Friday, June 8, 20181 like5 comments

Epimetheus and Prometheus, Part II: Pandora's Visit

PROMETHEUS

Have there been women yet? I misremember.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, I shouldn’t think so.

PROMETHEUS

Only I think there’s one now. Just outside.

EPIMETHEUS

Hang on, how can’t there have been women previously?

PROMETHEUS

How do you mean?

EPIMETHEUS

Well, we made mankind yesterday. Presumably that includes women.

PROMETHEUS

Well, that’s not what the note says.

EPIMETHEUS

Note?

PROMETHEUS

She’s got a note with her. Just says “THE FIRST WOMAN.”

EPIMETHEUS

If she’s the first one, how come we’re already familiar with the general concept? And who was our mother?

PROMETHEUS

Oh, I don’t like that, reducing women to motherhood. Doesn’t sit right with me.

EPIMETHEUS

I just don’t understand on what basis anyone can claim that woman outside is the first one when there’s already clearly some sort of platonic (heh) ideal of women we’re both familiar with.

PROMETHEUS

Why are you arguing with me about this? I didn’t write the note.

EPIMETHEUS

Well, you’re defending it.

PROMETHEUS

I’m not defending anything, I’m just reading – oh, shit, I think she can see us.

EPIMETHEUS

Is she coming over here?

PROMETHEUS

I don’t know. I’m not looking.

[The door opens. Both brothers dive beneath the couch, or whatever the ancient Greeks might have had instead of a couch. A divan? Pandora enters, carrying a jar.]

PANDORA [Jovially. A bit forced, but with some real oomph behind it.]

Man, where are you? Who told you that you were naked?

EPIMETHEUS [Despite himself. Still hiding.]

We’re not naked.

PROMETHEUS

It’s a reference.

EPIMETHEUS

Ah. Well.

PANDORA

You’re – where are you?

PROMETHEUS

Hiding behind the divan.

PANDORA

Is that usual?

EPIMETHEUS [Simultaneously]

Are you the first woman, or merely an woman? A woman? An. Neither sounds quite right, does it?

PANDORA

I haven’t the faintest idea.

EPIMETHEUS

I’ve never hidden behind a divan before. I can’t speak for my brother.

PROMETHEUS

Certainly not. [Rising] Hello.

PANDORA

How do you do&c.

EPIMETHEUS

How did you do that? Say a typically-written valediction aloud without just saying “ampersand-c-period”?

PANDORA

I’m afraid I haven’t the faintest idea.

EPIMETHEUS [Getting up.]

It was wonderful. Are all women going to be able to do that?

PANDORA

I wish you wouldn’t keep asking me about other women. I’m not representative.

PROMETHEUS

We’re terribly sorry. What – well, what are you, exactly, then?

PANDORA

Oh, gosh, it’s a lot to remember, let me see – Hephaestus molded clay in the likeness of a modest maid, as the son of Cronos purposed, the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed me, and the divine Graces and queenly Persuasion put necklaces of gold upon me, and the rich-haired Hours crowned my head with spring flowers. And Pallas Athene bedecked my form with all manners of finery. Also the Guide, the Slayer of Argus, contrived within me lies and crafty words and a deceitful nature at the will of loud thundering Zeus, and the Herald of the gods put speech in me. And they called me Pandora, because all they who dwelt on Olympus gave each a gift, a plague to men who eat bread. A sheer, hopeless snare.

[A pause.]

EPIMETHEUS

Well, I’m called Epimetheus.

PANDORA

How do y’do&c.

PROMETHEUS

I’m Prometheus. And a little taken aback.

PANDORA

The jar is part of it, I think.

EPIMETHEUS

Part of being a woman?

PROMETHEUS

Ass.

PANDORA

Part of the snare.

EPIMETHEUS

What is in the jar?

PANDORA

Horrors, chiefly.

PROMETHEUS [Carefully.]

Ah. How thoughtful. I’ll just take that, shall I? And place it very carefully over here by the fireplace, where no one needs to touch it or try to open it, or anything else.

EPIMETHEUS

Is that it? Just – ah – horrors?

PANDORA

All I know is that someone very tall was very upset about being given a specific bag of meat – I suppose he wanted the other bag of meat, I’m not sure, it wasn’t particularly clear – and so he wanted to give you a woman as revenge, and it become very evident that this revenge-woman was supposed to be me, so here I am.

EPIMETHEUS

So you’re – what are you planning on doing with us, then? Is telling us all this part of the revenge, or are you on our side, or what?

PANDORA [Settling in on the divan.]

Look, I just work here. And it’s my first day on the job. All I’m telling you is what my supervisors told me. “There’s women now, you’re it, bring the jar of horrors to the brothers who invented lobsters et al, good luck.” Far as I can see, I’ve done my job. Also, you might offer me a drink or something.

PROMETHEUS

Sorry.

EPIMETHEUS

Would you like a drink or something?

PANDORA

I could eat.

EPIMETHEUS

What do women eat?

PANDORA

How on earth should I know? I’ve been a woman for all of six hours. I haven’t the faintest idea what eating is. Why don’t you make me a plate of a little bit of everything, and that way we can find out what I like?

EPIMETHEUS

Have you ever tried god-meat? That one was my idea. I’ve a feeling that’s what Zeus – the tall one – was cross about. He wants meat from people, of all things –

PROMETHEUS

Meat provided by people, to be clear, not the meat of people

EPIMETHEUS

– Right, that’s what I said, meat from people in addition to all the food he’s already got laying around –

PROMETHEUS

Isn’t it lying around?

