Muses, who from Pieria give glory through singing,
come to me, tell of Zeus, your own father,
sing his praises, through whose will
mortal men are named in speech or remain unspoken.
Men are renowned or remain unsung
as great Zeus wills it.
For lightly he makes strong, 5
and lightly brings strength to confusion,
lightly diminishes the great man,
uplifts the obscure one,
lightly the crooked man he straightens,
withers the proud man,
he, Zeus, of the towering thunders,
whose house is highest.
Hear me, see me, Zeus: hearken:
direct your decrees in righteousness.
To you, Perses, I would describe 10
the true way of existence.
It was never true that there was only one kind
of strife. There have always
been two on earth. There is one
you could like when you understand her.
The other is hateful. The two Strifes
have separate natures.
There is one Strife who builds up evil war,
She is harsh; no man loves her, but under compulsion 15
and by will of the immortals men
promote this rough Strife.
But the other one was born
the elder daughter of black Night.
The son of Kronos, who sits on high and
dwells in the bright air,
set her in the roots of the earth and among men;
she is far kinder.
She pushes the shiftless man to work, 20
for all his laziness.
A man looks at his neighbor, who is rich:
then he too
wants work; for the rich man presses on with
his plowing and planting
and the ordering of his state.
So the neighbor envies the neighbor
who presses on toward wealth. Such Strife
is a good friend to mortals.
Then potter is potter's enemy, and 25
craftsman is craftman's
rival; tramp is jealous of tramp,
and singer of singer.
So you, Perses, put all this firmly away
in your heart,
nor let that Strife who loves mischief
keep you from working
as you listen at the meeting place
to see what you can make of
the quarrels. The time comes short for litigations 30
too short, unless there is a year's living
laid away inside
for you, the stuff that the earth yields,
the pride of Demeter.
When you have got a full burden of that,
you can push your lawsuits,
scheming for other men's goods, yet you
shall not be given another chance
to do so. No, come, let us finally settle 35
with straight decisions, which are from Zeus,
and are the fairest.
Now once before we divided our inheritance,
but you seized
the greater part and made off with it,
gratifying those barons
who eat bribes, who are willing
to give out such a decision.
Fools all! who never learned 40
how much better than the whole the half is,
nor how much good there is
in living on mallow and asphodel.
For the gods have hidden and keep hidden
what could be men's livelihood.
It could have been that easily
in one day you could work out
enough to keep you for a year,
with no more working.
Soon you could have hung up your steering oar
in the smoke of the fireplace,
and the work the oxen and patient mules do
would be abolished,
but Zeus in the anger of his heart hid it away
because the devious-minded Prometheus had cheated him;
and therefore Zeus thought up dismal sorrows
He hid fire; but Prometheus, the powerful son
stole it again from Zeus of the counsels,
to give to mortals.
He hid it out of the sight of Zeus
who delights in thunder
in the hollow fennel stalk. In anger
the cloud-gatherer spoke to him:
"Son of Iapetos, deviser of crafts beyond all others,
SS you are happy that you stole the fire,
and outwitted my thinking;
but it will be a great sorrow to you,
and to men who come after.
As the price of fire I will give them an evil,
and all men shall fondle
this, their evil, close to their hearts,
and take delight in it."
So spoke the father of gods and mortals;
and laughed out loud.
He told glorious Hephaistos to make haste, and plaster
earth with water, and to infuse it with a human voice
and vigor, and make the face
like the immortal goddesses,
the bewitching features of a young girl;
was to teach her her skills, and how
to do the intricate weaving,
while Aphrodite was to mist her head
in golden endearment
and the cruelty of desire and longings
that wear out the body,
but to Hermes, the guide, the slayer of Argos,
he gave instructions
to put in her the mind of a hussy,
and a treacherous nature.
So Zeus spoke. And all obeyed Lord Zeus,
the son of Kronos.
The renowned strong smith modeled her figure of earth,
in the likeness
of a decorous young girl, as the son of Kronos
had wished it.
The goddess gray-eyed Athene dressed and arrayed her;
who are goddesses, and hallowed Persuasion
of gold upon her body, while the Seasons,
with glorious tresses,
put upon her head a coronal of spring flowers,
[and Pallas Athene put all decor upon her body].
But into her heart Hermes, the guide,
the slayer of Argos,
put lies, and wheedling words
of falsehood, and a treacherous nature,
made her as Zeus of the deep thunder wished,
and he, the gods' herald,
put a voice inside her, and gave her
the name of woman, Pandora, because all the gods
who have their homes on Olympos
had given her each a gift, to be a sorrow to men
who eat bread. Now when he had done
with this sheer, impossible
deception, the Father sent the gods' fleet messenger,
to Epimetheus, bringing her, a gift,
nor did Epimetheus
remember to think how Prometheus had told him never
to accept a gift from Olympian Zeus,
but always to send it
back, for fear it might prove
to be an evil for mankind.
He took the evil, and only perceived it
when he possessed her.
go Since before this time the races of men
had been living on earth
free from all evils, free from laborious work,
and free from
all wearing sicknesses that bring
their fates down on men
[for men grow old suddenly
in the midst of misfortune];
but the woman, with her hands lifting away the lid
from the great jar,
scattered its contents, and her design
was sad troubles for mankind.
