Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica
This file contains translations of the following works:
Hesiod: “Works and Days”, “The Theogony”, fragments of “The Catalogues of Women and the Eoiae”, “The Shield of Heracles” (attributed to Hesiod), and fragments of various works attributed to Hesiod.
Homer: “The Homeric Hymns”, “The Epigrams of Homer” (both attributed to Homer).
Various: Fragments of the Epic Cycle (parts of which are sometimes attributed to Homer), fragments of other epic poems attributed to Homer, “The Battle of Frogs and Mice”, and “The Contest of Homer and Hesiod”.
This file contains only that portion of the book in English; Greek texts are excluded. Where Greek characters appear in the original English text, transcription in CAPITALS is substituted.
In order to make this file more accessable to the average computer user, the preparer has found it necessary to re-arrange some of the material. The preparer takes full responsibility for his choice of arrangement.
A few endnotes have been added by the preparer, and some additions have been supplied to the original endnotes of Mr. Evelyn-White’s. Where this occurs I have noted the addition with my initials “DBK”. Some endnotes, particularly those concerning textual variations in the ancient Greek text, are here ommitted.
This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM), June 1995.
This volume contains practically all that remains of the post- Homeric and pre-academic epic poetry.
I have for the most part formed my own text. In the case of Hesiod I have been able to use independent collations of several MSS. by Dr. W.H.D. Rouse; otherwise I have depended on the apparatus criticus of the several editions, especially that of Rzach (1902). The arrangement adopted in this edition, by which the complete and fragmentary poems are restored to the order in which they would probably have appeared had the Hesiodic corpus survived intact, is unusual, but should not need apology; the true place for the “Catalogues” (for example), fragmentary as they are, is certainly after the “Theogony”.
In preparing the text of the “Homeric Hymns” my chief debt — and it is a heavy one — is to the edition of Allen and Sikes (1904) and to the series of articles in the “Journal of Hellenic Studies” (vols. xv.sqq.) by T.W. Allen. To the same scholar and to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press I am greatly indebted for permission to use the restorations of the “Hymn to Demeter”, lines 387-401 and 462-470, printed in the Oxford Text of 1912.
Of the fragments of the Epic Cycle I have given only such as seemed to possess distinct importance or interest, and in doing so have relied mostly upon Kinkel’s collection and on the fifth volume of the Oxford Homer (1912).
The texts of the “Batrachomyomachia” and of the “Contest of Homer and Hesiod” are those of Baumeister and Flach respectively: where I have diverged from these, the fact has been noted.
Hugh G. Evelyn-White,
Rampton, NR. Cambridge.
Sept. 9th, 1914.
The early Greek epic — that is, poetry as a natural and popular, and not (as it became later) an artificial and academic literary form — passed through the usual three phases, of development, of maturity, and of decline.
No fragments which can be identified as belonging to the first period survive to give us even a general idea of the history of the earliest epic, and we are therefore thrown back upon the evidence of analogy from other forms of literature and of inference from the two great epics which have come down to us. So reconstructed, the earliest period appears to us as a time of slow development in which the characteristic epic metre, diction, and structure grew up slowly from crude elements and were improved until the verge of maturity was reached.
The second period, which produced the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”, needs no description here: but it is very important to observe the effect of these poems on the course of post-Homeric epic. As the supreme perfection and universality of the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” cast into oblivion whatever pre-Homeric poets had essayed, so these same qualities exercised a paralysing influence over the successors of Homer. If they continued to sing like their great predecessor of romantic themes, they were drawn as by a kind of magnetic attraction into the Homeric style and manner of treatment, and became mere echoes of the Homeric voice: in a word, Homer had so completely exhausted the epic genre, that after him further efforts were doomed to be merely conventional. Only the rare and exceptional genius of Vergil and Milton could use the Homeric medium without loss of individuality: and this quality none of the later epic poets seem to have possessed. Freedom from the domination of the great tradition could only be found by seeking new subjects, and such freedom was really only illusionary, since romantic subjects alone are suitable for epic treatment.
In its third period, therefore, epic poetry shows two divergent tendencies. In Ionia and the islands the epic poets followed the Homeric tradition, singing of romantic subjects in the now stereotyped heroic style, and showing originality only in their choice of legends hitherto neglected or summarily and imperfectly treated. In continental Greece (1), on the other hand, but especially in Boeotia, a new form of epic sprang up, which for the romance and PATHOS of the Ionian School substituted the practical and matter-of-fact. It dealt in moral and practical maxims, in information on technical subjects which are of service in daily life — agriculture, astronomy, augury, and the calendar — in matters of religion and in tracing the genealogies of men. Its attitude is summed up in the words of the Muses to the writer of the “Theogony”: `We can tell many a feigned tale to look like truth, but we can, when we will, utter the truth’ (“Theogony” 26-27). Such a poetry could not be permanently successful, because the subjects of which it treats — if susceptible of poetic treatment at all — were certainly not suited for epic treatment, where unity of action which will sustain interest, and to which each part should contribute, is absolutely necessary. While, therefore, an epic like the “Odyssey” is an organism and dramatic in structure, a work such as the “Theogony” is a merely artificial collocation of facts, and, at best, a pageant. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that from the first the Boeotian school is forced to season its matter with romantic episodes, and that later it tends more and more to revert (as in the “Shield of Heracles”) to the Homeric tradition.
The Boeotian School
How did the continental school of epic poetry arise? There is little definite material for an answer to this question, but the probability is that there were at least three contributory causes. First, it is likely that before the rise of the Ionian epos there existed in Boeotia a purely popular and indigenous poetry of a crude form: it comprised, we may suppose, versified proverbs and precepts relating to life in general, agricultural maxims, weather-lore, and the like. In this sense the Boeotian poetry may be taken to have its germ in maxims similar to our English
`Till May be out, ne’er cast a clout,’
`A rainbow in the morning
Is the Shepherd’s warning.’
Secondly and thirdly we may ascribe the rise of the new epic to the nature of the Boeotian people and, as already remarked, to a spirit of revolt against the old epic. The Boeotians, people of the class of which Hesiod represents himself to be the type, were essentially unromantic; their daily needs marked the general limit of their ideals, and, as a class, they cared little for works of fancy, for pathos, or for fine thought as such. To a people of this nature the Homeric epos would be inacceptable, and the post-Homeric epic, with its conventional atmosphere, its trite and hackneyed diction, and its insincere sentiment, would be anathema. We can imagine, therefore, that among such folk a settler, of Aeolic origin like Hesiod, who clearly was well acquainted with the Ionian epos, would naturally see that the only outlet for his gifts lay in applying epic poetry to new themes acceptable to his hearers.
Though the poems of the Boeotian school (2) were unanimously assigned to Hesiod down to the age of Alexandrian criticism, they were clearly neither the work of one man nor even of one period: some, doubtless, were fraudulently fathered on him in order to gain currency; but it is probable that most came to be regarded as his partly because of their general character, and partly because the names of their real authors were lost. One fact in this attribution is remarkable — the veneration paid to Hesiod.
Life of Hesiod
Our information respecting Hesiod is derived in the main from notices and allusions in the works attributed to him, and to these must be added traditions concerning his death and burial gathered from later writers.
Hesiod’s father (whose name, by a perversion of “Works and Days”, 299 PERSE DION GENOS to PERSE, DION GENOS, was thought to have been Dius) was a native of Cyme in Aeolis, where he was a seafaring trader and, perhaps, also a farmer. He was forced by poverty to leave his native place, and returned to continental Greece, where he settled at Ascra near Thespiae in Boeotia (“Works and Days”, 636 ff.). Either in Cyme or Ascra, two sons, Hesiod and Perses, were born to the settler, and these, after his death, divided the farm between them. Perses, however, who is represented as an idler and spendthrift, obtained and kept the larger share by bribing the corrupt `lords’ who ruled from Thespiae (“Works and Days”, 37-39). While his brother wasted his patrimony and ultimately came to want (“Works and Days”, 34 ff.), Hesiod lived a farmer’s life until, according to the very early tradition preserved by the author of the “Theogony” (22-23), the Muses met him as he was tending sheep on Mt. Helicon and `taught him a glorious song’ — doubtless the “Works and Days”. The only other personal reference is to his victory in a poetical contest at the funeral games of Amphidamas at Chalcis in Euboea, where he won the prize, a tripod, which he dedicated to the Muses of Helicon (“Works and Days”, 651-9).
Before we go on to the story of Hesiod’s death, it will be well to inquire how far the “autobiographical” notices can be treated as historical, especially as many critics treat some, or all of them, as spurious. In the first place attempts have been made to show that “Hesiod” is a significant name and therefore fictitious: it is only necessary to mention Goettling’s derivation from IEMI to ODOS (which would make `Hesiod’ mean the `guide’ in virtues and technical arts), and to refer to the pitiful attempts in the “Etymologicum Magnum” (s.v.
to show how prejudiced and lacking even in plausibility such efforts are. It seems certain that `Hesiod’ stands as a proper name in the fullest sense. Secondly, Hesiod claims that his father — if not he himself — came from Aeolis and settled in Boeotia. There is fairly definite evidence to warrant our acceptance of this: the dialect of the “Works and Days” is shown by Rzach (3) to contain distinct Aeolisms apart from those which formed part of the general stock of epic poetry. And that this Aeolic speaking poet was a Boeotian of Ascra seems even more certain, since the tradition is never once disputed, insignificant though the place was, even before its destruction by the Thespians.
Again, Hesiod’s story of his relations with his brother Perses have been treated with scepticism (see Murray, “Anc. Gk. Literature”, pp. 53-54): Perses, it is urged, is clearly a mere dummy, set up to be the target for the poet’s exhortations. On such a matter precise evidence is naturally not forthcoming; but all probability is against the sceptical view. For 1) if the quarrel between the brothers were a fiction, we should expect it to be detailed at length and not noticed allusively and rather obscurely — as we find it; 2) as MM. Croiset remark, if the poet needed a lay-figure the ordinary practice was to introduce some mythological person — as, in fact, is done in the “Precepts of Chiron”. In a word, there is no more solid ground for treating Perses and his quarrel with Hesiod as fictitious than there would be for treating Cyrnus, the friend of Theognis, as mythical.
