The Review of Politics

An introduction to Hesiod's Works and Days

Robert C. Bartlett 

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The present essay sketches the outline and the intention of Hesiod's Works and Days. Hesiod's principal task appears to be the identification (and praise) of the best way of life for his wayward brother Perses, but in carrying out this task, Hesiod speaks of justice and its human and divine supports in such a way as to go well beyond what would be of benefit to his brother. For in the course of his analysis of justice, or as a result of it, Hesiod praises also the life of autonomous understanding, the life that appears to be the poet's own. In crucial ways, then, Hesiod explores the chief themes of what was to become political philosophy, and for this reason, among others, he deserves the attention of all those who are also concerned with it.

(Published Online May 26 2006)