Hope was the only spirit that stayed there
in the unbreakable
closure of the jar, under its rim,
and could not fly forth
abroad, for the lid of the great jar
closed down first and contained her;
this was by the will of cloud-gathering Zeus
of the aegis;
too but there are other troubles by thousands
that hover about men,
for the earth is full of evil things,
and the sea is full of them;
there are sicknesses that come to men by day,
while in the night
moving of themselves they haunt us,
bringing sorrow to mortals,
and silently, for Zeus of the counsels
took the voice out of them.
So there is no way to avoid what Zeus has intended.
Or if you will, I will outline it for you
in a different story,
well and knowledgeably--store it up
in your understanding--
the beginnings of things, which were the same for gods
as for mortals.
In the beginning, the immortals
who have their homes on Olympos
created the golden generation of mortal people.
These lived in Kronos' time, when he
was the king in heaven.
They lived as if they were gods,
their hearts free from all sorrow,
by themselves, and without hard work or pain;
old age came their way; their hands, their feet,
did not alter.
They took their pleasure in festivals,
and lived without troubles.
When they died, it was as if they fell asleep.
were theirs. The fruitful grainland
yielded its harvest to them
of its own accord; this was great and abundant,
while they at their pleasure
quietly looked after their works,
n the midst of good things
[prosperous in flocks, on friendly termsw
with the blessed immortals].
Now that the earth has gathered over this generation,
these are called pure and blessed spirits;
they live upon earth,
and are good, they watch over mortal men
and defend them from evil;
they keep watch over lawsuits and hard dealings;
themselves in dark mist 125
and wander all over the country;
they bestow wealth; for this right
as of kings was given them.
Next after these the dwellers upon Olympos created
a second generation, of silver, far worse
than the other.
They were not like the golden ones either in shape
A child was a child for a hundred years, 130
looked after and playing
by his gracious mother, kept at home,
a complete booby.
But when it came time for them to grow up
and gain full measure,
they lived for only a poor short time;
by their own foolishness
they had troubles, for they were not able
to keep away from
reckless crime against each other,
nor would they worship
the gods, nor do sacrifice on the sacred altars
of the blessed ones,
which is the right thing among the customs of men,
Zeus, son of Kronos, in anger engulfed them,
for they paid no due
honors to the blessed gods who live on Olympos.
But when the earth had gathered over this generation
also--and they too are called blessed spirits
by men, though under
the ground, and secondary, but still
they have their due worship--
then Zeus the father created the third generation
the age of bronze. They were not like
the generation of silver.
They came from ash spears. They were terrible
and strong, and the ghastly
action of Ares was theirs, and violence.
They ate no bread,
but maintained an indomitable and adamantine spirit.
None could come near them; their strength was big,
and from their shoulders
the arms grew irresistible on their ponderous bodies.
I so The weapons of these men were bronze,
of bronze their houses,
and they worked as bronzesmiths. There was not yet
any black iron.
Yet even these, destroyed beneath the hands of each other,
went down into the moldering domain of cold Hades;
nameless; for all they were formidable black death
seized them, and they had to forsake
the shining sunlight.
Now when the earth had gathered over this generation
also, Zeus, son of Kronos, created yet another
fourth generation on the fertile earth,
and these were better and nobler,
the wonderful generation of hero-men, who are also
called half-gods, the generation before our own
on this vast earth.
But of these too, evil war and the terrible carnage
took some; some by seven-gated Thebes
in the land of Kadmos
as they fought together over the flocks of Oidipous;
war had taken in ships over the great gulf
of the sea,
where they also fought for the sake
of lovely-haired Helen.
There, for these, the end of death was misted
But on others Zeus, son of Kronos, settled a living
and a country
of their own, apart from human kind,
at the end of the world.
And there they have their dwelling place,
and hearts free of sorrow
in the islands of the blessed
by the deep-swirling stream of the ocean,
prospering heroes, on whom in every year
three times over
the fruitful grainland bestows its sweet yield.
far from the immortals, and Kronos
is king among them.
For Zeus, father of gods and mortals,
set him free from his bondage,
although the position and the glory still belong
to the young gods.
After this, Zeus of the Wide brows
established yet one more
generation of men, the fifth, to be
on the fertile earth.
And I wish that I were not any part
of the fifth generation
of men, but had died before it came,
or been born afterward.
For here now is the age of iron. Never by daytime
will there be an end to hard work and pain,
nor in the night
to weariness, when the gods will send anxieties
to trouble us.
Yet here also there shall be some good things
mixed with the evils.
But Zeus will destroy this generation of mortals
in the time when children, as they are born,
grow gray on the temples,
when the father no longer agrees with the children,
nor children with their father,
when guest is no longer at one with host,
nor companion to companion,
when your brother is no longer your friend,
as he was in the old days.
Men will deprive their parents of all rights,
as they grow old,
and people will mock them too,
babbling bitter words against them,
harshly, and without shame in the sight of the gods;
to their aging parents will they give back
what once was given.
Strong of hand, one man shall seek
the city of another.
There will be no favor for the man
who keeps his oath, for the righteous
and the good man, rather men shall give their praise
and the doer of evil. Right will be in the arm.
not be. The vile man will crowd his better out,
and attack him
with twisted accusations and swear an oath
to his story.
The spirit of Envy, with grim face
and screaming voice, who delights
in evil, will be the constant companion
of wretched humanity,
and at last Nemesis and Aidos, Decency and Respect,
their bright forms in pale mantles, shall go
from the wide-wayed
earth back on their way to Olympos,
forsaking the whole race
of mortal men, and all that will be left by them
will be wretched pain. And there shall be no defense
Now I will tell you a fable for the barons;
they understand it.
