Works and Days


In the beginning, mortal people

lived as if they were gods,

their hearts free from all sorrow,

and without hard work or pain.

They took their pleasure in festivals,

and lived without troubles.

The fruitful grainland

yielded its harvest to them

of its own accord.

It was great and abundant,

while they at their pleasure

quietly and in peace

they looked after their works.

It could have been that

easily in one day

you could do work

enough to keep for a year,

with no more working.


But Pandora’s design was

sad troubles for mankind.

After these, a second generation,

of silver.

By their own foolishness

they had troubles,

for they were not able

to keep away from

reckless crime against each other,

evil war and terrible carnage.

Then, an age of iron.

Never now by daytime will there be

an end to hard work and pain,

nor in the night

to weariness, when the gods

send anxieties to trouble us.

Yet here also there shall be

some good things mixed with the evils.


There is an outcry

when Justice is dragged by circumstance,

when bribe-eating men

pull her about,

and judge their cases with crooked decisions.

She follows weeping,

to the city and gatherings of people.

Justice is Zeus’s daughter.

Whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander

she goes and sits at the feet of her father

and cries out on the wicked purposes of men.

The people must pay for

the mad folly of their rulers,

who for their own greedy purposes

twist the courses of justice aslant

by false proclamations.

For lightly Zeus makes strong,

and lightly brings strength to confusion.

Lightly he diminishes the great one,

and uplifts the obscure.

Lightly the crooked he straightens,

withers the proud.

Attend you must with eye and ear

and make judgements straight.


To the world Zeus gave justice,

and she in the end is proved

the best thing we have.

When the people issue

straight decisions to each other,

and to strangers,

their city flourishes,

and the people flourish inside it.

Peace, the nurse of children, rules their land.

Neither famine nor inward disaster

comes the way of those people

who are straight and just.

Lightheartedly they tend the fields

which are all their care.

They need have no traffic with ships,

for their own grain-giving land

yields them its harvest.

Far away from the seas and its tossing water,

you have your rich land

wherever you live.

Ready yourself to sow,

to plow to reap,

if you wish to bring in

the yields of Demeter,

all in their season,

when once more

the earth, mother of us all,

bears yield in all its variety.

Text: Adapted from Hesiod. c700 BCE [1914]. Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica. Translated by H. G. Evelyn-White. London UK: William Heinemann. Hesiod. c700 BCE [1959]. The Works and Days. Translated by R. Lattimore. Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press.

Photos: I. The last horse-ploughed wheat field in Valcouvina. II. The first coming of the threshing machine to in 1952. III. Its final coming in 1981. IV. Last harvesting.