wasn’t his style. Prometheus instead made a wish for his family’s happiness. The wish included his son, Deucalion, who he hadn’t seen in years.
The funny thing about wishes is that they are so exact; you have to watch your wording. Otherwise, there is a mess. That’s probably where the phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes from. Deucalion was mentioned by name, and so were Epimetheus and Pandora, so they were covered under the wish for happiness. Since Pandora was pregnant with baby number two, Pyrrha was covered by the wish as well. Prometheus, never mentioned daughter number one, probably because he hadn’t known she was born. He’d been chained to the rock for a very long time.
For a while, wish or not, things went well for Epimetheus and his family, except for dear, Prometheus. It would be a several decades before anyone dared free Prometheus from his affliction. Don’t get me wrong; there were several who tried and failed miserably to save Prometheus from his woe. It was left to the likes of Hercules to rescue him. Hercules was one of a long string of half Gods who had developed over the years. It’s funny how when a powerful God wanted a mortal it was allowed, but not when a Titan wanted one. Bitching about inequality isn’t the point of this tale I tell, however. This story is about a curse: the curse of Hope.
Zeus was angry that Prometheus eventually was freed. For some reason, Zeus had thought that Prometheus would break and beg for Zeus’s mercy before any one every came to his aid. Perhaps Zeus’s rage wasn’t even that he wanted the apology or that Prometheus gave people fire. Some say, Zeus’s rage came from the fact that he was bested by a Titan. An individual can get away with a lot, but hurt a God’s ego and there is no worse fury. Hermes, the Messenger God, and a few other lesser Gods who were friends of Prometheus, feared what Zeus might do in retaliation. The Gods also feared that whatever Zeus had planned would push the limits so far that the Titans would be free courtesy of a weakened stone. The rules were in place to protect everyone, but Zeus would devastate a world to have vengeance.
If you remember from before, I mentioned the box Zeus had given to Epimetheus and Pandora as a baby present. It had taken many years, for Pandora and Epimetheus to conceive but as humans lived much longer back then it really wasn’t an issue. Perhaps had the couple not been so delighted over their new bundle of joy, they would have sensed that Zeus had stolen the box and filled it with a darkness, which a man had never known. Zeus then, discreetly returned the enticing box to its proper place. Hermes, knowing what Zeus had done, warned Epimetheus and Pandora to never open the box. The thing is, when you tell someone not to do something, it becomes all too tempting to do the opposite. Take the box, that Epimetheus and Pandora was given. The box was said to be the world’s greatest temptation so naturally, it would impossible for any mortal to resist the allure of peaking inside.
It was on a Monday but it wasn’t called that back than but regardless, Mondays always suck. So on this Monday, Pandora held her first born child in one arm and rocked her gently as she held the box in the other. Whispering to the fussy baby, Pandora told her that her present was from the King God, himself. The baby cooed with what some might say was understanding. The problem was that Pandora thought that the God she’d worshipped for centuries (yes, mortals lived a long time back then) would never do anything as evil as Hermes said. The box did, after all, once hold Hope, which was the world’s most precious gift. Could the box now really hold such a dark and twisted substance?
Pandora pondered for a little while, if a little peek, would really count as opening the box. After some time, Pandora had actually convinced herself that she had to look inside the box for the sake of all of humankind. If the box was ever stolen or broken, someone needed to know what was inside. Pandora decided she would be the one who would know what was put in this tiny box. So slowly, Pandora opened the box, to see what was inside. Even though, Pandora had only opened the box a little a mist came pouring out. The mist headed for the first thing, or should I say the first person, who needed Hope- the child in Pandora’s arms. For the child was the only one in the family who wasn’t protected by Prometheus’s wish.
The child started glowing. With obvious concern, Pandora did the only thing she could think of doing- she dropped the box and ran with the child. Once outside, the child stopped glowing and all seemed as before, but that lasted only for a moment. The mist poured from the child, growing in size until it filled what appeared to be the entire sky.
Little did Pandora know, she had released an evil unlike any known before. She had released greed, anger, lust, aging, the need for power, the desire for domination and all sort of dark things that would make a person cringe. Zeus’ goal was to make the world that Prometheus loved once again suffer for his sins. Zeus would only save humanity if they begged. There was just one thing that Zeus didn’t count on- the baby being the one filled with the contents of the box. To try and use a baby for wickedness was futile.
A child is pure, so naturally it rejected the dark contents of the box. I am not sure Zeus meant to release all these horrors onto man. I think, instead, it was his goal to have all the malevolence he could muster concentrated into one being that would do his bidding, but Zeus did not get his way. As mentioned, the vile mist, expelled itself and made its way into the hearts of the unassuming general populous.
There was one thing that stayed behind in the child, which was the gift that had originally been put into the box- Hope. The child was Hope and she alone could be stronger then the horrors that now took hold of man. Not knowing what Pandora had released onto the world and into her child, Pandora became afraid.
Sadly, since it was a woman who opened the box, women would suffer the most in this new, sinister world. Zeus may not have gotten the destructive path to play out exactly as he wanted, but he could enjoy the slow burn of a lengthy won victory. What’s one child against a world of evil? Sure, some Hope also escaped into the world, but that couldn’t fend off all the mayhem that came along with it… or could it?
