Front Page Titles (by Subject) WORKS AND DAYS - The Poems and Fragments
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WORKS AND DAYS - Hesiod, The Poems and Fragments 
The Poems and Fragments done into English Prose with Introduction and Appendices by A.W. Mair M.A. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908).
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WORKS AND DAYS
Not one breed of Strife is there on earth, but twain. One shall a man praise when he beholdeth her, but the other is a thing of reproach, and diverse altogether are their souls. The one increaseth evil war and contention, for frowardness. No man loveth her, albeit the will of the immortals constraineth men to worship grievous Strife. But the other is the elder child of black Night, and her the Son of Kronos, who dwelleth in the height of Heaven, both in the Earth’s foundations and among men made mightier far. She stirreth even the helpless to labour. For when he that hath no business looketh on him that is rich, he hasteth to plow and to plant and to array his house: and neighbour vieth with neighbour hasting to be rich: good is this Strife for men. So potter with W25-52potter contendeth: the hewer of wood with the hewer of wood: the beggar is jealous of the beggar, the minstrel jealous of the minstrel.
O Perses, lay thou this to heart, nor let Strife that exulteth in evil turn thy mind from work, to watch contention and to hearken in the market-place. Little time hath he for wrangling and contention, who hath not laid up at home store of food for the year, the seasonable fruits of the earth, Demeter’s grain. When thou hast gotten thee enough thereof, then be contentious for the goods of others. But no more mayst thou do thus. Let us straightway judge between us with just judgement, even of Zeus, which is best. Already had we divided our inheritance, and much besides didst thou seize and carry away, for the great glory of the bribe-devouring princes, who are fain to judge this suit. Fools! who know not how much more is the half than the whole, nor what blessedness there is in mallow and asphodel.
For the gods have hidden the livelihood of men. Lightly in a day mightst thou have won sufficient store even for a year of idleness, and soon mightst thou have hung the rudder in the smoke, and the work of oxen and of sturdy mules had perished. But Zeus in his anger hid the bread of life, for that Prometheus of crooked counsels had deceived him. Wherefore Zeus devised sorrow for men, and hid fire. But that the good son of Iapetos stole again for men from Zeus the Counsellor in a hollow fennel stalk, what time the Hurler of the Thunder knew not. W53-80But in wrath did the Gatherer of the Clouds say to him. ‘Son of Iapetos, cunning above men, thou joyest to have dealt deceitfully and stolen fire, great bane as it shall be to thyself and to the men of aftertime. For fire will I give them an evil thing wherein they shall rejoice, embracing their own doom.’
So spake the Father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And He bade glorious Hephaistos speedily to mingle earth with water, and put therein human speech and strength and make as the deathless goddesses to look upon the fair form of a lovely maiden. And Athene He bade teach her handiwork, to weave the embroidered web. And He bade golden Aphrodite shed grace about her head and grievous desire and wasting passion. And Hermes, the Messenger, the Slayer of Argos, He bade give her a shameless mind and a deceitful soul.
So Zeus bade and they hearkened unto Zeus the King, the Son of Kronos. Straightway of earth did the glorious Lame One fashion the likeness of a modest maiden, as the Son of Kronos willed. And the goddess grey-eyed Athene girdled and arrayed her: the goddess Graces and the Lady Persuasion hung chains of gold about her: the fair-tressed Hours crowned her with flowers of spring. All manner of adornment did Pallas Athene bestow about her body. And in her breast, the Messenger, the Slayer of Argos, put lies and cunning words and a deceitful soul, as Zeus the Thunderer willed. Also the Messenger of the gods gave her speech. And he named this woman W80-107Pandora, for that all the dwellers in Olympos had bestowed on her a gift: to be the bane of men that live by bread.
Now when He had wrought the sheer delusion unescapeable, the Father sent the glorious Slayer of Argos, the gods’ swift Messenger, unto Epimetheus with the gift. And Epimetheus took no thought how Prometheus had bidden him never take a gift from Olympian Zeus, but send it back, lest haply it become the bane of men. But he took it, and afterward in sorrow learned its meaning.
For of old the tribes of men lived on the earth apart from evil and grievous toil and sore diseases that bring the fates of death to men. For in the day of evil men speedily wax old. But the woman took off the great lid of the Jar with her hands and made a scattering thereof and devised baleful sorrows for men. Only Hope abode within in her unbreakable chamber under the lips of the Jar and flew not forth. For ere she could, the woman put on the lid of the Jar, as Zeus the Lord of the Aegis, the Gatherer of the Clouds, devised. But ten thousand other evils wander among men. For the earth is full of evil and the sea is full. By night and by day come diseases of their own motion, bringing evil unto mortal men, silently, since Zeus the Counsellor hath taken away their voice. So surely may none escape the will of Zeus.
