Hesiod

Hesiod

Overview
Hesiod was a Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, farming techniques, early economic thought
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 (he is sometimes identified as the first economist), archaic Greek astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and ancient time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

-keeping.

The dating of his life is a contested issue in scholarly circles and it is covered below in Hesiod#Dating.

Epic narrative allowed poets like Homer no opportunity for personal revelations but Hesiod's extant work comprises didactic poems and here he went out of his way to let his audience in on a few details of his life, including three explicit references in Works and Days, as well as some passages in his Theogony that support inferences.
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Quotations

Love, who is most beautiful among the immortal gods, the melter of limbs, overwhelms in their hearts the intelligence and wise counsel of all gods and all men.

line 120

There was not after all a single kind of strife, but on earth there are two kinds: one of them a man might praise when he recognized her, but the other is blameworthy.

line 11

Potter bears a grudge against potter, and craftsman against craftsman, and beggar is envious of beggar, and bard of bard.

line 25

Fools, they do not even know how much more is the half than the whole.

line 40

Often an entire city has suffered because of an evil man.

line 240

He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner.

line 265

Badness you can get easily, in quantity: the road is smooth, and it lies close by. But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it, and rough at first. But when you come to the top, then it is easy, even though it is hard.

line 287

A bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing.

line 346

Do not seek evil gains; evil gains are the equivalent of disaster.

line 352

If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big.

line 361
Encyclopedia
Hesiod was a Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, farming techniques, early economic thought
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 (he is sometimes identified as the first economist), archaic Greek astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and ancient time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

-keeping.

Life


The dating of his life is a contested issue in scholarly circles and it is covered below in Hesiod#Dating.

Epic narrative allowed poets like Homer no opportunity for personal revelations but Hesiod's extant work comprises didactic poems and here he went out of his way to let his audience in on a few details of his life, including three explicit references in Works and Days, as well as some passages in his Theogony that support inferences. We learn in the former poem that his father came from Cyme
Cyme (Aeolis)
Cyme was an Aeol city in Aeolis close to the kingdom of Lydia. The Aeolians regarded Cyme as the largest and most important of their twelve cities, which were located on the coastline of Asia Minor...

 in Aeolis
Aeolis
Aeolis or Aeolia was an area that comprised the west and northwestern region of Asia Minor, mostly along the coast, and also several offshore islands , where the Aeolian Greek city-states were located...

 (on the coast of Asia Minor, a little south of the island Lesbos), and crossed the sea to settle at a hamlet, near Thespiae
Thespiae
Thespiae was an ancient Greek city in Boeotia. It stood on level ground commanded by the low range of hills which runs eastward from the foot of Mount Helicon to Thebes, near modern Thespies.-History:...

 in Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

, named Ascra, "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant" (Works, l. 640). Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned lawsuits with his brother Perses
Perses
Perses is an ancient Greek name given to:* Mythological people:* Perses * Perses * Perses , a son of Helios and the oceanid Perseis.* Real people:* Perses...

, who seems at first to have cheated him of his rightful share thanks to corrupt authorities or 'kings' but later became impoverished and ended up scrounging on the thrifty poet (Works l. 35, 396). Unlike their father, Hesiod was averse to sea travel but he once crossed the narrow strait between the Greek mainland and Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

, where he won a tripod in a singing competition. He also describes a meeting between himself and the Muses on Mount Helicon, where he had been pasturing sheep when the goddesses presented him with a laurel staff, a symbol of poetic authority (Theogony, ll. 22-35) Fanciful though it might seem, the account has led ancient and modern scholars to infer that he did not play the lyre, or that he was not professionally trained, otherwise he would have been presented with a lyre instead.See discussion by M.L. West, Hesiod: Theogony, Oxford University Press (1966), pages 163-4 note 30, citing for example Pausanias 9.30.3. Rhapsodes in post-Homeric times are often shown carrying either a laurel staff or a lyre but in Hesiod's earlier time the staff seems to indicate that he was not a rhapsode i.e. he was not a professional minstrel. Meetings between poets and the Muses became part of poetic folklorecompare for example Archilochus
Archilochus
Archilochus, or, Archilochos While these have been the generally accepted dates since Felix Jacoby, "The Date of Archilochus," Classical Quarterly 35 97-109, some scholars disagree; Robin Lane Fox, for instance, in Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer , p...

