Hesiod Notes

Hesiod: Works and Days

Strife; strive.

Strife delights in mischief

don’t hold my heart back from work

i have little concern with quarrels ; and i reap Demeter’s grain— bourne from the earth.

don’t raise dispute and strive to get another goods.

we have already divided our inheritance (of life); disregard if others seize the grater share?

greatly swelling the glory of our bribe-swlalong lords.

they don’t know the great advantages of the humble.

Zeus forced us to labor; because Prometheus screwed him. Promotheus hid fire.

Hermes; deceitful and shameful mind.


the deathless gods— same as mortal; but don’t die.

golden race of mortal men.

live like gods without sorrow of heart; remote and free from toil and grief.

when (golden race) of mortal men died; it was like they were overcome with sleep.

they dwelt in ease and peace in their lands ; rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.

‘pure spirits’ dwelling on earth

kindly deliver us from harm

‘blessed spirits’ by the underworld of men.

brain race of men; sprung from ash-trees

they were hard of heart like adamant.

great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs.

their armor was of bronze, and houses of bronze; and bronze were implements — no black iron.

terrible though they were; black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.

they lived untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of the deep swirling Ocean; happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year; far from the deathless gods.

grain-giving earth; bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing 3 times a year! Gratitude .

bounteous (beneficial) earth.

‘race of iron’ and men never rest from labor and sorrow by day; and perish from night.

some good mingled with their evils.

we will be destroyed as mortal men

men will dishonor their parents as they grow quickly old; and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words; hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods.


one man will sack another’s city.

he is a fool who tries to withstand the stronger.

violence is bad for a poor man.

even the prosperous cannot easily bear its burden; but is weighed down under it when he has fallen into delusion.

go to justice; beats Outrage when she comes at length to the end of the race.

Peace; the nurse of children.

the all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them.

to do true justice; famine or disaster will not prevent me.

VICTUS; vivere (live) — we will have food to live. why need more?

the earth will provide enough food; have clothes (wooly sheep with fleeces), and i will flourish with good things, and do not travel on ships.

the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.

WE all share death — what motivates people to live is fear of death?

far-seeing Zeus gave man prosperity

between us and Goodness; the gods have placed the sweat of our brows.

life is rough in beginning; but when i reached the top; she’s easy to reach.


to help other men find their inner-light.

Both gods and men are angry with a man who lives idle

don’t waste the labor of bees; eating without working.

work hard; to fill my barns full of victual (food); to live.

through work, men grow rich in flocks and substance— and working; I’m more loved by the immortals.

‘work is no disgrace; it is idleness which is a disgrace.’

if you work; the idle will soon envy you as you grow rich— for fame and renown attend on wealth.

whatever the lot of fate has given you; work is the best.

ignore the property of other men; attend to my own work and livelihood.

shame is with poverty; confidence with wealth.

if I’m confident; work hard- – I will be wealthy.

wealth should not be seized; god-given wealth is much better.

god will give me wealth.

call your friend to a feast; but leave your enemy alone.

help my friends; leave my enemies alone— ignore them.

‘he who enjoys a good neighbor has a precious possession’

not even an ox would die for a bad neighbor.

don’t get wrongful gain; wrongful gain is as bad as ruin.

give to one who gives; but do not give to one who does not give. (jesus says; give to all)

‘a man gives to the free-handed; but no one gives to the close-fisted.’

Give is a good girl; but Take is bad and she brings death.

GIVE more than I TAKE.

‘the man who gives willingly, even though he gives a great thing rejoices in his gift and is glad in heart.’

whoever gives to shamelessness and takes something; even though it small; it freezes my heart.

‘he who adds to what he has, will keep off bright-eyed hunger.’

keep adding to myself; i will never go hungry.

‘if you add only a little to a little and do this often; soon that little will become great.’

what a man has by him at home doesn’t trouble him.

it is better to have my stuff at home; because whenever i bring things abroad, i might lose it.

it is a good thing to draw on what you have (borrow from myself).

it grieves my heart to need something and not to have it.

‘take your fill when the cake is first opened and when it is nearly spent; be sparing.’

‘let the wage promised to a friend be fixed’

smile with witness; god is my witness.

don’t let others go after my barn.

more hands means more work; more increase of wealth.

‘if your heart within you desires wealth; do these things and work with work upon work.’

To become wealthy; just work.

‘work the work which the gods ordained for men.’
i bid you to find a way to pay your debts and avoid hunger.


Things to get:

  1. House
  2. Woman
  3. Ox (for the plough) — computer?
  4. A slave woman (technology) to follow the computer.

‘do not put your work off until tomorrow and the day after.’

a sluggish worker does not fill his barn; nor one who puts off his work.

industry makes work go well, but a man who puts off work is always at hands-grips with ruin.

‘remember to hew your timber’

Get two oxen; bulls of 9 years — for their strength is unspent and they are in the prime of their age; best for work.

let a fellow of 40 years old work; with a loaf of four quarters and eight slices for dinner. keep my mind on my work.

the crane vexes the heart of the man who has no oxen.

what is todays oxen?

take care of my oxen.

‘the idle man who waits on empty hope; lacking a livelihood; lays to heart mischief-making.’

the industrious man can greatly prosper his house.

‘it will not always be summer; build barns now.’

the cruel frost.

escape the white snow.

‘lace on your feet close-fitting boots of the hide of a slaughtered ox; thickly lined with felt inside.’

in winter; let oxen have 1/2 their normal food. but let men have more food; for the helpful nights are long.

dawn advances a man on his journey and advances him in his work

let me drink bright wine, sitting in the shade.

when my heart is satisfied with food; turning my head to face the fresh Zephyr, from the everflowing spring which pours down unfold thrice pour an offering of water; and make a fourth libation of wine.

measure grain and store it in jars.

look for servant-girl with no children.

unyoke the oxen.

admire a small ship; but put your freight in a large one.

the loud-roaring sea; avoid trading?

trust in the winds without care.

make all haste that you can return home

‘man wins nothing better than a good wife’

‘the best treasure a man can have is a sparing tongue’

if you speak evil; you yourself will soon be worse spoken of.

common feast the best— the pleasure is greatest and the expense is least.


talk is mischievous; light and easily raised- but hard to bear and difficult to get rid of.

‘Talk never wholly dies away when many people voice her.’