And if thou wilt, yet another tale will I build for thee, well and cunningly, and do thou lay it to thy W107-137heart: how from one seed spring gods and mortal men. First of all, a golden race of mortal men did the Immortal Dwellers in Olympos fashion. These lived in the time of Kronos when he was king in Heaven. Like gods they lived, having a soul unknowing sorrow, apart from toil and travail. Neither were they subject to miserable eld, but ever the same in hand and foot, they took their pleasure in festival apart from all evil. And they died as overcome of sleep. All good things were theirs. The bounteous earth bare fruit for them of her own will, in plenty and without stint. And they in peace and quiet lived on their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and dear to the blessed gods. But since this race was hidden in the earth, Spirits they are by the will of mighty Zeus: good Spirits, on earth, keepers of mortal men: who watch over dooms and the sinful works of men, faring everywhere over the earth, cloked in mist: givers of wealth. Even this kingly privilege is theirs.
Then next the Dwellers in Olympos created a far inferior race, a race of silver, no wise like to the golden race in body or in mind. For a hundred years the child grew up by his good mother’s side, playing in utter childishness within his home. But when he grew to manhood and came to the full measure of age, for but a little space they lived and in sorrow by reason of their foolishness. For they could not refrain from sinning the one against the other, neither would they worship the deathless gods, nor do sacrifice on the holy altars of the Blessed Ones, as is the manner W137-167of men wheresoever they dwell. Wherefore Zeus in anger put them away, because they gave not honour to the blessed gods who dwell in Olympos. Now since this race too was hidden in earth, they beneath the earth are called blessed mortals: of lower rank, yet they too have their honour.
Then Zeus the Father created a third race of mortal men, a race of bronze, begotten of the Meliai, terrible and strong: whose delight was in the dolorous works of Ares and in insolence. Bread they ate not: but souls they had stubborn of adamant, unapproachable: great was their might and invincible the arms that grew from their shoulders on stout frames. Of bronze was their armour, of bronze their dwellings, with bronze they wrought. Black iron was not yet. These by their own hands slain went down to the dank house of chill Hades, nameless. And black Death slew them, for all that they were mighty, and they left the bright light of the sun.
Now when this race also was hidden in earth, yet a fourth race did Zeus the Son of Kronos create upon the bounteous earth, a juster race and better, a godlike race of hero men who are called demigods, the earlier race upon the boundless earth. And them did evil war and dread battle slay, some at seven-gated Thebes, the land of Kadmos, fighting for the flocks of Oidipodes: some when war had brought them in ships across the great gulf of the sea to Troy for the sake of fair-tressed Helen. There did the issue of death cover them about. But Zeus the Father, the W167-193Son of Kronos, gave them a life and an abode apart from men, and established them at the ends of the earth afar from the deathless gods: among them is Kronos king. And they with soul untouched of sorrow dwell in the Islands of the Blest by deep eddying Okeanos: happy heroes, for whom the bounteous earth beareth honey-sweet fruit fresh thrice a year.
I would then that I lived not among the fifth race of men, but either had died before or had been born afterward. For now verily is a race of iron. Neither by day shall they ever cease from weariness and woe, neither in the night from wasting, and sore cares shall the gods give them. Howbeit even for them shall good be mingled with evil. But this race also of mortal men shall Zeus destroy when they shall have hoary temples at their birth. Father shall not be like to his children, neither the children like unto the father: neither shall guest to host, nor friend to friend, nor brother to brother be dear as aforetime: and they shall give no honour to their swiftly ageing parents, and shall chide them with words of bitter speech, sinful men, knowing not the fear of the gods. These will not return to their aged parents the price of their nurture: but might shall be right, and one shall sack the other’s city. Neither shall there be any respect of the oath abiding or of the just or of the good: rather shall they honour the doer of evil and the man of insolence. Right shall lie in might of hand, and Reverence shall be no more: the bad shall wrong the W193-220better man, speaking crooked words and abetting them with an oath. Envy, brawling, rejoicing in evil, of hateful countenance, shall follow all men to their sorrow. Then verily shall Reverence and Awe veil their fair bodies in white robes and depart from the wide-wayed earth unto Olympos to join the company of the Immortals, forsaking men: but for men that die shall remain but miserable woes: and against evil there shall be no avail.
