Works and Days — Hesiod

Works and Days by the Greek poet Hesiod is a persuasive work and partly a manual on how to farm and live an honest, prosperous life. It begins with Hesiod persuading his brother, Perseus, to share their inheritance, which the latter had taken. The latter half of the poem is a useful handbook on how to farm, sail, have slaves and live prosperously.

In the beginning of the poem, Hesiod tries to persuade his brother by telling him that the source of all men and gods is the same. He explains how there were two races of beings in the beginning. One was that of the spirits and they were good. The second, the Silver Race, were those who would not worship Zeus nor obey him, and they were cast out.

There were however other creations. Man, terrible and strong, was created. But some fell: “…and they left the bright light of the sun….” Demi-gods were also created.

Works and Days (Hesiod)

Works and Days (Hesiod)

In the latter half of the poem, Hesiod turns to giving his brother advice on agriculture and how to be happy and wealthy. Among the advice Hesiod gives are these lines: “Harvest at the right times; don’t procrastinate; dress appropriately for each season; manage your time.”

This whole work points to the idea that hard work, ethics, rituals, omens and luck are what make and determine success and failure.


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