Works and Days Essay

Submitted By liinxx
Words: 953
Pages: 4

Hesiod was a Greek author from the eighth century BCE. One of his major works is described by Clifford R. Backman as “part letter to his brother Perses, part advice column and part abstract musings on human righteousness. According to Hesiod, the current Sixth Age of Man, the ‘race of iron,’ is consigned to labor; yet this labor is the key to success and happiness. Accordingly Hesiod provides snippets of advice from farming to the choice of a proper wife.” Hesiod’s Works and Days shows the thoughts of Greeks in the eighth century BCE. It being a letter meant for his brother gives people of today a better idea of what that period of time was like more than an impersonal piece of work would. A sense of interaction between two people will give you a better sense of what they are like than a simple monologue will. Hesiod’s work has lasted as long as it has, it must have meant something to the people in the eighth century BCE. His writing’s intractability and accessibility is what makes his work stand out.
Works and Days is a historical and theological piece. The excerpt begins with Greek mythology. An origin story of how the Greeks of that time came to be what they were. He tells his brother to “listen closely. If you wish, I will tell you another tale… about how the gods and mankind share the same origin.” Hesiod wrote as if the mythology was not common knowledge. By trying to illustrate a point to Perses it is seen that the gods and mythology of the time period may not have been very important to all members of Greek society. You would not want to demean your target audience by telling them a story they already know well. Perses and, if Works and Days was an open letter or published in some way, the rest of Greece would be insulted by this. The way Hesiod wrote, with a sense of interaction towards Perses, allows one to better understand Greek life in the eighth century BCE than any prose or poetry written simply to entertain the reader. Works and Days was written differently than other Greek works. It has a story-teller feel to it as opposed to Thucydides’ works who avoided using myths as a historical source and presented everything in a chronological arrangement. Hesiod is “a ‘primitive’ poet, carried to and fro by the miscellaneous and contrary urges of the Indo-European story telling tradition… groping his way from naïve orality towards the dimly glimpsed textual future of Greece’s archaic era.” Hesiod is writing in the eighth century BCE, right after the ‘Dark Age’ of Greece is ending. The way he wrote his works makes complete sense. He was one of the first to write down the mythology, along with Homer, and he wrote it in a way that someone would tell the stories if they were speaking. It adds to the interaction feeling and makes it very accessible. Hesiod’s Works and Days differs greatly from other documents of the time. Hesiod wrote much shorter poems than Homer for example. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey are quite long, novels by today’s standard, while Hesiod’s works are more like short stories or even modern poetry in length. This is, once again, something positive. The length of Works and Days makes it much more accessible than Homer’s work. Hesiod and Homer do share a similar metre and language but, length aside, we see vast differences in their poems’ content. Hesiod does not relate heroic adventures. He…