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Extra info for Cultural Constructions of the Femme Fatale: From Pandora’s Box to Amanda Knox

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65). Because (unlike Eve) she had not been created from Adam’s rib, Lilith saw herself as Adam’s equal, and refused to lie beneath him when they had intercourse. When he tried to coerce her, she fled in a rage, alighting beside the Red Sea, where she consorted with ‘lascivious demons’, refusing to return when ordered to do so by God’s angels. ’ she mocked (p. 66). In the Talmudic literature, and again in the Kabbalah2 (Jewish mystic texts from the Middle Ages), Lilith takes on two of the key features of the femme fatale: a refusal to submit to patriarchy’s rules and a powerful sex drive that strikes fear – of impotence, of defeat or of mortal danger – into the heart of man.

The eighth-century poet Hesiod describes her as ‘ “a sheer, impossible deception” characterized by “lies, and wheedling words of falsehood, and a treacherous nature” ’ (cited in Henderson and McManus 1985, p. 5). In Theogony, she is presented to ‘both immortal gods and mortal men’ and ‘they were seized with wonder when they saw that precipitous trap, more than mankind can manage’ (Hesiod 1988, p. 20). While the biblical account has Eve punished for her sin with the pain of childbirth, in Hesiod’s myth it is men who are punished: ‘For from her is descended the female sex, a great affliction to mortals as they dwell with their husbands – no fit partners for accursed Poverty, but only for Plenty’ (a torturous way of accusing women of profligacy).

The account in Works and Days specifies the roles of different gods in her genesis, Ambidexter (Hephaestus) creating ‘the likeness of a modest maiden’, the Graces ‘and the lady Temptation’ putting gold necklaces around her body, while Hermes fashioned in her ‘lies and wily pretences and a knavish nature’ (Hesiod 1988, p. 39). Pandora herself does not embody the evil visited on the mortal world, but her curiosity prompts her to take the lid off the jar that contains all the misery that humankind had formerly lived free from: ‘ills [.

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