Hesiod and Aeschylus

Hesiod and Aeschylus

Volume: 30
Copyright Date: 1949
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Hesiod and Aeschylus
    Book Description:

    Friedrich Solmsen provides a new approach to Hesiod's personality in this book by distinguishing Hesiod's own contributions to Greek mythology and theology from the traditional aspects of his poetry. Hesiod's vision of a better world, expressed in religious language and imagery, pictures the savagery and brutality of the earlier days of Greece giving way to an order of justice. In this new order, however, the good aspects of the past would be preserved, giving an inner continuity and strength to the changing world.

    Solmsen traces the influence of Hesiod's ideas on other Athenian poets, Aeschylus in particular. From personal political experience Aeschylus could give a deeper meaning to Hesiod's dream of an organic historical evolution and of a synthesis of old and new powers. For Aeschylus, justice became the crucial problem of the political community as well as of the divine order. Through close readings of Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days and of Aeschylus' Prometheia and Eumenides, Solmsen reinterprets the political ideas of the Greek city state and the relation between divine and human justice as seen by early Greek poets.

    First published in 1949, this book has long been recognized as the standard work on Hesiod's influence. For the 1995 paperback edition, G. M. Kirkwood has written a new foreword that addresses the book's reception and discusses more recent scholarship on the works Solmsen examines, including the disputed authorship of Prometheia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6670-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)

    • CHAPTER I The Theogony
      (pp. 3-75)

      THE ANALYSIS of the Theogony of Hesiod which I attempt in the A following pages differs somewhat in aim and method from most of the scholarly work that in recent years has been done on this poem. The importance of distinguishing the ideas of Hesiod about the Greek gods from the mass of traditional material in the Theogony has to the best of my knowledge not been questioned — Wilainowitz, for one, was aware of the problem¹ — but two tendencies in recent Hesiodic scholarship seem to have diverted the attention of classical scholars from the historical analysis of Hesiod’s thought. Because...

    • CHAPTER II The Works and Days
      (pp. 76-100)

      IF IT IS asked which sections of the Theogony are in spirit and out-look closest to the Works and Days,¹ the answer of some critics could be inferred from the tenor of their comments on various episodes of the former poem.² They would point to the catalogue of the children of Night and to the harsh judgment passed on the role of woman in the life of man.³ The latter passage, in particular, not only reveals the same pessimistic view of human life which some students of Hesiod regard as the most characteristic trait of the Works and Days but...


      (pp. 103-106)

      TEACHER of most men is Hesiod,’ said Heraclitus and expressed his disapproval.¹ He did not say it for the use of source-hunting and influence-tracing philologists, and he may well have been thinking of the ‘inarticulate’ masses rather than of the intellectual leaders and outstanding poets. Yet the fact remains that this statement, even though not couched in the language which students of literature would use, is one of the very few early testimonies that we have regarding the influence exercised by an eminent literary figure. It is all the more surprising that little has been done to elucidate the dominating...

  5. CHAPTER I Solon
    (pp. 107-123)

    SOLON OPENS his most personal elegy with an invocation of the Muses, characterizing them by their Hesiodic parentage, and immediately proceeds to an enumeration of the goods which he wishes to adorn his life.¹ Most of these relate to his position among his fellow citizens² and are put down without qualification, but when it comes to wealth and possessions, Solon finds it necessary to make a distinction. He is keenly aware of the difference between ‘god-given wealth,’ which is acquired in a just fashion, and the riches that follow in the wake of unjust deeds. The former is lasting and...

  6. Index
    (pp. 225-230)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-232)