“Works and Days” by Hesiod

The Origin of Pandora

Prometheus stole fire for men from Zeus in a hollow fennel-stalk, and Zeus in anger gave men as the price for fire “an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction”. Zeus sent “the gift” to Prometheus’ scatter-brained brother Epimetheus, who took it despite Prometheus’ bidding to never take a gift of Zeus, and evil came upon mankind.

Pandora was the first woman, the Greek equivalent of Eve in the Old Testament. Pandora was created to be a snare for mankind, whereas Eve was to be man’s help-mate. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'”(Genesis 2:18) Pandora spread evil among mankind of her own accord and from her own nature –Hesiod describes her in scathing terms in “Theogony” and here, whereas Eve was seduced by the Serpent.

“[Zeus] bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs.

The divine Graces and queenly Persuasion put necklaces of gold upon her, and the rich-haired Hours crowned her head with spring flowers. And Pallas Athene bedecked her form with all manners of finery. Also the Guide, the Slayer of Argus, contrived within her lies and crafty words and a deceitful nature … And he called this woman Pandora, because all they who dwelt on Olympus gave each a gift, a plague to men who eat bread.

The woman took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aegis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues, wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils and the sea is full. Of themselves diseases come upon men continually by day and by night, bringing mischief to mortals silently; for wise Zeus took away speech from them.”

All Works in Their Season

“So soon as the time for ploughing is proclaimed to men, then make haste, you and your slaves alike, in wet and in dry, to plough in the season for ploughing, and bestir yourself early in the morning so that your fields may be full. Plough in the spring; but fallow broken up in the summer will not belie your hopes. Sow fallow land when the soil is still getting light: fallow land is a defender from harm and a soother of children.

Pray to Zeus of the Earth and to pure Demeter to make Demeter’s holy grain sound and heavy, when first you begin ploughing, … Let a slave follow a little behind with a mattock and make trouble for the birds by hiding the seed; for good management is the best for mortal men as bad management is the worst. In this way your corn-ears will bow to the ground with fullness if the Olympian himself gives a good result at the last,…and you will be glad as you take of your garnered substance. And you will have plenty till you come to grey springtime, and will not look wistfully to others, but another shall be in need of your help.

Avoid shady seats and sleeping until dawn in the harvest season, when the sun scorches the body. Then be busy, and bring home your fruits, getting up early to make your livelihood sure. For dawn takes away a third part of your work, dawn advances a man on his journey and advances him in his work.

But when the artichoke flowers, and the chirping grass-hopper sits in a tree and pours down his shrill song continually from under his wings in the season of wearisome heat, then goats are plumpest and wine sweetest; women are most wanton, but men are feeblest, because Sirius parches head and knees and the skin is dry through heat. But at that time let me have a shady rock and wine of Biblis, a clot of curds and milk of drained goats with the flesh of an heifer fed in the woods, that has never calved, and of firstling kids; then also let me drink bright wine, sitting in the shade, when my heart is satisfied with food, and so, turning my head to face the fresh Zephyr, from the everflowing spring which pours down unfouled thrice pour an offering of water, but make a fourth libation of wine.

For a man wins nothing better than a good wife, and, again, nothing worse than a bad one, a greedy soul who roasts her man without fire, strong though he may be, and brings him to a raw old age.

Remember all works in their season but sailing especially.”

References:

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