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Early Indo-European Texts

Classical Greek

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Classical Greek with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Classical Greek Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Classical Greek language and its speakers' culture.

from Hesiod's Works and Days, Part 1

χρύσεον μὲν πρώτιστα γένος μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
ἀθάνατοι ποίησαν Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχοντες.
οἳ μὲν ἐπὶ Κρόνου ἦσαν, ὅτ' οὐρανῷ ἐμβασίλευεν.
ὥστε θεοὶ δ' ἔζωον ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες
νόσφιν ἄτερ τε πόνων καὶ οἰζύος·
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ τοῦτο γένος κατὰ γαῖα κάλυψεν
δεύτερον αὖτε γένος πολὺ χειρότερον μετόπισθεν
ἀργύρεον ποίησαν Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχοντες,
χρυσέῳ οὔτε φυὴν ἐναλίγκιον οὔτε νόημα.
Ζεὺς δὲ πατὴρ τρίτον ἄλλο γένος μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
χάλκειον ποίησ' οὐκ ἀργυρέῳ οὐδὲν ὁμοῖον,
ἐκ μελιᾶν, δεινόν τε καὶ ὄβριμον· οἷσιν Ἄρηος
ἔργ' ἔμελε στονόεντα καὶ ὕβριες· οὐδέ τι σῖτον
ἤσθιον, ἀλλ' ἀδάμαντος ἔχον κρατερόφρονα θυμόν
αὔτις ἔτ' ἄλλο τέταρτον ἐπὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ
Ζεὺς Κρονίδης ποίησε, δικαιότερον καὶ ἄρειον,
ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων θεῖον γένος, οἵ καλέονται
ἡμίθεοι, προτέρη γενεὴ κατ' ἀπείρονα γαῖαν.
νῦν γὰρ δὴ γένος ἐστὶ σιδήρεον· οὐδέ ποτ' ἧμαρ
παύονται καμάτου καὶ οἰζύος, οὐδέ τι νύκτωρ
φθειρόμενοι χαλεπὰς δὲ θεοὶ δώσουσι μερίμνας
ἀλλ' ἔμπης καὶ τοῖσι μεμείχεται ἐσθλὰ κακοῖσιν

Translation

First of all the immortal gods, who live on Olympus, made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was king in heaven. And they lived like gods having a life without sorrow, remote and without grief and suffering. ... But somewhat later after the earth covered this generation, those having Olympian homes made a second generation, silver, inferior, like the golden neither in stature nor in understanding. ... Father Zeus made a third, different race of humans endowed with speech, bronze out of the ash tree, in no way like the silver race, terrible and strong. The wretched works and violent acts of Ares were loved by them, and did not eat any bread, but they inflexibly maintained a dauntless spirit. ... Yet again Zeus, the son of Cronos, made another, the fourth, on the fruitful earth, that was more righteons and better, a godlike race of men, heroes, who are called demigods, the race prior to ours, on the boundless earth. ... And now indeed the race is of iron, and they do not stop laboring and suffering by day, and not at all from perishing by night. Indeed the gods give them difficult anxieties. But nevertheless, also for them, good will be mixed with evils.