Friday, August 7, 2020

Hesiod: Reconsider Before Calling Him A Woman-Hater

When it comes to ancient Greek religious literature, for some reason, I have always found Hesiod to be one of my favorites. I suppose the love I have for the Archaic Period and the mysteries therein contribute to the admiration. I enjoy many of his philosophies and stories about the Gods, including his guidelines for living a happy and productive life. However, not everyone shares my sentiment. Pointing out seemingly very negative things he said about women in his writings, some modern female Hellenists I know of have chosen to shun him completely in their life. I think we should take a closer look at Hesiod before making such assumptions, though.

Firstly, we must acknowledge the fact that Hesiod's original work and the work we have today, is probably not 100% identical. Quite likely, throughout the ages, the works were edited or changed in certain amounts to conform to the time periods it passed through. So we don't actually know if everything we read of Hesiod today is actually what he said entirely. 

The main contempt some Hellenistic women today is an incredibly small part of his writings, not even constituting 1%, which says that a man is a fool for trusting women because they are "after your barn" and nothing more. However, this is not what Hesiod actually said, at least not in every translation. In some, it says, "Do not trust flatterers." From Hesiod's perspective, the only flatterers he would have known of would have been women, because heterosexuality is the most commonly exhibited courtship, just as a woman would mostly know men as being the flatterers. Hesiod may have simply been saying to not allow lust to endanger you. 

When hearing the idea that Hesiod was a woman-hater, not only do I bring up this idea, but also the fact that he said that a man "finds no greater treasure than a good wife." Women-haters do not think there is such a thing as a good woman. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

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