Now will I tell a tale to princes who themselves are wise. Thus spake the hawk to the nightingale of speckled neck, as he bore her far aloft to the clouds in the clutch of his talons, while she, on his crooked talons impaled, made pitiful lament: unto her he spake masterfully: ‘Wretch! wherefore dost thou shriek? Lo! thou art held in the grasp of a stronger. There shalt thou go, even where I carry thee, for all thy minstrelsy. And as I will, I shall make my meal of thee, or let thee go. A fool is he who would contend with the stronger. He loseth the victory and suffereth anguish with his shame.’ So spake the swift-flying hawk, the long-winged bird. But do thou, Perses, hearken to justice, neither nurse insolence. Insolence is an ill thing for a poor man. Not even a good man may lightly bear it, but burdened by it chanceth upon doom. Better is it to pass by on the other side, to ensue justice. Justice in the end is better than insolence, and the fool learneth it by suffering. For Oath (Horkos) runneth close on crooked judgements. There is the noise of the haling of Justice wheresoever bribe-devouring W220-247men hale her, adjudging dooms with crooked judgements. And she followeth weeping, clad in mist and fraught with doom, unto the city and the homes of men, who drive her forth and deal with her crookedly.
But whoso to stranger and to townsman deal straight judgements, and no whit depart from justice, their city flourisheth and the people prosper therein. And there is in their land peace, the nurse of children, and Zeus doth never decree war for them. Neither doth Famine ever consort with men who deal straight judgements, nor doom: but with mirth they tend the works that are their care. For them earth beareth much livelihood, and on the hills the oak’s top beareth acorns, the oak’s midst bees: their fleecy sheep are heavy with wool: their wives bear children like unto their parents: they flourish with good things continually, neither go they on ships, but bounteous earth beareth fruit for them. But whoso ensue evil insolence, and froward works, for them doth Zeus of the far-seeing eyes, the Son of Kronos, decree justice. Yea, oftentimes a whole city reapeth the recompense of the evil man, who sinneth and worketh the works of foolishness. On them doth the Son of Kronos bring from Heaven a grievous visitation, even famine and plague together, and the people perish. Their women bear not children: their houses decay by devising of Olympian Zeus: or anon He destroyeth a great host of them within a wall it may be, or the Son of Kronos taketh vengeance on their ships in the sea.
Best is that man who thinketh on all things for himself, taking heed to that which shall be better afterward and in the end: and good, too, is he who hearkeneth to good advice: but whoso neither thinketh himself nor layeth to heart the words of another—he again is a useless man.
But do thou be ever mindful of our injunction, and work, noble Perses, that hunger may abhor thee, but worshipful Demeter of the fair crown love thee and fill thy barn with livelihood. For hunger is altogether meet companion of the man who will not work. At him are gods and men wroth, whoso liveth in idleness, like in temper to the stingless drones, which in idleness waste and devour the labour of the bees. Be it thy W306-335choice to order the works which are meet, that thy barns may be full of seasonable livelihood. By works do men wax rich in flocks and gear: yea, and by work shalt thou be far dearer to immortals and to mortals: for they utterly abhor the idle. Work is no reproach: the reproach is idleness. But if thou wilt work, soon shall the idle man envy thee thy wealth: on wealth attend good and glory. And whatever be thy lot, work is best, if thou wilt turn thy foolish mind from the goods of other men to work and study livelihood as I bid thee. Ill shame attendeth the needy man: shame which greatly harmeth men or greatly helpeth. Shame goeth with unweal: boldness with weal.
Wealth is not to be seized violently: god-given wealth is better far. For if a man do seize great wealth by violence of hand, or steal it by craft of tongue, as chanceth oftentimes when greed beguileth the mind of men and shamelessness trampleth upon shame, lightly the gods abase him and make that man’s house decay, and weal attendeth him but for a little while.
Alike is he who wrongeth a suppliant and he who wrongeth a guest, or he who entereth his brother’s bed to lie with his wife privily, doing the works of sin: or he who in his foolishness sinneth against fatherless children: or who chideth an aged person on the evil threshold of old age, assailing him with harsh words. Against him surely Zeus himself is angered, and in the end for his unrighteous works he layeth on him a stern recompense.
But from these things do thou utterly refrain thy W335-361foolish soul, and with all thy might do sacrifice to the deathless gods in holy wise and purely, and burn glorious meat offerings withal, and at other times do thou propitiate them with libations and with incense, both when thou layest thee to rest and when the holy daylight cometh, that they may have a gracious heart and mind towards thee, and that thou mayest buy the estate of others, not another thine.
