What is Hope?
In Greek mythology, when Pandora released all of the evils upon man, Hope (elpis) did not escape but remained in the jar. The tale is recounted in Hesiod’s Works and Days (c. 700 BCE), although he leaves the mystery of hope to our interpretation. According to Verdenius (1985), modern explanations for why elpis remains in Pandora’s jar fall into two camps based on whether the intepreter believes that the jar was meant to safeguard hope for humans or to keep hope from humans. The former interpretation gives hope a positive connotation: hope was precious and must be preserved. The latter interpretation assumes that hope is the worst evil and must be imprisoned in the jar. The ancient Greeks, therefore, either saw the role of hope ‘to comfort man in his misery and a stimulus rousing his activity’ or as ‘the idle hope in which the lazy man indulges when he should be working honestly for his livin'(Verdenius, 1985, p. 66).
To say that throughout the course of human history there has been a discrepancy about the conception of hope is an understatement. Perhaps the Greeks, much like philosophers, poets, and theologians throughout the ages, understood hope as both good and evil. Four hundred years BCE, Euripides called hope man’s curse; according to the Greeks, fate was unchangeable, and therefore hope was an illusion. The Old Testament, however, tells us that those who ‘hope in Lord will renew their strength’(Isaiah 40:31).
Such adages illustrate the range of ideas about hope that have been forwarded across the millennia.
Krisin Schmid Callina, Nancy Snow, Elise D. Murray
(The History of Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives on Hope: Toward Defining Hope for the Science of Positive Human Development în The Oxford Handbook of HOPE, Oxford University Press, 2018, la pp. 11-12)