Book of the Moment: Hesiod's Theogony

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“Though a man’s heart be withered with grief of a recent bereavement, if then a singer, the servant of the Muses, sings of the famous deeds of men of old, and of the blessed gods who dwell in Olympus, he soon forgets his sorrows and thinks no more of his family troubles, quickly diverted by the goddesses’ gifts.”

Hesiod’s Theogony as well as Works and Days are known for being two of the most archaic poems known to humanity. Hesiod lived just a bit after Homer, around 700 BC (probably). Whereas, Homer is known for his sprawling epic poems delivered at festivals Hesiod brings his poems hearthside. Just like Homer the poems were usually sung. I’ll just speak a bit about the first work in the collection.

Hesiod’s Theogony depicts the birth and lineage of the Greek gods in the pantheon, which also means the creation of all things. It’d be helpful to compare Hesiod’s origin story to the one found in the bible. In the Hebrew tradition, there are also family lineages, but the family of Greek gods represent cosmic and natural things, such as, Kronos (Time), Khaos (Air), Nyx (Night), Pontos (Sea), Ouranos (Sky). The Greek gods gave birth to everything because they represent everything. On the other hand, God in the Hebrew tradition comes before everything and gives life to everything. This is just one of the many distinctions amongst an abundance of similarities when comparing the Greek and Hebrew traditions.

As we work to get our library up and running, I'll be writing here about some of my favorite finds in our piles of donated books. Make sure to check back for more reviews and praises of books in the Benton House library!