Call to meat him that loveth thee, but leave thine enemy alone. And call him chiefliest who dwelleth nigh thee. For if aught untoward happen in the township, the neighbours come ungirt, the kinsmen gird themselves. An ill neighbour is a bane, even as a good neighbour is a great blessing. He who findeth a good neighbour findeth a precious thing. Not an ox even will perish if thy neighbour be not bad. Take just measure from thy neighbour and give him just return with the same measure or yet better if thou canst, that even so afterward in thy need thou mayst find him a sure help. Get not ill gains: ill gains are even as disasters. Love him that loveth thee and visit him that visiteth thee. And give to him that giveth and give not to him that giveth not. To the giver one giveth, but none giveth to him that giveth not. A gift is good, but theft is evil, a giver of death. For whatsoever a man giveth willingly, give he never so much, he hath joy in his gift and rejoiceth in his heart: but whoso hearkeneth to frowardness and taketh aught himself, be it never so little, it chilleth the heart. For if thou addest but little to little and W362-392doest it often, soon will even that be great. Whoso addeth to that he hath, he shall escape fierce hunger. That which is laid up at home vexeth not a man. Better it is to have store at home, since that which is abroad is ruinous. Good it is to take of that one hath, but a sorrow to the soul to desire that which is absent: and of this I bid thee to beware. At the broaching of the vessel and in the end thereof take thy fill, but at the midst be sparing: a poor thing it is to be sparing in the lees. Let the promised reward of a friend be sure. And with a smile set a witness even on a brother. For faith and unfaith are alike the bane of men. Neither let the scarlet woman beguile thee with wheedling words, aiming at thy barn. Who putteth his trust in a woman putteth his trust in a deceiver. May there be an only born son to feed his father’s house: for so is wealth increased in the halls. But late be thy death if thou leave a second son. Yet even to more might Zeus easily give plenteous wealth. More is the work of more and greater the increase.
Now if thy heart in thy breast is set on wealth, do thou thus and work one work upon another:
What time the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, rise, begin thy harvest, thy plowing when they set. Forty days and nights are they hidden and shine again with the revolving year when first the sickle is sharpened. This is the law of the plains, of them that dwell nigh the sea, or in gladed dells from the tossing sea afar, in a fertile place. Sow uncloked, plow uncloked, reap uncloked, if thou wouldst W392-420gather in season all the works of Demeter, even as they grow in their season, lest haply afterward for lack thou beg to other houses and in vain: even as now thou hast come to me. But I will give thee naught nor mete aught unto thee. Work, foolish Perses, the works which the gods have appointed unto men, lest one day with wife and children in anguish of soul thou seek livelihood among the neighbours and they regard thee not.
Twice or thrice haply thou shalt obtain, but if thou further vex, naught shalt thou gain, but shalt speak many things in vain, and idle shall be thy play of words. Nay, I bid thee take heed to the solving of thy debts and the avoidance of hunger.
Get a house first and a woman and a plowing ox—a slave woman—not a wife—who might also follow the oxen: and get all gear arrayed within the house, lest thou beg of another and he deny thee and thou go lacking, and the season pass by, and thy work be minished. Neither put off till the morrow nor the day after. The idle man filleth not his barn, neither he that putteth off. Diligence prospereth work, but the man who putteth off ever wrestleth with ruin.
What time the might of the keen sun abateth sweltering heat, when Zeus Almighty raineth in the autumn and the flesh of men turneth lighter far—for then the star Sirios goeth over the heads of men born to death but for a brief space in the daytime, and taketh a greater space of the night—then is wood cut W420-449with iron axe less liable to be wormeaten, but sheddeth its leaves to earth and ceaseth to sprout. Then be thou mindful to cut wood: a seasonable work. Three foot cut thy mortar, a pestle of three feet an axle of seven: so will it be right meet. Howbeit if thou cut it of eight feet, thou canst cut therefrom a mallet. Three spans cut thou the felloe for a waggon of ten palms. Cut therewithal many bent planks. And bring thou home a plowbeam, when thou findest it by search on hill or field—of holm oak: For this is the strongest to plow with, when Athene’s servant fasteneth it in the share beam and fixeth it with dowels to the pole. Get thee two plows, fashioning them at home, one of the natural wood, the other jointed, since it is far better to do so. So if thou break the one, thou canst yoke the oxen to the other. Freest of worms are poles of bay or elm. Get thee then sharebeam of oak, plowbeam of holm, and two oxen, bulls of nine years. For the strength of such is not weak, in the fulness of their age: they are best for work. They will not quarrel in the furrow and break the plow, and leave their work undone. And with them let a man of forty follow, his dinner a loaf of four quarters, eight pieces, who will mind his work and drive a straight furrow, no more gaping after his fellows, but having his heart in his work. Than he no younger man is better at sowing. For the mind of a younger man is fluttered after his age-fellows.
