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Hesiod

Hesiod

Theogony Works and Days Great Eoiae
Great Works Aegimius Astronomy
Melampodia Idaean Daktyls Precepts of Cheiron
Shield of Herakles Doubtful Fragments Fragments of Unknown Position
Divination by Birds Marriage of Keyx Catalogues of Women and Eoiae

 Hesiod is considered to be one of the greatest Greek poets of all time. Homer was Hesiod's only peer.

 Hesiod presumably lived in the eighth century BCE and composed a number of poems including Theogony and Works and Days. He is also credited with a variety of other poems, which were either attributed to him because of their style or because the true authors were unknown. Other poems such as the Shield of Herakles and the Great Eoiae are assumed to have been written by Hesiod but there is no way to be certain.

 There are "facts" about the life of Hesiod embedded in several of his poems. The general consensus is that since Hesiod wrote about himself in a brief and humble way, the things he revealed were probably true. His father, perhaps named Dios, was either a farmer or seaman. Hesiod, his brother Perses and his father lived in the city of Kyme in Aeolis until they moved to a wretched village named Askra near Mount Helikon. Hesiod described Askra as bad in winter, muggy in summer, and at no time pleasant. When their father died, Hesiod and his brother vied for the inheritance. Perses apparently bribed the local officials to gain possession of his father's farm. In the poem Works and Days Hesiod chides his brother and offers advice as to how to administer a successful farm and live a moral and productive life.

 We are not given specifics as to how Hesiod earned a living after his brother took the family farm. While tending sheep on Mount Helikon, Hesiod encountered the Musesthe nine goddesses of the creative arts. The goddesses gave him a voice and a calling. After winning a poetry contest at the funeral games of a man named Amphidamas of Chalkis, Hesiod's talent was recognized and appreciated. The contest was later fictionalized and portrayed Hesiod defeating Homer because Homer recited poetry about warfare whereas Hesiod's poetry was of a more practical nature.

 Like Homer, Hesiod earned many honors long after his death by people and cities attempting to "cash in" on his reputation. Even though the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer are far more ambitious than Hesiod's works, Hesiod's contribution to ancient Greek literature is profound. His poem Theogony is considered to be the last word on the genealogy of the Greek gods and goddesses.

 The death of Hesiod was foretold by an oracle on the island of Delos. Hesiod was warned that he would die in a precinct of Nemean Zeus. Assuming the precinct to be at the Isthmus of Corinth, Hesiod settled in Oenoe in Lokris. As a guest of the sons of Phegeos, Amphiphanes and Ganyktor, Hesiod seduced their sister and was murdered by the two outraged brothers. The place where Hesiod was killed was sacred to Nemean Zeus ... the prophecy came true. His body was tossed into the sea and brought to shore by dolphins either at Oenoe or Askra. Even though many aspects of the accounts of Hesiod's death seem contrived, all versions of the story say Hesiod was buried at Oenoe.

 The above image might be the bust of Hesiod but the identity is not certain. The bust is a Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic original from the second century BCE.

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