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Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.

Hesiod (Ἡσίοδος Hēsíodos) was an early Greek poet, believed to have lived around the year 700 BC.


He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner.

The Theogony (c. 700 BC)[edit]

  • We know how to speak many falsehoods which resemble real things, but we know, when we will, how to speak true things.
    • Variant translation: We know to tell many fictions like to truths, and we know, when we will, to speak what is true.
    • Variant translation: we know how to tell many lies that pass for truth, and we know, when we wish, to tell the truth itself.
    • lines 27-28.
  • On the tongue of such an one they shed a honeyed dew, and from his lips drop gentle words.
    • line 82.
  • A man fashions ill for himself who fashions ill for another, and the ill design is most ill for the designer.
    • line 266.
  • Inhibition is no good provider for a needy man, Inhibition, which does men great harm and great good. Inhibition attaches to poverty, boldness to wealth.
    • lines 317-319.
  • From whose eyelids also as they gazed dropped love.
    • line 910.

Works and Days (c. 700 BC)[edit]

  • There was not after all a single kind of strife, but on earth there are two kinds: one of them a man might praise when he recognized her, but the other is blameworthy.
    • line 11.
  • Potter bears a grudge against potter, and craftsman against craftsman, and beggar is envious of beggar, and bard of bard.
    • line 25.
  • Fools, they do not even know how much more is the half than the whole.
    • line 40; often translated as "The half is greater than the whole."
  • For full indeed is earth of woes, and full the sea; and in the day as well as night diseases unbidden haunt mankind, silently bearing ills to men, for all-wise Zeus hath taken from them their voice. So utterly impossible is it to escape the will of Zeus.
    • line 101.
  • They died, as if o'ercome by sleep.
    • line 116.
  • Often an entire city has suffered because of an evil man.
    • Variant translation: Oft hath even a whole city reaped the evil fruit of a bad man.
    • line 240.
  • οἷ γ᾽ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων
    ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη
    • He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner.
    • The man who does evil to another does evil to himself, and the evil counsel is most evil for him who counsels it.
    • He for himself weaves woe who weaves for others woe,
      and evil counsel recoils on the counsellor. [1]
    • lines 265-266
  • Badness you can get easily, in quantity: the road is smooth, and it lies close by. But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it, and rough at first. But when you come to the top, then it is easy, even though it is hard.
    • line 287.
  • This man, I say, is most perfect who shall have understood everything for himself, after having devised what may be best afterward and unto the end.
    • line 293.
  • Let it please thee to keep in order a moderate-sized farm, that so thy garners may be full of fruits in their season.
    • line 304.
  • Invite the man that loves thee to a feast, but let alone thine enemy.
    • line 342.
  • A bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing.
    • line 346.
  • μὴ κακὰ κερδαίνειν: κακὰ κέρδεα ἶσ᾽ ἀάτῃσιν
    • Do not seek evil gains; evil gains are the equivalent of disaster.
    • Gain not base gains; base gains are the same as losses.
      • line 352
      • compare: Book of Proverbs 15:6, "the gains of the wicked bring trouble"
  • If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big.
    • Variant translation: If thou shouldst lay up even a little upon a little, and shouldst do this often, soon would even this become great.
    • line 361.
  • There's no place like home.
    • line 365.
  • Take your fill when the cask is first opened and when it is nearly spent, but midways be sparing: it is poor saving when you come to the lees. (translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White)
    • Variant translation: At the beginning of the cask and at the end take thy fill, but be saving in the middle; for at the bottom saving comes too late.
    • line 368.
  • Let the price fixed with a friend be sufficient, and even dealing with a brother call in witnesses, but laughingly.
    • line 369.
  • Diligence increaseth the fruit of toil. A dilatory man wrestles with losses.
    • line 412.
  • The dawn speeds a man on his journey, and speeds him too in his work.
    • line 579.
  • Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.
    • line 694.
  • Neither make thy friend equal to a brother; but if thou shalt have made him so, be not the first to do him wrong.
    • line 707.
  • Gossip is mischievous, light and easy to raise, but grievous to bear and hard to get rid of. No gossip ever dies away entirely, if many people voice it: it too is a kind of divinity.
    • line 761.

Catalogue of Women or Eoiae[edit]

  • And she conceived and bore to Zeus, who delights in the thunderbolt, two sons, Magnes and Macedon, rejoicing in horses, who dwell round about Pieria and Olympus.
    • Catalogues of Women and Eoiae 3 (Loeb, H.G. Evelyn-White).


  • I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.
    • This quote has been attributed to Hesiod on the internet, and even published with citation as a dubious attribution, but there are no known occurrences of it in his writings.
  • The gods have placed sweat as the price of all things.
    • Perhaps a mistranslation of line 289 of Works and Days, actually:
      But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat

Quotes about Hesiod[edit]

External links[edit]

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