's account of his meeting the Muses while leading home a cow, and also the legend of Cædmon
Cædmon
Cædmon is the earliest English poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon who cared for the animals and was attached to the double monastery of Streonæshalch during the abbacy of St. Hilda , he was originally ignorant of "the art of song" but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream,...

.


Some scholars have seen Perses
Perses
Perses is an ancient Greek name given to:* Mythological people:* Perses * Perses * Perses , a son of Helios and the oceanid Perseis.* Real people:* Perses...

 as a literary creation, a foil for the moralizing that Hesiod develops in Works and Days, but in the introduction to his translation of Hesiod's works, Hugh G. Evelyn-White provides several arguments against this theory. Gregory Nagy
Gregory Nagy
Gregory Nagy , born in Budapest Hungary in 1942, is an American professor of Classics at Harvard University, specializing in Homer and archaic Greek poetry. Nagy is known for extending Milman Parry and Albert Lord's theories about the oral composition-in-performance of the Iliad and Odyssey...

, on the other hand, sees both Persēs ("the destroyer": / perthō) and Hēsiodos ("he who emits the voice:" / hiēmi + / audē) as fictitious names for poetical persona
Persona
A persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek πρόσωπον...

e. It is quite common for works of moral instruction to have an imaginative setting, as a means of getting the audience's attention,Jasper Griffin, in The Oxford History of the Classical World, O.U.P (1986), cites for example the Book Of Ecclesiastes, a Sumerian text in the form of a father's remonstrance with a prodigal son, and Egyptian wisdom texts spoken by viziers etc. Hesiod was certainly open to Oriental influences, as is clear in the myths presented by him in Theogony but it is difficult to see how Hesiod could have travelled the countryside entertaining people with a narrative about himself if the account was known to be fictitious.

It might seem unusual that Hesiod's father migrated from Asia Minor westwards to mainland Greece, the opposite direction to most colonial movements at the time, and Hesiod himself gives no explanation for it. However around 750 BC, or a little later, there was a migration of sea-going merchants from his original home in Cyme in Asia Minor to Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

 in Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

 (a colony they shared with Euboeans), and possibly his move west had something to do with that, since Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 is not far from Boetia, where he eventually established himself and his family.

In spite of Hesiod's complaints about poverty, life on his father's farm can't have been too uncomfortable if Works and Days is anything to judge by, since he describes the routines of prosperous yeomanry
Yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

 rather than peasants. His farmer employs a friend (l. 370) as well as servants (ll. 502, 573, 597, 608, 766), an energetic and responsible ploughman of mature years (ll. 469-71), a slave boy to cover the seed (ll. 441-6), a female servant to keep house (ll. 405, 602) and working teams of oxen and mules (ll. 405, 607f.). One modern scholar surmises that Hesiod may have learned about world geography, especially the catalogue of rivers in Theogony (ll. 337-45), listening to his father's accounts of his own sea voyages as a merchant The father probably spoke in the Aeolian dialect of Cyme but Hesiod probably grew up speaking the local Boeotian dialect. However, while his poetry features some Aeolisms there are no words that are certainly Boeotianhe composed in the main literary dialect of the time (Homer's dialect): Ionian.

It is probable that Hesiod wrote his poems down, or dictated them, rather than passed them on orally, as rhapsodes didotherwise the pronounced personality that now emerges from the poems would surely have been diluted through oral transmission from one rhapsode to another. If he did write or dictate, it was perhaps as an aid to memory or because he lacked confidence in his ability to produce poems extempore, as trained rhapsodes could do. It certainly wasn't in a quest for immortal fame since poets in his era had no such notions. However, some scholars suspect the presence of large-scale changes in the text and attribute this to oral transmission. The personality behind the poems is not capable of the "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is "argumentative, suspicious, ironically humorous, frugal, fond of proverbs, wary of women." He was in fact a misogynist of the same calibre as the later poet, Semonides. He resembles Solon
Solon
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

 in his preoccupation with issues of good versus evil and "how a just and all-powerful god can allow the unjust to flourish in this life". He resembles Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

 in his rejection of the idealised hero of epic literature in favour of an idealised view of the farmer. Yet the fact that he could eulogise kings in Theogony (ll. 80ff, 430, 434) and denounce them as corrupt in Works and Days suggests that he could resemble whichever audience he composed for.

