DescriptionAbout the Book
Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, and Homerica
Hesiod (Hesiodus), an epic poet apparently of the eighth century BC, was born in Asia Minor but moved to Boeotia in central Greece. He was regarded by later Greeks as a contemporary of Homer.
Three works survive under Hesiod's name: (1) "Works and Days," addressed to his brother. In it he gives us the allegories of the two Strifes, and the myth of Pandora; stresses that every man must work; describes the accepted Five Ages of the world; delivers moral advice; surveys in splendid style a year's work on a farm; gives precepts on navigation; and propounds lucky and unlucky days. (2) "Theogony," a religious work about the rise of the gods and the universe from Chaos to the triumph of Zeus, and about the progeny of Zeus and of goddesses in union with mortal men. (3) "The Shield" (not by Hesiod), an extract from a "Catalogue of Women," the subject being Alcmena and her son Heracles and his contest with Cycnus, with a description of Heracles' shield. All three works are of great literary interest.
About the Author
Greek oral poet, often identified as the first economist. His date is uncertain but leading scholars favor the the eighth century BC for when Hesiod lived. Since at least Herodotus's time (Histories, 2.53), Hesiod and Homer 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' Mouseion even brought them together in an imagined poetic agon, the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. Aristarchus first argued for Homer's priority, a claim that was generally accepted by later antiquity.
Hesiod's writings serve as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping.