9. Theogony, by Hesiod c. 700 BC


Plot : essentially a family history of the Greek pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, Muses and Nymphs, Rivers and Oceans, all manner of mythological creatures and personifications of good and evil, with the central event being the battle between Zeus versus the Titans. My copy was the Penguin edition (again!) which also includes Hesiod’s Works and Days, and the Elegies by Theognis.

My thoughts : If you love Greek mythology, this will be the bread and meat of your study. As a piece of literature, it is poorly organised, repetitive and oddly paced – long lists of names and histories, with detailed praise of only one or two beings (Hecate in particular)

Certain themes are repeated, notably the son rising against the father as foretold (Kronos castrates Ouranous, Zeus defeats Kronos), and the idea of swallowing the source of potential doom (Kronos swallowing his children, Zeus swallowing Metis). There were some stories that I wasn’t familiar with : Zeus’ battle with Typhoeus, and Zeus cursing mankind with Woman (!!!!) in revenge for Prometheus trying to trick him.

Given the weird and monstrous variety of children borne to some of the Goddesses (Medusa and her Gorgon sisters, the Harpies, giant serpents, the three-headed Geryon, Cebrerus, etc.), it is small wonder that Hecate gets such fulsome praise – one of her jobs was midwife!

Favourite lines/passages : see below

Diversions/digressions : okay, so I watch too much Disney, but I kept thinking of the animated movie Hercules with the battle of the Titans.


Personal rating : 7/10 for content, 3/10 for style

Kimmy the Lit-Terrier’s rating : One big paws-up for Cerberus!

…... A monstrous dog
Stands pitiless guard in front, with evil ways;
He wags his tail and both his ears for all
Who enter, but he will not let them go,
Lying in wait he eats up anyone
He catches leaving by the gates of strong
Hades and greatly feared Persephone 

Next : the other sizable poem attributed by some to Hesiod, Works and Days

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.