Thirdly, there is the passage in the “Theogony” relating to Hesiod and the Muses. It is surely an error to suppose that lines 22-35 all refer to Hesiod: rather, the author of the “Theogony” tells the story of his own inspiration by the same Muses who once taught Hesiod glorious song. The lines 22-3 are therefore a very early piece of tradition about Hesiod, and though the appearance of Muses must be treated as a graceful fiction, we find that a writer, later than the “Works and Days” by perhaps no more than three-quarters of a century, believed in the actuality of Hesiod and in his life as a farmer or shepherd.
Lastly, there is the famous story of the contest in song at Chalcis. In later times the modest version in the “Works and Days” was elaborated, first by making Homer the opponent whom Hesiod conquered, while a later period exercised its ingenuity in working up the story of the contest into the elaborate form in which it still survives. Finally the contest, in which the two poets contended with hymns to Apollo (4), was transferred to Delos. These developments certainly need no consideration: are we to say the same of the passage in the “Works and Days”? Critics from Plutarch downwards have almost unanimously rejected the lines 654-662, on the ground that Hesiod’s Amphidamas is the hero of the Lelantine Wars between Chalcis and Eretria, whose death may be placed circa 705 B.C. — a date which is obviously too low for the genuine Hesiod. Nevertheless, there is much to be said in defence of the passage. Hesiod’s claim in the “Works and Days” is modest, since he neither pretends to have met Homer,
nor to have sung in any but an impromptu, local festival, so that
the supposed interpolation lacks a sufficient motive. And there is nothing in the context to show that Hesiod’s Amphidamas is to be identified with that Amphidamas whom Plutarch alone connects with the Lelantine War: the name may have been borne by an earlier Chalcidian, an ancestor, perhaps, of the person to whom Plutarch refers.
The story of the end of Hesiod may be told in outline. After the contest at Chalcis, Hesiod went to Delphi and there was warned that the `issue of death should overtake him in the fair grove of Nemean Zeus.’ Avoiding therefore Nemea on the Isthmus of Corinth, to which he supposed the oracle to refer, Hesiod retired to Oenoe in Locris where he was entertained by Amphiphanes and Ganyetor, sons of a certain Phegeus. This place, however, was also sacred to Nemean Zeus, and the poet, suspected by his hosts of having seduced their sister (5), was murdered there. His body, cast into the sea, was brought to shore by dolphins and buried at Oenoe (or, according to Plutarch, at Ascra): at a later time his bones were removed to Orchomenus. The whole story is full of miraculous elements, and the various authorities disagree on numerous points of detail. The tradition seems, however, to be constant in declaring that Hesiod was murdered and buried at Oenoe, and in this respect it is at least as old as the time of Thucydides. In conclusion it may be worth while to add the graceful epigram of Alcaeus of Messene (“Palatine Anthology”, vii 55).
“When in the shady Locrian grove Hesiod lay dead, the Nymphs washed his body with water from their own springs, and heaped high his grave; and thereon the goat-herds sprinkled offerings of milk mingled with yellow-honey: such was the utterance of the nine Muses that he breathed forth, that old man who had tasted of their pure springs.”
The Hesiodic Poems
The Hesiodic poems fall into two groups according as they are didactic (technical or gnomic) or genealogical: the first group centres round the “Works and Days”, the second round the “Theogony”.
I. “The Works and Days”:
The poem consists of four main sections. a) After the prelude, which Pausanias failed to find in the ancient copy engraved on lead seen by him on Mt. Helicon, comes a general exhortation to industry. It begins with the allegory of the two Strifes, who stand for wholesome Emulation and Quarrelsomeness respectively. Then by means of the Myth of Pandora the poet shows how evil and the need for work first arose, and goes on to describe the Five Ages of the World, tracing the gradual increase in evil, and emphasizing the present miserable condition of the world, a condition in which struggle is inevitable. Next, after the Fable of the Hawk and Nightingale, which serves as a condemnation of violence and injustice, the poet passes on to contrast the blessing which Righteousness brings to a nation, and the punishment which Heaven sends down upon the violent, and the section concludes with a series of precepts on industry and prudent conduct generally. b) The second section shows how a man may escape want and misery by industry and care both in agriculture and in trading by sea. Neither subject, it should be carefully noted, is treated in any way comprehensively. c) The third part is occupied with miscellaneous precepts relating mostly to actions of domestic and everyday life and conduct which have little or no connection with one another. d) The final section is taken up with a series of notices on the days of the month which are favourable or unfavourable for agricultural and other operations.
It is from the second and fourth sections that the poem takes its name. At first sight such a work seems to be a miscellany of myths, technical advice, moral precepts, and folklore maxims without any unifying principle; and critics have readily taken the view that the whole is a canto of fragments or short poems worked up by a redactor. Very probably Hesiod used much material of a far older date, just as Shakespeare used the “Gesta Romanorum”, old chronicles, and old plays; but close inspection will show that the “Works and Days” has a real unity and that the picturesque title is somewhat misleading. The poem has properly no technical object at all, but is moral: its real aim is to show men how best to live in a difficult world. So viewed the four seemingly independent sections will be found to be linked together in a real bond of unity. Such a connection between the first and second sections is easily seen, but the links between these and the third and fourth are no less real: to make life go tolerably smoothly it is most important to be just and to know how to win a livelihood; but happiness also largely depends on prudence and care both in social and home life as well, and not least on avoidance of actions which offend supernatural powers and bring ill-luck. And finally, if your industry is to be fruitful, you must know what days are suitable for various kinds of work. This moral aim — as opposed to the currently accepted technical aim of the poem — explains the otherwise puzzling incompleteness of the instructions on farming and seafaring.
Of the Hesiodic poems similar in character to the “Works and Days”, only the scantiest fragments survive. One at least of these, the “Divination by Birds”, was, as we know from Proclus, attached to the end of the “Works” until it was rejected by Apollonius Rhodius: doubtless it continued the same theme of how to live, showing how man can avoid disasters by attending to the omens to be drawn from birds. It is possible that the “Astronomy” or “Astrology” (as Plutarch calls it) was in turn appended to the “Divination”. It certainly gave some account of the principal constellations, their dates of rising and setting, and the legends connected with them, and probably showed how these influenced human affairs or might be used as guides. The “Precepts of Chiron” was a didactic poem made up of moral and practical precepts, resembling the gnomic sections of the “Works and Days”, addressed by the Centaur Chiron to his pupil Achilles.
Even less is known of the poem called the “Great Works”: the title implies that it was similar in subject to the second section of the “Works and Days”, but longer. Possible references in Roman writers (6) indicate that among the subjects dealt with were the cultivation of the vine and olive and various herbs. The inclusion of the judgment of Rhadamanthys (frag. 1): `If a man sow evil, he shall reap evil,’ indicates a gnomic element, and the note by Proclus (7) on “Works and Days” 126 makes it likely that metals also were dealt with. It is therefore possible that another lost poem, the “Idaean Dactyls”, which dealt with the discovery of metals and their working, was appended to, or even was a part of the “Great Works”, just as the “Divination by Birds” was appended to the “Works and Days”.
II. The Genealogical Poems:
The only complete poem of the genealogical group is the “Theogony”, which traces from the beginning of things the descent and vicissitudes of the families of the gods. Like the “Works and Days” this poem has no dramatic plot; but its unifying principle is clear and simple. The gods are classified chronologically: as soon as one generation is catalogued, the poet goes on to detail the offspring of each member of that generation. Exceptions are only made in special cases, as the Sons of Iapetus (ll. 507-616) whose place is accounted for by their treatment by Zeus. The chief landmarks in the poem are as follows: after the first 103 lines, which contain at least three distinct preludes, three primeval beings are introduced, Chaos, Earth, and Eros — here an indefinite reproductive influence. Of these three, Earth produces Heaven to whom she bears the Titans, the Cyclopes and the hundred-handed giants. The Titans, oppressed by their father, revolt at the instigation of Earth, under the leadership of Cronos, and as a result Heaven and Earth are separated, and Cronos reigns over the universe. Cronos knowing that he is destined to be overcome by one of his children, swallows each one of them as they are born, until Zeus, saved by Rhea, grows up and overcomes Cronos in some struggle which is not described. Cronos is forced to vomit up the children he had swallowed, and these with Zeus divide the universe between them, like a human estate. Two events mark the early reign of Zeus, the war with the Titans and the overthrow of Typhoeus, and as Zeus is still reigning the poet can only go on to give a list of gods born to Zeus by various goddesses. After this he formally bids farewell to the cosmic and Olympian deities and enumerates the sons born of goddess to mortals. The poem closes with an invocation of the Muses to sing of the `tribe of women’.
This conclusion served to link the “Theogony” to what must have been a distinct poem, the “Catalogues of Women”. This work was divided into four (Suidas says five) books, the last one (or two) of which was known as the “Eoiae” and may have been again a distinct poem: the curious title will be explained presently. The “Catalogues” proper were a series of genealogies which traced the Hellenic race (or its more important peoples and families) from a common ancestor. The reason why women are so prominent is obvious: since most families and tribes claimed to be descended from a god, the only safe clue to their origin was through a mortal woman beloved by that god; and it has also been pointed out that `mutterrecht’ still left its traces in northern Greece in historical times.
The following analysis (after Marckscheffel) (8) will show the principle of its composition. From Prometheus and Pronoia sprang Deucalion and Pyrrha, the only survivors of the deluge, who had a son Hellen (frag. 1), the reputed ancestor of the whole Hellenic race. From the daughters of Deucalion sprang Magnes and Macedon, ancestors of the Magnesians and Macedonians, who are thus represented as cousins to the true Hellenic stock. Hellen had three sons, Dorus, Xuthus, and Aeolus, parents of the Dorian, Ionic and Aeolian races, and the offspring of these was then detailed. In one instance a considerable and characteristic section can be traced from extant fragments and notices: Salmoneus, son of Aeolus, had a daughter Tyro who bore to Poseidon two sons, Pelias and Neleus; the latter of these, king of Pylos, refused Heracles purification for the murder of Iphitus, whereupon Heracles attacked and sacked Pylos, killing amongst the other sons of Neleus Periclymenus, who had the power of changing himself into all manner of shapes. From this slaughter Neleus alone escaped (frags. 13, and 10-12). This summary shows the general principle of arrangement of the “Catalogues”: each line seems to have been dealt with in turn, and the monotony was relieved as far as possible by a brief relation of famous adventures connected with any of the personages — as in the case of Atalanta and Hippomenes (frag. 14). Similarly the story of the Argonauts appears from the fragments (37-42) to have been told in some detail.
