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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hesiod: Selected full-text books and articles

Theogony: And, Works and Days By Hesiod; M. L. West Oxford University Press, 1999
Hesiod's Cosmos By Jenny Strauss Clay Cambridge University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Hesiod's Ascra By 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 By Andrew Robert Burn Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1936
God and the Land: The Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil By Hesiod; Stephanie A. Nelson; David Grene Oxford University Press, 1998
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History By 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 By John Addington Symonds Harper & Brothers, vol.1, 1880
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Hesiod"
FREE! An Abridged History of Greek Literature By 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 By T. A. Sinclair Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "From Hesiod to Heraclitus"
Social Thought among the Early Greeks By 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 By H. T. Wade-Gery Blackwell, 1958
Librarian’s tip: "Hesiod" begins on p. 1
Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod By 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 By 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 By Eric Voegelin; Athanasios Moulakis University of Missouri Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Hesiod"
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