This is what the hawk said when he had caught
with spangled neck in his claws and carried her
high among the clouds.
She, spitted on the clawhooks, was wailing pitifully,
but the hawk, in his masterful manner,
gave her an answer:
"What is the matter with you? Why scream?
Your master has you.
You shall go wherever I take you,
for all your singing.
If I like, I can let you go. If I like,
I can eat you for dinner.
He is a fool who tries to match his strength
with the stronger.
He will lose his battle, and with the shame
will be hurt also."
So spoke the hawk, the bird who flies so fast
on his long wings.
But as for you, Perses, listen to justice;
do not try to practice
violence; violence is bad for a weak man; even a noble
cannot lightly carry the burden of her,
but she weighs him down
when he loses his way in delusions; that other road
is the better
which leads toward just dealings. For Justice
wins over violence
as they come out in the end. The fool knows
after he's suffered.
The spirit of Oath is one who runs
beside crooked judgments.
There is an outcry when Justice is dragged perforce,
men pull her about, and judge their cases
with crooked decisions.
She follows perforce, weeping, to the city
and gatherings of people.
She puts a dark mist upon her and brings a curse
upon all those
who drive her out, who deal in her
and twist her in dealing.
But when men issue straight decisions
to their own people
and to strangers, and do not step at all
off the road of rightness,
their city flourishes, and the people
blossom inside it.
Peace, who brings boys to manhood, is in their land,
nor does Zeus
of the wide brows ever ordain that hard war
shall be with them.
30 Neither famine nor inward disaster comes the way
of those people
who are straight and just; they do their work
as if work were a holiday;
the earth gives them great livelihood,
on their mountains the oaks
bear acorns for them in their crowns,
and bees in their middles.
Their wool-bearing sheep are weighted down
with fleecy burdens.
Their women bear them children
who resemble their parents.
They prosper in good things throughout.
They need have no traffic
with ships, for their own grain-giving land
yields them its harvest.
But when men like harsh violence
and cruel acts, Zeus
of the wide brows, the son of Kronos,
ordains their punishment.
Often a whole city is paid punishment
for one bad man
who commits crimes and plans reckless action.
On this man's people
the son of Kronos out of the sky
inflicts great suffering,
famine and plague together, and the people die
The women bear children no longer, the houses dwindle
by design of Olympian Zeus; or again at other times,
he destroys the wide camped army of a people,
their city with its walls, or their ships
on the open water.
You barons also, cannot even you
understand for yourselves
how justice works? For the immortals
are close to us, they mingle
with men, and are aware of those who
by crooked decisions
break other men, and care nothing
for what the gods think of it.
Upon the prospering earth there are
thirty thousand immortal
spirits, who keep watch for Zeus and all that men do.
They have an eye on decrees given
and on harsh dealings,
and invisible in their dark mist they hover
on the whole earth.
Justice herself is a young maiden.
She is Zeus's daughter,
and seemly, and respected by all the gods of Olympos.
When any man uses force on her by false impeachment
she goes and sits at the feet of Zeus Kronion,
and cries out on the wicked purpose of men,
so that their people
must pay for the profligacy of their rulers,
who for their own greedy purposes
twist the courses of justice aslant
by false proclamations.
Beware, you barons, of such spirits.
Straighten your decisions
you eaters of bribes. Banish from your minds
the twisting of justice.
The man who does evil to another does evil
and the evil counsel is most evil
for him who counsels it.
The eye of Zeus sees everything. His mind
He is watching us right now, if he wishes to,
nor does he fail
to see what kind of justice this community keeps
Now, otherwise I would not myself
be righteous among men
nor have my son be so; for it is a hard thing
for a man
to be righteous, if the unrighteous man
is to have the greater right.
But I believe that Zeus of the counsels
will not let it end thus.
You, Perses, should store away in your mind all
that I tell you,
and listen to justice, and put away
all notions of violence.
Here is the law, as Zeus established it
or human beings;
as for fish, and wild animals, and the flying birds,
they feed on each other, since there is no idea
of justice among them;
but to men he gave justice, and she in the end
is proved the best thing
they have. If a man sees what is right
and is willing to argue it,
Zeus of the wide brows grants him prosperity.
But when one, knowingly, tells lies and swears
an oath on it,
when he is so wild as to do incurable damage 280
this man is left a diminished generation hereafter,
but the generation of the true-sworn man
I mean you well, Perses, you great idiot,
and I will tell you.
Look, badness is easy to have, you can take it
without effort. The road that way is smooth
and starts here beside you.
But between us and virtue the immortals have put
what will make us
sweat. The road to virtue is long
and goes steep up hill,
hard climbing at first, but the last of it,
when you get to the summit
(if you get there) is easy going after the hard part.
That man is all-best who himself works out
and solves it, seeing what will be best late
and in the end.
That man, too, is admirable who follows one
who speaks well.
He who cannot see the truth for himself, nor,
hearing it from others,
store it away in his mind, that man
is utterly useless.
As for you, remember what I keep telling you
over and over:
work, 0 Perses, illustrious-born, work on,
so that Famine
will avoid you, and august and garlanded Demeter
will be your friend, and fill your barn
with substance of living;
Famine is the unworking man's most constant
Gods and men alike resent that man who, without work
himself, lives the life of the stingless drones,
who without working eat away the substance
of the honeybees'
hard work; your desire, then, should be
to put your works in order
so that your barns may be stocked with all
livelihood in its season.