Take heed what time thou hearest the voice of the crane from the high clouds uttering her yearly cry, W450-475which bringeth the sign for plowing and showeth forth the season of rainy winter, and biteth the heart of him that hath no oxen. Then feed thou the oxen of crooked horn in their stalls. For an easy thing it is to say, Give me a team of oxen, and a waggon; but easy also is it to refuse: Mine oxen have work to do. The man whose wealth is in his imagining saith he will build a waggon. Fool! who knoweth not that a waggon hath a hundred beams? Whereof take thou thought beforehand to lay them up at home. And when first plowing appeareth for men, then haste thyself and thy thralls in wet and dry to plow in the season of sowing, hasting in the early morn that so thy fields may be full. Plow in spring, but the field that is fallowed in summer will not belie thee. Sow the fallow field while yet the soil is light. Fallow land is a defender of doom, a comforter of children.
And pray thou unto Zeus the Lord of Earth and unto pure Demeter that the holy grain of Demeter may be full and heavy: thus pray thou when first thou dost begin thy plowing, when grasping in thy hand the end of the stilt-handle thou comest down on the backs of the oxen as they draw the pole by the yoke collar. And let a young slave follow behind with a mattock and cause trouble to the birds by covering up the seed. For good husbandry is best for mortal men and bad husbandry is worst. So will the grain ears nod with ripeness to the ground, if the Lord of Olympos himself vouchsafe a good issue. So shalt thou drive the spider’s webs from thy vessels and I W475-502have hope that thou wilt rejoice as thou takest of thy store of livelihood. And in good case thou shalt come to grey spring and shalt not look to others, but another shall have need of thee.
But if at the turning of the sun thou dost plow the goodly earth, sitting shalt thou reap, grasping a little in thy hand, binding it contrariwise, covered with dust, no way rejoicing. And in a basket shalt thou bring it home, and few there be that shall admire thee. Otherwise at other times is the will of Zeus the Lord of the Aegis and hard for mortal men to know. But if thou plowest late, this shall be a charm for thee. When first the cuckoo uttereth his note amid the leaves of the oak and rejoiceth men over the limitless earth, then may Zeus rain on the third day and cease not, neither overpassing the hoof of an ox nor falling short thereof: so shall the late plower vie with the early. Keep thou all things well in mind nor fail to mark either the coming of grey spring or seasonable rain.
But pass by the smith’s forge and sunny place of dalliance in the winter season when cold constraineth men from work, wherein a diligent man would greatly prosper his house, lest the helplessness of evil winter overtake thee with poverty and thou press a swollen foot with lean hand. But the idle man who waiteth on empty hope, for lack of livelihood garnereth many sorrows for his soul. Hope is a poor companion for a man in need, who sitteth in a place of dalliance, when he hath no livelihood secured. Nay, declare W502-530thou to thy thralls while it is still midsummer: It will not be summer always; build ye barns.
But the month Lenaion, evil days, cattle-flaying every one, do thou shun, and the frosts that appear for men’s sorrow over the earth at the breath of Boreas, which over Thrace the nurse of horses bloweth on the wide sea and stirreth it up: and earth and wood bellow aloud. Many an oak of lofty foliage and many a stout pine in the mountain glens doth his onset bring low to the bounteous earth, and all the unnumbered forest crieth aloud, and wild beasts shudder and set their tails between their legs, even they whose hide is covered with hair. Yea, even through these, shaggy-breasted though they be, he bloweth with chill breath. Through the hide of the ox he bloweth, and it stayeth him not, and through the thin-haired goat: but nowise through the sheep doth the might of the wind Boreas blow, because of their abundant wool. But it maketh the old man bent. Through the delicate maiden it bloweth not, who within the house abideth by her dear mother’s side, not yet knowing the works of golden Aphrodite: when she hath bathed her tender body and anointed her with olive oil and lieth down at night within the house, on a winter day, when the Boneless One gnaweth his own foot within his fireless house and cheerless home: for the sun showeth him no pasture whereto to go, but wheeleth over the land and city of swarthy men and shineth more slowly on the Panhellenes. Then, too, the horned and hornless creatures of the woods, with W530-558piteous chattering teeth, flee through the deep glades, and flight is the thought in the breasts of all who seeking shelter haunt close covert or rocky cave. Then like a three-footed man whose back is broken and his head looketh to the ground—even like such a one they go to and fro avoiding the white snow.
