6/12/09

Hesiod on the Plague

Hesiod tells us that when Prometheus stole the fire from heaven, the Earth was inhabited only by men. Thereupon Zeus commanded that a plague should be sent down to Earth, and this plague took the form of a woman clothed by Athena in a silver gown, wearing a garland of flowers on her head, and above the flowers a golden crown. She is made out of common clay, and she is let loose among men:

From her comes the damnable race of women,
No help to men in poverty; only to the rich
Are they helpful; and they cause great trouble.
As in the thatched hives the honeybees
Feed the drones who are always up to their tricks-
The bees work all day, laying their white combs,
While the drones laze in their covered skeps,
Reaping the toil of others in their bellies-
So in the same way did Zeus the Thunderer
Make women to be an evil curse on men,
Being by nature evil...

Theogony, 591-602

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