Works And Days Hesiod Analysis

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Archaic Greek society was dominated by religion; the gods were intimately connected with an individual’s everyday life and were perceived to take an active role in ensuring that men lived up to their expectations. In The Iliad the gods directly communicated with men and even adopted human forms to participate in their affairs. Hesiod’s early poem Works and Days does not include the gods as active characters but this was not because religion had become less predominate in the lives of Greeks or because the gods took a lesser interest in men’s affairs. Despite the lack of direct interaction between men and the gods, the gods were still perceived as considerable forces with the power to make mortal men “mentioned and unmentioned.” In Works and…show more content…
The Greek’s preoccupation with the gods is revealed very early in the text. Hesiod validates his text by evoking the muses, he asks the muses to “come to [him] and tell of Zeus.” This statement authorizes his text due to the traditional belief that “the Muses provide mankind access to the will of Zeus.” In addition, Hesiod’s evocation of the muses serves to underline the incredibly active role the gods were seen to play in everyday life. As Stephanie Nelson argues Works and Days is very concerned with showing the gods’, particularly Zeus’, absolute control over man’s affairs. Hesiod’s allegory of the hawk and the nightingale is deliberately constructed to show men’s powerlessness before the gods. In the fable the hawk tells the nightingale that crying is pointless since she is in “the power of one much superior, and you will go whichever way I take you, singer though you are.” The hawk’s address to the nightingale mirrors Hesiod’s earlier statement that “Zeus the resourceful deprived [mankind] of voice. Thus there us no way to avoid the purpose of Zeus.” Just as the nightingale cannot escape the hawk no matter how loudly she cries man cannot escape the will of the gods no matter how much he prays. Like the hawk, Zeus is impervious to men’s cries and this disregard for the desires of men gives him the power to take them…show more content…
Hesiod warns his crooked brother Perses that he must “Hearken to Right…For this was the rule for men that Kronos’ son laid down.” This idea that the principle of Right, or justice, comes directly from the gods is repeatedly asserted throughout the text and strengthened even further by Hesiod’s personification of Right as a maiden goddess, the “daughter of Zeus, esteemed and respected by the gods in Olympus” Not only is Right a rule for men set down by the gods, but it is an individual personality who reports directly to Zeus when someone has wronged her to ensure that individual is punished by the gods. The personification of Right as a maiden identifies her as a weak force that needs to be protected from the abuse of others, just as it is a man’s duty to protect his household Zeus is responsible for protecting his household, including his defenseless, maiden daughter. However, Wei Zhang argues that Zeus’s interest in justice surpasses his familial obligation and reminds us that in Theogony Hesiod wrote that Zeus’s rise to power as the king of the gods depended upon his use of justice. Zhang points out that, according to Hesiod, Zeus was able to defeat Kronos because unlike his father Zeus behaved justly during

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