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Hesiod and Theognis
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Together the poetry of Hesiod and Theognis offers a superb introduction to the life and thought of ancient Greece. Hesiod’s Theogoney (c. 725 BCE) is a powerful creation myth: an epic, bloody tale of dark forces, sex and violence, tracing the history of the world from primeval Chaos to the establishment of Zeus as supreme king of the gods. In contrast, Hesiod’s Works and Days, written to advise his indolent brother Perseus, is an intriguing, sophisticated combination of ethical maxims, social and political comment and superstitious law. Elegiac rather than epic, the works of Theognis – written some two centuries after Hesiod – include theological speculations, love lyrics and moral advice for his protagonist Kurnos, reflecting the moods and themes of an aristocratic poet who mourned a changing Greek society.
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