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03-Feb-2018 14:44 by 10 Comments

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The personality behind the poems is unsuited to the kind of "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is instead "argumentative, suspicious, ironically humorous, frugal, fond of proverbs, wary of women." He resembles Solon in his preoccupation with issues of good versus evil and "how a just and all-powerful god can allow the unjust to flourish in this life".

It is probable that Hesiod wrote his poems down, or dictated them, rather than passed them on orally, as rhapsodes did—otherwise the pronounced personality that now emerges from the poems would surely have been diluted through oral transmission from one rhapsode to another.

Fanciful though the story might seem, the account has led ancient and modern scholars to infer that he was not a professionally trained rhapsode, or he would have been presented with a lyre instead.

It might seem unusual that Hesiod's father migrated from Asia Minor westwards to mainland Greece, the opposite direction to most colonial movements at the time, and Hesiod himself gives no explanation for it.

According to Aristotle's Constitution of Orchomenus, when the Thespians ravaged Ascra, the villagers sought refuge at Orchomenus, where, following the advice of an oracle, they collected the ashes of Hesiod and set them in a place of honour in their agora, next to the tomb of Minyas, their eponymous founder.

Eventually they came to regard Hesiod too as their "hearth-founder" ( Greeks in the late 5th and early 4th centuries BC considered their oldest poets to be Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer—in that order.

Unlike his father, Hesiod was averse to sea travel, but he once crossed the narrow strait between the Greek mainland and Euboea to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis, and there won a tripod in a singing competition.

He also describes a meeting between himself and the Muses on Mount Helicon, where he had been pasturing sheep when the goddesses presented him with a laurel staff, a symbol of poetic authority (Theogony 22–35).

Two different—yet early—traditions record the site of Hesiod's grave.

One, as early as Thucydides, reported in Plutarch, the Suda and John Tzetzes, states that the Delphic oracle warned Hesiod that he would die in Nemea, and so he fled to Locris, where he was killed at the local temple to Nemean Zeus, and buried there.

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This tradition follows a familiar ironic convention: the oracle that predicts accurately after all.

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