This tendency to introduce romantic episodes led to an important development. Several poems are ascribed to Hesiod, such as the “Epithalamium of Peleus and Thetis”, the “Descent of Theseus into Hades”, or the “Circuit of the Earth” (which must have been connected with the story of Phineus and the Harpies, and so with the Argonaut-legend), which yet seem to have belonged to the “Catalogues”. It is highly probable that these poems were interpolations into the “Catalogues” expanded by later poets from more summary notices in the genuine Hesiodic work and subsequently detached from their contexts and treated as independent. This is definitely known to be true of the “Shield of Heracles”, the first 53 lines of which belong to the fourth book of the “Catalogues”, and almost certainly applies to other episodes, such as the “Suitors of Helen” (9), the “Daughters of Leucippus”, and the “Marriage of Ceyx”, which last Plutarch mentions as `interpolated in the works of Hesiod.’
To the “Catalogues”, as we have said, was appended another work, the “Eoiae”. The title seems to have arisen in the following way (10): the “Catalogues” probably ended (ep. “Theogony” 963 ff.) with some such passage as this: `But now, ye Muses, sing of the tribes of women with whom the Sons of Heaven were joined in love, women pre-eminent above their fellows in beauty, such as was Niobe (?).’ Each succeeding heroine was then introduced by the formula `Or such as was…’ (cp. frags. 88, 92, etc.). A large fragment of the “Eoiae” is extant at the beginning of the “Shield of Heracles”, which may be mentioned here. The “supplement” (ll. 57-480) is nominally Heracles and Cycnus, but the greater part is taken up with an inferior description of the shield of Heracles, in imitation of the Homeric shield of Achilles (“Iliad” xviii. 478 ff.). Nothing shows more clearly the collapse of the principles of the Hesiodic school than this ultimate servile dependence upon Homeric models.
At the close of the “Shield” Heracles goes on to Trachis to the house of Ceyx, and this warning suggests that the “Marriage of Ceyx” may have come immediately after the `Or such as was’ of Alcmena in the “Eoiae”: possibly Halcyone, the wife of Ceyx, was one of the heroines sung in the poem, and the original section was `developed’ into the “Marriage”, although what form the poem took is unknown.
Next to the “Eoiae” and the poems which seemed to have been developed from it, it is natural to place the “Great Eoiae”. This, again, as we know from fragments, was a list of heroines who bare children to the gods: from the title we must suppose it to have been much longer that the simple “Eoiae”, but its extent is unknown. Lehmann, remarking that the heroines are all Boeotian and Thessalian (while the heroines of the “Catalogues” belong to all parts of the Greek world), believes the author to have been either a Boeotian or Thessalian.
Two other poems are ascribed to Hesiod. Of these the “Aegimius” (also ascribed by Athenaeus to Cercops of Miletus), is thought by Valckenaer to deal with the war of Aegimus against the Lapithae and the aid furnished to him by Heracles, and with the history of Aegimius and his sons. Otto Muller suggests that the introduction of Thetis and of Phrixus (frags. 1-2) is to be connected with notices of the allies of the Lapithae from Phthiotis and Iolchus, and that the story of Io was incidental to a narrative of Heracles’ expedition against Euboea. The remaining poem, the “Melampodia”, was a work in three books, whose plan it is impossible to recover. Its subject, however, seems to have been the histories of famous seers like Mopsus, Calchas, and Teiresias, and it probably took its name from Melampus, the most famous of them all.
Date of the Hesiodic Poems
There is no doubt that the “Works and Days” is the oldest, as it is the most original, of the Hesiodic poems. It seems to be distinctly earlier than the “Theogony”, which refers to it, apparently, as a poem already renowned. Two considerations help us to fix a relative date for the “Works”. 1) In diction, dialect and style it is obviously dependent upon Homer, and is therefore considerably later than the “Iliad” and “Odyssey”: moreover, as we have seen, it is in revolt against the romantic school, already grown decadent, and while the digamma is still living, it is obviously growing weak, and is by no means uniformly effective.
2) On the other hand while tradition steadily puts the Cyclic poets at various dates from 776 B.C. downwards, it is equally consistent in regarding Homer and Hesiod as `prehistoric’. Herodotus indeed puts both poets 400 years before his own time; that is, at about 830-820 B.C., and the evidence stated above points to the middle of the ninth century as the probable date for the “Works and Days”. The “Theogony” might be tentatively placed a century later; and the “Catalogues” and “Eoiae” are again later, but not greatly later, than the “Theogony”: the “Shield of Heracles” may be ascribed to the later half of the seventh century, but there is not evidence enough to show whether the other `developed’ poems are to be regarded as of a date so low as this.
Literary Value of Homer
Quintillian’s (11) judgment on Hesiod that `he rarely rises to great heights… and to him is given the palm in the middle-class of speech’ is just, but is liable to give a wrong impression. Hesiod has nothing that remotely approaches such scenes as that between Priam and Achilles, or the pathos of Andromache’s preparations for Hector’s return, even as he was falling before the walls of Troy; but in matters that come within the range or ordinary experience, he rarely fails to rise to the appropriate level. Take, for instance, the description of the Iron Age (“Works and Days”, 182 ff.) with its catalogue of wrongdoings and violence ever increasing until Aidos and Nemesis are forced to leave mankind who thenceforward shall have `no remedy against evil’. Such occasions, however, rarely occur and are perhaps not characteristic of Hesiod’s genius: if we would see Hesiod at his best, in his most natural vein, we must turn to such a passage as that which he himself — according to the compiler of the “Contest of Hesiod and Homer” — selected as best in all his work, `When the Pleiades, Atlas’ daughters, begin to rise…’ (“Works and Days, 383 ff.). The value of such a passage cannot be analysed: it can only be said that given such a subject, this alone is the right method of treatment.
Hesiod’s diction is in the main Homeric, but one of his charms is the use of quaint allusive phrases derived, perhaps, from a pre- Hesiodic peasant poetry: thus the season when Boreas blows is the time when `the Boneless One gnaws his foot by his fireless hearth in his cheerless house’; to cut one’s nails is `to sever the withered from the quick upon that which has five branches’; similarly the burglar is the `day-sleeper’, and the serpent is the `hairless one’. Very similar is his reference to seasons through what happens or is done in that season: `when the House- carrier, fleeing the Pleiades, climbs up the plants from the earth’, is the season for harvesting; or `when the artichoke flowers and the clicking grass-hopper, seated in a tree, pours down his shrill song’, is the time for rest.
Hesiod’s charm lies in his child-like and sincere naivete, in his unaffected interest in and picturesque view of nature and all that happens in nature. These qualities, it is true, are those pre-eminently of the “Works and Days”: the literary values of the “Theogony” are of a more technical character, skill in ordering and disposing long lists of names, sure judgment in seasoning a monotonous subject with marvellous incidents or episodes, and no mean imagination in depicting the awful, as is shown in the description of Tartarus (ll. 736-745). Yet it remains true that Hesiod’s distinctive title to a high place in Greek literature lies in the very fact of his freedom form classic form, and his grave, and yet child-like, outlook upon his world.
The Ionic School
The Ionic School of Epic poetry was, as we have seen, dominated by the Homeric tradition, and while the style and method of treatment are Homeric, it is natural that the Ionic poets refrained from cultivating the ground tilled by Homer, and chose for treatment legends which lay beyond the range of the “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. Equally natural it is that they should have particularly selected various phases of the tale of Troy which preceded or followed the action of the “Iliad” or “Odyssey”. In this way, without any preconceived intention, a body of epic poetry was built up by various writers which covered the whole Trojan story. But the entire range of heroic legend was open to these poets, and other clusters of epics grew up dealing particularly with the famous story of Thebes, while others dealt with the beginnings of the world and the wars of heaven. In the end there existed a kind of epic history of the world, as known to the Greeks, down to the death of Odysseus, when the heroic age ended. In the Alexandrian Age these poems were arranged in chronological order, apparently by Zenodotus of Ephesus, at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. At a later time the term “Cycle”, `round’ or `course’, was given to this collection.
Of all this mass of epic poetry only the scantiest fragments survive; but happily Photius has preserved to us an abridgment of the synopsis made of each poem of the “Trojan Cycle” by Proclus, i.e. Eutychius Proclus of Sicca.
The pre-Trojan poems of the Cycle may be noticed first. The “Titanomachy”, ascribed both to Eumelus of Corinth and to Arctinus of Miletus, began with a kind of Theogony which told of the union of Heaven and Earth and of their offspring the Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed Giants. How the poem proceeded we have no means of knowing, but we may suppose that in character it was not unlike the short account of the Titan War found in the Hesiodic “Theogony” (617 ff.).
What links bound the “Titanomachy” to the Theben Cycle is not clear. This latter group was formed of three poems, the “Story of Oedipus”, the “Thebais”, and the “Epigoni”. Of the “Oedipodea” practically nothing is known, though on the assurance of Athenaeus (vii. 277 E) that Sophocles followed the Epic Cycle closely in the plots of his plays, we may suppose that in outline the story corresponded closely to the history of Oedipus as it is found in the “Oedipus Tyrannus”. The “Thebais” seems to have begun with the origin of the fatal quarrel between Eteocles and Polyneices in the curse called down upon them by their father in his misery. The story was thence carried down to the end of the expedition under Polyneices, Adrastus and Amphiarus against Thebes. The “Epigoni” (ascribed to Antimachus of Teos) recounted the expedition of the `After-Born’ against Thebes, and the sack of the city.
