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The Contest of Homer and Hesiod 

This curious work dates in its present form from the lifetime or shortly after the death of Hadrian, but seems to be based in part on an earlier version by the sophist Alcidamas (c. 400 B.C.). Plutarch ("Conviv. Sept. Sap.", 40) uses an earlier (or at least a shorter) version than that which we possess (18). The extant "Contest", however, has clearly combined with the original document much other ill-digested matter on the life and descent of Homer, probably drawing on the same general sources as does the Herodotean "Life of Homer". Its scope is as follows: 1) the descent (as variously reported) and relative dates of Homer and Hesiod; 2) their poetical contest at Chalcis; 3) the death of Hesiod; 4) the wanderings and fortunes of Homer, with brief notices of the circumstances under which his reputed works were composed, down to the time of his death.

The whole tract is, of course, mere romance; its only values are

1) the insight it give into ancient speculations about Homer; 2) a certain amount of definite information about the Cyclic poems; and 3) the epic fragments included in the stichomythia of the "Contest" proper, many of which -- did we possess the clue -- would have to be referred to poems of the Epic Cycle.


(1) sc. in Boeotia, Locris and Thessaly: elsewhere the movement
     was forced and unfruitful.
(2) The extant collection of three poems, "Works and Days",
     "Theogony", and "Shield of Heracles", which alone have come
     down to us complete, dates at least from the 4th century
     A.D.: the title of the Paris Papyrus (Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Gr.
     1099) names only these three works.
(3) "Der Dialekt des Hesiodes", p. 464: examples are AENEMI (W.
     and D. 683) and AROMENAI (ib. 22).
(4) T.W. Allen suggests that the conjured Delian and Pythian
     hymns to Apollo ("Homeric Hymns" III) may have suggested
     this version of the story, the Pythian hymn showing strong
     continental influence.
(5) She is said to have given birth to the lyrist Stesichorus.
(6) See Kinkel "Epic. Graec. Frag." i. 158 ff.
(7) See "Great Works", frag. 2.
(8) "Hesiodi Fragmenta", pp. 119 f.
(9) Possibly the division of this poem into two books is a
     division belonging solely to this `developed poem', which
     may have included in its second part a summary of the Tale
     of Troy.
(10) Goettling's explanation.
(11) x. 1. 52
(12) Odysseus appears to have been mentioned once only -- and
     that casually -- in the "Returns".
(13) M.M. Croiset note that the "Aethiopis" and the "Sack" were
     originally merely parts of one work containing lays (the
     Amazoneia, Aethiopis, Persis, etc.), just as the "Iliad"
     contained various lays such as the Diomedeia.
(14) No date is assigned to him, but it seems likely that he was
     either contemporary or slightly earlier than Lesches.
(15) Cp. Allen and Sikes, "Homeric Hymns" p. xv. In the text I
     have followed the arrangement of these scholars, numbering
     the Hymns to Dionysus and to Demeter, I and II respectively:
     to place "Demeter" after "Hermes", and the Hymn to Dionysus
     at the end of the collection seems to be merely perverse.
(16) "Greek Melic Poets", p. 165.
(17) This monument was returned to Greece in the 1980's. -- DBK.
(18) Cp. Marckscheffel, "Hesiodi fragmenta", p. 35. The papyrus
     fragment recovered by Petrie ("Petrie Papyri", ed. Mahaffy,
     p. 70, No. xxv.) agrees essentially with the extant
     document, but differs in numerous minor textual points.


HESIOD. -- The classification and numerations of MSS. here followed is that of Rzach (1913). It is only necessary to add that on the whole the recovery of Hesiodic papyri goes to confirm the authority of the mediaeval MSS. At the same time these fragments have produced much that is interesting and valuable, such as the new lines, "Works and Days" 169 a-d, and the improved readings ib. 278, "Theogony" 91, 93. Our chief gains from papyri are the numerous and excellent fragments of the Catalogues which have been recovered.