It is from work that men grow rich and own flocks
by work, too, they become much better friends
of the immortals.
[and to men too, for they hate the people
who do not labor].
Work is no disgrace; the disgrace is in not working;
and if you do work, the lazy man will soon begin
to be envious
as you grow rich, for with riches go nobility
It is best to work, at whatever you have a talent
without turning your greedy thought toward what
some other man
possesses, but take care of your own livelihood,
as I advise you.
Shame, the wrong kind of shame, has the needy man
shame, who does much damage to men,
but prospers them also,
shame goes with poverty, but confidence
goes with prosperity.
Goods are not to be grabbed; much better if God
lets you have them.
If any man by force of hands wins him
a great fortune,
or steals it by the cleverness of his tongue,
as so often
happens among people when the intelligence
by greed, a man's shameless spirit tramples
his sense of honor;
lightly the gods wipe out that man, and diminish
of such a one, and his wealth stays with him
for only a short time.
It is the same when one does evil to guest
or goes up into the bed of his brother, to lie
love with his brother's wife, doing acts
that are against nature;
or who unfeelingly abuses fatherless children,
or speaks roughly with intemperate words
to his failing
father who stands upon the hateful doorstep
of old age;
with all these Zeus in person is angry,
and in the end
he makes them pay a bitter price
for their unrighteous dealings.
Keep your frivolous spirit clear of all such actions.
As far as you have the power, do sacrifice
to the immortals,
innocently and cleanly; burn them the shining thighbones;
at other times, propitiate them with libations
when you go to bed, and when the holy light
goes up the sky;
so They may have a complacent feeling and thought about you;
so you may buy someone else's land, not have someone
Invite your friend to dinner; have nothing to do
with your enemy.
Invite that man particularly who lives close to you.
If anything, which ought not to happen, happens
in your neighborhood,
neighbors come as they are to help; relatives
A bad neighbor's as great a pain as a good one's a blessing.
One lucky enough to draw a good neighbor
draws a great prize.
Not even an ox would be lost, if it were not
for the bad neighbor.
Take good measure from your neighbor,
then pay him back fairly
with the same measure, or better yet,
if you can manage it;
so, when you need him some other time,
you will find him steadfast.
No greedy profits; greedy profit is a kind
Be a friend to your friend, and come to him
who comes to you.
Give to him who gives; do not give to him
who does not give.
35 We give to the generous man; none gives to him
who is stingy.
Give is a good girl, but Grab is a bad one;
what she gives is death.
For when a man gives willingly, though he gives
a great thing,
yet he has joy of his gift and satisfaction
in his heart,
while he who gives way to shameless greed and takes
even though the thing he takes is small,
yet it stiffens his heart.
For even if you add only a little to a little, yet if
you do it often enough, this little may yet
When one adds to what he has,
he fends off staring hunger.
What is stored away in a man's house
brings him no trouble.
Better for it to be at home, since what is abroad
It is fine to draw on what is on hand, and painful
to have need
and not have anything there; I warn you
to be careful in this.
When the bottle has just been opened, and when
it's giving out, drink deep;
be sparing when it's half-full; but it's useless
to spare the fag end.
Let the hire that has been promised to a friend
be made good.
(When you deal with your brother, be pleasant,
but get a witness; for too much
trustfulness, and too much suspicion,
have proved men's undoing.
Do not let any sweet-talking woman beguile
your good sense
with the fascinations of her shape. It's your barn
Anyone who will trust a woman is trusting flatterers.
One single-born son would be right to support
house, for that is the way substance piles up
in the household;
if you have more than one, you had better live
to an old age;
yet Zeus can easily provide abundance
for a greater number,
and the more there are, the more work is done,
and increase increases.
If the desire within your heart is for greater
do as I tell you: keep on working with work
and more work.
At the time when the Pleiades, the daughters
of Atlas, are rising,
begin your harvest, and plow again when they
The Pleiades are hidden for forty nights and forty
days, and then, as the turn of the year reaches
they show again, at the time you first sharpen
This is the usage, whether you live in the plains,
close by the sea, or again in the corners
of the mountains
far away from the sea and its tossing water,
you have your rich land;
wherever you live: strip down to sow, and strip
and strip for reaping, if you wish to bring in
the yields of Demeter
all in their season, and so that each crop
in its time will increase
for you; so that in aftertime you may not be in need
and go begging to other people's houses,
and get nothing;
as you have come now to me; but I will give to you
no further measure: Perses, you fool, work for it,
with those works which the gods have arranged
men shall do,
lest some day you, with your wife and children,
in anguish of spirit,
have to look to your neighbors for substance,
and they not heed you.
Twice you may get help, and three times even,
but if you plague them
further, you will get nothing more,
and your pleading will fall flat.
bur style with words will do you no good; rather,
I urge you
to work out some way to pay your debts, and escape
First of all, get yourself an ox for plowing,
and a woman--
for work, not to marry--one who can plow
with the oxen,
and get all necessary gear in your house
in good order,
lest you have to ask someone else, and he deny you,
and you go
short, and the season pass you by, and your work
Do not put off until tomorrow and the day after.
man does not fill his barn by shirking his labors
or putting them off; it is keeping at it that gets
the work done.
The putter-off of work is the man who wrestles
At the time when the force of the cruel sun
nd the sultriness and the heat, when powerful Zeus
the rains of autumn, and the feel of a man's body
and he goes much lighter, for at this time
the star Seirios
oes only a little over the heads
of hard-fated mankind
the daytime, and takes a greater part
of the evening;
at this season, timber that you cut with your ax
is less open
to worms, now when it sheds its leaves to the ground,
and stops sprouting.