EPIMETHEUS

I haven’t the faintest. Anyhow, that struck us as rather churlish, and so we gave him the option of two manners of offering, and hid all the good meat under some scraps, and like an idiot he chose the bones and offal just because it was under a fat-cap, so now that’s all he gets, and we have plenty of leftovers. Do you like leftovers?

PROMETHEUS

She hasn’t had anything, how can she possibly know if she likes leftovers?

EPIMETHEUS

Right, sorry. Do you like us?

PANDORA

It’s a bit early to tell.

EPIMETHEUS

Because I don’t mind saying that I quite like you, even if you did bring us a jar of horrors and not a normal housewarming gift like some candles. I like candles, too. The big expensive ones that can’t possibly be worth thirty dollars, but I buy them anyways. Do you want to live with us?

PROMETHEUS

Epimetheus.

EPIMETHEUS

Sorry, I should have asked first. Can I ask her to live with us?

PANDORA

You can get rid of the jar if you like. I was only supposed to deliver it, I don’t care what you do with it.

PROMETHEUS

Not that you’d listen if I said otherwise, but yes, you can.

EPIMETHEUS

Do you know, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll bury it in the yard later? I can’t imagine what on earth we’d do with horrors. [To Prometheus.] Have we got a yard, or are those like women and haven’t been invented yet? [To Pandora.] Do you think there are going to be more of you? Women, I mean?

PANDORA

I certainly hope so.

EPIMETHEUS [Bustling.]

I do, too. Well, it’s settled, then, at least on our end. If you’d like to live with us, we’d enjoy it immensely – I’d enjoy it immensely – and if you’d rather not, I hope you’ll visit often. And if they make any other women, they’re welcome too. We’ll have lots of women, and lots of candles, and absolutely no horrors. My brother invented fire, you know, which is why so many candles.

PROMETHEUS

I didn’t invent it.

EPIMETHEUS

Well, we didn’t have any before, and then you brought some round, and now we do. If that’s not inventing, I don’t know what is.

PANDORA

They had fire on Olympus.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, I expect loads of places have it now. [Bringing out a plate.] Right. Here’s meat – goat, mainly, but also I think a bird of some kind (I invented birds, don’t think he’s the only one who invents things), and there’s a bit of cheese there, and bread, and I don’t remember what we decided to call that only it sort of makes your mouth burn to eat it, but a nice burn, I think, and if you want seconds of anything, just tell me, it’s no trouble to make another plate. Have you invented anything?

PANDORA [Chewing.]

Jars. Oh, this is good.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, jars were you?

PANDORA

Yes, they wanted me to just carry the horrors with me, but I thought that might be unwieldy, and frighten you off besides, so I just – thought a jar might come in handy, and then there were jars.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, well done. I suppose one could put other things in jars besides horrors, if one wanted?

PANDORA

Leftovers, possibly.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, that’s a famous idea. I knew I liked her. A house of inventors, they’ll call us. I’m glad you like eating; it’s one of my favorite things. Do you like us yet, or do you think you need more time?

PROMETHEUS

You can’t keep asking the same question just because she isn’t ready to answer.

PANDORA

No, it’s all right. He hasn’t any – he’s not like you, is he?

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, not at all. Sorry, I know you were talking to him, but you’re quite right. I haven’t any guile. Not a drop of it. He’s chockablock with it, Prometheus is, but the gods made me the offer, and I said I’d rather be happy, and you can’t be happy with guile, so I said I didn’t want any.

PROMETHEUS

That doesn’t mean he’s simple, mind you.

EPIMETHEUS

Not at all.

PANDORA

I never thought you were.

EPIMETHEUS

One can be complex and happy, of course. Guile isn’t the same thing.

PROMETHEUS

And I’m not unhappy, exactly.

EPIMETHEUS

But you’ve never bustled. Can I make you another plate?

PANDORA

Yes, please. Must one bustle, in order to be happy?

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, there’s hundreds of ways to be happy. I haven’t discovered even half of them yet. Are those more women in the yard?

PANDORA [Looking out the window.]

Yes, I think so.

EPIMETHEUS

Oh, how famous, how wonderful, how exciting.

PROMETHEUS

I’ll – get the door?

EPIMETHEUS

Well, we can’t keep diving under the sofa. Ask them if they’re hungry.

PANDORA [Opening the window and leaning out.]

Are you hungry?

WOMEN [In chorus.]

We could eat!

PANDORA

Well, come in, then! There’s something here that burns your mouth, but in a sort of nice way, and there’s loads of it.

EPIMETHEUS

Thank God we’ve got so much left over, from [He makes a gesture that is somehow immediately indicative of “deceiving Zeus”]. Prometheus, will you go bury that jar while I’m getting dinner ready? It gives me the creeps just to look at it. Oh, that’s another invention, isn’t it?

PANDORA

It’s not one of your better inventions, I don’t think.

EPIMETHEUS

Yes, I’ll try harder next time. Prometheus, the door! Our guests are hungry! Oh, guests, that’s nice, that’s much nicer than the creeps, have I just invented guests?

PANDORA

I rather think I did. Seeing as how I was one, earlier. And I think the first.

EPIMETHEUS

And a very good invention it was, too. Right back – I won’t be a minute – push some of the chairs together while I’m in the kitchen, will you? Hello, ladies, come on in. This is my dear friend Pandora, who likes me well enough. She’s just invented guests, and that’s what all of you are. You can leave your jars outside; my brother will bury them for you.

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