I know everyone hates Pandora for what she did, but people shouldn’t be so hard on her. It was only the inevitable, nay natural progression that conflict would someday enter the world. If Pandora hadn’t opened the box, some other poor flunkey would have. Or someone else would have pissed Zeus off, far worse than Prometheus had, and something darker would have been unleashed.
Getting back to the child, who was now filled with much of the essence of Hope and who was coincidentally named that as well. If Zeus gives you a baby gift called Hope, it’s best that you name your child after that gift. Vanity, such vanity, Gods have. But perhaps this time the name was justifiable.
Thirteen years passed from the time Pandora had opened that wretched box. Hope was a teenager and popular amongst the local youths. In those days, families of girls her age often looked for a suitor for their daughter if one hadn’t yet been selected. However, a wedding was not in the cards for Hope’s fourteen or even fifteenth birthday. Destiny had something else in store- the death of Hope’s one and only love.
So as Hope’s thirteenth year, that was the year, when the Oracles had foretold to Zeus that Hope would be his downfall. Zeus was ready to smite the child out of existence but the Fates had informed Zeus if he did, the child would only be reborn twice as strong. Perhaps if Zeus and the other Gods just sat back, the words the child would someday say would fall onto deaf ears. For you see, Hope was a new invention and it took a special kind of person to grasp onto the notion but if people Hope, they didn’t need the Gods.
What gave the Gods powers, just as what once gave the Titans strength, was that the rules were followed. Of course, power also came from ego. Gods who had fewer and fewer followers found it extremely hard to believe in themselves. Once the belief and ego were gone, all that was left was weakness. Weakness was enough to make a God as good as dead.
Since Zeus couldn’t kill the child without spreading the disease of Hope even more, he decided to curse her, so that she would never know true happiness. Zeus also made it so that Hope would know the misery of all those she would come in contact with, sensing their pain. Perhaps worst of all, if Hope did not complete a certain number of good deeds in each life she lived, she would be cast into the land of Limbo rather than be reborn again.
The odds were obviously stacked against Hope, but that’s what Zeus wanted. He wanted Hope to, well, give up Hope. If not in this life, then in next, or the one after that, Hope would fail. If the one called Hope lost Hope, then everyone else would, too. They’d come crawling back to the Gods they once adored.
Zeus was convinced that Limbo was the perfect place for Hope to exist as it was opening the damn box, is what created Limbo in the first place. Also once stuck in Limbo, there was no living amongst the mortals, just an eternity between life and death. If Hope could not be reborn, then Zeus won, right? If, by chance, Zeus’ plan backfired and the humans didn’t come back to the Gods, then, by golly, they would surely destroy one another without Hope. With the mortals gone, the God’s could start anew and not have to worry about breaking the rules. After all, the Gods hadn’t interfered in the lives of the masses- well, only a little, and only sometimes, but not enough to free the Titans.
As with any good curse there was a loophole. If Hope willingly surrendered the essence of Hope, then she could go about her life like any other mortal. The problem was that if Hope gave up Hope, then there would be no Hope for anyone. Naturally, Hope would never give Zeus what he wanted despite all the heartache and pain she endured.
So it was that in her first life, Hope died while trying to save a boy and his father from a fire. I think it had something to do with the smoke Hope inhaled, or perhaps it was the burns that ultimately killed Hope. To be honest, I don’t know what exactly happened. I kind of wish I did, but I wasn’t there. Anyway, saving the child and sacrificing herself was enough of a good deed for Hope to not end up in Limbo, which is what Zeus thought would happen when he started the fire. Zeus had thought that Hope would sit idly as the house burned, and then from anguish take her own life, but Zeus’s plan didn’t go as he predicted.
Shortly after Hope’s death, she was reborn to another body. For many lives, Hope escaped Limbo. Over the years, Hope saw the fall of the Greek, Egyptian, Norse, and even the Roman Gods. Hope survived the Dark Ages, a plague or two and even a World War. Interestingly enough, the roles that Hope took on were as varied as Savior, Martyr and even mad prophet. Whether she was born a Queen of an empire or thought to be a witch, who would be burned at the stake, her soul endured.
Many lifetimes had come and gone for Hope. She had been everything from a queen to a pauper. In this particular life, Hope would have died as a child but before she could, the then ruler of Dreamland brought her to Limbo. If one was in Limbo they could not die so this gave Hope a chance to find a way to beat her curse. Perhaps someday, Hope would not have to live in Limbo. Had the then ruler let Hope die, she would have forever been stuck in Limbo, with no way out.
One would think that with Zeus gone, Hope’s curse would be gone with him, but such was not the case. Everyone who knew of Hope’s existence in Limbo, assumed she would forever in the land of in between. Those who knew, had assumed that Hope had died, which since she hadn’t, gave the child the upper hand. Until Hope was old enough to take control of her life, she would appear as a ghost to both living and dead. For the first time in a long time, it looked like Hope might actually be on Hope’s side. There was a chance that the essence of Hope could live, and the person who was the sole carrier of Earth’s greatest gift could also someday live a normal life.
By living in Limbo, Hope did not age typically. At the age of twenty-five, her body stopped aging. Hope could also come and go between worlds as she pleased. With power and an intact memory, she could find away to break the horrid spell. The best way to defeat a curse by Zeus, would be to give the curse what it thought the writer of said curse wanted… Hope in Limbo for all eternity, though in fact it wouldn’t be that long.