The Trojan Cycle
Six epics with the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” made up the Trojan Cycle — The “Cyprian Lays”, the “Iliad”, the “Aethiopis”, the “Little Illiad”, the “Sack of Troy”, the “Returns”, the “Odyssey”, and the “Telegony”.
It has been assumed in the foregoing pages that the poems of the Trojan Cycle are later than the Homeric poems; but, as the opposite view has been held, the reasons for this assumption must now be given. 1) Tradition puts Homer and the Homeric poems proper back in the ages before chronological history began, and at the same time assigns the purely Cyclic poems to definite authors who are dated from the first Olympiad (776 B.C.) downwards. This tradition cannot be purely arbitrary. 2) The Cyclic poets (as we can see from the abstract of Proclus) were careful not to trespass upon ground already occupied by Homer. Thus, when we find that in the “Returns” all the prominent Greek heroes except Odysseus are accounted for, we are forced to believe that the author of this poem knew the “Odyssey” and judged it unnecessary to deal in full with that hero’s adventures. (12) In a word, the Cyclic poems are `written round’ the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”. 3) The general structure of these epics is clearly imitative. As M.M. Croiset remark, the abusive Thersites in the “Aethiopis” is clearly copied from the Thersites of the “Iliad”; in the same poem Antilochus, slain by Memnon and avenged by Achilles, is obviously modelled on Patroclus. 4) The geographical knowledge of a poem like the “Returns” is far wider and more precise than that of the “Odyssey”. 5) Moreover, in the Cyclic poems epic is clearly degenerating morally — if the expression may be used. The chief greatness of the “Iliad” is in the character of the heroes Achilles and Hector rather than in the actual events which take place: in the Cyclic writers facts rather than character are the objects of interest, and events are so packed together as to leave no space for any exhibition of the play of moral forces. All these reasons justify the view that the poems with which we now have to deal were later than the “Iliad” and “Odyssey”, and if we must recognize the possibility of some conventionality in the received dating, we may feel confident that it is at least approximately just.
The earliest of the post-Homeric epics of Troy are apparently the “Aethiopis” and the “Sack of Ilium”, both ascribed to Arctinus of Miletus who is said to have flourished in the first Olympiad (776 B.C.). He set himself to finish the tale of Troy, which, so far as events were concerned, had been left half-told by Homer, by tracing the course of events after the close of the “Iliad”. The “Aethiopis” thus included the coming of the Amazon Penthesilea to help the Trojans after the fall of Hector and her death, the similar arrival and fall of the Aethiopian Memnon, the death of Achilles under the arrow of Paris, and the dispute between Odysseus and Aias for the arms of Achilles. The “Sack of Ilium” (13) as analysed by Proclus was very similar to Vergil’s version in “Aeneid” ii, comprising the episodes of the wooden horse, of Laocoon, of Sinon, the return of the Achaeans from Tenedos, the actual Sack of Troy, the division of spoils and the burning of the city.
Lesches or Lescheos (as Pausanias calls him) of Pyrrha or Mitylene is dated at about 660 B.C. In his “Little Iliad” he undertook to elaborate the “Sack” as related by Arctinus. His work included the adjudgment of the arms of Achilles to Odysseus, the madness of Aias, the bringing of Philoctetes from Lemnos and his cure, the coming to the war of Neoptolemus who slays Eurypylus, son of Telephus, the making of the wooden horse, the spying of Odysseus and his theft, along with Diomedes, of the Palladium: the analysis concludes with the admission of the wooden horse into Troy by the Trojans. It is known, however (Aristotle, “Poetics”, xxiii; Pausanias, x, 25-27), that the “Little Iliad” also contained a description of the sack of Troy. It is probable that this and other superfluous incidents disappeared after the Alexandrian arrangement of the poems in the Cycle, either as the result of some later recension, or merely through disuse. Or Proclus may have thought it unnecessary to give the accounts by Lesches and Arctinus of the same incident.
The “Cyprian Lays”, ascribed to Stasinus of Cyprus (14) (but also to Hegesinus of Salamis) was designed to do for the events preceding the action of the “Iliad” what Arctinus had done for the later phases of the Trojan War. The “Cypria” begins with the first causes of the war, the purpose of Zeus to relieve the overburdened earth, the apple of discord, the rape of Helen. Then follow the incidents connected with the gathering of the Achaeans and their ultimate landing in Troy; and the story of the war is detailed up to the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon with which the “Iliad” begins.
These four poems rounded off the story of the “Iliad”, and it only remained to connect this enlarged version with the “Odyssey”. This was done by means of the “Returns”, a poem in five books ascribed to Agias or Hegias of Troezen, which begins where the “Sack of Troy” ends. It told of the dispute between Agamemnon and Menelaus, the departure from Troy of Menelaus, the fortunes of the lesser heroes, the return and tragic death of Agamemnon, and the vengeance of Orestes on Aegisthus. The story ends with the return home of Menelaus, which brings the general narrative up to the beginning of the “Odyssey”.
But the “Odyssey” itself left much untold: what, for example, happened in Ithaca after the slaying of the suitors, and what was the ultimate fate of Odysseus? The answer to these questions was supplied by the “Telegony”, a poem in two books by Eugammon of Cyrene (fl. 568 B.C.). It told of the adventures of Odysseus in Thesprotis after the killing of the Suitors, of his return to Ithaca, and his death at the hands of Telegonis, his son by Circe. The epic ended by disposing of the surviving personages in a double marriage, Telemachus wedding Circe, and Telegonus Penelope.
The end of the Cycle marks also the end of the Heroic Age.
The Homeric Hymns
The collection of thirty-three Hymns, ascribed to Homer, is the last considerable work of the Epic School, and seems, on the whole, to be later than the Cyclic poems. It cannot be definitely assigned either to the Ionian or Continental schools, for while the romantic element is very strong, there is a distinct genealogical interest; and in matters of diction and style the influences of both Hesiod and Homer are well-marked. The date of the formation of the collection as such is unknown. Diodorus Siculus (temp. Augustus) is the first to mention such a body of poetry, and it is likely enough that this is, at least substantially, the one which has come down to us. Thucydides quotes the Delian “Hymn to Apollo”, and it is possible that the Homeric corpus of his day also contained other of the more important hymns. Conceivable the collection was arranged in the Alexandrine period.
Thucydides, in quoting the “Hymn to Apollo”, calls it PROOIMION, which ordinarily means a `prelude’ chanted by a rhapsode before recitation of a lay from Homer, and such hymns as Nos. vi, xxxi, xxxii, are clearly preludes in the strict sense; in No. xxxi, for example, after celebrating Helios, the poet declares he will next sing of the `race of mortal men, the demi-gods’. But it may fairly be doubted whether such Hymns as those to “Demeter” (ii), “Apollo” (iii), “Hermes” (iv), “Aphrodite” (v), can have been real preludes, in spite of the closing formula `and now I will pass on to another hymn’. The view taken by Allen and Sikes, amongst other scholars, is doubtless right, that these longer hymns are only technically preludes and show to what disproportionate lengths a simple literacy form can be developed.
The Hymns to “Pan” (xix), to “Dionysus” (xxvi), to “Hestia and Hermes” (xxix), seem to have been designed for use at definite religious festivals, apart from recitations. With the exception perhaps of the “Hymn to Ares” (viii), no item in the collection can be regarded as either devotional or liturgical.
The Hymn is doubtless a very ancient form; but if no example of extreme antiquity survive this must be put down to the fact that until the age of literary consciousness, such things are not preserved.
First, apparently, in the collection stood the “Hymn to Dionysus”, of which only two fragments now survive. While it appears to have been a hymn of the longer type (15), we have no evidence to show either its scope or date.
The “Hymn to Demeter”, extant only in the MS. discovered by Matthiae at Moscow, describes the seizure of Persephone by Hades, the grief of Demeter, her stay at Eleusis, and her vengeance on gods and men by causing famine. In the end Zeus is forced to bring Persephone back from the lower world; but the goddess, by the contriving of Hades, still remains partly a deity of the lower world. In memory of her sorrows Demeter establishes the Eleusinian mysteries (which, however, were purely agrarian in origin).
This hymn, as a literary work, is one of the finest in the collection. It is surely Attic or Eleusinian in origin. Can we in any way fix its date? Firstly, it is certainly not later than the beginning of the sixth century, for it makes no mention of Iacchus, and the Dionysiac element was introduced at Eleusis at about that period. Further, the insignificance of Triptolemus and Eumolpus point to considerable antiquity, and the digamma is still active. All these considerations point to the seventh century as the probable date of the hymn.
The “Hymn to Apollo” consists of two parts, which beyond any doubt were originally distinct, a Delian hymn and a Pythian hymn.
The Delian hymn describes how Leto, in travail with Apollo, sought out a place in which to bear her son, and how Apollo, born in Delos, at once claimed for himself the lyre, the bow, and prophecy. This part of the existing hymn ends with an encomium of the Delian festival of Apollo and of the Delian choirs. The second part celebrates the founding of Pytho (Delphi) as the oracular seat of Apollo. After various wanderings the god comes to Telphus, near Haliartus, but is dissuaded by the nymph of the place from settling there and urged to go on to Pytho where, after slaying the she-dragon who nursed Typhaon, he builds his temple. After the punishment of Telphusa for her deceit in giving him no warning of the dragoness at Pytho, Apollo, in the form of a dolphin, brings certain Cretan shipmen to Delphi to be his priests; and the hymn ends with a charge to these men to behave orderly and righteously.
The Delian part is exclusively Ionian and insular both in style and sympathy; Delos and no other is Apollo’s chosen seat: but the second part is as definitely continental; Delos is ignored and Delphi alone is the important centre of Apollo’s worship. From this it is clear that the two parts need not be of one date — The first, indeed, is ascribed (Scholiast on Pindar “Nem”. ii, 2) to Cynaethus of Chios (fl. 504 B.C.), a date which is obviously far too low; general considerations point rather to the eighth century. The second part is not later than 600 B.C.; for 1) the chariot-races at Pytho, which commenced in 586 B.C., are unknown to the writer of the hymn, 2) the temple built by Trophonius and Agamedes for Apollo (ll. 294-299) seems to have been still standing when the hymn was written, and this temple was burned in 548. We may at least be sure that the first part is a Chian work, and that the second was composed by a continental poet familiar with Delphi.
