In “Pandora’s Jar,” presenter, writer, and classicism enthusiast Natalie Haynes upends popular understanding of ancient Greek epic poems, stories, and plays written by men, telling them from a female perspective and tracing the origins of their mythical female characters. In the book, she examines the origin stories and cultural legacies of classic literature’s best-known women, with a signature blend of erudition and sharp humor.

Haynes highlights the stories of women who have been told countless times and explores how their characters have evolved over the centuries. Divided into 10 chapters, its narrative deals with Pandora, Jocasta, Helen, Medusa, the Amazons, Clytemnestra, Eurydice, Phaedra, Medea and Penelope.

In his discussion of Pandora, Haynes points out that Pandora’s box did not appear until Erasmus translated Hesiod’s “Works and Days” into Latin “well over two millennia after Hesiod wrote in Greek”. Additionally, the original version of Hesiod made no reference to Pandora publishing its content. “To the ancients,” suggests Haynes, “far more important was Pandora’s role as the ancestor of all women than her contested role in opening up the world to unceasing evil.”

Readers of all levels of knowledge of Greek mythology will certainly be captivated by “Pandora’s Jar” and will find Haynes’ humor and wit captivating.