"Works and Days": --

S    Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1090.
A    Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-9 (4th cent.).
B    Geneva, Naville Papyri Pap. 94 (6th cent.).
C    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2771 (11th cent.).
D    Florence, Laur. xxxi 39 (12th cent.).
E    Messina, Univ. Lib. Preexistens 11 (12th-13th cent.).
F    Rome, Vatican 38 (14th cent.).
G    Venice, Marc. ix 6 (14th cent.).
H    Florence, Laur. xxxi 37 (14th cent.).
I    Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.).
K    Florence, Laur. xxxii 2 (14th cent.).
L    Milan, Ambros. G 32 sup. (14th cent.).
M    Florence, Bibl. Riccardiana 71 (15th cent.).
N    Milan, Ambros. J 15 sup. (15th cent.).
O    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2773 (14th cent.).
P    Cambridge, Trinity College (Gale MS.), O.9.27 (13th-14th
Q    Rome, Vatican 1332 (14th cent.).

These MSS. are divided by Rzach into the following families, issuing from a common original: --

a = C

b = F,G,H

a = D

b = I,K,L,M

a = E

b = N,O,P,Q

"Theogony": --

N    Manchester, Rylands GK. Papyri No. 54 (1st cent. B.C. - 1st
     cent. A.D.).
O    Oxyrhynchus Papyri 873 (3rd cent.).
A    Paris, Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Graec. (papyrus) 1099 (4th-5th
B    London, British Museam clix (4th cent.).
R    Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-9 (4th cent.).
C    Paris, Bibl. Nat. Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.).
D    Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.).
E    Florence, Laur., Conv. suppr. 158 (14th cent.).
F    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833 (15th cent.).
G    Rome, Vatican 915 (14th cent.).
H    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2772 (14th cent.).
I    Florence, Laur. xxxi 32 (15th cent.).
K    Venice, Marc. ix 6 (15th cent.).
L    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2708 (15th cent.).

These MSS. are divided into two families:

a = C,D

b = E,F

c = G,H,I

= K,L

"Shield of Heracles": --

P    Oxyrhynchus Papyri 689 (2nd cent.).
A    Vienna, Rainer Papyri L.P. 21-29 (4th cent.).
Q    Berlin Papyri, 9774 (1st cent.).
B    Paris, Bibl. Nat., Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.).
C    Paris, Bibl. Nat., Suppl. Graec. 663 (12th cent.).
D    Milan, Ambros. C 222 (13th cent.).
E    Florence, Laur. xxxii 16 (13th cent.).
F    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2773 (14th cent.).
G    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2772 (14th cent.).
H    Florence, Laur. xxxi 32 (15th cent.).
I    London, British Museaum Harleianus (14th cent.).
K    Rome, Bibl. Casanat. 356 (14th cent.)
L    Florence, Laur. Conv. suppr. 158 (14th cent.).
M    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833 (15th cent.).

These MSS. belong to two families:

a = B,C,D,F

b = G,H,I

a = E

b = K,L,M

To these must be added two MSS. of mixed family:

N    Venice, Marc. ix 6 (14th cent.).
O    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2708 (15th cent.).

Editions of Hesiod: --

Demetrius Chalcondyles, Milan (?) 1493 (?) ("editio princeps",

containing, however, only the "Works and Days"). Aldus Manutius (Aldine edition), Venice, 1495 (complete works). Juntine Editions, 1515 and 1540. Trincavelli, Venice, 1537 (with scholia).

Of modern editions, the following may be noticed: --

Gaisford, Oxford, 1814-1820; Leipzig, 1823 (with scholia: in

Poett. Graec. Minn II). Goettling, Gotha, 1831 (3rd edition. Leipzig, 1878). Didot Edition, Paris, 1840. Schomann, 1869. Koechly and Kinkel, Leipzig, 1870. Flach, Leipzig, 1874-8. Rzach, Leipzig, 1902 (larger edition), 1913 (smaller edition).

