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Hesiod and Theognis (Classics) Paperback – 29 Dec 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; Reprint edition (29 Dec. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442830
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Good and readable. We can use it in our Myth and Greek courses."--David H.J. Larmour, Texas Tech Univ"This is a good, serviceable translation by the foremost authority of Hesiod....very clear and accessible version....concise introduction and useful notes...deserves to become a text of preference in courses in translation."--Robert L. Fowler, Classical World"The introduction blends charm, substance, and clarity for new readers of Hesiod. West makes him unintimidating, understandable, and above all human."--Carole Weaver, Iona CollegeWest is the finest Hesiod scholar of our time, if not of all time, and accordingly his English prose version is an altogether worthy by-product of his long, fruitful studies His introduction is masterly; and the endnotes, though brief, tell enough for most readers' information or curiosity."--Religious Studies Review"Very reasonably priced, yet with pleasing type-setting, a helpful introduction, and endnotes. Turning the endnotes into footnotes would have been even better."--Christopher Magri, Northwestern State University"Good, clear translation, useful notes."--Dr. Karl M. Petruso, University of Texas at Arlington --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

I wrote this a while back, and I hope you enjoy it.
Well, after some conjurer brought me back from the dead to ask my why I wrote the Theogony, I ask Zeus to thunderbolt him and send him to Tartarus. Since I am here, now, I will say that my poetry is for enjoyment, pure and simple. I am, incidentally, a better author than Homer, and a much nicer guy. But going back to my comment, Zeus was never all that cruel towards his parents. As a matter of fact, he intends to let his dad Cronos out of Tartarus in a few centuries. Prometheus is another story, however. Anyhow, I made the poem gut-wrenching so you all would like it. I am overjoyed at the honor shown to me by all the printings of my work. Thanks --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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This translation by Dorothea Wender is well set out and easy to read.
Taking the works in order, Wender presents Theogony, Works and Days and the elegiac poetry of Theognis in a clear and concise manner bringing both life and a sense of excitment to the text.
Theognis' elegies are, as Wender herself proclaims, more freely translated. This should not be seen as a distraction; the same vigour evident in Hesiods works is retained in the poetry but the reading is easier because the language is contemporary.
Collected together, the work of Hesiod and Theognis can be viewed as having a common thread; the inconsistency of men and society and the need to trust in the gods. Whilst Hesiods 'Works and Days' gives common sense advice for the farmer, sailor and society, Theognis provides us with maxims and psychological attributes by which to organise our lives. Despite being written perhaps 200 years apart, Theognis' elegies reflect Hesiods words: Hesiod says "Shun evil profit, for dishonest gain is just the same as failure". Theognis echoes this thought with "Possesions come from Zues ... but if a greedy man ... acquires them ... he ends in sorrow."
In summary this book is enjoyable for many reasons; the translation is clear and a joy to read, the morals and observations still have a resonance today and the works are an excellent place for those interested in ancient Greek literature and intellectual thought to start or extend their investigation. Dorothea Wender is here congratulated for her presentation and style in bringing the works to life. An excellent read.
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Hesiod's Thegony is an archaic Greek epic from around the time of Homer, and gives us the creation and life stories of the Olympian gods, so is an interesting read alongside the Homeric Hymns. Full of sex and violence, these are the foundational stories of Greek myth and resonate throughout classical culture.

Like the other Penguins, this is a fairly loose translation of the original Greek which makes it very readable but no good as a crib.
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This is in some ways the best sort of book because it can be easily read in the course of a few hours, and can hold a few rather nice surprises. There are some good lines of poetry here, though I am unsure of the translation, and the sheer lack of information in the field of studies of these two poets is something of a hindrance to both the book and the poetry itself. However, if you truly love classical poetry this is pretty much a must buy.
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One of the things we can be sure of: Hesiod didn't 'write' this work. There was no European writing in his day (700 BCE or so, we think). It's the everyday life of an early Iron Age farmer, threatened with dispossession by his own brother and bribed magistrates. Doesn't that sound familiar even now? A farmer's life was never easy, and still isn't, and Hesiod explains. Yet, mixed in are references to other aspects of thought: superstition, wise sayings and distrust of authority. Very familiar too, isn't it? This is how Europe began, not with heroes and giants, but with everyday man and his labour.

Theognis (about 600 BCE?) is a different story, but not completely. He had been a wealthy landowner until political exile, for no clear reason. He expects us to know such things, for he's important, he would have you know. But something more about him: his exile hurts badly. He's lost all, and takes refuge in two things: alcohol and his affair with a younger man, Kyrnos. Most of the verse is erotic, directed to Kyrnos himself. Then he drifts off into what can be truly beautiful verse. One passage addresses his loss. I translated him long ago. The lines run (my version): The call of the crow returning, Kyrnos, bring a message to me not of spring arriving/Memories arise of the land, the city which I lost.
Lovely verse - and there's much more (around 1,300 lines in the original), with political, social comment and advice. But be warned: Theognis was far from a nice man. He was bitter and self-important. Was he reinstated? We don't know. One of his lines runs: 'Crush the foolish mob!' Did that view cause his exile, or was it his triumph on return? No-one can say. And that mystery is part of his attraction. Theognis, and Hesiod, haven't left us. We recognise them among us now. Their names have changed, but little else. Read any newspaper.
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