The “Hymn to Hermes” differs from others in its burlesque, quasi- comic character, and it is also the best-known of the Hymns to English readers in consequence of Shelley’s translation.
After a brief narrative of the birth of Hermes, the author goes on to show how he won a place among the gods. First the new-born child found a tortoise and from its shell contrived the lyre; next, with much cunning circumstance, he stole Apollo’s cattle and, when charged with the theft by Apollo, forced that god to appear in undignified guise before the tribunal of Zeus. Zeus seeks to reconcile the pair, and Hermes by the gift of the lyre wins Apollo’s friendship and purchases various prerogatives, a share in divination, the lordship of herds and animals, and the office of messenger from the gods to Hades.
The Hymn is hard to date. Hermes’ lyre has seven strings and the invention of the seven-stringed lyre is ascribed to Terpander (flor. 676 B.C.). The hymn must therefore be later than that date, though Terpander, according to Weir Smyth (16), may have only modified the scale of the lyre; yet while the burlesque character precludes an early date, this feature is far removed, as Allen and Sikes remark, from the silliness of the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice”, so that a date in the earlier part of the sixth century is most probable.
The “Hymn to Aphrodite” is not the least remarkable, from a literary point of view, of the whole collection, exhibiting as it does in a masterly manner a divine being as the unwilling victim of an irresistible force. It tells how all creatures, and even the gods themselves, are subject to the will of Aphrodite, saving only Artemis, Athena, and Hestia; how Zeus to humble her pride of power caused her to love a mortal, Anchises; and how the goddess visited the hero upon Mt. Ida. A comparison of this work with the Lay of Demodocus (“Odyssey” viii, 266 ff.), which is superficially similar, will show how far superior is the former in which the goddess is but a victim to forces stronger than herself. The lines (247-255) in which Aphrodite tells of her humiliation and grief are specially noteworthy.
There are only general indications of date. The influence of Hesiod is clear, and the hymn has almost certainly been used by the author of the “Hymn to Demeter”, so that the date must lie between these two periods, and the seventh century seems to be the latest date possible.
The “Hymn to Dionysus” relates how the god was seized by pirates and how with many manifestations of power he avenged himself on them by turning them into dolphins. The date is widely disputed, for while Ludwich believes it to be a work of the fourth or third century, Allen and Sikes consider a sixth or seventh century date to be possible. The story is figured in a different form on the reliefs from the choragic monument of Lysicrates, now in the British Museum (17).
Very different in character is the “Hymn to Ares”, which is Orphic in character. The writer, after lauding the god by detailing his attributes, prays to be delivered from feebleness and weakness of soul, as also from impulses to wanton and brutal violence.
The only other considerable hymn is that to “Pan”, which describes how he roams hunting among the mountains and thickets and streams, how he makes music at dusk while returning from the chase, and how he joins in dancing with the nymphs who sing the story of his birth. This, beyond most works of Greek literature, is remarkable for its fresh and spontaneous love of wild natural scenes.
The remaining hymns are mostly of the briefest compass, merely hailing the god to be celebrated and mentioning his chief attributes. The Hymns to “Hermes” (xviii), to the “Dioscuri” (xvii), and to “Demeter” (xiii) are mere abstracts of the longer hymns iv, xxxiii, and ii.
The Epigrams of Homer
The “Epigrams of Homer” are derived from the pseudo-Herodotean “Life of Homer”, but many of them occur in other documents such as the “Contest of Homer and Hesiod”, or are quoted by various ancient authors. These poetic fragments clearly antedate the “Life” itself, which seems to have been so written round them as to supply appropriate occasions for their composition. Epigram iii on Midas of Larissa was otherwise attributed to Cleobulus of Lindus, one of the Seven Sages; the address to Glaucus (xi) is purely Hesiodic; xiii, according to MM. Croiset, is a fragment from a gnomic poem. Epigram xiv is a curious poem attributed on no very obvious grounds to Hesiod by Julius Pollox. In it the poet invokes Athena to protect certain potters and their craft, if they will, according to promise, give him a reward for his song; if they prove false, malignant gnomes are invoked to wreck the kiln and hurt the potters.
The Burlesque Poems
To Homer were popularly ascribed certain burlesque poems in which Aristotle (“Poetics” iv) saw the germ of comedy. Most interesting of these, were it extant, would be the “Margites”. The hero of the epic is at once sciolist and simpleton, `knowing many things, but knowing them all badly’. It is unfortunately impossible to trace the plan of the poem, which presumably detailed the adventures of this unheroic character: the metre used was a curious mixture of hexametric and iambic lines. The date of such a work cannot be high: Croiset thinks it may belong to the period of Archilochus (c. 650 B.C.), but it may well be somewhat later.
Another poem, of which we know even less, is the “Cercopes”. These Cercopes (`Monkey-Men’) were a pair of malignant dwarfs who went about the world mischief-making. Their punishment by Heracles is represented on one of the earlier metopes from Selinus. It would be idle to speculate as to the date of this work.
Finally there is the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice”. Here is told the story of the quarrel which arose between the two tribes, and how they fought, until Zeus sent crabs to break up the battle. It is a parody of the warlike epic, but has little in it that is really comic or of literary merit, except perhaps the list of quaint arms assumed by the warriors. The text of the poem is in a chaotic condition, and there are many interpolations, some of Byzantine date.
Though popularly ascribed to Homer, its real author is said by Suidas to have been Pigres, a Carian, brother of Artemisia, `wife of Mausonis’, who distinguished herself at the battle of Salamis.
Suidas is confusing the two Artemisias, but he may be right in attributing the poem to about 480 B.C.
The Contest of Homer and Hesiod
This curious work dates in its present form from the lifetime or shortly after the death of Hadrian, but seems to be based in part on an earlier version by the sophist Alcidamas (c. 400 B.C.). Plutarch (“Conviv. Sept. Sap.”, 40) uses an earlier (or at least a shorter) version than that which we possess (18). The extant “Contest”, however, has clearly combined with the original document much other ill-digested matter on the life and descent of Homer, probably drawing on the same general sources as does the Herodotean “Life of Homer”. Its scope is as follows: 1) the descent (as variously reported) and relative dates of Homer and Hesiod; 2) their poetical contest at Chalcis; 3) the death of Hesiod; 4) the wanderings and fortunes of Homer, with brief notices of the circumstances under which his reputed works were composed, down to the time of his death.
The whole tract is, of course, mere romance; its only values are 1) the insight it give into ancient speculations about Homer; 2) a certain amount of definite information about the Cyclic poems; and 3) the epic fragments included in the stichomythia of the “Contest” proper, many of which — did we possess the clue — would have to be referred to poems of the Epic Cycle.
(1) sc. in Boeotia, Locris and Thessaly: elsewhere the movement was forced and unfruitful.
(2) The extant collection of three poems, “Works and Days”, “Theogony”, and “Shield of Heracles”, which alone have come down to us complete, dates at least from the 4th century A.D.: the title of the Paris Papyrus (Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Gr. 1099) names only these three works.
(3) “Der Dialekt des Hesiodes”, p. 464: examples are AENEMI (W. and D. 683) and AROMENAI (ib. 22).
(4) T.W. Allen suggests that the conjured Delian and Pythian hymns to Apollo (“Homeric Hymns” III) may have suggested this version of the story, the Pythian hymn showing strong continental influence.
(5) She is said to have given birth to the lyrist Stesichorus. (6) See Kinkel “Epic. Graec. Frag.” i. 158 ff. (7) See “Great Works”, frag. 2.
(8) “Hesiodi Fragmenta”, pp. 119 f. (9) Possibly the division of this poem into two books is a division belonging solely to this `developed poem’, which may have included in its second part a summary of the Tale of Troy.
(10) Goettling’s explanation.
(11) x. 1. 52
(12) Odysseus appears to have been mentioned once only — and that casually — in the “Returns”.
(13) M.M. Croiset note that the “Aethiopis” and the “Sack” were originally merely parts of one work containing lays (the Amazoneia, Aethiopis, Persis, etc.), just as the “Iliad” contained various lays such as the Diomedeia. (14) No date is assigned to him, but it seems likely that he was either contemporary or slightly earlier than Lesches. (15) Cp. Allen and Sikes, “Homeric Hymns” p. xv. In the text I have followed the arrangement of these scholars, numbering the Hymns to Dionysus and to Demeter, I and II respectively: to place “Demeter” after “Hermes”, and the Hymn to Dionysus at the end of the collection seems to be merely perverse. (16) “Greek Melic Poets”, p. 165.
(17) This monument was returned to Greece in the 1980’s. — DBK. (18) Cp. Marckscheffel, “Hesiodi fragmenta”, p. 35. The papyrus fragment recovered by Petrie (“Petrie Papyri”, ed. Mahaffy, p. 70, No. xxv.) agrees essentially with the extant document, but differs in numerous minor textual points.
HESIOD. — The classification and numerations of MSS. here followed is that of Rzach (1913). It is only necessary to add that on the whole the recovery of Hesiodic papyri goes to confirm the authority of the mediaeval MSS. At the same time these fragments have produced much that is interesting and valuable, such as the new lines, “Works and Days” 169 a-d, and the improved readings ib. 278, “Theogony” 91, 93. Our chief gains from papyri are the numerous and excellent fragments of the Catalogues which have been recovered.
“Works and Days”: —
S Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1090.
A Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-9 (4th cent.). B Geneva, Naville Papyri Pap. 94 (6th cent.). C Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2771 (11th cent.).
D Florence, Laur. xxxi 39 (12th cent.). E Messina, Univ. Lib. Preexistens 11 (12th-13th cent.). F Rome, Vatican 38 (14th cent.).
G Venice, Marc. ix 6 (14th cent.). H Florence, Laur. xxxi 37 (14th cent.). I Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.). K Florence, Laur. xxxii 2 (14th cent.). L Milan, Ambros. G 32 sup. (14th cent.). M Florence, Bibl. Riccardiana 71 (15th cent.). N Milan, Ambros. J 15 sup. (15th cent.). O Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2773 (14th cent.).
