November 12, 2002
More On 'Hesiod' II

'Hesiod' is the kind of hypocrite who calls others 'dipshit' and worse, but gets all bent out of shape (10/21, 8:00:05 PM) if someone (Jim Treacher) calls him 'Hayseed'. He seems to be unaware that the original Hesiod, the Greek poet who wrote around 700 B.C., was an agricultural poet. If you were to ask any classicist what ancient poet would most plausibly be called 'hayseed', most would say Hesiod without hesitation. The true and original Hesiod composed two epic poems, the Theogony (note spelling), on the genealogies of the gods and the origin of the cosmos, and the Works and Days, which is for the most part an agricultural manual, full of advice on when to plant your crops and how to build a wagon (the latter a horribly difficult passage -- diagrams hadn't been invented). Texts and translations of both works are available at Tufts University's invaluable Perseus project. In the Works and Days, Hesiod boasts of how he "crossed the wide sea at Aulis" (651) to go to the funeral games of Amphidamas on Euboea, where he won first prize for his poetry, most likely by singing his Theogony. The strait at Aulis is all of 70 yards across, and Hesiod must have "crossed the wide sea" by taking a ferry boat. The entire journey from the hick town of Askra to the games in Euboea was around thirty miles each way. In short, the Hesiod whose name our modern troll has borrowed was himself a total hick, a hayseed. Too bad the modern Hesiod's epithets are so much less accurate than Treacher's.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at November 12, 2002 11:50 PM

..."crossed the wide sea at Aulis."
Sounds like the same tongue-in-cheek humor of the folk song, "The Erie Canal." In other words, the same sort of hayseed, lowbrow humor.

Posted by: CGeib on November 13, 2002 01:30 AM

I recommend laughing at him, but keep the butterfly net close at hand.

Posted by: Anna on November 13, 2002 06:35 PM

Didn't Hesiod write rather more than two epics? The Catalogue of Women, the Melampodia, the Aegimius and The Precepts of Chiron were all, I think, several books long...

Posted by: Iain Murray on November 15, 2002 02:02 PM

Sorry, I should have said "two surviving epic poems". There are indeed lots of known titles and surviving fragments of lost works of Hesiod, some of the latter quite substantial, but the only works with his name on them that have survived more or less intact are the Theogony, Works and Days, and Shield of Heracles, and the last is spurious.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on November 16, 2002 07:25 PM