On the Hesiodic poems generally the ordinary Histories of Greek Literature may be consulted, but especially the "Hist. de la Litterature Grecque" I pp. 459 ff. of MM. Croiset. The summary account in Prof. Murray's "Anc. Gk. Lit." is written with a strong sceptical bias. Very valuable is the appendix to Mair's translation (Oxford, 1908) on "The Farmer's Year in Hesiod". Recent work on the Hesiodic poems is reviewed in full by Rzach in Bursian's "Jahresberichte" vols. 100 (1899) and 152 (1911).

For the "Fragments" of Hesiodic poems the work of Markscheffel, "Hesiodi Fragmenta" (Leipzig, 1840), is most valuable: important also is Kinkel's "Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta" I (Leipzig, 1877) and the editions of Rzach noticed above. For recently discovered papyrus fragments see Wilamowitz, "Neue Bruchstucke d. Hesiod Katalog" (Sitzungsb. der k. preuss. Akad. fur Wissenschaft, 1900, pp. 839-851). A list of papyri belonging to lost Hesiodic works may here be added: all are the "Catalogues".

1) Berlin Papyri 7497 (1) (2nd cent.). -- Frag. 7.
2) Oxyrhynchus Papyri 421 (2nd cent.). -- Frag. 7.
3) "Petrie Papyri" iii 3. -- Frag. 14.
4) "Papiri greci e latine", No. 130 (2nd-3rd cent.). -- Frag.
5) Strassburg Papyri, 55 (2nd cent.). -- Frag. 58.
6) Berlin Papyri 9739 (2nd cent.). -- Frag. 58.
7) Berlin Papyri 10560 (3rd cent.). -- Frag. 58.
8) Berlin Papyri 9777 (4th cent.). -- Frag. 98.
9) "Papiri greci e latine", No. 131 (2nd-3rd cent.). -- Frag.
10) Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358-9.

The Homeric Hymns: -- The text of the Homeric hymns is distinctly bad in condition, a fact which may be attributed to the general neglect under which they seem to have laboured at all periods previously to the Revival of Learning. Very many defects have been corrected by the various editions of the Hymns, but a considerable number still defy all efforts; and especially an abnormal number of undoubted lacuna disfigure the text. Unfortunately no papyrus fragment of the Hymns has yet emerged, though one such fragment

("Berl. Klassikertexte" v.1. pp. 7 ff.) contains a paraphrase of a poem very closely parallel to the "Hymn to Demeter".

The mediaeval MSS. (2) are thus enumerated by Dr. T.W. Allen: --

A    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2763.
At   Athos, Vatopedi 587.
B    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2765.
C    Paris, Bibl. Nat. 2833.
   Brussels, Bibl. Royale 11377-11380 (16th cent.).
D    Milan, Amrbos. B 98 sup.
E    Modena, Estense iii E 11.
G    Rome, Vatican, Regina 91 (16th cent.).
H    London, British Mus. Harley 1752.
J    Modena, Estense, ii B 14.
K    Florence, Laur. 31, 32.
L    Florence, Laur. 32, 45.
L2   Florence, Laur. 70, 35.
L3   Florence, Laur. 32, 4.
M    Leyden (the Moscow MS.) 33 H (14th cent.).
Mon. Munich, Royal Lib. 333 c.
N    Leyden, 74 c.
O    Milan, Ambros. C 10 inf.
P    Rome, Vatican Pal. graec. 179.
 Paris, Bibl. Nat. Suppl. graec. 1095.
Q    Milan, Ambros. S 31 sup.
R1   Florence, Bibl. Riccard. 53 K ii 13.
R2   Florence, Bibl. Riccard. 52 K ii 14.
S    Rome, Vatican, Vaticani graec. 1880.
T    Madrid, Public Library 24.
V    Venice, Marc. 456.

The same scholar has traced all the MSS. back to a common parent from which three main families are derived (M had a separate descent and is not included in any family): --

x1 = E,T

x2 = L,,(and more remotely) At,D,S,H,J,K. y = E,L,,T (marginal readings). p = A,B,C,,G,L2,L3,N,O,P,Q,R1,R2,V,Mon.