Now, remembering your tasks in their season,
is your time to cut wood.
Cut a three-foot length for a mortar and a pestle
of three cubits,
and a seven-foot length for an axle; that would be
quite enough for you,
425 except if you made it eight feet you could cut a maul
from the end.
For a wagon of ten palms cut a quarter-felly
of three spans.
Cut many curved pieces; and look on the mountain
and in the meadows,
for a good piece of holm oak to make your plow-beam,
and bring it
home when you find it; this is the strongest
for plowing oxen,
430 once you have taken it to the carpenter,
and he fixes it in the share and bolts it to the pole
You can work the plows in your house,
and you should have a pair of them,
one in a single piece, one composite;
this is the better way,
for if you break one of them, you can put the oxen
to the other.
435 Poles of laurel or elm are least likely
to be worm-eaten.
The share should be oak, the beam holm oak.
Get yourself two oxen,
males, nine years old, for their strength
will be undiminished
and they in full maturity, at their best to work with,
for such a pair will not fight as they drive
the furrow, and shatter
the plow, thus leaving all the work done
gone for nothing.
And have a forty-year-old man, still young enough,
the plow (give him a full four-piece loaf to eat,
such a man will keep his mind on his work,
and drive a straight
furrow, not always looking about for company,
445 his thoughts on business. A younger man
will be no improvement
for scattering the seeds and not piling them
on top of each other.
A younger man keeps looking for excitement
with other young people.
At the time when you hear the cry of the crane
going over, that annual
voice from high in the clouds, you should take notice
and make plans.
She brings the signal for the beginning of planting,
season of rains, but she bites the heart
of the man without oxen.
At this time, keep your horn-curved oxen indoors,
and feed them.
It is easy to make a speech: "Please give me two oxen and
But it's also easy to answer: "I have plenty of work
for my oxen."
And a man, rich in his dreams, sees his wagon
as built already,
the idiot, forgetting that the wagon has
a hundred timbers,
and it takes some work to have these laid up at home,
At the first moment when the plowing season
appears for mankind,
set hard to work, your servants, yourself,
plowing through wet weather and dry
in the plowing season;
rise early and drive the work along, so your fields
will be full.
Plow fallow in spring. Fallow land turned in summer
will not disappoint you.
Fallow land should be sown while the soil
is still light and dry.
Fallow land is kind to children, and keeps off the hexes.
Make your prayers to Zeus of the ground
and holy Demeter
that the sacred yield of Demeter may grow complete,
and be heavy.
Do this when yoU begin your first planting, when, gripping the handle
in one hand, you come down hard with the goad
on the backs of your oxen
as they lean into the pin of the straps.
Have a small boy helping you
by following and making hard work for the birds
with a mattock
covering the seed over. It is best to do things
since we are only human, and disorder
is our worst enemy.
Do as I tell you, and the ears will
sweep the ground in their ripeness,
if the Olympian himself grants that all
shall end well;
175 and you can knock the spider-webs from your bins,
and, as I hope,
be happy as you draw on all that substance
that's stored up.
You will have plenty to make it till the next
gray spring; you need not
gaze longingly at others. It's the other man
who will need you.
But if you have waited for the winter solstice
to plow the divine earth,
420 you will have to squat down to reap, gathering it
in thin handfuls,
down in the dust, cross-binding for the looks of it,
not very happy;
you will bring it home in a basket,
and there will be few to admire you.
Yet still, the mind of Zeus of the aegis changes
occasions, and it is a hard thing for mortal men
Even if you plant late, here is one thing
that might save you:
at that time when the cuckoo first makes his song
in the oak leaves,
and across immeasurable earth makes glad
the hearts of mortals,
if at that time Zeus should rain three days
and it neither falls short of, nor goes over,
the height of an ox hoof;
then the late planter might come out even
with the early planter.
Be careful and watch everything well. Let not
the gray spring
go by unnoticed in her time, nor the rain
in its season.
Walk right on past the blacksmith's shop
with its crowds and its gossip
for warmth, in the winter season, when the cold
keeps a man from working.
A lively man can do much about the house
in this season.
Winter can be a harsh time of helplessness;
let it not catch you
in need, as you try to warm a thick foot
with a thin hand.
The unworking man, who stays on empty anticipation,
needing substance, arranges in his mind
many bad thoughts,
and that is not a good kind of hopefulness
which is company
for a man who sits, and gossips, and has not enough
to live on.
While it is still midsummer, give your people
It will not always be summer. The barns
had better be building.
Beware of the month Lenaion, bad days,
that would take the skin off
an ox; beware of it, and the frosts, which,
the north wind, blows over the land, cruelly develop;
he gets his breath and rises on the open water
Thrace, and blows, and the earth
and the forest groan, as many
oaks with sweeping foliage, many solid fir trees
along the slopes of the mountains his force bends
against the prospering
earth, and all the innumerable forest
is loud with him.
The beasts shiver and put their tails
between their legs, even
those with thick furry coats to cover their hides,
the cold winds
blow through the furs of even these, for all
The wind goes through the hide of an ox,
it will not stop him;
it goes through a goatskin, that is fine-haired;
but not even Boreas'
force can blow through a sheepskin to any degree,
for the thick fleece
holds him out. It does bend the old man
like a wheel's timber.
