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Greek HESIOD on Mythology, Economics...


Author: Hesiodus

Publisher: Brunsvigae

Year Printed: 1671

Edition: First

Printing: First

Condition: Good

Pages: 384

Height: 6.8 inches

Width: 4 inches


Complete Title: Greek HESIOD on Mythology Economics Astronomy Occult Horology Science.

Greek Title: Esiodu Askraiu Ta Euriskomena.

Complete List of Authors:  Hesiodus; Lilius Giraldi; Daniel Heinsius; Georg Pasor; Cornelis Schrevel
Complete Publishers Name: Brunsvigae : Typis & sumptibus Johannis Henrici Dunckeri

Hesiod is sometimes identified as the first economist. He was a Greek 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, farming techniques, early economic thought, archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping.

Language: Latin & Greek

Hesiod was the poet who told the story of Pandora's Jar in approximately 650 BC. 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 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, l. 640). Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned lawsuits with his brother 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 to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis, where he won a tripod in a singing competition.[7] 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.[nb 1]


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 this theory.[8] For example, it is quite common for works of moral instruction to have an imaginative setting, as a means of getting the audience's attention,[nb 2] 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.[9] Gregory Nagy, on the other hand, sees both Persēs ("the destroyer": πέρθω / perthō) and Hēsiodos ("he who emits the voice:" ἵημι / hiēmi αὐδή / audē) as fictitious names for poetical personae.[10]

Hesiod and the Muse, by Gustave Moreau. Here he is presented with a lyre, which contradicts the account given by Hesiod himself, in which the gift was a laurel staff.


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 seagoing merchants from his original home in Cyme in Asia Minor to Cumae in Campania (a colony they shared with Euboeans), and possibly his move west had something to do with that, since Euboea is not far from Boetia, where he eventually established himself and his family.[11] The family association with Cyme might explain his familiarity with eastern myths, evident in his poems, though the Greek world might have already developed its own versions of them.[12]


In spite of Hesiod's complaints about poverty, life on his father's farm could not have been too uncomfortable if Works and Days is anything to judge by, since he describes the routines of prosperous yeomanry 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.).[13] 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[14] 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 Boeotian—he composed in the main literary dialect of the time (Homer's dialect): Ionian.[15]


It is probable that Hesiod wrote his poems down, or dictated them, rather than passed them on orally, as rhapsodes did—otherwise the pronounced personality that now emerges from the poems would surely have been diluted through oral transmission from one rhapsode to another. Pausanias asserted that Boeotians showed him an old tablet made of lead on which the Works were engraved.[16] 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.[17] Possibly he composed his verses during idle times on the farm, in the spring before the May harvest or the dead of winter.[18]


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."[19] He was in fact a misogynist of the same calibre as the later poet, Semonides.[20] He resembles Solon 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 in his rejection of the idealised hero of epic literature in favour of an idealised view of the farmer.[21] 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.[22]


Various legends accumulated about Hesiod and they are recorded in several sources:


    the story "The poetic contest (Ἀγών / Agōn) of Homer and Hesiod;"[23]

    a vita of Hesiod by the Byzantine grammarian John Tzetzes;

    the entry for Hesiod in the Suda;

    two passages and some scattered remarks in Pausanias (IX, 31.3–6 and 38.3–4);

    a passage in Plutarch Moralia (162b).