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July 9, 2004

Voice From The Past

An Eerie Ring

Hesiod was a Greek poet born in Boeotia around 700BC. At that time the occurrence of great cataclysms in the past was an acknowledged fact, recorded in legend and religion world wide. Today's science is only now beginning to come to terms with it after allowing itself to be bogged down in gradualist dogmas that have more to do with the nineteenth-century clash over the "naturalness" of monarchy versus the newfangled democracy than scientific evidence.

In his Theogony, he predicts:

There will be no affection between guests and host,
and no love between friends and brothers as in the past.
Sons and daughters will be quick to offend their aging parents
and rebuke them and speak to them with rudeness . . .
The man who keeps his oath, or is just and good,
will not be favored, but the evil doers and scoundrels
will be honored, for might will make right and shame will vanish.
Base men will harm their betters with words
that are crooked and then swear they are fair.
And all toiling humanity will be blighted by envy.

It's enough to make me start thinking of a story idea involving an ancient Greek time machine.

Correction added July 11, 2004

Oops, I goofed. Professor Michael Rhodes of Brigham Young University has pulled me up for confusing my sources. The above quote is not from Hesiod's Theogony, but his Works and Days.

Further background from Professor Rhodes:
Hesiod described five ages of men. The first age (gold) was an idyllic period in which a noble race of men lived in harmony and peace with no sickness or pain. Then came a second age (silver) with a less noble race of men that eventually were destroyed by Zeus because of their wickedness. The third age (bronze) was even less noble, but "terrible and strong." They loved warfare and eventually destroyed themselves. The fourth age (no metal associated with it) was a race of noble demi-gods. These were the heroes of the Trojan war and other Greek mythological tales. The fifth and last age (iron) is the age in which Hesiod lived (and which we still live in), and it is this race that he describes in the quoted passage: Works and Days, lines 174-199. Reproduced below in it's entirety from the Perseus Website:

[174] Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, [175] but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labor and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. [180] And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth.1 The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. [185] Men will dishonor their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost of their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another's city. [190] There will be no favor for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right, and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. [195] Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all.
My thanks for pointing it out.
 
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