Okay, so this is it, the big finale. Why did Zeus do all these weird things? It’s actually pretty complicated. Or at least, it’s shrouded in mystery because Zeus wants it that way. To understand it all, we need to take a closer look at what Zeus did.
First, we know Zeus has no problem punishing people. What he did to Prometheus is proof enough of that. This is important as it reveals his character. Prometheus’s punishment is decisive and vengeful.
So why doesn’t he follow suit with mankind? Sure, all the evils are unleashed, but why go through all the effort to create Pandora? Couldn’t some random shmoe have done the job? Better yet, send the jar down there and let the thing break open once it hits the ground. Poof, evils disbursed no muss, no fuss. And in the first place, why doesn’t he take fire back from mankind? Surely that would be the simplest thing to do. And to go through life without being able to cook meat is a horror I don’t want to dwell on.
Instead Zeus orders the creation of Pandora, a remarkably intelligent, beautiful, etc. etc. woman. Then he orders hope put into the jar. This is clearly ludicrous. Why put hope in at all? Now some say it’s in order to prolong the agony, but Prometheus would attest that Zeus is quite able to prolong agony without involving hope in the mix.
We’re left with a kind of paradox as to why Zeus is going through such an elaborate punishment, at least until we reevaluate. Is this meant to be a punishment?
Pandora is clearly a gift. She can’t be anything else. She’s perfect. Mankind still has fire. The evils are let loose, but hope is kept, so all is not lost. With all of these pieces together, we can begin to realize how clever Zeus really is.
Fire is the key to civilization. It allows for mankind to cook food, use it for warmth, create pottery, see in the dark, smith metal, and more useful. However, not everything about fire is good. Fire burns people. It burns down forests, it burns homes and cities. Fire destroys, and does not discriminate in what it destroys. It is a fearsome weapon.
So what dictates how fire will be used? Much as no sane adult would give a four-year-old a flamethrower, Zeus does not want mankind to have fire not because of the great things they can do with it, but because of the harm they will do until they can become responsible.
How can they become responsible? Easy, by facing and overcoming the evils of the world. This will give them experience. Experience, in turn, will give them wisdom. But the only way to overcome these evils is to have hope.
So Zeus, very slyly, orchestrates a scenario by which mankind can grow into something more than what Prometheus initially created.