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Theogony Paperback – Jan 1 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 129 pages
  • Publisher: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co. (Jan. 1 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0941051005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941051002
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #317,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Richard Caldwell (deceased) was Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California. His PhD was from the University of Texas and he specialized in both the Classics and psychoanalysis. He wrote the popular transation of Hesiod's "Theogony" and a prose translation of Vergil's "Aeneid".

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At first glance the Theogony seems to be a rambling and disorderly collection of myths, genealogies, and hymns of praise. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a review of the extensively annotated translation of "Hesiod's Theogony" by Richard S. Caldwell -- just in case, as sometimes happens, it appears with a different translation. For those who are not familiar with it already, this is an account, in Homeric verse, of how the organized universe arose, expressed through generations of gods, their struggles for supremacy, and the culminating triumph of Zeus, with the great Olympians and a multitude of nature-deities listed along the way. Told in noble hexameters, it is an extremely violent story, full of abusive parents, mutilations inflicted by rebellious offspring, divine cannibalism, and a whole succession of other behavior the Greeks themselves considered repellent. The philosophers had real problems with this work -- one can understand why Plato wanted to ban poets from the ideal state.
As it happens, I own most (but not quite all) of the currently or recently available English translations: those by Apostolos N. Athanassakis, Norman O. Brown, Hugh G. Evelyn-White (bilingual edition, Loeb Classical Library), R.M. Frazer, Richmond Lattimore, Dorothea Wender (Penguin Classics), and M. L. West (Oxford World's Classics). Except for Brown, who also covers only the "Theogony," they all contain at least the other main Hesiodic poem, "Works and Days" as a companion piece. West is also the editor of a Greek text, with extensive commentary. In this crowded field, in which the renderings of Athanassakis and Lattimore are notable for the quality of their poetry, Caldwell stakes a claim to utility.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a scholar interested the Homer/Hesiod period of Greek literature/mythology of pre-Plato Ancient Greece, then by all means buy this book.
If you are an average reader looking for entertainment, try Bulfinch's Mythology instead. It is more easily understood and appreciated by the casual reader looking for entertainment.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the Caldwell translation, but this edition does not have his Introduction, Commentary or Interpretive Essay, even though these are listed on the cover of the copy that is shown when you click on "Look Inside."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Ian Myles Slater on An Excellent Package Oct. 1 2003
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a review of the extensively annotated translation of "Hesiod's Theogony" by Richard S. Caldwell -- just in case, as sometimes happens, it appears with a different translation. For those who are not familiar with it already, this is an account, in Homeric verse, of how the organized universe arose, expressed through generations of gods, their struggles for supremacy, and the culminating triumph of Zeus, with the great Olympians and a multitude of nature-deities listed along the way. Told in noble hexameters, it is an extremely violent story, full of abusive parents, mutilations inflicted by rebellious offspring, divine cannibalism, and a whole succession of other behaviors the Greeks themselves considered repellent. The philosophers had real problems with this work -- one can understand why Plato wanted to ban poets from the ideal state.

As it happens, I own most (but not quite all) of the currently or recently available English translations: those by Apostolos N. Athanassakis, Norman O. Brown, Hugh G. Evelyn-White (bilingual edition, Loeb Classical Library), R.M. Frazer, Richmond Lattimore, Dorothea Wender (Penguin Classics), and M. L. West (Oxford World's Classics). Except for Brown, who also covers only the "Theogony," they all contain at least the other main Hesiodic poem, "Works and Days" as a companion piece. West is also the editor of a Greek text, with extensive commentary. In this crowded field, in which the renderings of Athanassakis and Lattimore are notable for the quality of their poetry, Caldwell stakes a claim to utility.

The introduction contains numerous tables, displaying the relationships of various sets of gods, nymphs, monsters, and others, His translation is set out in verse lines, with running numbers at intervals of five, which makes locating references extremely easy. (No headnotes identifying thirty or fifty-line blocks of material!) An essay on the "Psychology of the Succession Myth" (rather simplistically Freudian, but interesting) is followed by a translation of some the most important related material from "Works and Days," and (hurray) parallel passages from a late prose compendium of Greek mythology, the Bibliotheke of Apollodoros (better known as the "Library of Apollodorus"). He has a useful (if now slightly dated) discussion of the main Near Eastern parallels. (Brown also discusses the comparative and psychological aspects of the poem, from different perspectives; his psychological treatment seems to me subtler, and more closely related to the political reading he offers.) [To be fair, I should have mentioned when this review was originally posted that Caldwell is here offering a simplified form of the argument in his 1985 book "The Origin of the Gods: A Pscyhoanalytic Study of Greek Theogonic Myth."]

There is a very good index-glossary. Most useful of all, however, are the running annotations. They range from the most elementary (assuming no prior knowledge of Greek myth or literature) to impressively advanced (issues of structure, technique, and deeper meanings). Caldwell explains that he has drawn heavily on West's commentary, which is nice, because West himself incorporated many of his conclusions implicitly in his prose translation, without the arguments that accompanied his text editions.

