Hesiod

Hesiod (hē´sēəd, hĕs´–), fl. 8th cent.? BC, Greek poet. He is thought to have lived later than Homer, but there is no absolute certainty about the dates of his life. Hesiod portrays himself as a Boeotian farmer. Little is known of his life, however, except for the few scant references he makes to his family's origin and to a quarrel over property with his brother. His most famous poem, the didactic Works and Days, is an epic of Greek rural life, filled with caustic advice for his brother and maxims for farmers to pursue. The "days" are days lucky or unlucky for particular tasks. Works and Days discourses on the mythic "five races" (i.e., the five ages) of humans; the Golden Age, ruled by Kronos, a period of serenity, peace, and eternal spring; the Silver Age, ruled by Zeus, less happy, but with luxury prevailing; the Bronze Age, a period of strife; the Heroic Age of the Trojan War; and the Iron Age, the present, when justice and piety had vanished. Hesiod's systemization, especially the idealized Golden Age, became deeply entrenched in the Western imagination and was expanded upon by Ovid. Also ascribed to him are the Theogony, a genealogy of the gods, and the first 56 lines of The Shield of Heracles. He gave his name to the Hesiodic school of poets, rivals of the Homeric school. Homer and Hesiod codified and preserved the myths of many of the Greek gods of the classical pantheon.

See translations by Lattimore (1959, 1991), and R. Lamberton, Hesiod (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Theogony: And, Works and Days
M. L. West; Hesiod.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Hesiod's Cosmos
Jenny Strauss Clay.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Hesiod's Ascra
Anthony T. Edwards.
University of California Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
The World of Hesiod: A Study of the Greek Middle Ages, C. 900-700 B. C
Andrew Robert Burn.
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1936
God and the Land: The Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil
Stephanie A. Nelson; David Grene; Hesiod.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History
Sarah B. Pomeroy; Stanley M. Burstein; Walter Donlan; Jennifer Tolbert Roberts.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Hesiod: The View from Below" begins on p. 99
FREE! Studies of the Greek Poets
John Addington Symonds.
Harper & Brothers, vol.1, 1880
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Hesiod"
FREE! An Abridged History of Greek Literature
Alfred Croiset; Maurice Croiset; George F. Heffelbower.
Macmillan, 1904
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Hesiod and the Hesiodic Poetry"
A History of Greek Political Thought
T. A. Sinclair.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "From Hesiod to Heraclitus"
Social Thought among the Early Greeks
Joseph B. Gittler; William F. Ogburn.
The University of Georgia Press, 1941
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "The Age of Homer and Hesiod"
Essays in Greek History
H. T. Wade-Gery.
Blackwell, 1958
Librarian’s tip: "Hesiod" begins on p. 1
FREE! Ancient Greece: A Sketch of Its Art, Literature & Philosophy Viewed in Connexion with Its External History from Earliest Times to the Age of Alexander the Great
H. B. Cotterill.
Frederick A. Stokes, 1913
Librarian’s tip: Section B: Hesiod begins on p. 102
Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod
Charles Penglase.
Routledge, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Pandora, Prometheus and the Myths of Enki"
The Beginnings of European Theorizing--Reflexivity in the Archaic Age
Barry Sandywell.
Routledge, vol.2, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Part 3 "Hesiod and the Birth of the Gods"
Order and History: The World of the Polis
Athanasios Moulakis; Eric Voegelin.
University of Missouri Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Hesiod"
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