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Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  44 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

Angela Groves
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well informed and full of wit, this exploration of the women of Greek myth looks at how stories can change and evolve depending on who is telling the story. It questions our understanding of the role of these women, and if our assumptions of them, their lives and motivations are fair, or even true. Essential and entertaining reading for anyone interested in the Greek myths.
Rosie Collinson
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
You could be lured into this one thinking it’s a retelling but it is non fiction, though don’t let that put you off, Natalie gives us here a brief exploration of ten under sold mythological Greek women and pin points a few varied interpretations of their character and does so with her natural passion for the subject which makes it easy to get swept away, certainly if you’re an emerging myth geek like myself.
But if you aren’t a nerd just yet this is still a good place to start, although you may
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Interesting funny and cool - giz it a read
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is fantastic in concept, a slow read in practice. More to be enjoyed as little nuggets of reference when one is in need to visit the women of Greeek myth than a continuous read like her previous work. But excellent nonetheless
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Since reading the amazing "A Thousand Ships" and listening to the Natalie Haynes Stands Up for Classics podcast, my love of ancient Greek history and mythology has been rejuvenated. "Pandora's Jar" is an important reminder that women in this period of time (real or mythical) do not get the representation and voice they deserve. Enter Natalie Haynes, a classicist who is obsessed with all the women who are often misunderstood, misrepresented and mistreated throughout history. In the chapters of th ...more
Samantha (Booktiamo)
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
As always Natalie's work is well researched and detailed. I love learning new things from Greek Mythology! A great book for anyone who wants to learn more about Pandora
Rums The Reader
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was a well researched and impressive book, but just to note this is a non fiction piece of work which delves into the histories and different representations of a variety of women in Greek myth and legend, such as Helen, Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Medusa and many more. I feel like you have to have a fairly good knowledge of Greek plays and myths prior to reading this book but if you're able to keep up with the references and different stories then it shouldn't pose too much of an issue. I wante ...more
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Disappointed initially that these chapters were just transcripts from Radio 4's Stand up for the Classics, that was quickly forgotten.
Passionately written, wittty, informative and very readable, there is no doubt that my eyes have been opened to a deeper and richer enjoyment of Greek Myths.
Claire Huston
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The less-discussed side of Greek myth. 4/5.

This review was originally posted on my book blog.

Earlier this year I enjoyed and reviewed Natalie Hayne’s A Thousand Ships (she’s had a busy year!), her excellent retelling of events relating to the Trojan War from the point of view of the female characters. However, while that was a work of fiction, Pandora’s Jar is non-fiction and a more academic consideration of the women of Greek myth.

This is an entertaining look at 10 female mythical figures as Ha
Lauren Steele
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was really excited to learn that Natalie Haynes was writing a new book, having been a big fan of her writing and having loved classical fiction, including Madeline Miller. Unlike Haynes’ last book, A Thousand Ships (which you should read too!), Pandora’s Jar is a history book rather than fiction. I was sent an advanced reading copy by the publishers, Pan Macmillan, through NetGalley.

Pandora’s Jar focuses on ten women from Greek myth: Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Medusa, Amazons, Clytemnestra, Eur
Anne O'Connell
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a treat to have the opportunity to read this before publication thanks to NetGalley. This is the first of Natalie Haynes’s non-fiction books I’ve read but as a devotee of the radio programme Stands up for the Classics and lockdown offering Ovid not Covid I had high hopes. And of course Pandora’s Jar lives up to them. Like those programmes, it contains proper scholarship alongside relatable and sometimes pop-culture side bars. We are exact contemporaries so those references hit the spot for ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
‘Pandora’s Jar’ re-tells the stories of ten women that appear in Greek Mythology but whose own stories have often been overshadowed by the men who appear alongside them.

Each chapter considers a different woman; Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Medusa, The Amazon’s, Clytemnestra, Eurydice, Phaedra, Medea and Penelope. I was familiar with the myths that each of these women appear in but Haynes makes them the focus and offers more than one variant on their stories using a variety of sources, both ancient a
My thanks to Pan Macmillan Picador for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths’ by Natalie Haynes in exchange for an honest review. On publication I ordered its hardback edition.

It was clear from her Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted novel, ‘A Thousand Ships’, that Natalie Haynes is passionate about giving a voice to the women of the Greek myths.

In this work of nonfiction she focuses upon ten mythic women, writing in an intelligent, witty, and accessible style, wea
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
Heather James
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Pandora's Jar, Haynes explores popular figures from Greek Mythology, examining both how they are presented in Classical texts, and in modern re-workings. It makes for a rich, informative text, which is completely immersive and hard to put down. It's fascinating to see how even writers working at similar times told myths in very different ways, and I learnt a lot of sides to these characters' stories that I had never come across before. This book has left me keen to reread Euripides' plays, bu ...more
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting account of women in Greek myth. Natalie Haynes is a very good writer and is engaging and her obvious wealth of knowledge and interest in the subject matter show in this book. I appreciated the humour in this also.

I have studied classics and have read some ancient texts so I was aware of some of the narratives in this book, but Haynes also shows different verions of well known myths and discusses works I am less fermilliar with and this makes me want to read these which is
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommended listening to several episodes of Natalie Haynes ‘Stands up for the Classics’ (currently available on BBC Sounds) and watching her brilliant lockdown videos ‘Ovid not Covid’ before embarking on this book. That way you will be able to imagine her reading this book in her funny, quirky manner. Her passion for classical literature and her nerdy enthusiasm for aspects of modern culture ranging from Buffy to the Lego movie shine through in this wonderfully readable book. It’s not ...more
Laura Newsholme
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book exploring some of the often well known but misunderstood women of Greek myth. Beginning with Pandora and running through Helen, the Amazons through to Medea and Penelope, Natalie Haynes has crafted a wonderful analysis which often compares the way in which these women were dealt with in the past as opposed to how we often view them in a modern setting, the results of which were truly surprising. I particularly enjoyed the discussion around Pandora and Helen, both vict ...more
Lauren Lewsley
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Natalie Haynes is fast becoming one of my favourite authors...actually scratch that, she is already there. Whether she is writing fiction or non-fiction she always manages to draw you in and keep you reading more. I would say that her greatest strength is in her non-fiction because this is where her personality really shines through.

In Pandora's Jar tells the story of various women from Geek mythology, from Helen to Penelope, Medusa, and Maeda. Haynes deconstructs the story we have grown up wit
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I love the author’s work and can really appreciate the time she put into this book. She is quite knowledgeable, and makes good points throughout the novel. Her feminist perspective is refreshing to read. Despite this, I have two complaints. 1) the book is almost advertised as short stories and it is more of a examination of the stories of these figures throughout history. Further how their stories were told in a unfavorable fashion when compared to modern feminist ideals. 2) while Haynes is very ...more
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The Achaean Club: Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes - October 2020 BoTM 1 11 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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