Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

Hesiod, the Greek Creation Myth, Wars Among the Gods

What myths did Hesiod tell about human life?

In his Works and Days Hesiod reminds us that Zeus had little love for human beings, partly because of their association with Prometheus, who had tricked him and stolen fire for them. Zeus decreed that a punishment must be sent to humans. In spite of Prometheus’s warning to his brother Epimetheus not to accept gifts from the gods, Epimetheus accepted the first woman, Pandora, who had been modelled out of clay by Hephaistos. In spite of warnings, Pandora opened the famous box containing all the world’s evil and pain that Zeus had given her as a wedding present. The evil spread quickly. Only Hope remained in the box.

Hesiod tells how the life of humans has been marked by five ages. In the time of the rule of Kronos among the gods, a Golden Age prevailed on earth, an age of long life and ease. It was followed by a Silver Age, in which there was some suffering, wars, and a neglect of the gods. A warlike Bronze Age came next and was followed by the Heroic Age of noble wars such as the one in Troy. Heroes who died in war went to the Isle of the Blessed, a kind of paradise. Hesiod’s own age was the Iron Age, a time of work and pain.

We know now that Hesiod’s age would eventually be followed by what we call the Classical Age of Greece, an age that would influence the world in ways that Hesiod and Homer could not have imagined.


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