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Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,233 ratings  ·  196 reviews
The Greek myths are one of the most important cultural foundation-stones of the modern world.

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Virgil to from Aeschylus to Sophocles and Euripides. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories first told almost three thousand years ago. B
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Picador
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 ·  1,233 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

A wonderful feminist discussion into various women at the heart of the Greek myths. These are women who are often overshadowed by the male heroes of their own stories, yet Haynes manages to bring them to life and give them a voice that has long been forgotten. These are women who originally are described as intelligent warriors, fearless and resourceful, and ultimately let down by their husbands, lovers and the Gods. Their stories have been warped o
Emer (A Little Haze)
I’ve been reading differing accounts of the Greek myths since childhood. They have always captured by imagination in a way that can be compared to nothing else. I guess part of me likes to think of them as historical fact rather than myth... But what is evident is that in modern collections of Greek myths is that men are put to the front and centre, and that the female characters are only visible on the margins. One has to only look at the perennially popular film ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ (1963 ...more
Dannii Elle
Classicist Natalie Haynes has penned this extraordinarily interesting non-fiction in the hope of addressing some of the prejudice and inaccuracies forced upon some of mythology's female figures. These women are often relegated to the side-lines of the story, and when they are granted an extended focus it is for their role as either the mother, the sinner, or the monster. Sometimes all three at once. But was this always the case and, if so, just why are women depicted as behaving in such a narrow ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Anyone who has read A Thousand Ships, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year, will know that Natalie Haynes is deeply interested in giving voice to the women of Greek myth. But what some might not know is that she's also an incredible classicist and a comedian. Now, these two things go together better than you might imagine. If you follow her Instagram or listen to her podcast 'Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics' (, you will alread ...more
Nikita Gill
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greek-mythology
Natalie Haynes is back with this eloquent, witty and powerful book about women from Greek mythology. We meet Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Medusa and many more women who haven’t had their stories told this way, a way where every version of them is acknowledged, analysed, juxtaposed and most importantly humanised. Haynes provides us with every one of their myths and changes the perspective to add to their stories, giving us far more fully fleshed out characters. It’s interesting how much more three di ...more
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5⭐️ this would be a good book for someone just becoming interested in Greek mythology, but there are a few interesting points still for anyone like me who considers themselves pretty well versed. I was especially pleased to see Phaedra included as she often gets missed out in this kind of discourse about women in Classics
Ella Whiting
‘Pandora’s Jar’ tells the stories of Greek mythological women from all walks of life: from semi-divine women like Helen of Troy, Medea, and the glorious Amazon warriors; to wronged mortals like Jocasta and Clytemnestra; to women-turned-monsters like Medusa.

Natalie Haynes deftly outlines the various depictions of these iconic mythological women in ancient sources - depictions which can diverge wildly depending on the author, the standards of the time in which he (and, she makes a point of emphas
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kobo
“Be thankful we only want equality, and not payback.”

What a delightful book. And so well written, so easy to understand and hard to put down. If you like the Greek classics and have already noticed how those stories are so focused on men and want to know more about the women, then you should definitely read this.

"The guiding principle when searching for the cause of everything wrong in the world has been, all too often: cherchez la femme."

It stars by telling us the story of Pandora and how she's
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
~ Disclaimer: this book is non-fiction ~

What Natalie Haynes has pulled off here is a clear, easily approached and funny exploration of 10 major female literary figures from the ancient Greek Canon. It is, frankly, fantastic that this is written in a way that could bring these women to a wider audience within the context of their rewriting. As Haynes shows, these were fluid figures in the ancient world - they were rewritten and refocused with every society, author and situation they were characte
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
Absolutely loved this, I adore Greek mythology so to read a book that focuses on the women in Greek mythology I got so excited. It was such an interesting look at women who are usually marginalised or portrayed as dark and bad/evil. I love the fact that Haynes looks at these characters such as medusa, Pandora and the Amazons and not just Aphrodite etc and I love that Haynes humour comes through too. A fabulous read and interesting look at the myths and attempting to redress the balance of men al ...more
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was really good! It's a nice casual, short read that doesn't really go to huge depths on anything but introduces things quite neatly. The tone of the writing is really pleasant and sometimes funny. I think it just hits a really good spot between informative and accessible. ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
what a fantastic project! Natalie is so smart and insightful..... and funny as hell!
Nov 27, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Pandora’s Jar is a marvellous exploration of ten prominent female mythological characters who have been the subject of many theatre, literature and art across the world and history, with varying versions of their portrayals. Haynes proceeds to give powerful assessments on the interpretation and reception of each women’s story, that’ll leave any mythology lovers speechless and with a great desire to give Haynes a round of applause.

The female characters considered are: Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Med
Geertje ~ acourtofpaperdreams
When I saw this book in my local bookstore, I didn't even read the synopsis. It just went straight home with me like almost all mythology books.
And I'm so happy about it!

This is a wonderful book full of stories about the women in Greek myths. They get overshadowed by their male companions a lot of times, so it's nice to see them in their own spotlight.