In that season do thou for the defence of thy body array thee as I bid thee in soft cloke and full-length tunic, and twine much woof in a scanty warp. Therewith array thee that thy hair may be at rest nor stand on end over all thy body. About thy feet also bind fitting sandals of the hide of an ox violently slain, covering them within with felt. And when the frost cometh in its season sew thou together with thread of oxgut the skins of firstling kids to put about thy back as a shield against the rain. And on thy head wear thou a cap of wrought felt, that thou mayst not have thine ears wetted. For chill is the dawn at the onset of Boreas. And in the dawn a fruitful mist is stretched over the earth from starry heaven above the fields of happy men: a mist which drawing from the everflowing rivers is lifted high above the earth by the blowing of the wind, and anon turneth to rain toward eventide, and otherwhiles to wind, when Thracian Boreas driveth the thronging clouds. Forestalling that wind, finish thy work and get thee home betimes, lest the darkening cloud in Heaven cover thee and make thy body dank and wet thy raiment. Rather avoid it. For this is the hardest of the months, wintry, hard on W558-584cattle and hard on men. In that season let the men get larger rations, let the oxen get but half: for long are the friendly nights. Take thou heed of these things till the year be ended, till thou hast gotten night and day equal, even to the time when once again earth the mother of all things bringeth forth her manifold fruits.
But when Zeus hath completed sixty days after the turning of the sun, then the star Arkturos, leaving the sacred stream of Ocean, first riseth in his radiance at eventide. After him the twittering swallow, daughter of Pandion, cometh into the sight of men when spring is just beginning. Ere her coming prune the vines: for it is better so.
But when the House Carrier crawls up the plants from the ground, fleeing from the Pleiades, then is it no longer seasonable to dig about the vines, but rather to sharpen sickles and arouse the thralls, and to fly shady seats and sleep toward the dawn, in the season of harvest when the sun parcheth the skin. In that season must thou busy thee to lead the harvest home, rising up in the morning that thy livelihood may be secure. For the morning taketh the third part of a man’s business. Morning advanceth a man upon his journey and advanceth him also in his work: morning whose appearing setteth many men upon the road and setteth the yoke on many oxen.
But what time the artichoke bloometh and the chattering cicala sitting on a tree poureth his shrill song from beneath his wings incessantly in the season W584-613of weary summer, then are goats fattest and wine best, women most wanton and men most weak, since Sirios parcheth head and knee and the skin is dry for heat. Then let me have the shadow of a rock, and Bibline wine, and a milk cake, and milk of goats drained dry, and flesh of a pastured heifer that hath not yet borne a calf, and flesh of firstling kids, with ruddy wine to wash it down withal, while I sit in the shade, heart-satisfied with food, turning my face toward the fresh West Wind, and let me from an unmuddied everflowing spring which floweth away pour three measures of water and the fourth of wine.
But so soon as the strength of Orion appeareth, urge thy thralls to thresh the holy grain of Demeter in a windy place and on a rounded floor; measure and store it in vessels; and when thou hast laid up all thy livelihood within thy house, then I bid thee get a thrall that hath no family and seek a serving woman without a child. Troublous is a serving woman that hath a child. Care, too, for the dog of jagged teeth. Spare not his food, lest the Day Sleeper filch away thy goods. Also bring in fodder and litter that thou mayst have sufficient store for thy cattle and thy mules. Then let thy thralls rest their knees and loose thine oxen.
But when Orion and Sirios come into mid-heaven, and rosy-fingered Morning looketh upon Arkturos, O Perses, pluck and bring home all thy grapes, and show them to the sun for ten days and ten nights. Cover them for five and on the sixth draw off into W613-644vessels the gifts of joyful Dionysos. But when the Pleiades and the Hyades and the might of Orion set, then be mindful of seasonable plowing, and let the seed be duly bestowed under earth.
