Works and Days

(Hesiod had an inkling too...)

It has been a great headache to find a title consistent with the contents of this ART TOPOS issue. One day we determined that we had run out of ideas and started asking our friends to find a plausible title.

Then early one morning, around 11, the telephone rang and our friend Ilias Kanellis (a contributor to Eleftherotypia newspaper, Anti magazine and Epochi weekly publication) said with a coarse voice (the voice you have before drinking your first coffee in the morning): "Works and Days"!

That was it!

So, out of a bit of curiosity and given the opportunity, we decided to have a look at Hesiod's text "Works and Days", an ancient text that very few seem to remember. We were actually hoping to dig up one of these apocalyptic references, the ones that jump out suddenly and unexpectedly in front of your eyes.

We have selected these few verses:

...Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labor and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have gray hair on the temples at their birth.
...for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another's city. There will be no favor for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right, and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis(1), with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.

(1): Divinities of Decency and Divine Retribution

(Hesiod "Works and Days", verses 174-181 & 189-201)
The translation was found (and copied for "fair use only", as you can see...) in the Perseus Project library, a wonderful resource for Ancient Greek History, Literature and Culture created by Tufts University.
We should all visit this site often to get some inspiration!

The Hesiod's head picture on the top of this page is a drawing from an old edition of "Eleftheroudakis" Encyclopaedia. It's mentionned there as a "ring-stone".



© ART TOPOS, 1996
Last update: 3 Aug. 1996