Natalie Haynes writes amazing, critical commentary on the 'original' stories, questioning everything. Taking it a step further than other books
Sue Chant
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, culture
For those of us who read Greek myths and wondered why all the women were duplicitous sluts, crazed murderers, or voiceless victims Natalie Haynes has the answer. They Weren’t! By piecing together versions of the stories created by many ancient writers and artists we discover that Helen, Pandora, Medea and others were more multifaceted than the standard images of them we experience today. With wit and humour she shows how these mythological figures have been used in more recent historic times to ...more
Majsa Storbeck ✿
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I fricking loved this book more than Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, and I didn't think that was possible! This book covers so many topics in different scopes - impossible to cover it all! I am amazed by Natalie's knowledge, thorough analysis skills and wittiness. A must-read for feminists that are interested in classical myths and want to know how patriarchal norms were omnipresent in the early days and - to many ways - have remained the same! ...more
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Euripides is the only true feminist change my mind
Lidia Bier
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When you can find a way to include extremely insightful references to Buffy and Beyonce in an exploration of Greek mythology through a feminist lens, you have won a fan for life. I adored this. Please ensure you read Natalie Haynes' A Thousand Ships first to give you the necessary background. ...more
An excellent book. I'd already adored Natalie Haynes' A Thousand Ships and this book only confirmed my awe of her studies.

Haynes presents famous and often controversial women from the Greek myths: just to name a few, Helen of Troy, Medusa, Medea and Clytemnestra. Her knowledge of the greek myths is truly impressive. She discusses not only the most famous versions of their story but also sources which are often forgotten, giving a complete and more positive portrayal of these figures. Not only, s
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, greek-mythology
I was at first expecting a retelling but it's actually an analysis of great females figures of Greek mythology and it is GOOD. Natalie Haynes is passionate about the subject and I loved her analysis of the Amazons and Medea. ...more
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Examination of ten women in Greek mythology, and how their stories have shifted as they were passed down to us (mainly by men).

Very much enjoyed that! It's nice to read something straight-up feminist sometimes. No beating around the bush, no coded language or trying to slowly and carefully convince someone that sexism is real. Just a lot of funny, angry sarcasm on how female characters, and women, are treated. Bam. It's honestly sad that it feels daring to me in a published non-fiction book.

Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Interesting funny and cool - giz it a read
Saimi Korhonen
"Which version of the story we choose t tell, which characters we place in the foreground, which ones we allow to fade into shadows: these reflect both the teller and the reader, as much as they show the characters of the myth. We have made space in our storytelling to rediscover women who have been lost for forgotten. They are not villains, victims, wives and monsters: they are people."

Pandora's Jar is a wonderful non-fiction book that focuses on ten famous women from Greek Mythology and expl
So many retellings of the Greek myths push their female characters to the margins, reducing them to plot devices, exploiting them as symbols, or painting them in one-dimensional strokes as helpless damsels, scheming jealous wives, or hideous, vengeful monsters.

In Pandora's Jar, Haynes combines her expert knowledge of the classics, engaging style of prose, and sharp analysis of cultural, social, and literary motives behind different portrayals of women in Greek stories and plays to take the reade
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am pleased with my first read of 2021. I love mythology and although there wasn’t much I didn’t know about the standard versions of the women in this book, I learned plenty of alternatives and even confronted some of my own assumptions.

It’s accessible (no rooting around in footnotes for Greek and Latin translations, Haynes states both Greek/Latin and English in the main text) and very fun. Ray Harryhausen, Star Trek and Beyoncé are referenced among others.

Books like this are much needed in the
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I love "Nathalie Haynes stands up for the classics" and was thus thrilled to discover this book. In "Pandora's Jar" Nathalie Haynes examines ten women from Greek myths: Pandora, Jocasta, Medea, Penelope, Clymnestra, Helen, Medusa, the Amazons, Eurydice and Phaedra. In each chapter she examins the different versions of the original myths and how it was retold in later, more contemporary narratives. It's interesting to see that while we tend to consider myths as a set story, actually there have al ...more
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes is a close examination of the ancient sources and modern reception of noteworthy female characters in Greek mythology. Haynes examines Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Medusa, the Amazons, Clytemnestra, Eurydice, Phaedra, Medea and Penelope and their place in the mythic tradition and how that tradition has inspired depictions of those characters in art and literature over time. As a Classics MA I really enjoyed reading Pandora’s Jar and re-familiarizing myself with the de ...more
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
I would highly recommend Natalie Haynes’ collection of feminist narratives that are repositioning the women that have silently haunted the Greek world. Appropriately titled Pandora’s Jar, Haynes’ depth of classical knowledge enables her to accurately speak for the range of myths and injustices done to women’s narratives in Greek mythology. Drawing out the nuances and complexities of these stories, Haynes breaks down the female monster of myth and tackles the hypocritical heroic male gaze, which ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is divine. If you enjoyed A Thousand Ships by @nataliehaynesauthor you will definitely enjoy her new collection of biographical/mythological dives into the women behind the stories in our favourite Greek Myths. Pandora, Helen, Medusa, The Amazon's and more are all here, delightfully and insightfully reassessed and put on a pedestal equal to the famous men of the same stories.

It is funny, expansive and throughly researched. Highly recommend! 📚💙
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The Achaean Club: Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes - October 2020 BoTM 1 14 Sep 15, 2020 06:55AM  

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Natalie Haynes, author of THE FURIES (THE AMBER FURY in the UK), is a graduate of Cambridge University and an award-winning comedian, journalist, and broadcaster. She judged the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and was a judge for the final Orange Prize in 2012. Natalie was a regular panelist on BBC2’s Newsnight Review, Radio 4’s Saturday Review, and the long-running arts show, Front Row. She is a guest c ...more

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