It does not blow through the soft skin
of a young maiden
who keeps her place inside the house
by her loving mother
and is not yet initiated in the mysteries of Aphrodite
the golden, who, washing her smooth skin carefully,
and anointing it
with oil, then goes to bed, closeted in an inside chamber
on a winter's day
that time when old No-Bones the polyp
gnaws his own foot in his fireless house,
that gloomy habitat,
for the sun does not now point him out any range
to make for
but is making his turns in the countryside
and population of dusky
men, and is dull to shed his light
upon Hellenic peoples.
Then all the sleepers in the forest,
whether horned or hornless,
teeth miserably chattering, flee away
through the mountainous
woods, and in the minds of all
there is one wish only,
the thought of finding shelter, getting behind
and the hollow of the rock; then like
the three-footed individual
with the broken back, and head over, and eyes
on the ground beneath
so doubled, trying to escape the white snow,
all go wandering.
Then you had better cover your skin well,
as I instruct you
Put on both a soft outer cloak, and a fringed tunic,
and have an abundant woof woven across a light warp;
put this on you, so that your hairs will stay quiet
in their places
and not bristle and stand up shivering
all over your body.
Upon your feet tie shoes made of the hide
of a slaughtered
ox; have them fit well, and line them with felt
on the inside.
Take skins of firstling kids, when the cold season
is upon you,
and stitch them together with the sinew of an ox,
for a cape to put over
your back, and keep the rain off,
and on your head you should wear
a hat made out of felt, to keep your ears free
of the water.
Daybreaks are cold at the time when Boreas
comes down upon you,
and at dawn there comes down from the starry sky,
and spreads all over
the land, a mist, helping growth
for fortunate men's cultivations.
This, drawn up from rivers that flow forever,
to a high level over earth on the turn
of the windstorm,
comes down in the form of rain toward evening
sometimes, but sometimes
blows as wind, when Thracian Boreas is chasing
the thick clouds.
Beat this weather. Finish your work
and get on homeward
before the darkening cloud from the sky
can gather about you,
and soak your clothing through to the skin,
leaving you wet through.
Better keep out of its way; of all months
this is the hardest,
full of stormy weather, hard on flocks,
hard on people.
At that time the oxen should have half rations,
but a man
more than usual, for the nights add up and are longer.
Keep all these warnings I give you, as the year
and the days become equal with the nights again,
when once more
the earth, mother of us all, bears yield
in all variety.
Now, when Zeus has brought to completion
sixty more winter
days, after the sun has turned in his course,
Arcturus, leaving behind the sacred stream
of the ocean,
first begins to rise and shine at the edges
After him, the treble-crying swallow,
comes into the sight of men when spring's just
at the beginning.
Be there before her. Prune your vines.
That way it is better.
But when House-on-Back, the snail,
crawls from the ground up
the plants, escaping the Pleiades, it's no longer
time for vine-digging;
time rather to put an edge to your sickles,
and rout out your helpers.
Keep away from sitting in the shade or lying in bed
till the sun's up
575 in the time of the harvest, when the sunshine
scorches your skin dry.
This is the season to push your work and bring home
get up with the first light so you'll have enough
to live on.
Dawn takes away from work a third part
of the work's measure.
Dawn sets a man well along on his journey,
in his work also,
00 dawn, who when she shows, has numerous people going
their ways; dawn who puts the yoke upon many oxen.
But when the artichoke is in flower,
and the clamorous cricket
sitting in his tree lets go his vociferous singing,
from the beating of his wings, in the exhausting
season of summer;
sss then is when goats are at their fattest,
when the wine tastes best,
women are most lascivious, but the men's strength
most, for the star Seirios shrivels them, knees
and heads alike,
and the skin is all dried out in the heat; then,
at that season,
one might have the shadow under the rock,
and the wine of Biblis,
a curd cake, and all the milk that the goats
can give you,
the meat of a heifer, bred in the woods,
who has never borne a calf,
and of baby kids also, Then, too, one can sit
in the shadow
and drink the bright-shining wine, his heart
satiated with eating
and face turned in the direction where Zephyros
make three libations of water from a spring
that keeps running forever
and has no mud in it; and pour wine
for the fourth libation.
Rouse up your slaves to winnow the sacred yield
at the time when powerful Orion first shows himself;
in a place where there is a good strong wind,
on a floor that's rounded.
Measure it by storing it neatly away in the bins.
you have laid away a good store of livelihood
in your house,
put your hired man out of doors, and look
for a serving-maid
with no children, as one with young
to look after's a nuisance;
and look after your dog with the sharp teeth,
do not spare feeding him,
605 so the Man Who Sleeps in the Daytime won't be
getting at your goods.
Bring in hay and fodder so that your mules
and your oxen
will have enough to eat and go on with. Then,
when that is done,
let your helpers refresh their knees,
and unyoke your oxen.
Then, when Orion and Seirios are come to the middle
of the sky, and the rosy-fingered Dawn
then, Perses, cut off all your grapes, and bring
them home with you.
Show your grapes to the sun for ten days
and for ten nights,
cover them with shade for five, and on the sixth day
the gifts of bountiful Dionysos into jars.
the Pleiades and the Hyades and the strength of Orion
have set, then remember again to begin
your seasonal plowing,
and the full year will go underground,
completing the cycle.
But if the desire for stormy seagoing
seizes upon you:
why, when the Pleiades, running to escape
grim bulk, duck themselves under the misty face
of the water,
at that time the blasts of the winds are blowing
from every direction,
then is no time to keep your ships
on the wine-blue water.