Various legends accumulated about Hesiod and they are recorded in several sources:
  • the story "The poetic contest ( / Agōn) of Homer and Hesiod;"
  • a vita
    Biography
    A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

     of Hesiod by the Byzantine grammarian John Tzetzes
    John Tzetzes
    John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

    ;
  • the entry for Hesiod in the Suda
    Suda
    The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

    ;
  • two passages and some scattered remarks in Pausanias
    Pausanias (geographer)
    Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

     (IX, 31.3–6 and 38.3–4);
  • a passage in Plutarch
    Plutarch
    Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

     Moralia (162b).


Two different—yet early—traditions record the site of Hesiod's grave. One, as early as Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

, reported in Plutarch, the Suda
Suda
The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

 and John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

, states that the Delphic oracle
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

 warned Hesiod that he would die in Nemea, and so he fled to Locris
Locris
Locris was a region of ancient Greece, the homeland of the Locrians, made up of three distinct districts.-Locrian tribe:...

, where he was killed at the local temple to Nemean Zeus, and buried there. This tradition follows a familiar ironic
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

 convention: the oracle that predicts accurately after all. The other tradition, first mentioned in an epigram
Epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

 by Chersias of Orchomenus
Chersias
Chersias of Orchomenus was an archaic Greek epic poet whose work is all but lost today. Plutarch presents Chersias as an interlocutor in the Banquet of the Seven Sages, making him a contemporary of Periander and Chilon. Chersias is also said to have been present when Periander's father Cypselus...

 written in the 7th century BC (within a century or so of Hesiod's death) claims that Hesiod lies buried at Orchomenus, a town in Boeotia. According to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's Constitution of Orchomenus, when the Thespian
Thespiae
Thespiae was an ancient Greek city in Boeotia. It stood on level ground commanded by the low range of hills which runs eastward from the foot of Mount Helicon to Thebes, near modern Thespies.-History:...

s ravaged Ascra, the villagers sought refuge at Orchomenus, where, following the advice of an oracle, they collected the ashes of Hesiod and set them in a place of honour in their agora
Agora
The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history , free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where...

, next to the tomb of Minyas
Minyas (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Minyas was the founder of Orchomenus, Boetia. As the ancestor of the Minyans, a number of Boeotian genealogies lead back to him, according to the classicist H.J. Rose...

, their eponymous founder. Eventually they came to regard Hesiod too as their "hearth-founder" ( / oikistēs). Later writers attempted to harmonize these two accounts.

Dating


Since at least Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

's time (Histories, 2.53), Hesiod and Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 have generally been considered the earliest Greek poets whose work has survived, and they are often paired. Scholars disagree about who lived first, and the fourth-century BC sophist Alcidamas
Alcidamas
Alcidamas, of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century BC.He was the pupil and successor of Gorgias and taught at Athens at the same time as Isocrates, whose rival and opponent he was...

' Mouseion even brought them together in an imagined poetic agon, the Contest of Homer and Hesiod
Contest of Homer and Hesiod
The Contest of Homer and Hesiod or simply Certamen is a Greek narrative that expands a remark made in Hesiod's Works and Days to recount an imagined poetical agon between Homer and Hesiod, in which Hesiod bears away the prize, a bronze tripod, which he dedicates to the Muses of Mount Helicon...

. Aristarchus
Aristarchus of Samothrace
Aristarchus of Samothrace was a grammarian noted as the most influential of all scholars of Homeric poetry. He was the librarian of the library of Alexandria and seems to have succeeded his teacher Aristophanes of Byzantium in that role.He established the most historically important critical...

 first argued for Homer's priority, a claim that was generally accepted by later antiquity.

Hesiod mentions a poetry contest at Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

 in Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 where the sons of one Amphidamas awarded him a tripod (Works and Days ll.654-662). Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 first cited this passage as an interpolation into Hesiod's original work, based on his identification of Amphidamas with the hero of the Lelantine War
Lelantine War
The Lelantine War was a long-remembered military conflict between the two ancient Greek city states Chalkis and Eretria in Euboea which took place in the early Archaic period, at some time between ca 710 and 650 BC. The reason for war was, according to tradition, the struggle for the fertile...

 between Chalcis and Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

, which occurred around 705 BC. Plutarch assumed this date much too late for a contemporary of Homer, but most Homeric academics would now accept it.

