To work the land as a form of living and to gain s
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
To work the land as a form of living and to gain sustenance as a result of this work, this is the issue addressed by both Hesiod in Works and Days and Virgil in The Georgics. However, while each poet advocates the same lifestyle, each poet\'s true meaning lies in what they hope to achieve through an agricultural existence. For Hesiod, a bucolic existence is a means of attaining plentiful stores, making life easier both socially and physically, as well as developing a closeness with the gods. On the other hand, Virgil felt that the life of a farmer was not just about attaining ample stores for living, but rather about developing a connection with nature, and ultimately achieving happiness as a result of this connection.
Throughout Works and Days, Hesiod discusses the proper approach to many aspects of farming. At the same time however, he makes constant references to various gods and goddesses, explaining their relation to whatever aspect of farming he is currently discussing, and continuing by illustrating the proper method of paying homage to these gods. The overall frame of mind held by Hesiod can be seen in lines 456 through 481. This passage begins with the work ethic held in such high esteem by Hesiod when he writes, "When ploughing-time arrives, make haste to plough."(pg. 73 l. 456) Constantly, Hesiod is making references to work ethic, describing idlers as men who will "wrestle with ruin all their days."(pg. 72 l. 407) The concept of idlers suffering at the hands of the gods surfaces frequently, as the lazy man is despised by both gods and men. In addition to the moral issues, Hesiod also focuses on the actualities of farming. He is constantly informing the reader on the approach to farming, and what to do during certain times of the year as well as what to do in certain situations. For instance, in the chosen passage, Hesiod writes, "And strike the oxen as they tug the straps. A slave should follow after with a stick to hide the seed and disappoint the birds."(pg.74 ll. 469-71) Here, Hesiod is simply describing the ploughing of the land and the deposit of seeds. All these explanations are conducive to the sole purpose of attaining plentiful stores. However, Hesiod does pay tribute to the gods, and he holds that prayers and sacrifices to the gods will have an impact on the farmer\'s success. This is evidenced when Hesiod writes, "Makes prayers to Zeus the farmer\'s god and to holy Demeter, for her sacred grain..."(pg.73 ll. 65-66) Finally, at the end of the passage, Hesiod describes the end result that is what motivates to begin with by writing, "If you proceed as I\'ve described...You\'ll sweep the cobwebs from your storage jars...Till pale spring arrives...other men will come to you in need."(pg.74 ll. 73-81) This final part of the passage illustrates the most important concepts that Hesiod was presenting, for in trying to dissuade his brother from his lazy ways, Hesiod told Perses that he would have to beg from others in order to gain sustenance if his stores were not plentiful. This was the deeply grounded existence that Hesiod advocated. Work and you will be rewarded, and thus you are assured of a meaningful existence based upon self sufficiency intermingled with homage to the gods.
The motives behind Virgil\'s advocated lifestyle were very different from those of Hesiod. Nevertheless, the two did have many similarities in content, if not in meaning. Like Hesiod, Virgil spends much time concentrating on various "how to" aspects of farming. However, unlike Hesiod, Virgil\'s explanations mingle with obvious, reverent tributes to nature, achieved through vivid description. For example, when Virgil is advising ass to what pastures one should take their goats or cattle, he says, "Go seek the distant glades of rich Tarentum or pasture such as hapless Mantua lost that feeds white swans upon its reedy rivers."(pg.83 ll. 197-98) In similar circumstance, Hesiod would most likely have been much more straightforward, discussing specifics of what to look for rather than describe areas that are of obvious beauty, obvious nature. Virgil also held Hesiod\'s reverence of the gods, yet, unlike Hesiod, this was not a central area of focus. Virgil seemed to use the various gods and
View Full Essay
Hesiod, Greek mythology, Works and Days, Georgics, Virgil, Pastoral, Muse
More Free Essays Like This