Works and Days by Hesiod

1163 Words 5 Pages
Sometime around 750-600 B.C.E., the Greek poet Hesiod produced what is generally thought to be the oldest surviving Greek poetic works. During this time, Greece was near the middle of its Archaic period, a period of technological, social, political, and cultural innovations. This was the period in which the first true alphabet system arose, the system which allowed Hesiod and other poets like him to record permanently the oral stories and lyrics so important to Greek culture. This was also the time in which the Greek polis emerged – what is today translated as “city-state” – as a result of increases in population size. Hand in hand with the increase in population and formation of political bodies like the polis comes the colonization of …show more content…
He tells Perses not to be a pauper, “Crouching in the homes of others, doing no earthy good/as now you come to me once more,” (lines 395-396) and that instead Perses should “Go work, you fool! It’s what the gods have set mankind to do” (line 398). He says to his brother, you must work so that you will not go hungry, so that “revered Demeter (goddess of the harvest) fill/your granary with livelihood” (lines 299-301). And in explaining why men were made to work, Hesiod touches on another theme of Works and Days, the woe that women bring to men. As Hesiod tells it, the first woman was created by Zeus as revenge against Prometheus from deceiving Zeus and giving the gift of fire to men against his wishes. In retaliation, Zeus had Hephaistos, the god of the forge, create from clay a mortal woman resembling the immortal goddesses. He had Athena dress her, and Aphrodite make her wanted by men (lines 59-66). Finally, he had Hermes place inside her “a currish mind and thievish character” (line 67). And then Zeus sent herb down to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. Pandora, as she was called, meaning All-Gifted, or one who is given gifts from all the gods, brought with her a jar, which she opened, unleashing suffering onto the world. Only Hope remained within the jar, the lid quickly shut before it could escape (lines 84-98). And thus Pandora damned men, previously living happily on earth, “remote from
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