Works


J. A. Symonds
John Addington Symonds
John Addington Symonds was an English poet and literary critic. Although he married and had a family, he was an early advocate of male love , which he believed could include pederastic as well as egalitarian relationships. He referred to it as l'amour de l'impossible...

 writes that "Hesiod is also the immediate parent of gnomic verse, and the ancestor of those deep thinkers who speculated in the Attic Age upon the mysteries of human life."

A handful of scholars have doubted whether Hesiod alone conceived and wrote the poems attributed to him. For example, Symonds writes that "the first ten verses of the Works and Days are spurious—borrowed probably from some Orphic hymn to Zeus and recognised as not the work of Hesiod by critics as ancient as Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

."
Of the many works attributed to Hesiod, three survive complete and many more in fragmentary state. Our witnesses include papyri
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

, one dating from as early as the 3rd century BC, and manuscripts written from the tenth century forward. Demetrius Chalcondyles
Demetrius Chalcondyles
Demetrios Chalkokondyles, latinized as Demetrius Chalcocondyles and found variously as Demetricocondyles, Chalcocondylas or Chalcondyles , was a Greek humanist, scholar and Professor who taught the Greek language in Italy for over forty years; at Padua, Perugia, Milan and Florence...

 issued the first printed edition (editio princeps
Editio princeps
In classical scholarship, editio princeps is a term of art. It means, roughly, the first printed edition of a work that previously had existed only in manuscripts, which could be circulated only after being copied by hand....

) of Works and Days, possibly at Milan, probably in 1493. In 1495 Aldus Manutius
Aldus Manutius
Aldus Pius Manutius , the Latinised name of Aldo Manuzio —sometimes called Aldus Manutius, the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Aldus Manutius, the Younger—was an Italian humanist who became a printer and publisher when he founded the Aldine Press at Venice.His publishing legacy includes...

 published the complete works at Venice.

Hesiod's works, especially Works and Days, are from the view of the small independent farmer, while Homer's view is from nobility or the rich. Even with these differences, they share some beliefs regarding work ethic, justice, and consideration of material items.

Some (e.g. A. D. Momigliano) have detected a proto-historical perspective in Hesiod. This is rejected by Paul Cartledge
Paul Cartledge
Paul Anthony Cartledge is the first A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge University, having previously held a personal chair in Greek History at Cambridge....

 as Hesiod advocates a not-forgetting without any attempt at verification.

Works and Days



Hesiod wrote a poem of some 800 verses, the Works and Days, which revolves around two general truths: labour is the universal lot of Man, but he who is willing to work will get by. Scholars have interpreted this work against a background of agrarian crisis in mainland Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, which inspired a wave of documented colonisations in search of new land. This poem is one of the earliest known musings on economic thought.

This work lays out the five Ages of Man
Ages of Man
The Ages of Man are the stages of human existence on the Earth according to Greek mythology. Two classical authors in particular offer accounts of the successive ages of mankind, which tend to progress from an original, long-gone age in which humans enjoyed a nearly divine existence to the current...

, as well as containing advice and wisdom, prescribing a life of honest labour and attacking idleness and unjust judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

s (like those who decided in favour of Perses
Perses
Perses is an ancient Greek name given to:* Mythological people:* Perses * Perses * Perses , a son of Helios and the oceanid Perseis.* Real people:* Perses...

) as well as the practice of usury. It describes immortals who roam the earth watching over justice and injustice. The poem regards labor as the source of all good, in that both gods and men hate the idle, who resemble drones
Drone (bee)
Drones are male honey bees. They develop from eggs that have not been fertilized, and they cannot sting, since the worker bee's stinger is a modified ovipositor .-Etymology:...

 in a hive.

Theogony



The Theogony, a poem which uses the same epic verse-form as the Works and Days, is also attributed to Hesiod. Despite the different subject matter, most scholars, with some notable exceptions (like Evelyn-White), believe that the two works were written by the same man. As M.L. West writes, "Both bear the marks of a distinct personality: a surly, conservative countryman, given to reflection, no lover of women or life, who felt the gods' presence heavy about him."

The Theogony concerns the origins of the world (cosmogony
Cosmogony
Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

) and of the gods (theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

), beginning with Chaos
Chaos (mythology)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

, Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

, and Eros, and shows a special interest in genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

. Embedded in Greek myth
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, there remain fragments of quite variant tales, hinting at the rich variety of myth that once existed, city by city; but Hesiod's retelling of the old stories became, according to the fifth-century historian Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, the accepted version that linked all Hellenes
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

.