P Cambridge, Trinity College (Gale MS.), O.9.27 (13th-14th cent.).
Q Rome, Vatican 1332 (14th cent.).
These MSS. are divided by Rzach into the following families, issuing from a common original: —
N Manchester, Rylands GK. Papyri No. 54 (1st cent. B.C. – 1st cent. A.D.).
O Oxyrhynchus Papyri 873 (3rd cent.). A Paris, Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Graec. (papyrus) 1099 (4th-5th cent.).
B London, British Museam clix (4th cent.). R Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-9 (4th cent.). C Paris, Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.). D Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.). E Florence, Laur., Conv. suppr. 158 (14th cent.). F Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833 (15th cent.).
G Rome, Vatican 915 (14th cent.).
H Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2772 (14th cent.). I Florence, Laur. xxxi 32 (15th cent.). K Venice, Marc. ix 6 (15th cent.).
L Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2708 (15th cent.).
These MSS. are divided into two families:
“Shield of Heracles”: —
P Oxyrhynchus Papyri 689 (2nd cent.). A Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-29 (4th cent.). Q Berlin Papyri, 9774 (1st cent.).
B Paris, Bibl. Nat., Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.). C Paris, Bibl. Nat., Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.). D Milan, Ambros. C 222 (13th cent.).
E Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.). F Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2773 (14th cent.).
G Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2772 (14th cent.). H Florence, Laur. xxxi 32 (15th cent.). I London, British Museaum Harleianus (14th cent.). K Rome, Bibl. Casanat. 356 (14th cent.) L Florence, Laur. Conv. suppr. 158 (14th cent.). M Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833 (15th cent.).
These MSS. belong to two families:
To these must be added two MSS. of mixed family:
N Venice, Marc. ix 6 (14th cent.).
O Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2708 (15th cent.).
Editions of Hesiod: —
Demetrius Chalcondyles, Milan (?) 1493 (?) (“editio princeps”, containing, however, only the “Works and Days”). Aldus Manutius (Aldine edition), Venice, 1495 (complete works). Juntine Editions, 1515 and 1540.
Trincavelli, Venice, 1537 (with scholia).
Of modern editions, the following may be noticed: —
Gaisford, Oxford, 1814-1820; Leipzig, 1823 (with scholia: in Poett. Graec. Minn II).
Goettling, Gotha, 1831 (3rd edition. Leipzig, 1878). Didot Edition, Paris, 1840.
Koechly and Kinkel, Leipzig, 1870.
Flach, Leipzig, 1874-8.
Rzach, Leipzig, 1902 (larger edition), 1913 (smaller edition).
On the Hesiodic poems generally the ordinary Histories of Greek Literature may be consulted, but especially the “Hist. de la Litterature Grecque” I pp. 459 ff. of MM. Croiset. The summary account in Prof. Murray’s “Anc. Gk. Lit.” is written with a strong sceptical bias. Very valuable is the appendix to Mair’s translation (Oxford, 1908) on “The Farmer’s Year in Hesiod”. Recent work on the Hesiodic poems is reviewed in full by Rzach in Bursian’s “Jahresberichte” vols. 100 (1899) and 152 (1911).
For the “Fragments” of Hesiodic poems the work of Markscheffel, “Hesiodi Fragmenta” (Leipzig, 1840), is most valuable: important also is Kinkel’s “Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta” I (Leipzig, 1877) and the editions of Rzach noticed above. For recently discovered papyrus fragments see Wilamowitz, “Neue Bruchstucke d. Hesiod Katalog” (Sitzungsb. der k. preuss. Akad. fur Wissenschaft, 1900, pp. 839-851). A list of papyri belonging to lost Hesiodic works may here be added: all are the “Catalogues”.
1) Berlin Papyri 7497 (1) (2nd cent.). — Frag. 7. 2) Oxyrhynchus Papyri 421 (2nd cent.). — Frag. 7. 3) “Petrie Papyri” iii 3. — Frag. 14.
4) “Papiri greci e latine”, No. 130 (2nd-3rd cent.). — Frag. 14.
5) Strassburg Papyri, 55 (2nd cent.). — Frag. 58. 6) Berlin Papyri 9739 (2nd cent.). — Frag. 58. 7) Berlin Papyri 10560 (3rd cent.). — Frag. 58. 8) Berlin Papyri 9777 (4th cent.). — Frag. 98. 9) “Papiri greci e latine”, No. 131 (2nd-3rd cent.). — Frag. 99.
10) Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358-9.
The Homeric Hymns: —
The text of the Homeric hymns is distinctly bad in condition, a fact which may be attributed to the general neglect under which they seem to have laboured at all periods previously to the Revival of Learning. Very many defects have been corrected by the various editions of the Hymns, but a considerable number still defy all efforts; and especially an abnormal number of undoubted lacuna disfigure the text. Unfortunately no papyrus fragment of the Hymns has yet emerged, though one such fragment (“Berl. Klassikertexte” v.1. pp. 7 ff.) contains a paraphrase of a poem very closely parallel to the “Hymn to Demeter”.
The mediaeval MSS. (2) are thus enumerated by Dr. T.W. Allen: —
A Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2763.
At Athos, Vatopedi 587.
B Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2765.
C Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833.
E Modena, Estense iii E 11.
G Rome, Vatican, Regina 91 (16th cent.). H London, British Mus. Harley 1752.
J Modena, Estense, ii B 14.
K Florence, Laur. 31, 32.
L Florence, Laur. 32, 45.
L2 Florence, Laur. 70, 35.
L3 Florence, Laur. 32, 4.
M Leyden (the Moscow MS.) 33 H (14th cent.). Mon. Munich, Royal Lib. 333 c.
N Leyden, 74 c.
O Milan, Ambros. C 10 inf.
P Rome, Vatican Pal. graec. 179.
R1 Florence, Bibl. Riccard. 53 K ii 13. R2 Florence, Bibl. Riccard. 52 K ii 14. S Rome, Vatican, Vaticani graec. 1880.
T Madrid, Public Library 24.
V Venice, Marc. 456.
The same scholar has traced all the MSS. back to a common parent from which three main families are derived (M had a separate descent and is not included in any family): —
x1 = E,T
x2 = L,
y = E,L,
p = A,B,C,
Editions of the Homeric Hymns, & c.: —
Demetrius Chalcondyles, Florence, 1488 (with the “Epigrams” and the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice” in the “ed. pr.” of Homer).
Aldine Edition, Venice, 1504.
Juntine Edition, 1537.
Stephanus, Paris, 1566 and 1588.
More modern editions or critical works of value are:
Martin (Variarum Lectionum libb. iv), Paris, 1605. Barnes, Cambridge, 1711.
Ruhnken, Leyden, 1782 (Epist. Crit. and “Hymn to Demeter”). Ilgen, Halle, 1796 (with “Epigrams” and the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice”).
Matthiae, Leipzig, 1806 (with the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice”).
Hermann, Berling, 1806 (with “Epigrams”). Franke, Leipzig, 1828 (with “Epigrams” and the “Battle of the Frogs and Mice”).
Dindorff (Didot edition), Paris, 1837. Baumeister (“Battle of the Frogs and Mice”), Gottingen, 1852. Baumeister (“Hymns”), Leipzig, 1860.
Gemoll, Leipzig, 1886.
Goodwin, Oxford, 1893.
Ludwich (“Battle of the Frogs and Mice”), 1896. Allen and Sikes, London, 1904.
Allen (Homeri Opera v), Oxford, 1912.
Of these editions that of Messrs Allen and Sikes is by far the best: not only is the text purged of the load of conjectures for which the frequent obscurities of the Hymns offer a special opening, but the Introduction and the Notes throughout are of the highest value. For a full discussion of the MSS. and textual problems, reference must be made to this edition, as also to Dr. T.W. Allen’s series of articles in the “Journal of Hellenic Studies” vols. xv ff. Among translations those of J. Edgar (Edinburgh), 1891) and of Andrew Lang (London, 1899) may be mentioned.
The Epic Cycle: —
The fragments of the Epic Cycle, being drawn from a variety of authors, no list of MSS. can be given. The following collections and editions may be mentioned: —
Muller, Leipzig, 1829.
Dindorff (Didot edition of Homer), Paris, 1837-56. Kinkel (Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta i), Leipzig, 1877. Allen (Homeri Opera v), Oxford, 1912.
The fullest discussion of the problems and fragments of the epic cycle is F.G. Welcker’s “der epische Cyclus” (Bonn, vol. i, 1835: vol. ii, 1849: vol. i, 2nd edition, 1865). The Appendix to Monro’s “Homer’s Odyssey” xii-xxiv (pp. 340 ff.) deals with the Cyclic poets in relation to Homer, and a clear and reasonable discussion of the subject is to be found in Croiset’s “Hist. de la Litterature Grecque”, vol. i.
On Hesiod, the Hesiodic poems and the problems which these offer see Rzach’s most important article “Hesiodos” in Pauly-Wissowa, “Real-Encyclopadie” xv (1912).
A discussion of the evidence for the date of Hesiod is to be found in “Journ. Hell. Stud.” xxxv, 85 ff. (T.W. Allen).
Of translations of Hesiod the following may be noticed: — “The Georgicks of Hesiod”, by George Chapman, London, 1618; “The Works of Hesiod translated from the Greek”, by Thomas Coocke, London, 1728; “The Remains of Hesiod translated from the Greek into English Verse”, by Charles Abraham Elton; “The Works of Hesiod, Callimachus, and Theognis”, by the Rev. J. Banks, M.A.; “Hesiod”, by Prof. James Mair, Oxford, 1908 (3).
(1) See Schubert, “Berl. Klassikertexte” v. 1.22 ff.; the other papyri may be found in the publications whose name they bear.
(2) Unless otherwise noted, all MSS. are of the 15th century. (3) To this list I would also add the following: “Hesiod and Theognis”, translated by Dorothea Wender (Penguin Classics, London, 1973). — DBK.
