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Theogony / Works and Days by Hesiod
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Theogony / Works and Days (edition 1966)

by Hesiod, M. L. West (Translator), M. L. West (Introduction)

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1,14597,136 (3.68)24
Member:norabelle414
Title:Theogony / Works and Days
Authors:Hesiod (Author)
Other authors:M. L. West (Translator), M. L. West (Introduction)
Info:Oxford University Press
Collections:Read, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:700s BCE, ancient Greece, Greek mythology, history, library, mythology, non-fiction, poetry, read, read 2012, religion, translation

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Theogony, Works and Days by Hesiod

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28. Theogony and Works and Days by Hesiod, translated by M. L. West
composition: c ~725 bce
format: 96 page Oxford World Classic Paperback
acquired: July 2015
read: May 23-25
rating: 3 stars

(My first book after [Gravity's Rainbow)....Hesiod's two surviving complete texts are very short and, while interesting, I did not find them terribly fascinating. They were maybe a bit light. West translated the work into prose. I would have preferred a poetic translation.

Theogony: Essentially a list, this serves as a catalogue of the origins of the Greek mythological family. There isn't that much more to it, and, for all that, it's not all that well organized. Hesiod did cover a lot of names and occasionally stumbles into an actual good story. The one memorable part to me was the birth of Aphrodite (Roman Venus). The sexually charged story has Titan Kronos cutting off his Heaven's, (Greek Uranus), genitals just as he is about to mount the Earth (Greek Gaia). They fall into the sea and the "foam" from his penis gives rise to Aphrodite. Aphro is apparently Greek for foam, so she is named after semen, or a euphemism for it anyway. How's that for religious imagery?

Works and Days: Hesiod writes life advice to his maybe not all-that-loved brother, Perses. There are a lot of aphorisms along the lines of work hard and don't slack off. And then there is a lot of advise on the seasons, on agriculture, on running a household and even a bit on how to plan your sailing if trading by sea. It's a kind of Greek almanac. I found it mildly entertaining.
  dchaikin | May 28, 2016 |
An interesting if labrynthine intro to the origins of the Greek gods. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Theogony would perhaps be of greatest interest to a student of the Greek myths, and perhaps they might notice the lack of an index in this edition. What I found most interesting is the language he uses to describe Zeus. We wouldn’t find much of that out of place in our own descriptions of God. The creation of woman also has some interesting parallels in Genesis. At other points it’s pick you own god time as he waxes lyrical about Hecate. I would image that the standard of the poetry is high in the original Greek but that is of course lost here so parts read almost as simple lists of names. It made me realise how much we must have lost here in England. Imagine what we’d know if the Celts had been literate.

Works and Days is a very different kettle of fish. It rambles about and degenerates towards the end but it gives a much clearer eye into the mind of the poet. He seems to hate the real world (look at the subject matter of Theogony). He’s bitter. His blames his brother for taking his land. Who knows if the accusations are true. He hates women and the way he intersperses his condemnation of his brother with his comments on them makes me suspect he has been cuckolded.

I’ve read a lot but never anything like these poems. Unique pieces of work. Best of all I think is being able to read something that is just so damn old. 2700 years of the text being copied and stored and read and added to and edited and passed on and translated and printed and sold so I can read the words of a man who stands in time closer to the Stone Age than he does to me. ( )
1 vote Lukerik | Nov 17, 2015 |
M. L. West translation - I had to read Theogony for my Coursera class, but I figured I might as well read Works and Days too, while I had it from the library.

Theogony: A narrative detailing the birth of the universe and the gods. Very interesting and relevant to my course. I knew most of the stories already, but I had never read the original.

Works and Days: This is kind of boring, but HILARIOUS if you read it as Hesiod trying to tell his little brother what to do, which it is. He tells his brother everything from what time during the year to plant his crops, to what kind of hat to wear when going outside in February, to where to pee. It has little blurbs about the gods sometimes, but mostly it is just a glimpse into everyday life for the Greeks in Hesiod's time. I can see why it was not assigned for my particular class, which was about Greek mythology specifically and not everyday Greek life. ( )
1 vote norabelle414 | Jan 14, 2013 |
It's not my favorite, by far, when it comes to works related to Greek or Roman Mythology. In truth, it's a bit of a tricky read, and downright tedious at times. Still, the two works do serve important purposes within that area of literature, so I can definitely appreciate them even if I don't truly enjoy them. The good notes helped with that as well. ( )
  TiffanyAK | Dec 26, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hesiodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haarlem, Cornelis C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssen, JacquesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kassies, WoltherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, M. L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, M. L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Muses of the sacred spring Pieria who give glory in song, come sing Zeus' praises, hymn your great Father through whom mortals are either renowned or unknown, famous or unfamed as goes the will of great Zeus.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192839411, Paperback)

This new, fully-annotated translation by a leading expert on Hesiodic poems combines accuracy with readability and includes an introduction and explanatory notes on these two works by one of the oldest known Greek poets. The Theogony contains a systematic genealogy and account of the struggles of the gods, and the Works and Days offers a compendium of moral and practical advice for a life of honest husbandry.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:57 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Written in the late eighth century BC by Hesiod, one of the oldest known of Greek poets, Theogony and Works and Days represent the earliest account of the origin of the Greek gods, and an invaluable compendium of advice for leading a moral life, both offering unique insights into archaic Greek society ... This translation contains a general introduction, a translator's introduction, notes, and a glossary."--Publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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