Poems of Hesiod

ISBN-10: 0806118466
ISBN-13: 9780806118468
Edition: N/A
Authors: Hesiod, R. M. Frazer
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Description: "Besides Homer, there is Hesiod." These words still contain much truth today. Hesiod is a very important poet, and for this reason his two surviving poems, Theogonyand Works and Days,deserve to be presented as accurately and attractively as  More...

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Book details

List price: $24.95
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date: 5/15/1983
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 160
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.594
Language: English

"Besides Homer, there is Hesiod." These words still contain much truth today. Hesiod is a very important poet, and for this reason his two surviving poems, Theogonyand Works and Days,deserve to be presented as accurately and attractively as possible. R. M. Frazer has done this: His new translations are faithful to the matter and spirit of the originals, and his commentary makes the poems understandable and enjoyable. Hesiod is the first Greek and, therefore, the first European we can know as a real person, for, unlike Homer, he tells us about himself in his poems. Hesiod seems to have been a successful farmer and a rather gloomy though not humorless man. One suspects from his concern for the bachelor's lot and some rather unflattering remarks about women that he was never married. A close study of both poems reveals the same personality -that of a deeply religious man concerned with the problems of justice and fate. The Theogonyrepresents the first codification of the Greek pantheon. Hesiod, of course, did not invent the gods, but he gave the Greeks a clear picture of their forms, functions, and relationships. Thus, the poem deals with the high epic theme of the creation of the divine order of the world under the direction of Zeus. Works and Days,by contrast, considers justice and work in the context of Hesiod's own life. The difference in subject matter produces a difference in style: Theogonyis strongly influenced by the epic conventions; Works and Daysis more modern and freewheeling. To get a fuller picture of Hesiod and his poems, we must try to understand him in relation to his times. The eighth century, when Hesiod lived, was the time of the great Greek awakening after the period of relative darkness ushered in by the fall of the old Mycenaean kingdoms around 1125 B.C. Hesiod thus lived at the beginning of the Greek classical period, and his poems influenced not only that age but also Western culture in our day.

The poet Hesiod tells us that his father gave up sea-trading and moved from Ascra to Boeotia, that as he himself tended sheep on Mount Helicon the Muses commanded him to sing of the gods, and that he won a tripod for a funeral song at Chalcis. The poems credited to him with certainty are: the Theogony, an attempt to bring order into the otherwise chaotic material of Greek mythology through genealogies and anecdotes about the gods; and The Works and Days, a wise sermon addressed to his brother Perses as a result of a dispute over their dead father's estate. This latter work presents the injustice of the world with mythological examples and memorable images, and concludes with a collection of folk wisdom. Uncertain attributions are the Shield of Heracles and the Catalogue of Women. Hesiod is a didactic and individualistic poet who is often compared and contrasted with Homer, as both are representative of early epic style. "Hesiod is earth-bound and dun colored; indeed part of his purpose is to discredit the brilliance and the ideals of heroism glorified in the homeric tradition. But Hesiod, too, is poetry, though of a different order. . . " (Moses Hadas, N.Y. Times).

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