Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica

Page: 140

HOMER: 'Born Sarpedon, that bold and godlike man.'

HESIOD: 'Now we have lingered thus about the plain of Simois, forth from the ships let us go our way, upon our shoulders—'

HOMER: 'Having our hilted swords and long-helved spears.'

HESIOD: 'Then the young heroes with their hands from the sea—'

HOMER: 'Gladly and swiftly hauled out their fleet ship.'

HESIOD: 'Then they came to Colchis and king Aeetes—'

HOMER: 'They avoided; for they knew he was inhospitable and lawless.'

HESIOD: 'Now when they had poured libations and deeply drunk, the surging sea—'

HOMER: 'They were minded to traverse on well-built ships.'

HESIOD: 'The Son of Atreus prayed greatly for them that they all might perish—'

HOMER: 'At no time in the sea: and he opened his mouth said:'

HESIOD: 'Eat, my guests, and drink, and may no one of you return home to his dear country—'

HOMER: 'Distressed; but may you all reach home again unscathed.'

When Homer had met him fairly on every point Hesiod said:

'Only tell me this thing that I ask: How many Achaeans went to Ilium with the sons of Atreus?'

Homer answered in a mathematical problem, thus:

'There were fifty hearths, and at each hearth were fifty spits, and on each spit were fifty carcases, and there were thrice three hundred Achaeans to each joint.'

This is found to be an incredible number; for as there were fifty hearths, the number of spits is two thousand five hundred; and of carcasses, one hundred and twenty thousand...

Homer, then, having the advantage on every point, Hesiod was jealous and began again:

'Homer, son of Meles, if indeed the Muses, daughters of great Zeus the most high, honour you as it is said, tell me a standard that is both best and worst for mortal-men; for I long to know it.' Homer replied: 'Hesiod, son of Dius, I am willing to tell you what you command, and very readily will I answer you. For each man to be a standard will I answer you. For each man to be a standard to himself is most excellent for the good, but for the bad it is the worst of all things. And now ask me whatever else your heart desires.'

HESIOD: 'How would men best dwell in cities, and with what observances?'

HOMER: 'By scorning to get unclean gain and if the good were honoured, but justice fell upon the unjust.'