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Monday May 28, 2012 in Books
Philosopher C.S. Morrissey adapts Hesiod’s two great works, Theogony and Works and Days, taking into account the poet’s essential meditative insights that paved the way for the subsequent achievements of Greek philosophy, most notably of Plato, and thereby gave a distinctive shape to all of Western philosophy. Theogony recounts the genesis of the first generations of the Greek gods and recollects how Zeus used both force and persuasion to establish his cosmic reign of justice. Works and Days tells the story of the origin and ordination of human beings within this cosmos and their perennial struggle to win order from disorder in a world overwhelmed by harsh sorrows and injustice.
In the wake of personal adversity and suffering, Hesiod was inspired by the Muses to sing out against the untruth of society and to disclose the truth about justice in the cosmos. Theogony, which won him his laurels in a poetic competition, begins by telling of how the Muses chose him as an individual vessel of inspiration, to be a rival to Homer and the old myths with a newer vision of the struggle for justice among the gods. In Works and Days, Hesiod includes these autobiographical details within a reflection on the two-fold role of competition in life: “the bad strife” is visible everywhere in the manifold forms of universal disorder, although “the good strife” is part of the struggle tomaintain order in the wake of chaos and the primeval void.
These new translations are contextualized with a foreword by distinguished philosopher Roger Scruton and an afterword by the late philosopher and historian Eric Voegelin, who argues for the magnitude of Hesiod’s influence on Greek philosophy and Western history, and how his sublime contribution to literature has formed a signal bridge between myth and metaphysics.
ISBN 13: 9780889227002 | ISBN 10: 889227004
5 W x 8.5 H inches | 144 pages
$17.95 CAN / $17.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE008000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“C.S. Morrissey places a very modern sensibility under the light of these precious verses, and his translations remind us at every point that Hesiod’s gods are still with us, not as subjects to be worshipped and appeased through sacrifice, but as enduring motives that govern and disrupt our lives.”
– Roger Scruton, from the foreword
“Morrissey has brought fire and light to Hesiod’s work, and offered it to us with clarity and good humour, in the darkening air of our time.”
“We may look back to Hesiod’s poetry as representative of a cultural Golden Age when it was possible for a single work of literature to encompass the whole of traditional ‘wisdom’: high and low, ancient and modern, philosophical and poetic, practical and metaphysical.”
– New Republic
About the ContributorsHesiod
Hesiod, one of the earliest Greek poets, is generally thought by scholars to have been active in the eighth century BCE, at about the same time as Homer. Hesiod’s two complete extant works are Works and Days, which instructs on farming techniques and early economic theory, and Theogony, on the origin of the world and the genealogies of the gods. As author of some of the first autobiographical poems, Hesiod wrote in Works and Days that he lived in the village of Ascra in Boeotia in central Greece and that he won a tripod in a bardic competition at the funeral games of King Amphidamas.C.S. Morrissey
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