Howbeit, if desire of stressful seafaring seize thee—when the Pleiades, fleeing the mighty strength of Orion, plunge into the misty deep, then do blow the blasts of all the winds: then keep thou no more the ship upon the wine-dark sea, but mind thee to till the soil as I bid thee, and draw the ship on land and cover it about with stones to keep off the violence of the wet winds, and pull out the bottom-plug that the rain of Zeus rot not thy vessel. And duly bestow all thy shipgear within thy house, well furling the wings of the seafaring ship, and hang the well-wrought rudder in the smoke. And thyself await the coming of the sailing season, and then hale the ship to the sea, and therein bestow the cargo, that thou mayest bring profit home: even as thy father and mine, foolish Perses, was wont to sail in ships, seeking a goodly livelihood: who also on a time came hither, traversing great space of sea in his black ship from Aeolian Kyme: not fleeing from abundance, nor from riches and weal, but from evil penury, which Zeus giveth unto men. And he made his dwelling near Helikon in a sorry township, even Askra, bad in winter, hard in summer, never good.
And in season do thou, Perses, be mindful of all works and chiefliest of seafaring. Praise thou the small vessel, but set thy goods in a large. Greater the cargo, W644-673and greater the gain upon gain will be, if the winds refrain their evil blasts. When thou wouldst turn thy foolish soul to trafficking, to escape debts and joyless hunger, I will show thee the measures of the surging sea, though I have no skill of seafaring or of ships. For never yet have I sailed over the sea in a ship save only to Euboia from Aulis, where of old the Achaeans abode a storm, when they had assembled a mighty host that should go from sacred Hellas unto Troy, the land of fair women. Thither even unto Chalkis I crossed to the games of wise Amphidamas. And the prizes full many did his great-hearted sons offer and set forth, where I avow that I was victorious with my hymn and carried off an eared tripod: which I offered up to the Muses of Helikon, where first they set me on the path of sweet song. Such is all the experience I have of dowelled ships. Yet even so shall I declare the mind of Zeus, the Lord of the Aegis. For the Muses have taught me to sing the wondrous hymn.
For fifty days after the turning of the sun, when harvest, the weary season, hath come to an end, sailing is seasonable for men. Thou shalt not break thy ship, nor shall the sea destroy thy crew, save only if Poseidon the Shaker of the Earth or Zeus the King of the Immortals be wholly minded to destroy. For with them is the issue alike of good and evil. Then are the breezes easy to judge and the sea is harmless. Then trust thou in the winds, and with soul untroubled launch the swift ship in the sea, and well bestow therein all thy cargo. And haste with all speed to W673-705return home again; neither await the new wine and autumn rain, and winter’s onset and the dread blasts of the South Wind, which, coming with the heavy autumn rain of Zeus, stirreth the sea, and maketh the deep perilous. Also in the spring may men sail; when first on the topmost spray of the fig-tree leaves appear as the foot-print of a crow for size, then is the sea navigable. This is the spring sailing, which I commend not, for it is not pleasing to my mind, snatched sailing that it is. Hardly shalt thou escape doom. Yet even this men do in ignorance of mind. For money is the life of hapless men: but dread is death amid the waves, and I bid thee think of all these things in thy heart, even as I say. Neither set thou all thy livelihood in hollow ships, but leave the greater part, and put on board the less. For a dread thing it is to chance on doom amid the waves, even as it is dread to put too great a burden on a waggon and break the axle, while the goods are lost. Observe thou measure: due measure is ever best.
In the flower of thine age lead thou home thy bride, when thou art not far short of thirty years nor far over. This is the timely marriage. Four years past puberty be the woman: let her marry in the fifth. Marry a maiden that thou mayest teach her good ways. Marry a neighbour best of all, with care and circumspection, lest thy marriage be a joy to thy neighbours. For no better spoil doth a man win than a good wife, even as than a bad wife he winneth no worse—a gluttonous woman, that roasteth her husband W705-730without a brand, and giveth him over to untimely age.
Be thou very mindful of the anger of the blessed Immortals, nor make thy friend as a brother. But if thou so doest, sin not thou against him first, neither lie for the pleasure of the tongue. Yet if he first sin against thee, whether with unkindly word or with deed, remember thou to repay him twofold: yet if again he would take thee into friendship, and is willing to give thee satisfaction, receive him. A poor man is he that taketh ever another for his friend. But as for thee, let not thy mind put to shame thy beauty. Be thou called neither the man of many friends nor the friend of few, nor the companion of evil men, nor the chider of the good. Never deign to reproach a man with baleful penury that wasteth the heart, since poverty is given of the everlasting gods. The best treasure among men is the treasure of a sparing tongue, which is most pleasing when it waggeth in measure. If thou speak evil, greater evil shalt thou hear anon. Be not intolerant of common feast when many guests are bidden: greatest the pleasure, and the cost is least.
Never pour libation of the sparkling wine to Zeus after dawn with hands unwashed, neither to others of the deathless gods. For then they hear not, but spurn the prayer.
