Hesiod’s Works and Days: A First Reading

"Hesiod's Works and Days: A First Reading," Agon 1 (1967): 150-174. Reprinted in The Archaeology of the Soul, 2012.


“Hesiod’s Works and Days is divided into nine sections. 1) 1-10 Proemium; 2)11-41 Two kinds of Eris; 3) 42-201 Two accounts of man’s misery; 4) 202-8 Justice and the city; 5) 286-341 Hesiod’s counsel; 6) 342-82 ta oikeia; 7) 383-705 Seasons of the year; 8) 706-64 Prohibitions; 9) 765-828 Days. We have set out to show that this scheme properly articulates Hesiod’s plans, and that only through it does Hesiod’s plan come to sight. We shall try to follow as closely as possible the way that Hesiod has marked out, so that both the scheme and the resons for the scheme might emerge together. By the OD by being a whole only yields its meaning at the end, an djust as the whole needs parts, the parts need the whole for their interpretation. We must therefore try to maintain a double vision. Each section must be taken as it comes in sequence, and what it looks back to is given greater weight at first than what it looks forward to; but only at first, for the OD is essentially progressive and ‘dramatic,’ not digressive and ‘didactic,’ and its end a guide to its beginning. The Works need the Days.”