THE WORKS OF HESIOD
WORKS AND DAYS (832 lines)
(ll. 1-10) Muses of Pieria who give glory through song, come hither, tell of Zeus your father and chant his praise. Through him mortal men are famed or un-famed, sung or unsung alike, as great Zeus wills. For easily he makes strong, and easily he brings the strong man low; easily he humbles the proud and raises the obscure, and easily he straightens the crooked and blasts the proud, — Zeus who thunders aloft and has his dwelling most high.
Attend thou with eye and ear, and make judgements straight with righteousness. And I, Perses, would tell of true things.
(ll. 11-24) So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due. But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and the son of Cronos who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with is neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.
(ll. 25-41) Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house. Little concern has he with quarrels and courts who has not a year’s victuals laid up betimes, even that which the earth bears, Demeter’s grain. When you have got plenty of that, you can raise disputes and strive to get another’s goods. But you shall have no second chance to deal so again: nay, let us settle our dispute here with true judgement divided our inheritance, but you seized the greater share and carried it off, greatly swelling the glory of our bribe-swallowing lords who love to judge such a cause as this. Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole, nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel (1).
(ll. 42-53) For the gods keep hidden from men the means of life. Else you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste. But Zeus in the anger of his heart hid it, because Prometheus the crafty deceived him; therefore he planned sorrow and mischief against men. He hid fire; but that the noble son of Iapetus stole again for men from Zeus the counsellor in a hollow fennel-stalk, so that Zeus who delights in thunder did not see it. But afterwards Zeus who gathers the clouds said to him in anger:
(ll. 54-59) `Son of Iapetus, surpassing all in cunning, you are glad that you have outwitted me and stolen fire — a great plague to you yourself and to men that shall be. But I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.’
(ll. 60-68) So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And he bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature.
(ll. 69-82) So he ordered. And they obeyed the lord Zeus the son of Cronos. Forthwith the famous Lame God moulded clay in the likeness of a modest maid, as the son of Cronos purposed. And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed her, and the divine Graces and queenly Persuasion put necklaces of gold upon her, and the rich-haired Hours crowned her head with spring flowers. And Pallas Athene bedecked her form with all manners of finery. Also the Guide, the Slayer of Argus, contrived within her lies and crafty words and a deceitful nature at the will of loud thundering Zeus, and the Herald of the gods put speech in her. And he called this woman Pandora (2), because all they who dwelt on Olympus gave each a gift, a plague to men who eat bread.
(ll. 83-89) But when he had finished the sheer, hopeless snare, the Father sent glorious Argus-Slayer, the swift messenger of the gods, to take it to Epimetheus as a gift. And Epimetheus did not think on what Prometheus had said to him, bidding him never take a gift of Olympian Zeus, but to send it back for fear it might prove to be something harmful to men. But he took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he understood.
(ll. 90-105) For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills and hard toil and heavy sickness which bring the Fates upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman took off the great lid of the jar (3) with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aegis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues, wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils and the sea is full. Of themselves diseases come upon men continually by day and by night, bringing mischief to mortals silently; for wise Zeus took away speech from them. So is there no way to escape the will of Zeus.
(ll. 106-108) Or if you will, I will sum you up another tale well and skilfully — and do you lay it up in your heart, — how the gods and mortal men sprang from one source.
(ll. 109-120) First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
(ll. 121-139) But after earth had covered this generation — they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men; for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received; — then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother’s side an hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell. Then Zeus the son of Cronos was angry and put them away, because they would not give honour to the blessed gods who live on Olympus.
(ll. 140-155) But when earth had covered this generation also — they are called blessed spirits of the underworld by men, and, though they are of second order, yet honour attends them also — Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees (4); and it was in no way equal to the silver age, but was terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs. Their armour was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.
(ll. 156-169b) But when earth had covered this generation also, Zeus the son of Cronos made yet another, the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth. Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven- gated Thebe when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus, and some, when it had brought them in ships over the great sea gulf to Troy for rich-haired Helen’s sake: there death’s end enshrouded a part of them. But to the others father Zeus the son of Cronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them (5); for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honour and glory.
(ll. 169c-169d) And again far-seeing Zeus made yet another generation, the fifth, of men who are upon the bounteous earth.
(ll. 170-201) Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth (6). The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis (7), with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.
(ll. 202-211) And now I will tell a fable for princes who themselves understand. Thus said the hawk to the nightingale with speckled neck, while he carried her high up among the clouds, gripped fast in his talons, and she, pierced by his crooked talons, cried pitifully. To her he spoke disdainfully: `Miserable thing, why do you cry out? One far stronger than you now holds you fast, and you must go wherever I take you, songstress as you are. And if I please I will make my meal of you, or let you go. He is a fool who tries to withstand the stronger, for he does not get the mastery and suffers pain besides his shame.’ So said the swiftly flying hawk, the long- winged bird.
(ll. 212-224) But you, Perses, listen to right and do not foster violence; for violence is bad for a poor man. Even the prosperous cannot easily bear its burden, but is weighed down under it when he has fallen into delusion. The better path is to go by on the other side towards justice; for Justice beats Outrage when she comes at length to the end of the race. But only when he has suffered does the fool learn this. For Oath keeps pace with wrong judgements. There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her.
(ll. 225-237) But they who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.
(ll. 238-247) But for those who practise violence and cruel deeds far-seeing Zeus, the son of Cronos, ordains a punishment. Often even a whole city suffers for a bad man who sins and devises presumptuous deeds, and the son of Cronos lays great trouble upon the people, famine and plague together, so that the men perish away, and their women do not bear children, and their houses become few, through the contriving of Olympian Zeus. And again, at another time, the son of Cronos either destroys their wide army, or their walls, or else makes an end of their ships on the sea.
(ll. 248-264) You princes, mark well this punishment you also; for the deathless gods are near among men and mark all those who oppress their fellows with crooked judgements, and reck not the anger of the gods. For upon the bounteous earth Zeus has thrice ten thousand spirits, watchers of mortal men, and these keep watch on judgements and deeds of wrong as they roam, clothed in mist, all over the earth. And there is virgin Justice, the daughter of Zeus, who is honoured and reverenced among the gods who dwell on Olympus, and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Cronos, and tells him of men’s wicked heart, until the people pay for the mad folly of their princes who, evilly minded, pervert judgement and give sentence crookedly. Keep watch against this, you princes, and make straight your judgements, you who devour bribes; put crooked judgements altogether from your thoughts.
(ll. 265-266) He does mischief to himself who does mischief to another, and evil planned harms the plotter most.
(ll. 267-273) The eye of Zeus, seeing all and understanding all, beholds these things too, if so he will, and fails not to mark what sort of justice is this that the city keeps within it. Now, therefore, may neither I myself be righteous among men, nor my son — for then it is a bad thing to be righteous — if indeed the unrighteous shall have the greater right. But I think that all-wise Zeus will not yet bring that to pass.
(ll. 274-285) But you, Perses, lay up these things within you heart and listen now to right, ceasing altogether to think of violence. For the son of Cronos has ordained this law for men, that fishes and beasts and winged fowls should devour one another, for right is not in them; but to mankind he gave right which proves far the best. For whoever knows the right and is ready to speak it, far-seeing Zeus gives him prosperity; but whoever deliberately lies in his witness and forswears himself, and so hurts Justice and sins beyond repair, that man’s generation is left obscure thereafter. But the generation of the man who swears truly is better thenceforward.
(ll. 286-292) To you, foolish Perses, I will speak good sense. Badness can be got easily and in shoals: the road to her is smooth, and she lives very near us. But between us and Goodness the gods have placed the sweat of our brows: long and steep is the path that leads to her, and it is rough at the first; but when a man has reached the top, then is she easy to reach, though before that she was hard.
(ll. 293-319) That man is altogether best who considers all things himself and marks what will be better afterwards and at the end; and he, again, is good who listens to a good adviser; but whoever neither thinks for himself nor keeps in mind what another tells him, he is an unprofitable man. But do you at any rate, always remembering my charge, work, high-born Perses, that Hunger may hate you, and venerable Demeter richly crowned may love you and fill your barn with food; for Hunger is altogether a meet comrade for the sluggard. Both gods and men are angry with a man who lives idle, for in nature he is like the stingless drones who waste the labour of the bees, eating without working; but let it be your care to order your work properly, that in the right season your barns may be full of victual. Through work men grow rich in flocks and substance, and working they are much better loved by the immortals (8). Work is no disgrace: it is idleness which is a disgrace. But if you work, the idle will soon envy you as you grow rich, for fame and renown attend on wealth. And whatever be your lot, work is best for you, if you turn your misguided mind away from other men’s property to your work and attend to your livelihood as I bid you. An evil shame is the needy man’s companion, shame which both greatly harms and prospers men: shame is with poverty, but confidence with wealth.
(ll. 320-341) Wealth should not be seized: god-given wealth is much better; for it a man take great wealth violently and perforce, or if he steal it through his tongue, as often happens when gain deceives men’s sense and dishonour tramples down honour, the gods soon blot him out and make that man’s house low, and wealth attends him only for a little time. Alike with him who does wrong to a suppliant or a guest, or who goes up to his brother’s bed and commits unnatural sin in lying with his wife, or who infatuately offends against fatherless children, or who abuses his old father at the cheerless threshold of old age and attacks him with harsh words, truly Zeus himself is angry, and at the last lays on him a heavy requittal for his evil doing. But do you turn your foolish heart altogether away from these things, and, as far as you are able, sacrifice to the deathless gods purely and cleanly, and burn rich meats also, and at other times propitiate them with libations and incense, both when you go to bed and when the holy light has come back, that they may be gracious to you in heart and spirit, and so you may buy another’s holding and not another yours.
(ll. 342-351) Call your friend to a feast; but leave your enemy alone; and especially call him who lives near you: for if any mischief happen in the place, neighbours come ungirt, but kinsmen stay to gird themselves (9). A bad neighbour is as great a plague as a good one is a great blessing; he who enjoys a good neighbour has a precious possession. Not even an ox would die but for a bad neighbour. Take fair measure from your neighbour and pay him back fairly with the same measure, or better, if you can; so that if you are in need afterwards, you may find him sure.
