Prometheus handed mankind the greatest gift known to them. With the gift of fire truly setting them apart from the ways of the other brutish beasts, they could boast their superiority over other living beings on earth. Zeus, with the knowledge that he had been betrayed and robbed, fumed with anger. But he wanted to act differently than mere mortals, and hence he devised a complex plan to take vengeance as opposed to killing the mortals who now had a possession that was not their own.
He got Hephaestus to make a beautiful woman out of clay and Athena to make her an exquisite robe. He reached out to Epimetheus, the brother of his nemesis and gifted him the lady, naming her Pandora. Along with his wife, Epimetheus had been given a few strict instructions. He was given a sealed vase and its key but was instructed by Zeus that he was never to open the vase at any cost.
A few months into the marriage, Epimetheus had afterthoughts and understood that Zeus planned to punish him by making Pandora open the vase out of curiosity and unleash some unspeakable horror unto the world. He acted quick and approached Zeus with the vase and apologised profusely for his brother’s errors. Zeus, though enraged that his plan did not succeed, seemed impressed at Epimetheus’ intellectual capability to have unravelled the plan that the king of Gods himself had devised.
Surprisingly, Zeus let go of Epimetheus with no punishment and gave the vase to Hades to be destroyed in the underworld. Epimetheus, quite proud of his biggest achievement made his way back to his wife and was finally at peace. An impressed Zeus now gifted mankind all the happiness they could ever wish for and removed all the suffering and pain.
They had seen that their God was very merciful, and thus were instantly filled with joy. They also felt that their lives got better with no pain from injuries or hard work, no shortage for food and wine, and humans suddenly lost the greed for power, wealth and blood. Humankind thanked the Gods for giving them the Golden age of humankind.
Days passed by, and the scholars started to sense that there was something amiss with the world they lived in. There were schools of thought that worried about the negative consequences of this eternal euphoria and contemplated if this was actually a curse on mankind. With humans having all the resources they needed, it seemed like progress would have accelerated. But that did not seem to happen. Before this so-called blessing, scholars pushed themselves to know things so that they could preach the citizens of the consequences of their actions. Now, the citizens were no longer interested in such philosophical lectures on account that there was absolutely no consequence other than those that induce joy to their actions.
They had lost all motive to study the world around them and gave in to other base emotions. This led them to become like every other man on earth. Progress had thus stopped altogether. At this point, everyone was in a unified state of mind that was always at ease. The world knew no sadness or suffering. People did not fight over resources, for there were plenty of them. Plato and Archimedes no longer had any difference in opinion, or rather they no longer held opinions.
The lack of progress affected no one, and scholars never knew why they were worried about stagnating progress if it had served its purpose- convenience and peace of mind. It began to dawn upon them that progress was not an absolute necessity to have a perfect world. They never felt bad for not progressing as a species.
In this pristine globe which was now heaven on earth, people slowly started to grow immune towards emotions like rage and envy, and people started living in harmony. The political strains in society faded, and everyone was happy with what they were doing and the society was perfectly balanced.
As the next generations came into the world, the number of people who ever had an inkling of what human emotions had once been started to fade. A teenager of the new era was unaware of any other emotions except for joy and love. This made him insensitive to other emotions and that led him to believe that there were no other emotions, or rather, he soon grew oblivious to the existence of emotions as a concept.
With everyone content and the earth no longer having any problems, Zeus relaxed on his throne, planning to never strain himself for eternity. He seemed a little too proud, even for Zeus, of his accomplishment. Meanwhile, Athena, Apollo, and Aphrodite had a serious discussion on the plight of the earth. They felt that the humans were reduced to flocks of livestock that couldn’t care about anything that was beyond the present. What’s worse was that humans had made enough progress to avoid attack from predators, which removed the occasional fear of being hunted by predators that even sheep endure.
Aphrodite was concerned about the loss of the essence of humanity and feared that the humans were now damaged beyond rescue. With no fear of loss, even love had lesser meaning and that was visible by how there were lesser attempts made and expected to woo a woman. People had lost their sense of consciousness. Humans gave in to crude thoughts and mating whenever and wherever they wanted to, making them nothing more than a bunch of wild animals.
Aphrodite, being a sensitive Goddess, did not just notice about the loss of love in humans, but also observed that the loss of war has made every man lose the strong willpower to live that they once had. This willpower was the reason that political strategies, philosophy, and moral debates flourished, and after the loss of this driving force, the humans were oblivious to new innovations they could make to enable themselves better and make themselves more independent.
Ares, as the God of war, shared similar concerns with Aphrodite. He felt more for the loss of anger and rage in humans. According to him, these were the key emotions to balance the effects of peace and calmness. Only when one was angry or enraged at someone or something, would he ever become calm. With no knowledge of these emotions, they could not appreciate the importance and the euphoria one received through draining rage and becoming calm. He felt for those who never knew of the euphoria they could possibly have.
Athena, being the Goddess of wisdom, understood and felt bad for humans to have lost the sense of reason, among every other sensation. The worst part, in Athena’s opinion, was that Zeus, in fact, did nothing but create a momentary disturbance in the equilibrium of human emotions and that disturbed the harmony and equilibrium of the diversified emotional spectrum humans were blessed with. By making happiness the dominant, and later the only emotion; the human race was oblivious to the chaos that they were in. The point that they were missing was that a perfect world was not the only form of existence, let alone realising that they were not in a perfect world as they thought they were in.
Athena always considered that the opposite of a perfect world always had someone forcing the world in the way they wanted it to be and the others, though against it, failed to act against the force. But in this case, humanity was essentially bringing doom upon themselves while collectively thinking that it was in their best interest.
Athena’s worries made Apollo think about whether or not the earth at this juncture was a perfect world or the opposite. A perfect world is a term that is one where everyone is happy with what they have and don’t desire anything more. By definition and from the point of view of the residents of the earth, they lived in a perfect world, even oblivious to the possibility of an opposite alternative. But, is the satisfaction of humans a sufficient condition for a perfect world? When there is clearly a more perfect option with every bit of progress that mankind makes, is this even a perfect world?
While the Gods were not able to classify this into either a perfect world or a chaotic one, they were sure that it was not the ideal society. This dilemma led the Gods to name the imaginary perfect society as “ou-topos” which meant “no place”. But Athena loved the hidden wordplay used. “Ou-topos” could also be read as “eu-topos” which meant “good place”. The way the Gods coined the term ensured to give humans of another time and another place an illusion that a perfect world (Utopia) could exist in their mind, but in reality, it would be nothing more than “ou-topos”.
The Gods had now come to terms with the fact that they had ruined this world beyond repair. Knowing that it wasn’t their first time and had already ruined similar worlds because of people like Hercules and Sisyphus, they knew the drill now. They raised a petition to start the next earth, and repeat what they did with the now previous one, and open the vase instead of destroying it in the underworld.