The creation myth in Hesiod has long been held to have Eastern influences, such as the Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 Song of Kumarbi and the Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

ian Enuma Elis. This cultural crossover would have occurred in the eighth and ninth century Greek trading colonies such as Al Mina
Al Mina
Al-Mina is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes, near present-day Samandag in Turkey's province of Hatay....

 in North Syria. (For more discussion, read Robin Lane Fox's Travelling Heroes and Walcot's Hesiod and the Near East.)

Other writings


A short poem traditionally no longer attributed to Hesiod is The Shield of Heracles
The Shield of Heracles
thumb|An early 5th c. BCE depiction of Heracles fighting Cycnus The Shield of Heracles is an archaic Greek epic poem that was attributed to Hesiod during antiquity...

 ( / Aspis Hērakleous). This survives complete; the other works discussed in this section survive only in quotations or papyrus copies which are often damaged.

Classical authors also attributed to Hesiod a lengthy genealogical poem known as Catalogue of Women
Catalogue of Women
thumb|275px|[[Guido Reni]]'s first Atalanta e Ippomene , depicting the race of [[Atalanta]], a myth which was known to Reni from [[Ovid]]'s [[Metamorphoses]], but is now also represented by several fragments of the Catalogue of Women.The Catalogue of Women —also known as...

 or Ehoiai (because sections began with the Greek words ē hoiē, "Or like the one who ..."). It was a mythological catalogue of the mortal women who had mated with gods, and of the offspring and descendants of these unions.

Several additional hexameter poems were ascribed to Hesiod:
  • Aegimius, a heroic epic concerning the Dorian Aegimius
    Aegimius
    Aegimius was the Greek mythological ancestor of the Dorians, who is described as their king and lawgiver at the time when they were yet inhabiting the northern parts of Thessaly. He asked Heracles for help in a war against the Lapiths and, in gratitude, offered him one-third of his kingdom...

     (variously attributed to Hesiod or Cercops of Miletus).
  • Astronomia, an astronomical poem to which Callimachus (Ep. 27) apparently compared Aratus
    Aratus
    Aratus was a Greek didactic poet. He is best known today for being quoted in the New Testament. His major extant work is his hexameter poem Phaenomena , the first half of which is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by Eudoxus of Cnidus. It describes the constellations and other...

    ' Phaenomena.
  • Precepts of Chiron, a didactic work that presented the teaching of Chiron
    Chiron
    In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur among his brethren.-History:Like the satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents...

     as delivered to the young Achilles
    Achilles
    In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

    .
  • Idaean Dactyls, a work concerning mythological smelters, the Idaean Dactyls
    Dactyl (mythology)
    In Greek mythology, the Dactyls were the archaic mythical race of small phallic male beings associated with the Great Mother, whether as Cybele or Rhea. Their numbers vary, but often they were ten spirit-men so like the three Curetes, the Cabiri or the Korybantes that they were often interchangeable...

    .
  • Wedding of Ceyx
    Wedding of Ceyx
    The Wedding of Ceyx is a fragmentary Ancient Greek hexameter poem that was attributed to Hesiod during antiquity. The fragments that survive imply that the subject of the poem was not simply the wedding of a certain Ceyx, but Heracles' arrival at, and involvement in, the festivities...

    , a poem concerning Heracles' attendance at the wedding of a certain Ceyx—noted for its riddles.
  • Great Works, a poem similar to the Works and Days, but presumably longer
  • Great Eoiae, a poem similar to the Catalogue of Women, but presumably longer.
  • Melampodia, a genealogical poem that treats of the families of, and myths associated with, the great seers of mythology.
  • Ornithomantia, a work on bird omens that followed the Works and Days.


Scholars generally classify all these as later examples of the poetic tradition to which Hesiod belonged, not as the work of Hesiod himself. The Shield, in particular, appears to be an expansion of one of the genealogical poems, taking its cue from Homer's description of the Shield of Achilles
Shield of Achilles
The Shield of Achilles is the shield that Achilles uses to fight Hector, famously described in a passage in Book 18, lines 478-608 of Homer's Iliad....

.

