Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

By Hesiod; Daryl Hine | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

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):

-1-

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Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Hesiod - Works and Days Theogony 21
  • Works and Days 23
  • Theogony 53
  • The Homeric Hymns - The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice 89
  • Translator’s Note 91
  • The Homeric Hymns 95
  • The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice 197
  • Index 209
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