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Theogony, Works and Days (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – May 13, 1999

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Good and readable. We can use it in our Myth and Greek courses."--David H.J. Larmour, Texas Tech Univ

"This is a good, serviceable translation by the foremost authority of Hesiod....very clear and accessible version....concise introduction and useful notes...deserves to become a text of preference in courses in translation."--Robert L. Fowler, Classical World

"The introduction blends charm, substance, and clarity for new readers of Hesiod. West makes him unintimidating, understandable, and above all human."--Carole Weaver, Iona College

`West is the finest Hesiod scholar of our time, if not of all time, and accordingly his English prose version is an altogether worthy by-product of his long, fruitful studies His introduction is masterly; and the endnotes, though brief, tell enough for most readers' information or curiosity."--Religious Studies Review

"Very reasonably priced, yet with pleasing type-setting, a helpful introduction, and endnotes. Turning the endnotes into footnotes would have been even better."--Christopher Magri, Northwestern State University

"Good, clear translation, useful notes."--Dr. Karl M. Petruso, University of Texas at Arlington

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 79 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (May 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192839411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192839411
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.2 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater on December 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Some of the other reviews offered with M.L. West's translation of Hesiod's "Theogony" and "Works and Days" for the Oxford World's Classics actually refer to Dorothea Wender's verse translation of the same works, plus a charming version of the collection of lyrics attributed to Theognis, published in the Penguin Classics. That is a worthwhile version -- although the joining of the peasant-oriented Boeotian Hesiod to the mainly aristocratic, and partly Athenian, "Theognis" corpus is a little odd.

West's version of the two main Hesiodic poems is, however, in prose, and offers the latest in textual and historical scholarship -- although this is not very obviously on display. West, who has edited much (perhaps by now all) of the "Hesiodic" corpus, with substantial technical commentaries (along with a good deal of Homer and the "Homeric Hymns"), offers here his best reading of the two long poems which seem most firmly attributed Hesiod. (Although some, including Wender, would prefer two poets, in addition to the problem of interpolations).

West's commentary, although useful, is surprisingly sparse, given what he could have offered; a lot of detailed argument has been converted into the translation itself.

"Theogony," for those not familiar with the work even by reputation, is the story of the origins and struggles of the gods of Classical Greece. Although the meter and basic style are those of the Homeric epics, and the gods are mainly the same, many details are different (Zeus is a younger son, not the eldest, for example), and the struggles between various generations are the foreground story, not a long-concluded background to the reign of Zeus.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on January 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Theogony" is one of, if not "the", original sources of Greek mythology. Hesiod tells us the full genealogy and origins of the Greek gods, and how the hegemony of Zeus was established after bitter fights and prolific intercourse with godesses and human females. Perhaps the most impressive part of this poem is the story about the god Typhoon. Hesiod depicts a horrific set of disasters that happened to the Earth, with Typhoon apparently being an unimaginable electric storm. Scholars like Immanuel Velikovsky have taken this episode as proof that many centuries ago, Venus and Mars, then wandering cosmic bodies, came very close to each other in a location near the Earth, which presumably caused our planet's rotation to stop, with the following earthquakes, electric storms and the like. In fact, reading that passage by Hesiod strongly seemed to me to be the writing of very old memories of a defining catastrophe that left an indelible mark on human memory. Be that true or not, the poem is very powerful.
"Works and Days" is a very different story. After Hesiod's father died, his apparently indolent brother Perses tried to rob him of part of the inheritance. We all know how bitter fights among siblings can be, especially about inheritances. So Hesiod decided to write a book to teach his brother some lessons, beginning with a little history and theology, and then some practical advice on how to make a decent living by hard work and honesty. The result is a simply wonderful account of some important myths, like the ages through which man has passed (Golden, Silver, Heroic, Bronze and our own), as well as Pandora's myth. He also tells us about Prometheus, the Christ-like figure of the Greeks.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By F. P. Barbieri on May 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Penguin translations often go too far in pursuit of a contemporary and popular sound, for instance in the infamous Rieu translations of Homer, with Athena "dancing attendance on Odysseus like a lover"; but this one is perfect, probably the best of the entire Penguin Classics collection. The jewel in this excellent book is the translation of Hesiod's WORKS AND DAYS; a translation of exceptional quality, worthy of being mentioned in one breath with Robert Fagles and C.Day Lewis.
Next to it are the wonderful, engaging introductory essays, in which Professor Wender shows the most enchanting insight into the mentality and attitude of her poets, making them live on the page for us. It is unmistakeably the work of a specialist, yet it is pitched - successfully - at the ordinary reader. A person who knows nothing about the Classics will leave them not only having a clear and precise idea of the characters of Hesiod and Theognis, but having learned a considerable amount about what makes good poetry. If the translation shows the poetic gifts of a Fagles or Lewis, the introduction shows the critical eye of a truly great critic - a C.S.Lewis, a Matthew Arnold. Do not be misled by the reviewer who says that she "carps" at the Theogony; he is only showing his shock at the notion that someone might have different views from his own. Professor Wender's criticisms are justified, especially in view of her very insightful comparison of the literary quality of the THEOGONY and that of the WORKS AND DAYS. This is the model of what a paperback translation of a classic work should be.
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