Books

Hesiod and Theognis

Hesiod (and others)

Together the poetry of Hesiod and Theognis offers a superb introduction to the life and thought of ancient Greece. Hesiod's Theogoney (c. 725 BCE) is a powerful creation myth: an epic, bloody tale of dark forces, sex and violence, tracing the history of the world from primeval Chaos to the establishment of Zeus as supreme king of the gods. In contrast, Hesiod's Works and Days, written to advise his indolent brother Perseus, is an intriguing, sophisticated combination of ethical maxims, social and political comment and superstitious law. Elegiac rather than epic, the works of Theognis - written some two centuries after Hesiod - include theological speculations, love lyrics and moral advice for his protégé Kurnos, reflecting the moods and themes of an aristocratic poet who mourned a changing Greek society.

Biography

Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, probably lived in the eighth century BC in the backwater of Askra, a hamlet in Boeotia, on the Greek mainland. As the probable author of both the Theogony and Works and Days, he is the first self-styled poet in Western literature, the first to tell us his own name and the first to advertise himself as a prize-winning poet.