, a very ancient Greek poet, is thought by some to have been contemporary with Homer, but there is more re.ason to think he was at least thirty years older. His father, as he tells us, was an inhabitant of Cuma, in one of the Æolian isles, now called Taio Nova and | removed from thence to Ascra, a village of Bceotia at the foot of mount Helicon, where Hesiod was probably born, and called, as he often is, Ascraeus from it. Of what quality his father was, is no where said; but that he was driven by misfortunes from Cuma to Ascra, Hesiod himself informs us. His father seems to have prospered better at Ascra, than he did in his own country; yet his son could arrive at no higher fortune, than that of keeping sheep at the top of Helicon, where the Muses met with iiim, and received him into their service.

Upon the death of the father, an estate was left, which ought to have been equally divided between the two brothers Hesiod and Perses; but Perses defrauded him in the division, by corrupting the judges. Hesiod was so far from resenting this injustice, that he expresses a concern for those poor mistaken mortals who place their happiness in riches only, even at the expence of their virtue. He lets us know, that he was not only above want, but capable of assisting his brother in time of need; which he often did, though he had been so ill used by him. The last circumstance he mentions relating to himself, is his conquest in a poetical contention. Archidamas, king of Eubosa, had instituted funeral games in honour of his own memory, which his sons afterwards took care to have performed. Here Hesiod was a competitor for the prize in poetry, and won a tripod, which he consecrated to the Muses. Plutarch, in his “Banquet of the Seven Wise Men,” makes Periander give an account of the poetical contention at Chalcis, in which Hesiod and Homer are made antagonists. Hesiod was the conqueror, and dedicated the tripod, which he received for his victory, to the Muses. We are told, that Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander had a dispute on this subject. The prince declared in favour of Homer; his father told him, “that the prize had been given to Hesiod;” and asked him, whether “be had never seen the verses Hesiod had inscribed upon the tripus, and dedicated to the. Muses on mount Helicon?Alexander allowed it; but said, that Hesiodmight well get the better, when kings were not the judges, but ignorant ploughmen and rustics.” The authority of these relations is, however, questioned by learned men; especially by such as will not allow these two poets to have been contemporaries, but make Hesiod between thirty and forty | years the older of the two, which agrees nearly with the chronology of the Arundelian marbles.

Hesiod, having entered into the service of the Muses, discontinued the pastoral life, and applied himself to the study of arts and learning. When he was grown old, for it is agreed by all that he lived to a very great age, he removed to Locris, a town about the same distance from, Parnassus as Ascra was from Helicon. The story of his death, as told by Solon in Plutarch’s “Banquet,” is very remarkable. The man with whom Hesiod lived at Locris, a Milesian born, ravished a maid in the same house; and though Hesiod was entirely ignorant of the fact, yet being maliciously accused to her brothers as an accomplice, he was injuriously slain with the ravisher, and thrown with him into the sea. It is added, that when the inhabitants of the place heard of the crime, they drowned the perpetrators, and burned their houses. We have the knowledge of some few monuments, which were framed in honour of this poet. Pausanias, in his Boeotics, informs us, that his countrymen, the Boeotians, erected to him an image with a harp in his hand; and relates in another place, that there was likewise a statue of Hesiod in the temple of Jupiter Olympicus. Ursinus and Boissard have exhibited a breast with a head, a trunk without a head, and a gem of him; and Ursinus says, that there is a statue of brass of him in the public college at Constantinople. The “Theogony,” and “Works and Days,” are the only undoubted pieces of this poet now extant: though it is supposed, that these poems are not perfect. The “Theogohy, or Generation of the Gods,Fabricius makes indisputably the work of Hesiod; “nor is it to be doubted,” adds he, “that Pythagoras took it for his, who feigned that he saw in hell the soul of Hesiod tied in chains to a brass pillar, for what he had written concerning the nature of the gods.” This doubtless was the poem which gave Herodotus occasion to say, that Hesiod and Homer were the first who introduced a Theogony among the Grecians; the first who gave names to the gods, ascribed to them honours and arts, and gave particular descriptions of their persons. The “Works and Days” of Hesiod, Plutarch assures us, were used to be sung to the harp. Virgil has shewn great respect to this poet, and proposed him as his pattern in his Georgics, though in truth he has greatly excelled him. There is also in the works of Hesiod a large fragment of another | poem, called the “Shield of Hercules,” which some have ascribed to him, and some have rejected. Manilins has given a high character of this poet and his works. Heinsi is in the preface to his edition of Hesiod remarks, that among all the poets, he scarce knew any but Homer and Hesiod, who could represent nature in her true native dress; and tells us, that nature had begun and perfected at the same time her work in these two poets, whom for that very reason he makes no scruple to call Divine. In general, the merit of Hesiod has not been estimated so highly; and it is certain that, when compared with Homer, he must pass for a very moderate poet: though in defining their different degrees of merit, it may perhaps be but reasonable to consider the different subjects on which the genius of each was employed. But his “Works and Days” is certainly an interesting and valuable monument of antiquity, as written so near what may be termed the origin of Greek poetry. The first edition of the “Opera et Dies” is supposed to have been printed at Milan in 1493, folio, and the first edition of Hesiod’s entire works, from the Aidine press, appeared at Venice, 1495, folio. Both are described in the Bibl. Spenceriana. The best editions since are those of Gra^vius, Amst. 1667, Gr. and Lat. Le Clerc, Amst. 1701, 8vo Robinson, Oxford, 1737, 4to; and Loesner, Leipsic, 1778, 8vo. All these are Gr. and Lat. We have English translations of the “Works and Days” by Chapman, 1618, 4to> and by Cooke, 1729 and 1740. 1


Moreri. —Vossius. —Saxii Onomast. Dibdin’s Classics.