Pandora's box is a tale as old as time. The gods give the all-gifted woman many blessings, and Zeus himself presents her with a mysterious jar. Pandora's brother-in-law, Prometheus, knows that Zeus is angry, because he stole fire from the gods, so he warns her not to open it.
Alas, Pandora's curiosity gets the best of her, and she opens the jar, releasing sickness, and sadness, and war and everything else that is bad in this world. The last thing that left the jar was hope.
Pandora's story is mirrored in many cultures. Primordial Eve was also told to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge, and curiosity gets the best of her. Even "curiosity killed the cat" has its origins in a 1598 play, Every Man in His Humour, which was performed first by William Shakespeare.
The essence of Pandora's Box is manifesting every day in our real world, in every "WET PAINT" sign, in every urban legend about Bloody Mary, that will be chanted by children and teens in their pajama party.
The Guarding Snake
Treasures. Serpents. Trees. Princesses.
There is a good chance that the serpent guarding the tree is an image older than the invention of the wheel or horse-riding, surviving into innumerable legends of today through the oral narratives of our Proto-IndoEuropean ancestors. It might be older than that, even, as snakes were one of the major dangers of life in the African savannah for the first Homo Sapiens people.
In Germanic mythology, and its Anglo-Saxon, Norse and German descendants, serpentine dragons almost always guard some form of treasure, usually gold. They would be depicted as serious hoarders of large caches of gold and other valuable items, very commonly associated with greed and avarice.
Given the cultural value of high-ranking brides (princesses) and the dowry they would be attached to, especially in prehistoric times, it is perfectly straightforward to understand the legends of dragons kidnapping princesses, and the dragon-slaying princes, evolving from the same myths.
The Snake of the Garden of Eden from the Biblical Stories, and the dragon Ladon, guarding the Golden Apples in the Garden of the Hesperides are very obviously related, but we also see reflections of the symbol in the Nordic Fafnir, and of course, Smaug the Golden from Tolkien's Legendarium.
Androcles and the Lion
Innocence. Benevolence. Optimism. Justice.
There are many stories similar to the tales of Androcles and the Lion, and some of them are even older, such as Aesop's "The Mouse and the Lion". Androcles is a slave, running away from a wealthy Roman governor of Africa. In his escape, he hides in a cave, where he finds a large lion, which is wounded. Androcles removes a large thorn from the paw of the fearsome beast, and in gratitude, the lion does not attack him, and allows the runaway slave to take shelter in its den, bringing him food.
Years later, Androcles manages to reach Rome, but is summarily imprisoned as a fugitive, and is sentenced to death in the Circus Maximus, to be devoured by the wild animals. The most fearsome of the animals was the same lion he saved years earlier, and the lion spares his life.
The story of the weak, benevolent hero doing the right thing in face of grave danger, is of course, a very important recipe in teaching people moral values that will transcend the immediate present, and will be paid forward in an unknown future.
The Bible's king David, Vedic Yudhishtira and English folklore's Maud are also benefiting from helping animals. The Greek king Theseus helped a seemingly frail old lady cross a violent river, that turned out to be the goddess Hera, giving him her eternal blessing.
The Petrified King
History. Vengeance. Immortality. Royalty.
When the enemy attacked, the king did not die. He was petrified, and now awaiting in a sanctuary, ready to take arms again against the occupying forces when the time is right and Fate decides to turn.
Britain has many legends about kings that wait for the right time to awaken to protect the realm. King Arthur is "healing" from his mortal wounds in the magical grounds of Avalon, and Merlin has turned himself into an oak in the town of Carmarthen in South Wales, waiting to wake up "in the hour of most need".
The Danes have Ogier, Germans have Frederick Barbarossa. and the Philippines have Tagalog hero Bernardo Caprio, chained inside the mountains of Montalban.
One of the most iconic of these legends, however is Constantine XI Palaiologos, last Byzantine emperor, carried by angels away from the battlefield, turned to marble and resting eternally inside the Golden Gate, that the Ottomans then sealed and guarded fiercely.
The symbolic representation of the eternally sleeping hero to be revived, has survived in contemporary stories, with Captain America frozen in an iceberg for decades, and Avatar Aang, from the Avatar: the Last Airbender stories having the same fate.
The Magic Flight
Blessings. Escapes. Danger. Flight.
PART 13 OF THE MONOMYTH.
The hero escapes with the treasure that the gods have been guarding. Leaving the adventure can be as much of a danger as going into it.
We usually see the Magic Flight in two distinct flavours. If the trials of the hero have given them the blessing of the gods, then our Magic Flight is a thrilling sequence where the hero utilizes the full arsenal of the new powers bestowed to them, supported by the divine might that blessed them.
If the hero is stealing the boon from the vigilant eyes of the godly guardians, then the Magic Flight becomes a perfect storm of adverse action, where the lowly hero is only marginally able to survive from, sometimes assisted by the Fates, against the best efforts of the gods.
This imbalance, the lowly and relatable hero against all the odds and the cosmic obstacles of great beings such as the gods, often gives the Magic Flight a comical undertone, even in the most serious of stories and myths.