No mere mouthpiece: An examination of the Hesiodic farmer




Kavadas, Richard J.P.

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Examines the character construction of the Hesiodic ‘farmer’ in the scholarship of Works and Days. Questions Hesiod’s intimacy of agricultural knowledge: was he a practical farmer or a non-farming poet? Using my farming experience I question the adequacy of the information in Works and Days for use as a farming manual. Lines 635-640 - Hesiod’s description of the climatic conditions of Ascra in respect to farming are set against soil properties (soil biochemistry as an evaluating tool) and agricultural responses (farming methods of other cultures) shows Hesiod to have little grasp of the farming methods each situation requires. Text comparatives: Fan Shêng-Chih Shu an ancient Chinese agricultural text detailed with attention to soil fertility. Supporting ancient texts: Cato on Agriculture, Columella on Agriculture, Theophrastus on Plants, Xenophon Oeconomics and Homer’s Odyssey for references to dung and soil fertility. The vague farming information suggests a non-personalized experience - the Hesiodic ‘farmer’ is probably not a practical farmer at all.



Hesiod, Works and Days, farming practices, manure, soil fertility, agricultural history, farmer, Ascra, agricultural knowledge, oral tradition, Perses, just and unjust community, nutrient cycles, plough making, persona, farmer or poet