Hesiod Works And Days Analysis

1177 Words5 Pages
For many centuries, humans have looked to religion for hope and to better understand the world they lived in. In modern times, religion still has a central role in millions of people’s lives and often even influences the political structures and decisions of communities. During the Archaic Period in Greece, religion played an even more crucial role in the functions of everyday people and society as a whole. Almost every Greek poet from the early 8th century to the early 5th century BCE mentioned gods and religious rituals in their writings. Religion and deities were central to the ancient Greek’s history, their moral beliefs, their actions, and the way they carried out their daily tasks. Hesiod, Archilochus, Alcman, Alcaeus, Sappho, Solon,…show more content…
Fundamental beliefs such as the existence of gods, their influences on human affairs, and the need to please the gods were widespread enough to influence Greek government and society (Cartwright). One of the earliest examples of these beliefs can be found in Hesiod’s Works and Days. Hesiod was a poet whose poetry is are seen as a source about life in Greece around the years of 700BCE (Shapiro. 5). Although Works and Days is focused on the author giving advice about how to live a successful and good life, the idea that religion was “personal, direct, and present in all areas of life” comes across clearly (Cartwright). At the very beginning of Works and Days, Hesiod addresses the Muses (Hesiod. p51.1). This first line helps us already gain an understanding that the poet believed that the Muses existed and that they were closely linked with the arts of song. This same belief is evident in the work of Archilochus, an early to mid-7th century BCE poet from Paros, who later moved to Thasos (Miller. 1), “I am a servant of Enyalios the battle…show more content…
Hesiod writes “Neither would you wreck your ship nor would the sea lay men to waste, unless indeed Poseidon the Ground-Shaker is bent on it, or Zeus… sees fit to destroy them” (Hesiod p121.665-8). This exhibits the power of both Poseidon, and Zeus, who decide whether or not a ship will have safe passage. Later in the Archaic period, poet Solon indicated that other gods had vast, strong powers similar to Zeus’s when he describes the gifts of the immortal gods as inescapable (13.64). In this line, Solon did not address the power of one god specifically but, instead, indicated that all the gods were powerful enough to influence the lives of mortals. Alcaeus, who lived between 620 and 570 BCE on the island of Lesbos, also spoke about the power of the gods (Graham-Skoul, “Lyric Poets of Lesbos”, slide 16). In lines 5-7 of fragment 298 he wrote “…if they had put to death the man who wronged the gods… they would have been met with gentler seas” (298.5-7). This quote indicates that the gods were responsible for safe passage of the seas, further supporting the idea of the gods’ involvement in human lives. Even Pindar, who wrote during the end of the Archaic Period, from 518-438BCE (Miller. 125), mentioned the power of the gods indicating that the belief in their power was still prominent. He believed that no man in any action would be able to elude the power of the divinities (Olympian

More about Hesiod Works And Days Analysis

Open Document