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Durham e-Theses
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Hesiod’s Works and Days: An Interpretative Commentary

CANEVARO, LILAH-GRACE (2012) Hesiod’s Works and Days: An Interpretative Commentary. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Hesiod’s Works and Days was performed in its entirety, but was also relentlessly excerpted, quoted and reapplied. This thesis places the Works and Days within these two modes of reading and argues that the text itself, through Hesiod’s complex mechanism of rendering elements self-contained and detachable whilst tethering them to their context for the purposes of the poem, sustains both treatments. However, Hesiod gives remarkably little advice on how to negotiate such modes of reading. The seeds of reception are there in the poem’s structure and formulation, but a fully worked out schema of usage is not. This thesis argues that this strategy is linked to the high value Hesiod places on self-sufficiency, which is consistently foregrounded in the Works and Days as the Iron-Age ideal. Hesiod’s emphasis on self-sufficiency creates a productive tension with the didactic thrust of the poem: teaching always involves a relationship of exchange and, at least up to a point, reliance and trust. This thesis argues that the poem’s structure and modes of reading reflect the interplay between self-sufficiency and the very point of didactic literature. Hesiod negotiates the potential contradiction between trust and independence by advocating not blind adherence to his teachings but thinking for oneself and working for one’s lesson.
The issues are presented in an extensive essay, and then followed through the poem in a line-by-line analysis. This thesis complements the available commentaries on the Works and Days (West 1978, Ercolani 2010) by offering a sustained analysis of key aspects of the poem and by using the commentary format self-reflexively to track different ancient reading practices.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Oct 2012 15:59

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