Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

Synopsis

In Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns, highly acclaimed poet and translator Daryl Hine brings new life to the words of Hesiod and the world of Archaic Greece. Unlike most available prose renderings of their works, Hine's illuminating translations present these classics as they originally appeared, in verse.

This volume includes Hesiod's Works and Days and Theogony, two of the oldest non-Homeric poems to survive. Works and Days is filled with cautionary tales and advice for managing harvests and maintaining a good work ethic. Theogony is the earliest comprehensive account of classical mythology- including the names and genealogies of the gods and monsters of Olympus, the sea, and the underworld. Hine captures Hesiod's gritty and persuasive voice, which provides a rare glimpse into the everyday life of ordinary people in the eighth century BCE.

In contrast, the Homeric Hymns depict aristocratic life in voices whose polished tones reveal little of the narrators' personalities. These hymns (so named because they address the deities in short invocations at the beginning and end of each) are among the earliest examples of Greek epyllia, or short stories in the epic manner.

Excerpt

Among the oldest known to us, these poems were, presumably, first re
cited and then written down, not to be read but to be listened to. This
dictates their form, as verse, in this case dactylic hexameter: the stichic,
or line-by-line, verse form as common to Greek and Latin epic as iambic
pentameter is to English. Since a poem is not only its content but its
form, this new translation attempts metrically to reproduce this long line
in English, rather than, as some other translators have done, substituting
our native equivalent, blank verse.

Though much scholarly ink has been squandered on the question of
the relative antiquity of each of the poems, as well as of their respective,
putative authors—whether, say, the Theogony preceded or postdated the
Works and Days—suffice it to allege that both antedate any other extant
poetry in Greek or any other European language. It should also be re
membered that their age is not the most compelling aspect of these
works.

In dealing with antiquity, ancient evidence, even when self-contra
dictory, is best; often it is all we have. Though it may seem nearsighted to
expect those nearest the events in question to have the clearest view, their
opinions, however ridiculous they may seem to an age more hampered
by the rules of evidence, must bear a peculiar weight. the Roman em
peror Hadrian (AD 76–138) sent to the Delphic oracle, the most re
spected and reliable in the classical world, to settle the debatable ques
tion as to the identity of the poet Homer, already legendary in Hadrian’s
day, and was vouchsafed this reply (in verse, as the Pythia always spoke
the acknowledged metrical language of inspiration):

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