Think of working your land instead,
as I keep telling you.
Haul your ship up on the dry land, and make
625 of stones about it, to keep out the force of winds
that blow wet,
and pull the plug, so the rains of Zeus will not rot
Take all the tackle that's rigged to the ship,
and lay it up indoors,
neatly stowing the wings of the ship that goes
over the water;
hang the well-wrought steering-oar over the smoke
of the fireplace,
63o and yourself wait for the time to come when a voyage
is in season.
Then drag your swift ship down to the sea,
and put in a cargo
that will be suitable for it, so you can bring home
as did my father, and yours too, 0 Perses,
you great fool,
who used to sail in ships, for he wanted to live
like a noble,
635 and once on a time, leaving Kyme of Aiolis,
he came here
in his black ship, having crossed over
a vast amount of water;
and it was not comfort he was fleeing, nor wealth,
but that evil poverty that Zeus gives men
for a present;
and settled here near Helikon in a hole of a village,
Askra, bad in winter, tiresome in summer,
and good at no season.
As for you, Perses, remember the timely seasons
for all work
done, but remember it particularly about seafaring.
Admire a little ship, but put your cargo in a big one.
The bigger the cargo, the bigger will be
the profit added
to profit--if only the winds hold off
their harsh gales from it.
But for when, turning your easily blown thoughts
toward a merchant's
life, you wish to escape your debts,
and unhappy hunger,
I will show you the measures
of the much-thundering sea, I
who am not one who has much knowledge of ships
and sea voyages;
for I never did sail in a ship across the wide water
except across to Euboia from Aulis, where once
stayed out the storm and gathered together
a great many people
from sacred Hellas to go to Troy,
the land of fair women.
There I crossed over to Chalkis
for the games held in honor
of gallant Amphidamas, for the sons
of this great-hearted
man had set out many chosen prizes. There,
I can claim,
I won the contest with a song
and took off an eared tripod;
and this I set up as an offering
to the Muses of Helikon,
where they first had made me a master
of melodious singing.
This is all my experience with intricately bolted
ships, but still I can tell you the thought,
which is of aegis-bearing
Zeus, for the Muses have taught me to sing
For fifty days, after the turn
of the summer solstice,
when the wearisome season of the hot weather
goes to its conclusion
then is the timely season for men to voyage.
You will not
break up your ship, nor will the sea drown
its people, unless
Poseidon, the shaker of the earth,
of his own volition,
or Zeus, the king of the immortals, wishes
to destroy it,
for with these rests authority for all outcomes,
good or evil.
At that time the breezes can be judged,
and the sea is untroubled.
At that time, trusting your swift ship to the winds,
you can draw her
down to the sea at will, and load all your cargo
but make haste still, for the sake of
an earlier homecoming,
and do not wait for the season of new wine,
and the autumn
rain, and the winter coming on,
and the hard-blowing southwind
who comes up behind the heavy rains that Zeus sends
and upheaves the sea and makes the open water
There is one other sailing season for men,
in spring time.
At that point, when you first make out
on the topmost branches
of the fig tree, a leaf as big as the print
that a crow makes
when he walks; at that time also the sea is navigable
and this is called the spring sailing season.
I for my part
do not like it. There is nothing about it
that I find pleasant.
It's snatched. You will find it hard
to escape coming to grief. Yet still
and even so, men in their short-sightedness
do undertake it;
for acquisition means life to miserable mortals;
but it is an awful thing to die among the waves.
I tell you to follow with all your attention,
as I instruct you.
Do not adventure your entire livelihood
in hollow ships.
Leave the greater part ashore and make
the lesser part cargo.
For it is awful to run on disaster in the waves
of the open
water, and awful to put an overwhelming load
on your wagon
and break the axle, and have all the freight
go to nothing.
Observe measures. Timeliness is best in all matters.
You are of age to marry a wife and bring her
home with you
when you are about thirty, not being many years
that mark, nor going much over. That age
is ripe for your marriage.
Let your wife be full grown four years,
and marry in the fifth.
Better marry a maiden, so you can teach her
and in particular marry one who lives close by you.
Look her well over first. Don't marry what will
make your neighbors
laugh at you, for while there's nothing better
a man can win him
than a good wife, there's nothing more dismal
than a bad one.
She eats him out. And even though her husband
be a strong man,
she burns him dry without fire, and gives him
to a green old age
Always observe a due regard for the blessed
Do not put some friend on equal terms
with your brother;
but if you do, never be the first to do him an injury.
Do not tell lies for the sake of talking.
If your friend begins it
by speaking some disagreeable word,
or doing some injury,
remember, and pay him back twice over. Then,
if he would bring you
back into his friendship, and propose
to give reparation,
take him back. A mean man's one
who is constantly changing
friend for friend. Do not let appearance
Do not be called every man's friend.
Do not be called friendless,
nor companion of bad people, nor one who quarrels
with good ones.
Never be so hard as to mock a man for hateful,
poverty. That's a gift given
by the blessed immortals.
The best reserve of resource that men can have
is a sparing
720 tongue, and they are best liked when that
if you say a bad thing, you may soon hear a worse
thing said about you.
Never be disagreeable at a feast
where many guests
come together; there good feeling's greatest,
Never, is slightest.
Never, from dawn forward, pour a shining libation
of wine to Zeus or the other immortals,
without washing your hands first.
When you do, they do not hear your prayers;
they spit them back at you.
Never stand upright and make water
facing the sun,
but only, remember, when he has set,
or before his rising.