Editions of the Homeric Hymns, & c.: --

Demetrius Chalcondyles, Florence, 1488 (with the "Epigrams" and
     the "Battle of the Frogs and Mice" in the "ed. pr." of
Aldine Edition, Venice, 1504.
Juntine Edition, 1537.
Stephanus, Paris, 1566 and 1588.

More modern editions or critical works of value are:

Martin (Variarum Lectionum libb. iv), Paris, 1605.
Barnes, Cambridge, 1711.
Ruhnken, Leyden, 1782 (Epist. Crit. and "Hymn to Demeter").
Ilgen, Halle, 1796 (with "Epigrams" and the "Battle of the Frogs
     and Mice").
Matthiae, Leipzig, 1806 (with the "Battle of the Frogs and
Hermann, Berling, 1806 (with "Epigrams").
Franke, Leipzig, 1828 (with "Epigrams" and the "Battle of the
     Frogs and Mice").
Dindorff (Didot edition), Paris, 1837.
Baumeister ("Battle of the Frogs and Mice"), Gottingen, 1852.
Baumeister ("Hymns"), Leipzig, 1860.
Gemoll, Leipzig, 1886.
Goodwin, Oxford, 1893.
Ludwich ("Battle of the Frogs and Mice"), 1896.
Allen and Sikes, London, 1904.
Allen (Homeri Opera v), Oxford, 1912.

Of these editions that of Messrs Allen and Sikes is by far the
best: not only is the text purged of the load of conjectures for
which the frequent obscurities of the Hymns offer a special
opening, but the Introduction and the Notes throughout are of the
highest value. For a full discussion of the MSS. and textual
problems, reference must be made to this edition, as also to Dr.
T.W. Allen's series of articles in the "Journal of Hellenic
Studies" vols. xv ff. Among translations those of J. Edgar
(Edinburgh), 1891) and of Andrew Lang (London, 1899) may be

The Epic Cycle: --

The fragments of the Epic Cycle, being drawn from a variety of authors, no list of MSS. can be given. The following collections and editions may be mentioned: --

Muller, Leipzig, 1829. Dindorff (Didot edition of Homer), Paris, 1837-56. Kinkel (Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta i), Leipzig, 1877. Allen (Homeri Opera v), Oxford, 1912.

The fullest discussion of the problems and fragments of the epic cycle is F.G. Welcker's "der epische Cyclus" (Bonn, vol. i, 1835: vol. ii, 1849: vol. i, 2nd edition, 1865). The Appendix to Monro's "Homer's Odyssey" xii-xxiv (pp. 340 ff.) deals with the Cyclic poets in relation to Homer, and a clear and reasonable discussion of the subject is to be found in Croiset's "Hist. de la Litterature Grecque", vol. i.

On Hesiod, the Hesiodic poems and the problems which these offer see Rzach's most important article "Hesiodos" in Pauly-Wissowa, "Real-Encyclopadie" xv (1912).

A discussion of the evidence for the date of Hesiod is to be found in "Journ. Hell. Stud." xxxv, 85 ff. (T.W. Allen).

Of translations of Hesiod the following may be noticed: -- "The Georgicks of Hesiod", by George Chapman, London, 1618; "The Works of Hesiod translated from the Greek", by Thomas Coocke, London,

1728; "The Remains of Hesiod translated from the Greek into English Verse", by Charles Abraham Elton; "The Works of Hesiod, Callimachus, and Theognis", by the Rev. J. Banks, M.A.; "Hesiod", by Prof. James Mair, Oxford, 1908 (3).


(1) See Schubert, "Berl. Klassikertexte" v. 1.22 ff.; the other
     papyri may be found in the publications whose name they
(2) Unless otherwise noted, all MSS. are of the 15th century.
(3) To this list I would also add the following: "Hesiod and
     Theognis", translated by Dorothea Wender (Penguin Classics,
     London, 1973). -- DBK.

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