Long ago, Zeus, king of the gods, decided to create a beautiful woman, the most beautiful woman of all time. He enlisted the help of the other gods to create this woman. He commanded the god Hephaestus to shape the woman's body using clay from the earth, and he then ordered Athena and the other goddesses to give the woman lovely clothing and jewels. Athena also taught the woman many skills such as weaving and sewing. Zeus named the woman Pandora.
Zeus then gave Pandora a special jar and commanded her never to open the jar. "Heed my words, Pandora," he said. "You must never - NEVER - open this jar." Zeus did not tell Pandora what was in the jar. Instead, he expected her to obey his command without ever knowing why she was forbidden to open the jar. (Some say it was a box rather than a jar.)
At first, Pandora found it easy to obey the command of Zeus. Over time, however, she became more and more curious. In the end, Pandora could not resist and opened the jar. She was horrified when she saw all sorts of evil things - Death, Suffering, Hunger, Thirst, Pain, Fear - come flying up out of the jar, and all those evil things are still part of human existence since Pandora let them loose into the world. When she realized what was happening, Pandora closed the jar as quickly as she could, but there was only thing still left in the jar: Hope.
Pandora wept when she realized what she had done, but she was glad that at least she still had hope. "This must be part of Zeus' plan," she said to herself, "so that human beings will always possess hope, even when we experience pain and suffering in our lives."