It is the first known Greek mythical cosmogony. The initial state of the universe is chaos , a dark indefinite void considered a divine primordial condition from which everything else appeared. Theogonies are a part of Greek mythology which embodies the desire to articulate reality as a whole; this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first later projects of speculative theorizing. The poet declares that it is he, where we might have expected some king instead, upon whom the Muses have bestowed the two gifts of a scepter and an authoritative voice Hesiod, Theogony 30—3 , which are the visible signs of kingship. It is not that this gesture is meant to make Hesiod a king. Rather, the point is that the authority of kingship now belongs to the poetic voice, the voice that is declaiming the Theogony.
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Epic narrative allowed poets like Homer no opportunity for personal revelations. There are three explicit references in Works and Days , as well as some passages in his Theogony that support inferences made by scholars. The former poem says that his father came from Cyme in Aeolis on the coast of Asia Minor , a little south of the island Lesbos and crossed the sea to settle at a hamlet, near Thespiae in Boeotia , named Ascra , "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant" Works Unlike his father, Hesiod was averse to sea travel, but he once crossed the narrow strait between the Greek mainland and Euboea to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis , and there won a tripod in a singing competition.
Fanciful though the story might seem, the account has led ancient and modern scholars to infer that he was not a professionally trained rhapsode , or he would have been presented with a lyre instead. The poet is presented with a lyre , in contradiction to the account given by Hesiod himself in which the gift was a laurel staff. Some scholars have seen Perses as a literary creation, a foil for the moralizing that Hesiod develops in Works and Days, but there are also arguments against that theory.
However around BC or a little later, there was a migration of seagoing merchants from his original home in Cyme in Asia Minor to Cumae in Campania a colony they shared with the Euboeans , and possibly his move west had something to do with that, since Euboea is not far from Boeotia, where he eventually established himself and his family. His farmer employs a friend Works and Days as well as servants , , , , , an energetic and responsible ploughman of mature years ff.
However, while his poetry features some Aeolisms there are no words that are certainly Boeotian. Pausanias asserted that Boeotians showed him an old tablet made of lead on which the Works were engraved. However, some scholars suspect the presence of large-scale changes in the text and attribute this to oral transmission.
Hesiod cites inspiration from the Muses while on Mount Helicon. The personality behind the poems is unsuited to the kind of "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is instead "argumentative, suspicious, ironically humorous, frugal, fond of proverbs, wary of women. He recalls Aristophanes in his rejection of the idealised hero of epic literature in favour of an idealised view of the farmer. One, as early as Thucydides , reported in Plutarch, the Suda and John Tzetzes , states that the Delphic oracle warned Hesiod that he would die in Nemea , and so he fled to Locris , where he was killed at the local temple to Nemean Zeus, and buried there.
This tradition follows a familiar ironic convention: the oracle predicts accurately after all. Later writers attempted to harmonize these two accounts.
Dating[ edit ] Modern Mount Helicon. Hesiod once described his nearby hometown, Ascra , as "cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant.
Thereafter, Greek writers began to consider Homer earlier than Hesiod. The first known writers to locate Homer earlier than Hesiod were Xenophanes and Heraclides Ponticus , though Aristarchus of Samothrace was the first actually to argue the case.
An upper limit of BC is indicated by a number of considerations, such as the probability that his work was written down, the fact that he mentions a sanctuary at Delphi that was of little national significance before c.
Theogony — Modern scholars have accepted his identification of Amphidamas but disagreed with his conclusion. The date of the war is not known precisely but estimates placing it around — BC, fit the estimated chronology for Hesiod. In that case, the tripod that Hesiod won might have been awarded for his rendition of Theogony, a poem that seems to presuppose the kind of aristocratic audience he would have met at Chalcis.
Only fragments exist of other works attributed to him. The surviving works and fragments were all written in the conventional metre and language of epic. However, the Shield of Heracles is now known to be spurious and probably was written in the sixth century BC. Many ancient critics also rejected Theogony e. Moreover, they both refer to the same version of the Prometheus myth. For example, the first ten verses of the Works and Days may have been borrowed from an Orphic hymn to Zeus they were recognised as not the work of Hesiod by critics as ancient as Pausanias.
Aristotle Metaphysics b—a believed that the question of first causes may even have started with Hesiod Theogony —53 and Homer Iliad He seems in this case to be catering to two different world-views, one epic and aristocratic, the other unsympathetic to the heroic traditions of the aristocracy. Despite the different subject matter between this poem and the Works and Days, most scholars, with some notable exceptions, believe that the two works were written by the same man.
This cultural crossover would have occurred in the eighth and ninth century Greek trading colonies such as Al Mina in North Syria. Works and Days[ edit ] Main article: Works and Days Opening lines of Works and Days in a 16th-century manuscript The Works and Days is a poem of over lines 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 , 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 , as well as containing advice and wisdom, prescribing a life of honest labour and attacking idleness and unjust judges like those who decided in favour of Perses as well as the practice of usury.
It describes immortals who roam the earth watching over justice and injustice. Modern scholarship has doubted their authenticity, and these works are generally referred to as forming part of the "Hesiodic Corpus" whether or not their authorship is accepted. 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: Megalai Ehoiai , 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. Precepts of Chiron , a didactic work that presented the teaching of Chiron as delivered to the young Achilles. Aegimius , a heroic epic concerning the Dorian Aegimius variously attributed to Hesiod or Cercops of Miletus. Kiln or Potters, a brief poem asking Athena to aid potters if they pay the poet.
Also attributed to Homer. Ornithomantia, a work on bird omens that followed the Works and Days. The paraphrase survives only as a fragment.
Thus for example Theocritus presents catalogues of heroines in two of his bucolic poems 3. It has been identified by Gisela Richter as an imagined portrait of Hesiod. In fact, it has been recognized since that the bust was not of Seneca, when an inscribed herma portrait of Seneca with quite different features was discovered.
Comparisons with Homer, a native Ionian, can be unflattering. All three poets, for example, employed digamma inconsistently, sometimes allowing it to affect syllable length and meter, sometimes not. The extent of variation depends on how the evidence is collected and interpreted but there is a clear trend, revealed for example in the following set of statistics.
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