Classic Mythology Term Paper

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Hesiod's Theogony

Written in the 8th century BC, Hesiod's Theogony provides a detailed and authoritative account of the Greek creation myth and, as such, is regarded as a significant primary source of Greek mythology. Although the style and structure of Theogony poses several problems to a modern readership, the manner in which the poem organizes and records the origins and chronology of Greek myth - and displays connections with the myths of other cultures - ensures that it remains a work of vital importance to the study of Greek mythology.

Greek myths, as with the traditional tales of most cultures, were initially passed orally from generation to generation resulting in a great deal of variation, from place to place and from time to time. Hesiod's Theogony is one of the earliest known attempts to chronicle a culture's myths in the permanent and stable form of a written work, and is therefore of immense importance to the study of mythology. Through the medium of poetry, Hesiod constructs a 'standard' record of the origin of the Greek world, and a detailed genealogy of the Greek gods. However, it is this genealogical focus that may prove the greatest obstacle to the modern reader, as the construction of Hesiod's poem often resembles that of a list or table of information and possesses no significant dramatic plot. Amongst this fragmented and categorized portrayal of facts, however, the reader discovers a multitude of tales and myths that prove an invaluable source for understanding the Greek creation, the relationship between successive generations of gods, and a detailed account of the Olympians and, in particular, Zeus.

Undoubtedly one of the primary reasons for the importance of Hesiod's Theogony to the study of Greek myth is its central theme of the 'creation myth'. This is also regarded as a major connection between Greek myth and those of other peoples. Creation myths are common to all cultures, and several of Hesiod's themes: violent struggles between the elements; male inter-generational conflict; gender specific stereotypes; and achieving 'cosmic order' from unstable origins, are also central to many other traditional tales of creation. Yet, within Theogony, the specific events, relationships, and individuals also provide the reader with a wealth of insight into how the Greeks perceived major issues such as the universe (cosmos), gods, and humanity. The title itself, which means, "birth of the gods," makes it immediately apparent that Greek mythology views the universe and the gods as being synonymous, and that the evolution of the universe, and of mankind, is guided…

Sources Used in Document:


Hesiod. Theogony. Trans. Hugh.G.Evelyn-White. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000.

Hesiod. Works and Days. Ed. Apostolos N. Athanassakis, Baltimore: The John Hopkins

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