Theogonia, c. 700 B.C.E. (Theogony, 1728)
Erga kai Emerai, c. 700 B.C.E. (Works and Days, 1618)
One of the chief sources about the mythology of the early Greeks is the poem Theogony, ascribed to a man about whom very little is known for certain. One of the earliest known Greek poets, Hesiod (HEE-see-uhd) personified the Boeotian school of poetry. Works and Days, while marking a high point in Greek didactic poetry, with its precepts, fables, and allegories, provides a portrait of its author as a placid but hard-working Boeotian farmer whose merchant father came from the Aeolic Cyme in Asia Minor at a time when the writer was very young, or shortly before his birth.
Most scholars agree that Hesiod lived just before or after 700
After his father’s death, Hesiod, a bachelor, and his brother Perses disputed the inheritance. Apparently the brother connived with corrupt judges and other political powers to deprive Hesiod of his share after having wasted his own. According to Plutarch, Thucydides, and others, Hesiod went to Orchomenus and Naupactus and was finally murdered in the sacred enclosure of the Nemean Zeus in Ozolian Locris, by relatives of a woman in whose seduction he had some part. By command of the Delphic Oracle, his remains were removed to Orchomenus, where Aristotle places his grave.
Hesiod founded and typified the second of two great ancient poetic traditions. His Boeotian school of epic poetry is often contrasted with the Ionic style of his predecessor, Homer. Two of Hesiod’s major poems survive. Theogony traces the genealogy of the gods of ancient Greece. Works and Days, apparently composed after Theogony, provides maxims for living an honest life (aimed at his brother). Deriving in large measure from his own experiences, it also gives much practical advice on agriculture and seafaring and discusses other more encompassing themes, such as the parable of Pandora’s box and the digressive ages of human history. It is known that he wrote other works, but they have not survived. Two works that have survived, at least partially–the Shield and Catalogue of Women–were traditionally attributed to Hesiod. Scholars no longer accept them as authentically Hesiod’s, but they still are frequently included in collections of his works.