Most artists use poetry, novels, and paintings, among other mediums, to express themselves or reflect on societal issues. For example, through artworks, an individual may choose to address certain societal ills such as corruption, deaths, or war. Similarly, some people use poetry to express their difficulties in relationships or family matters. Despite the fact that poetry has a long history, some works continue to have an impact in today’s world. Homer and Hesiod are two of the most famous poets in Greek literature history. The two are considered by modern scholars to be the most important sources of Greek mythology. As such, this paper will strive to compare the two authors in relation to their mythologies. The paper also strives to substantiate the claim that, although Hesiodic poetry did not entail heroic themes, it took the form of traditional epics and shared with Homer fundamental diction, dialectal, and metrical features.
There are numerous explanations illustrating the link between Hesiod and Homer. The compositions of both poets were in the traditional meter, dactylic hexameter, as well as in an oral methodic tradition. Like Hesiod, Homer was mainly concerned with conveying traditional material via the oral performance. Comparing the two regarding diction demonstrates that both poets utilized standard traditional formulas. The manner in which this aspect exhibits itself within the two implies that epic was primarily driven via a “Panhellenic” instinct, i.e., an aspiration to entice many city-states (Rosen). Therefore, analyzing both language and themes, Hesiodic and Homeric poetry typifies a drive from the epichoric structure, toward presentations that could be comprehensible and eloquent in the entire Greece.
As portrayed in most of their works, Hesiod and Homer utilize similar diction, dialectal, and metrical features. Ancient poetry seemed to use similar structures to safeguard what the readers were already acclimatized. Moreover, the two were shaped by the poetic traditions of the Greek. Bred and nurtured within the Greek literature, Homer and Hesiod accurately exemplified their culture through the artworks.
After comparing two famous works by the two poets, i.e., Theogony and Odyssey, even though the composers shared similar linguistic and formal tradition in their writings, they differed in authorial self-presentation, subject matter, and length. Homer’s poetry epitomized epic narratives that were long and comprised of heroes, often in battle. His epic can be described largely as hexameter poetry, which celebrated past heroes with the fabrication of impersonality and objectivity. On the contrary, Hesiod’s poems are short and did not dwell much on heroes or any aspects of war. For instance, in the Theogony, the main themes revolve around the rise of the Olympian gods, their struggles, genealogies, and eventual moral victory, without portraying them as heroes. The contrast between the two can also be illustrated by how they depict the King in the Theogony and Odyssey. In the Theogony, the narrator states “This is why there are wise kings: when populates are aggrieved, they make amends for them with ease…..When he goes among a congregation, they strive for his favor with appeasing respect, as if he were a god, and he stands out among the multitude” (Athanassakis). On the other hand, Homer tends to be more critical of the king stating that, “One man has a feeble appearance, but god adorns him with fluency, and people…. Speaks faultlessly in public with pacifying admiration, and distinguishes himself from the crowd….Another man may have the physical attributes of an immortal god but lack the fluency. So in your situation, you have a distinguished look…..But you are a fool.” These two passages tend to have similarities implying that they may be related but the difference in the argument is quite clear (Lombardo).
In conclusion, although Homer and Hesiod differed regarding the context of their poetry, the two were very similar regarding the structures. One of the key differences is illustrated in appreciation of epics, where Homer characterized this style by dwelling on heroes and aspects of war, while Hesiod is rather silent on the same. The similarities are embedded in the metrical, diction, and dialectal features of their artworks.
Athanassakis, A. “Hesiod’s Theogony, Works and Days.” (1983): 1-12.
Lombardo, Stanley. Homer: The Essential Odyssey. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2007.
Rosen, Ralph. “Homer and Hesoid.” (1997).