Nor do it when you are on the road,
nor yet turning out from
the road, nor showing yourself. For nights
belong to the Blessed Ones.
A devout man, one who has learned the right way
to do things,
will huddle down, or go to the wall
of a courtyard enclosure.
Do not, when in your house, ever show yourself
near the hearthside
when you are physically unclean,
but keep away from it.
Do not, when you have come back
from an ill-omened burial,
beget children, but when you come from a feast
of the immortals.
Never wade through the pretty ripples
of perpetually flowing
rivers, until you have looked at their lovely waters,
and prayed to them,
and washed your hands in the pale enchanting water.
For if one
wades a river unwashed of hands
and unwashed of wickedness
the gods are outraged at him, and give him pains
for the future.
Never, at a happy festival of the gods, cut off
the dry from the green on the five-branch plant
with shining iron.
Never put the wine-ladle on top
of the mixing bowl
when people are drinking. This brings
accursed bad luck with it.
Never, when you are building a house,
leave rough edges on it,
for fear a raucous crow may perch there,
and croak at you
Never take up, without an offering, a piece of pottery
and eat or wash from it. There is a forfeit
on these also.
Never let a twelve-year-old boy sit on anything
not to be moved; better not; it makes a man
lose his virility;
nor a twelve-month-boy either, for this will work
in the same way.
A man should never wash his body in water a woman
has used, for there is a dismal forfeit
that comes in time also
for this act.
Nor, if you chance on sacred offerings
must you make fun of the rites. The god, naturally,
Never make water into the outlets
of rivers meeting
the sea, nor in their springs, but altogether
nor plunge in them to cool off; it means no good
if you do this.
Do as I tell you. And keep away from
the gossip of people.
For gossip is an evil thing by nature,
she's a light weight to lift up,
oh very easy, but heavy to carry, and hard
to put down again.
Gossip never disappears entirely once many people
have talked her big. In fact, she really is
some sort of goddess.
Observe the Days that come from Zeus, all
in their right order.
Explain them to your workers; that the thirtieth
of the month
is best for supervising works,
and for doling provisions.
And here follow the days that come to us
from the counselor
Zeus, when men who judge their true nature
can observe them.
First of all, the first, fourth, and seventh
of the month are holy;
it was on this last that Leto gave birth to Apollo
of the golden sword. Then the eighth and ninth,
two days in each month
as it waxes, are excellent for mortal labors.
The eleventh day, and the twelfth too,
are both very good days
775 either for shearing sheep or for reaping
the good harvest;
but of these the twelfth day is far better
than the eleventh,
for it is on the twelfth that the air-flying
her web in the full of the day, and Know-All, the ant,
piles her dirt-hill.
On this day a wife could set up her loom
and get her work going.
780 In the waxing month, the thirteenth day
is to be avoided
for planting seed, but it is the best
for transplanting seedlings.
The sixth of midmonth is very unfavorable
but good for the birth of males; not favorable
either to be born in the first place or to go
to their marriage.
785 Nor is the early sixth either suitable
for a girl-child
to be born, but for gelding kids, and lambs,
and for putting
an enclosure around the sheeppen
it is a day kind and propitious.
Fine, too, for a boy born; but he'll be one
who is fond of teasing,
and telling lies, and flattering speeches,
and beguiling sweet talk.
On the eighth of the month, it is time
to geld the boar and the bellowing
bull; but the hard-working mules should be done
on the twelfth day.
On the great twentieth, in full day,
a man who will be learned
should be born, for one of that day
is well armed with brains.
The tenth is fine for a boy-child to be born;
for a girl-child
the fourth of midmonth, on which day
you should gentle your sheep, your
horn-curved shambling cattle, sharp-toothed dog,
mules, by stroking them with the hand,
but be very careful
on the fourth of the waxing, the fourth
of the waning month, to avoid
troubles that eat out the heart. For this day
has great authority.
On the fourth day of the month
bring your wife home, only
first watch out the bird signs most favorable
to this business.
Beware of all fifth days; they are harsh
and angry; it was on
the fifth, they say, that the Erinyes
assisted at the bearing
of Oath, whom Strife bore, to be a plague
on those who take false oath.
On the seventh of midmonth, after looking
carefully all about you,
throw down the holy grain of Demeter
on a well-rounded
floor; and it's time for the carpenter
to cut the house beams
and all the many timbers that are required
for ship building.
On the fourth, one can begin putting
the narrow ships together.
310 The ninth of midmonth grows better toward evening.
The first ninth is altogether free of harm for men,
for it is a very good day for either a man or a woman
either to beget or be born. It is never
a truly bad day.
Few know that the twenty-seventh of the month
is the best day
315 for starting on a wine jar or for putting the yoke
on the necks
of oxen, or of mules, or swift-footed horses, also
for hauling a fast ship with many locks
down to the wine-blue
waters. For there are few who call true things
by their right names.
On the fourth open a wine jar; the fourth
is surpassingly sacred
in midmonth. Few, again, know that any day
after the twentieth
is best in the dawning, but in the late day
it grows less good.
These are the days which greatly advantage
The others are full of vain noise, ineffective,
and produce nothing.
Every man will have his favorite day, but few
know about them.
A certain day is sometimes a stepmother,
sometimes a mother.
But that man is fortunate and blessed who,
knowing all these
matters, goes on with his work,
innocent toward the immortals,
watching all the bird signs, and keeping clear
(Richmond Lattimore Translation)