Given Caldwell's attention to detail, if you are a novice in the field who doesn't plan to build up even a small collection, but is willing to read a single volume with close attention, this might be your best choice. Those who already know the subject are likely to find it attractive, although sorting through such basic reminders as "Zephyros is the west wind, Boreas the north wind" in search of interpretive insights can be a test of patience.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Difficult to read!! June 11 2008
By Howard Schulman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite the numerous 5-star reviews here I'm going to have to give this a 3--the translation was just plain hard to read, even though I do like the verse format as opposed to the "paragraph" format. Even the introduction was written in very formal language. I actually bought this edition based on all the perfect ratings here, even though I also wanted to read Works and Days (this edition only has Theogony) and bought another edition that had WD in addition to Theogony. The translation of Theogony in the other edition (West) was so much easier to read. Also, the overabundant footnotes in Caldwell break up the normal reading flow. Too much! I got through it, but it wasn't really fun. And I've recently read the Odyssey, the Iliad, Herodotus, and several other overview books on ancient Greece, so I'm not a total novice here. This edition may be good for the profession but not the enthusiast.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A great piece of work! March 28 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hesiod's "Theogony" is excellently translated by Richard S. Caldwell. I have read other translations of Hesiod but preferred this one because it is done in verse as opposed to prose. The verse is not difficult to understand; the notes to the text are clear and good; the topic is made more interesting by way of the writing style. Overall, a very good piece of work.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Top-Quality Edition of Hesiod's classic: A Must-Have June 26 2007
By Jerry L. the Bibliophile - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Theogony is undoubtly a cornerstone in Classical Greek literature, and this work of Hesiod, unfortunately, does not have many great translations. However, Focus Classical Library has some of the best translations of classical works, most notably its editions of the Homeric Hymns, Metamorphoses, and Greek tragedians. Richard S. Caldwell, who also translated a prose version of the Aeneid for Focus Classical Library, has presented an unrivaled, strikingly original translation of the Theogony. The translation and explanatory notes are both top-notch quality materials.

Because of its accurate, highly original language, copious explanatory introductions and footnotes, and extremely helpful family trees, I highly recommend buying this edition of the Theogony. I prefer this edition a lot much more than Oxford World Classic's Theogony, which does not ave such an original or vivid translation, and does not also have as many explanatory notes, and Oxford does not have many explanatory notes which I feel are mandatory for modern Theogony Editions.

Inside this book, all the lines are numbered, and footnotes often take up more than half of the pages. Because of its highly original translation, original proper names and often literal translations of Greek expressions have to be explained through footnotes.

Also included is Appendix A, which contains Lines 1-201 of Hesiod's "Work and Days", describing Pandora and the five generations of giants before Modern Man. Appendix B consists of a portion of Apollodorus' Library of Greek Mythology, which is a late Hellenistic mini-Theogony. The index, though large and complete, is somwhat confusing to use.

Overall, I would highly recommend this edition of Hesiod's Theogony next to Richmond Latimore's verse translation of Hesiod's work. Edith Hamilton's mythology, Bulfinch's Mythology, and mythology dictionaries aren't enough for the serious - you NEED Hesiod's Theogony - straight from the source. Whether you are a student or professor studying/teaching Greek mythology or just a hardcore amateur mythology fan, you will NOT regret buying this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A cornerstone in an education in Greek mythology Feb. 29 2008
By Silas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a review of Richard S. Caldwell's translation of "Hesiod's Theogony". One of the other reviewers referred to this translation as being a verse translation as opposed to a prose translation. That does not imply the translation is made to rhyme! It means only the verse structure and numbering is maintained. I hope everyone knows that any poem that rhymes in the original language, very rarely rhymes when translated into English unless a lot of artistic license is used. (e.g. Alexander Pope's translation of the Iliad has more to say of Pope's skills as a poet than Homer's.) But, Caldwell does not use any artistic license (although sometimes I wished he had - Hesiod can be a bit cryptic at times). Instead, he has made a very assiduous and close translation, which is extensively (and at times thankfully) annotated.

In my reading I consider Hesiod, alongside Homer, to be a fountainhead from which all later Greek writers flow. It's not a Greek Bible, but it is the earliest full exposition of Greek creation mythology we have today. There are competing versions of some myths, but more often than not, this is the antecedent of many later Greek elaborations.

It's certainly a great work to cut your teeth on because if you can master the full panoply of gods and the tangled network of their relationships as sketched out by Hesiod, then you can hold your own when reading almost any other ancient Greek text. To this end, Caldwell is a very generous guide for leading novices down all those tricky paths. His copious footnotes leave few stones unturned.

Moreover, what I found to be a very gratifying addition to Hesiod was Caldwell's interpretive essay, "The Psychology of the Succession Myth". One reviewer referred to it as "rather simplistically Freudian, but interesting". I read Hesiod and Caldwell's essay before reading this review and I must admit I was worried myself, at first, that Caldwell was plunging into cheap Freudian psychology; but I was pleasantly surprised that he took it into another direction. I personally found the essay to be a very thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis.

The Theogony is full of incest, as most ancient myths are (e.g. the children of Adam and Eve); but Caldwell does not make the Freudian misstep in assuming that that is the natural desire of children. Instead Caldwell treats it as the logical fallacy people would naturally arrive at by extrapolating lines of familial descent, viz. if all cousins can trace their origins to one set of great grandparents, and so on, eventually there is a primordial set of first parents - and inherent in such a situation would be the necessity of incest for the race to multiply. (And also, because incest is a universal and natural taboo, which is always assumed to be negative in some manner for the resulting children, the only way incest is permissible is if the first generations are somehow superior to humans today - be they gods or superhuman like Methuselah.)

Unfortunately for the field of psychology, Freud might have gotten it half right, but he got the other half so terribly wrong that everything he touched is now taken with great suspicion. However, if one does try to think about the human mind at the beginning of its consciousness - for both the individual and for the species - one cannot not help but conclude that humans, _in part_, have little recourse but to metaphorically extrapolate their understanding of their own bodies out onto the world; and Caldwell is very conscious of those constraints, so I would not dismiss his analysis so easily as simplistic Freudianism.

In conclusion, if you are wondering which translation of Hesiod to get, I enthusiastically recommend Caldwell's. His will serve as an excellent resource if you plan on expanding your knowledge of ancient Greek writing because it is a constant source of clarity and illumination when walking the labyrinth of Greek myth.


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