Pandora

Pandora was the first woman to walk upon the earth, and a great bane upon mankind.

Prometheus had tricked the gods into taking the unwanted portion of the sacrifice, as well as giving fire to mankind.   Zeus was outraged by these things, and sought to destroy mankind completely.  He ordered Hephaestus to create the first woman, Pandora.  They made her feeble of mind, but in a shape no man can resist.  By the order of Zeus, all the gods bestowed upon her every charm imaginable.  This is where her name comes from, which means 'all gifts.'

As if this wasn't bad enough, Zeus then gave to her a jar, filled with every evil the gods could imagine for mankind.  The gods instructed her to not open the box.  Zeus then sent Hermes down to Epimetheus to give him this new gift.  Epimetheus, who had been warned by Prometheus to never accept from a gift from Zeus, did not listen to his brother's warning.  Once on the earth, Pandora, being a woman, opened the jar, which released all of the evils.  These evils would have destroyed mankind, except for one thing: Prometheus had secretly placed hope in the jar, giving man something to live for in an otherwise unbearable world.

Source(s):

  1. HesiodTheogeny.

  2. HesiodWorks and Days.