Neither make water standing upright with face to the sun, and from his setting till he riseth; neither make water as thou goest, whether on or off the road, nor uncover thy nakedness: the nights belong to the W730-756blessed gods. Nay, the holy man, whose heart is wise, sitteth down or draweth to the wall of a fenced court. Neither show thy privy parts unpurified by the hearth within the house, but avoid it. Neither beget children when thou returnest from the ominous funeral, but rather when thou comest from a holy festival of the gods.
Cross not the fair water of everflowing rivers until thou hast prayed with eyes turned to the fair streams and washed thy hands in the fair wan water. Whoso crosseth a river with hands unwashed for wickedness, against him are the gods wroth, and give him sorrow afterward.
Neither at a joyful festival of the gods cut thou with gleaming iron withered from quick from the five-branched. Lay not the ladle over the mixing-bowl when men drink. For a grievous fate is set thereon.
When thou buildest a house leave it not unplaned, lest the croaking raven sit thereon to croak. Neither from unhallowed vessels take thou wherewith to eat or wash: for on them, too, is a curse.
Neither let a boy of twelve days sit upon holy things—for it is not well so to do—for that maketh a man unmanly, neither a boy of twelve months; for that is even so.
Neither should a man wash in water wherewith a woman hath washed: for a baleful penalty attacheth to that also for a season. Neither if thou chancest on burning offerings make dark murmur. At this also is God angered.
Thus do thou and avoid the dread rumour of men. For Rumour is an ill thing, easy to raise lightly, but grievous to bear and hard to put away. And no Rumour altogether perisheth which many men utter. Yea, in some sort is Rumour also divine.
Heed thou and declare duly unto thy thralls the days that come from Zeus: the thirtieth day of the month to be the best to inspect works and divide rations, when the people hold the true calendar. For these be the days that come of Zeus the Counsellor. Firstly, the first, the fourth, and the seventh is each a holy day: for on the seventh day Leto bare Apollo of the golden sword: also the eighth and the ninth. Two days are there of the waxing month beyond all others good for men’s work: even the eleventh and the twelfth: yea, both are good, whether for shearing sheep, or for reaping the glad fruit. But the twelfth is far better than the eleventh. For on the twelfth the soaring spider weaveth his web in the full day, when the Wise One gathereth her heap. On that day, too, should a woman set up her loom and lay the beginning of her work.
Avoid the thirteenth of the waxing month for the commencement of sowing. But it is a good day for planting plants.
The middle sixth is very bad for plants, but a good W783-808day for the birth of males: not good for a girl either to be born at the first or to hold her wedding.
Neither is the first sixth good for the birth of girls, but good for the gelding of kids and flocks of sheep, and for building a sheep-pen it is a kindly day. And good it is for the birth of males. Yet he that is that day born shall be prone to raillery and lies and cunning words and secret dalliance.
On the eighth of the month geld the boar and the bellowing bull, and on the twelfth the sturdy mules.
On the great twentieth at full day should a wise man be born. Verily such a one shall be of discreet mind.
The tenth day is a good day for the birth of males, the middle fourth for the birth of a girl. On that day tame thou by touch of hand sheep and horned trailing kine and sharp-toothed dog and sturdy mules. But beware in thy heart that griefs assail thee not on the fourth, whether of the waning or the waxing month. It is a very fateful day.
On the fourth of the month lead home thy bride, reading the omens that are best for this business.
The fifth days avoid since they are hard and dread. On the fifth day they say the Erinyes attended the birth of Horkos, whom Eris bare to be the bane of men that swear falsely.
On the middle seventh circumspectly cast the grain of Demeter on the rounded threshing-floor. And let the woodman cut wood for the house, and much timber for ship-building, even such timber as is meet for ships.
The middle ninth is a better day toward afternoon. The first ninth is utterly harmless for men. A good day is this to beget or to be born, whether for man or woman: and it is never a day of evil.
Few men, however, know that the twenty-seventh is best to broach the jar and to set the yoke on necks of oxen and of mules and swift-footed horses, and to draw down to the wine-dark sea the swift ship many-benched. Few men call it truly. On the fourth day open the jar. The middle fourth is above all a holy day. Few again know that the fourth which followeth the twentieth of the month is the best at dawn, but it is worse toward afternoon. These days are a great boon to men on earth. But the others are shifty and fateless, and bring naught. Another praiseth another day but few men know. Anon a day is a stepmother, anon a mother. Therein happy and blessed is he who, knowing all these things, worketh his work blameless before the deathless gods, reading omens and avoiding sin.