"Portrait" Bust



The Roman bronze bust of the late first century BC found at Herculaneum
Herculaneum
Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in AD 79, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mt...

, the so-called Pseudo-Seneca
Pseudo-Seneca
The so-called Pseudo-Seneca is a Roman bronze bust of the late 1st century BCE that was discovered at Herculaneum in 1754, the finest example of about two dozen examples depicting the same face. It was originally believed to depict Seneca the Younger, the notable Roman philosopher, because its...

, was first reidentified by Gisela Richter
Gisela Richter
Gisela Marie Augusta Richter , was a classical archaeologist and art historian.Gisela Richter was born in London, England; the daughter of Jean Paul and Louise Richter. Both of her parents and her sister, Irma, were historians of Italian Renaissance art...

 as a fictitious portrait meant for Hesiod, though it had been recognized that the bust was not in fact Seneca since 1813, when an inscribed herma
Herma
A Herma, commonly in English herm is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height...

 portrait with quite different features was discovered. Most scholars now follow her identification.Gisela Richter (1965). The Portraits of the Greeks. London: Phaidon, I, 58ff; commentators agreeing with Richter include Wolfram Prinz, 1973. "The Four Philosophers by Rubens and the Pseudo-Seneca in Seventeenth-Century Painting" The Art Bulletin 55.3 (September 1973), pp. 410-428. "...one feels that it may just as well have been the Greek writer Hesiod..." and Martin Robertson, in his review of G. Richter, The Portraits of the Greeks for The Burlington Magazine 108.756 (March 1966), pp 148-150. "...with Miss Richter, I accept the identification as Hesiod"

Further reading

  • J.P. Barron and P.E.Easterling, 'Hesiod' in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P. Easterling and B. Knox (eds), Cambridge University Press (1985)
  • M.L. West, Hesiod: Theogony, Oxford University Press (1966)
  • Jasper Griffin, 'Greek Myth and Hesiod' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J.Boardman, J.Griffin and O.Murray (eds), Oxford University Press (1986)
  • Antony Andrewes, Greek Society, Pelican Books (1971)

Selected translations

  • George Chapman
    George Chapman
    George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

    , The Works of Hesiod, London, 1618, dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon.
  • Cooke, Hesiod, Works and Days, Translated from the Greek, London, 1728
  • Sinclair, Thomas Alan (translator), Hesiodou Erga kai hemerai, London, Macmillan and co., 1932.
  • West, Martin Litchfield
    Martin Litchfield West
    Martin Litchfield West is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology...

     (translator), Hesiod Works & Days, Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    , 1978, ISBN 0-19-814005-3. Edited with Prolegomena and Commentary.
  • Athanassakis, Apostolos N.
    Apostolos Athanassakis
    Apostolos N. Athanassakis is a classical scholar and Argyropoulos Chair in Hellenic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara . Professor Athanassakis, or "Professor A" as he is often referred to by students, currently serves as the faculty in residence in Manzanita Village....

    , Theogony; Works and days; Shield / Hesiod; introduction, translation, and notes, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
    Johns Hopkins University Press
    The Johns Hopkins University Press is the publishing division of the Johns Hopkins University. It was founded in 1878 and holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously running university press in the United States. The Press publishes books, journals, and electronic databases...

    , 1983. ISBN 0801829984
  • Frazer, R.M. (Richard McIlwaine), The Poems of Hesiod, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press
    University of Oklahoma Press
    The University of Oklahoma Press is the publishing arm of the University of Oklahoma. It has been in operation for over seventy-five years, and was the first university press established in the American Southwest. It was founded by William Bennett Bizzell, the fifth president of the University of...

    , 1983. ISBN 0806118377
  • Tandy, David W., and Neale, Walter C. [translators], Works and Days: a translation and commentary for the social sciences, Berkeley: University of California Press
    University of California Press
    University of California Press, also known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish books and papers for the faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868...

    , 1996. ISBN 0520203836
  • Schlegel, Catherine M., and Henry Weinfield, translators, Theogony and Works and Days, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2006
  • Most, Glenn
    Glenn W. Most
    Glenn Warren Most is a classicist and comparatist originating from the US, but also working in Germany and Italy.Most studied classics at Harvard from 1968 on and received a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Classics in 1972...

    , translator, Hesiod, 2 vols., Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006-07.

External links