(ll. 352-369) Do not get base gain: base gain is as bad as ruin. Be friends with the friendly, and visit him who visits you. Give to one who gives, but do not give to one who does not give. A man gives to the free-handed, but no one gives to the close- fisted. Give is a good girl, but Take is bad and she brings death. For the man who gives willingly, even though he gives a great thing, rejoices in his gift and is glad in heart; but whoever gives way to shamelessness and takes something himself, even though it be a small thing, it freezes his heart. He who adds to what he has, will keep off bright-eyed hunger; for it you add only a little to a little and do this often, soon that little will become great. What a man has by him at home does not trouble him: it is better to have your stuff at home, for whatever is abroad may mean loss. It is a good thing to draw on what you have; but it grieves your heart to need something and not to have it, and I bid you mark this. Take your fill when the cask is first opened and when it is nearly spent, but midways be sparing: it is poor saving when you come to the lees.
(ll. 370-372) Let the wage promised to a friend be fixed; even with your brother smile — and get a witness; for trust and mistrust, alike ruin men.
(ll. 373-375) Do not let a flaunting woman coax and cozen and deceive you: she is after your barn. The man who trusts womankind trust deceivers.
(ll. 376-380) There should be an only son, to feed his father’s house, for so wealth will increase in the home; but if you leave a second son you should die old. Yet Zeus can easily give great wealth to a greater number. More hands mean more work and more increase.
(ll. 381-382) If your heart within you desires wealth, do these things and work with work upon work.
(ll. 383-404) When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising (10), begin your harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set (11). Forty nights and days they are hidden and appear again as the year moves round, when first you sharpen your sickle. This is the law of the plains, and of those who live near the sea, and who inhabit rich country, the glens and dingles far from the tossing sea, — strip to sow and strip to plough and strip to reap, if you wish to get in all Demeter’s fruits in due season, and that each kind may grow in its season. Else, afterwards, you may chance to be in want, and go begging to other men’s houses, but without avail; as you have already come to me. But I will give you no more nor give you further measure. Foolish Perses! Work the work which the gods ordained for men, lest in bitter anguish of spirit you with your wife and children seek your livelihood amongst your neighbours, and they do not heed you. Two or three times, may be, you will succeed, but if you trouble them further, it will not avail you, and all your talk will be in vain, and your word-play unprofitable. Nay, I bid you find a way to pay your debts and avoid hunger.
(ll. 405-413) First of all, get a house, and a woman and an ox for the plough — a slave woman and not a wife, to follow the oxen as well — and make everything ready at home, so that you may not have to ask of another, and he refuses you, and so, because you are in lack, the season pass by and your work come to nothing. Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work: industry makes work go well, but a man who putts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.
(ll. 414-447) When the piercing power and sultry heat of the sun abate, and almighty Zeus sends the autumn rains (12), and men’s flesh comes to feel far easier, — for then the star Sirius passes over the heads of men, who are born to misery, only a little while by day and takes greater share of night, — then, when it showers its leaves to the ground and stops sprouting, the wood you cut with your axe is least liable to worm. Then remember to hew your timber: it is the season for that work. Cut a mortar (13) three feet wide and a pestle three cubits long, and an axle of seven feet, for it will do very well so; but if you make it eight feet long, you can cut a beetle (14) from it as well. Cut a felloe three spans across for a waggon of ten palms’ width. Hew also many bent timbers, and bring home a plough-tree when you have found it, and look out on the mountain or in the field for one of holm-oak; for this is the strongest for oxen to plough with when one of Athena’s handmen has fixed in the share-beam and fastened it to the pole with dowels. Get two ploughs ready work on them at home, one all of a piece, and the other jointed. It is far better to do this, for if you should break one of them, you can put the oxen to the other. Poles of laurel or elm are most free from worms, and a share-beam of oak and a plough-tree of holm-oak. Get two oxen, bulls of nine years; for their strength is unspent and they are in the prime of their age: they are best for work. They will not fight in the furrow and break the plough and then leave the work undone. Let a brisk fellow of forty years follow them, with a loaf of four quarters (15) and eight slices (16) for his dinner, one who will attend to his work and drive a straight furrow and is past the age for gaping after his fellows, but will keep his mind on his work. No younger man will be better than he at scattering the seed and avoiding double-sowing; for a man less staid gets disturbed, hankering after his fellows.
(ll. 448-457) Mark, when you hear the voice of the crane (17) who cries year by year from the clouds above, for she give the signal for ploughing and shows the season of rainy winter; but she vexes the heart of the man who has no oxen. Then is the time to feed up your horned oxen in the byre; for it is easy to say: `Give me a yoke of oxen and a waggon,’ and it is easy to refuse: `I have work for my oxen.’ The man who is rich in fancy thinks his waggon as good as built already — the fool! He does not know that there are a hundred timbers to a waggon. Take care to lay these up beforehand at home.
(ll. 458-464) So soon as the time for ploughing is proclaimed to men, then make haste, you and your slaves alike, in wet and in dry, to plough in the season for ploughing, and bestir yourself early in the morning so that your fields may be full. Plough in the spring; but fallow broken up in the summer will not belie your hopes. Sow fallow land when the soil is still getting light: fallow land is a defender from harm and a soother of children.
(ll. 465-478) Pray to Zeus of the Earth and to pure Demeter to make Demeter’s holy grain sound and heavy, when first you begin ploughing, when you hold in your hand the end of the plough-tail and bring down your stick on the backs of the oxen as they draw on the pole-bar by the yoke-straps. Let a slave follow a little behind with a mattock and make trouble for the birds by hiding the seed; for good management is the best for mortal men as bad management is the worst. In this way your corn-ears will bow to the ground with fullness if the Olympian himself gives a good result at the last, and you will sweep the cobwebs from your bins and you will be glad, I ween, as you take of your garnered substance. And so you will have plenty till you come to grey (18) springtime, and will not look wistfully to others, but another shall be in need of your help.
(ll. 479-492) But if you plough the good ground at the solstice (19), you will reap sitting, grasping a thin crop in your hand, binding the sheaves awry, dust-covered, not glad at all; so you will bring all home in a basket and not many will admire you. Yet the will of Zeus who holds the aegis is different at different times; and it is hard for mortal men to tell it; for if you should plough late, you may find this remedy — when the cuckoo first calls (20) in the leaves of the oak and makes men glad all over the boundless earth, if Zeus should send rain on the third day and not cease until it rises neither above an ox’s hoof nor falls short of it, then the late-plougher will vie with the early. Keep all this well in mind, and fail not to mark grey spring as it comes and the season of rain.
(ll 493-501) Pass by the smithy and its crowded lounge in winter time when the cold keeps men from field work, — for then an industrious man can greatly prosper his house — lest bitter winter catch you helpless and poor and you chafe a swollen foot with a shrunk hand. The idle man who waits on empty hope, lacking a livelihood, lays to heart mischief-making; it is not an wholesome hope that accompanies a need man who lolls at ease while he has no sure livelihood.
(ll. 502-503) While it is yet midsummer command your slaves: `It will not always be summer, build barns.’
(ll. 504-535) Avoid the month Lenaeon (21), wretched days, all of them fit to skin an ox, and the frosts which are cruel when Boreas blows over the earth. He blows across horse-breeding Thrace upon the wide sea and stirs it up, while earth and the forest howl. On many a high-leafed oak and thick pine he falls and brings them to the bounteous earth in mountain glens: then all the immense wood roars and the beasts shudder and put their tails between their legs, even those whose hide is covered with fur; for with his bitter blast he blows even through them although they are shaggy-breasted. He goes even through an ox’s hide; it does not stop him. Also he blows through the goat’s fine hair. But through the fleeces of sheep, because their wool is abundant, the keen wind Boreas pierces not at all; but it makes the old man curved as a wheel. And it does not blow through the tender maiden who stays indoors with her dear mother, unlearned as yet in the works of golden Aphrodite, and who washes her soft body and anoints herself with oil and lies down in an inner room within the house, on a winter’s day when the Boneless One (22) gnaws his foot in his fireless house and wretched home; for the sun shows him no pastures to make for, but goes to and fro over the land and city of dusky men (23), and shines more sluggishly upon the whole race of the Hellenes. Then the horned and unhorned denizens of the wood, with teeth chattering pitifully, flee through the copses and glades, and all, as they seek shelter, have this one care, to gain thick coverts or some hollow rock. Then, like the Three-legged One (24) whose back is broken and whose head looks down upon the ground, like him, I say, they wander to escape the white snow.
(ll. 536-563) Then put on, as I bid you, a soft coat and a tunic to the feet to shield your body, — and you should weave thick woof on thin warp. In this clothe yourself so that your hair may keep still and not bristle and stand upon end all over your body.
Lace on your feet close-fitting boots of the hide of a slaughtered ox, thickly lined with felt inside. And when the season of frost comes on, stitch together skins of firstling kids with ox-sinew, to put over your back and to keep off the rain. On your head above wear a shaped cap of felt to keep your ears from getting wet, for the dawn is chill when Boreas has once made his onslaught, and at dawn a fruitful mist is spread over the earth from starry heaven upon the fields of blessed men: it is drawn from the ever flowing rivers and is raised high above the earth by windstorm, and sometimes it turns to rain towards evening, and sometimes to wind when Thracian Boreas huddles the thick clouds. Finish your work and return home ahead of him, and do not let the dark cloud from heaven wrap round you and make your body clammy and soak your clothes. Avoid it; for this is the hardest month, wintry, hard for sheep and hard for men. In this season let your oxen have half their usual food, but let your man have more; for the helpful nights are long. Observe all this until the year is ended and you have nights and days of equal length, and Earth, the mother of all, bears again her various fruit.
(ll. 564-570) When Zeus has finished sixty wintry days after the solstice, then the star Arcturus (25) leaves the holy stream of Ocean and first rises brilliant at dusk. After him the shrilly wailing daughter of Pandion, the swallow, appears to men when spring is just beginning. Before she comes, prune the vines, for it is best so.
(ll. 571-581) But when the House-carrier (26) climbs up the plants from the earth to escape the Pleiades, then it is no longer the season for digging vineyards, but to whet your sickles