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Penguin Classics Theogony And Works And Days And Elegies [Paperback]

Hesiod , Theognis , Dorothea Wender
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 2 2004 Penguin Classics
Together the poetry of "Hesiod and Theognis" offers a superb introduction to the life and thought of ancient Greece. Hesiod's "Theogoney" (c. 725 BCE) is a powerful creation myth: an epic, bloody tale of dark forces, sex and violence, tracing the history of the world from primeval Chaos to the establishment of Zeus as supreme king of the gods. In contrast, Hesiod's "Works and Days", written to advise his indolent brother Perseus, is an intriguing, sophisticated combination of ethical maxims, social and political comment and superstitious law. Elegiac rather than epic, the works of Theognis - written some two centuries after Hesiod - include theological speculations, love lyrics and moral advice for his protege Kurnos, reflecting the moods and themes of an aristocratic poet who mourned a changing Greek society.

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Review

'This is a very welcome publication, an authoritative translation of a major greek author at a reasonable price. Essential reading for classicists' J. G. Hourie, Dept. of Classics, University of Edinburgh

' Readers who have no previous knowledge of Hesoid will find this an extremely accessible book, written in such a way that the non-specialist will be able to read, follow and enjoy these works. This is in part due to Professor West's excellent translations and partly due to his real and profound interest in his subject, which is further reflectd by a most informative and useful introduction.' The Greek Rreview

'So much better than the corresponding Penguin translation of Hesiod. The introduction is splendid.' P. Walcot, University College, Cardiff.

'The edition is admirably produced, mercifully free from misprints ... an edition with a stimulating Introduction, a very readable translation' JACT Review

'West ... has now produced fine translations of these poems into fresh, lively and eminently readable English. It must quickly establish itself as the translation for English-speaking readers.' Jennifer R. March, University College, London. Classical Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Hesiod is an early Greek poet, whose work gives an insight into the creation myths of Greek society. Theognis, writing c.525 bce, was an aristocrat. Dorothea Wender is a well-know translator.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Very little is known about HESIOD and it cannot definitely be prove that the same man wrote both the Theogony and Works and Days. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction Feb. 3 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd been meaning to read these texts for years, and the Penguin edition, including Theognis as well, is a good anthology. The best thing, however, is the translator's introduction: Dorothea Wender actually had me laughing out loud at her frank appraisal of the shortcomings and peculiarities of the Theogony—this kind of humour is perhaps not something you might expect to encounter when reading introductions to Penguin Classics! Primitive, powerful, readings, making you focus on the essentials of human life as it has been lived for thousands of years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Penguin translations often go too far in pursuit of a contemporary and popular sound, for instance in the infamous Rieu translations of Homer, with Athena "dancing attendance on Odysseus like a lover"; but this one is perfect, probably the best of the entire Penguin Classics collection. The jewel in this excellent book is the translation of Hesiod's WORKS AND DAYS; a translation of exceptional quality, worthy of being mentioned in one breath with Robert Fagles and C.Day Lewis.
Next to it are the wonderful, engaging introductory essays, in which Professor Wender shows the most enchanting insight into the mentality and attitude of her poets, making them live on the page for us. It is unmistakeably the work of a specialist, yet it is pitched - successfully - at the ordinary reader. A person who knows nothing about the Classics will leave them not only having a clear and precise idea of the characters of Hesiod and Theognis, but having learned a considerable amount about what makes good poetry. If the translation shows the poetic gifts of a Fagles or Lewis, the introduction shows the critical eye of a truly great critic - a C.S.Lewis, a Matthew Arnold. Do not be misled by the reviewer who says that she "carps" at the Theogony; he is only showing his shock at the notion that someone might have different views from his own. Professor Wender's criticisms are justified, especially in view of her very insightful comparison of the literary quality of the THEOGONY and that of the WORKS AND DAYS. This is the model of what a paperback translation of a classic work should be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Standard reading May 14 2001
Format:Paperback
Hesiod is thought to have lived about the same time as Homer. In his "Theogony" he offers perhaps the most detailed Grecian creation myth still in existence. It traces the emergence of Gaia, her marriage to Ouranos, the fatherly castrations (Kronos / Ouranos & Zeus / Kronos), the hegemony of Zeus as well as a good bit of neurotic misogyny mixed in for good measure. The geneologies serve as a wonderful preamble for those who wish to read Homer and Virgil later on.
Above all else, however, Hesiod pays homage to Zeus. In page after page, the adulation that the author holds for the thunder god is unmistakable. There is no doubting as to who the "hero" of the poem is.
"Works And Days" can best be described as one of the earliest farmers almanacs in the western world. It is written as an "instruction manual for life" for his indolent brother, Perses. Throughout the work, Hesiod admonishes Perses on the subjects of ethics, self-control and moderation. He also writes on how to run a farm and when the best times to sail are. Later authors of this genre, such as Xenophon & Virgil, doubtlessly were inspired by Hesiod.
Theognis came a few centuries later than Hesiod, somewhere around 550 BC. His "Elegies" give a fascinating look at the transformation of Greek life in the 6th century. Slowly but surely, the Aristoi (the Greek ruling party) saw the erosion of its status, power & wealth. No longer were armies made up of the elite class; more and more, armies were comprised of hoplites, made up of working-class peasants. Along with the wartime duties went the justification (Arete) of the Aristoi's claim to power.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hesiod and Theognis June 18 2000
Format:Paperback
This is a collection of the poetry of Hesiod and Theognis, two Greek poets who lived 2500 or more years ago. I haven't a clue why they are included together, for all they have in common is their nationality. They lived two centuries apart, and their respective styles and subject matter are completely different. Hesiod wrote long didactic poetry, Theognis short epigrams. But no matter.
In her introduction Wender goes on and on about how rotten a poem the "Theogony" is. She carps over this so much, that one wonders: if it's so bad, then why translate it? Because it is so bad, she argues, it could not have been written by the Hesiod who wrote the "Works and Days", because no poet who wrote good in one place could write so bad in another. Whether or not Hesiod wrote both pieces, Wender is being incredibly naive if she thinks that a good poet is consistently good. Whitman and Coleridge, great poets both, have some really sorry stuff in their body of work, but they wrote it all none the less. Anyway, I read the "Theogony," and liked it, so I don't know what Wender was complaining about. From the nature of her complaints (Hesiod didn't play up such-and-such incident, etc.) it looks like a 20th century individual unable to properly appreciate 8th century BC interests and poetics. I do agree with her that the "Works and Days" is a wonderful piece of poetry.
As for Theognis, he is uneven. Much of his stuff is pedestrian, although quite a bit is interesting, like "The city's pregnant, Kurnos, and I fear | She'll bear a man to crush our swelling pride," which is rather an acute and vivid description of how dictators grow out of mob rule.
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