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Megala Erga

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Title: Megala Erga  
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Subject: Hesiod, Descent of Perithous, Idaean Dactyls (poem), Epic poetry, Theogony
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Megala Erga

The Megala Erga (Ancient Greek: Μέγαλα Ἔργα),[1] or Great Works, is a now fragmentary didactic poem that was attributed to the Greek oral poet Hesiod during antiquity. Only two brief direct quotations can be attributed to the work with certainty, but it was likely similar to the Hesiodic Works and Days, with the "Megala", "great", of the title implying that it was longer than the extant poem.[2] As such, the Megala Erga would appear to have the same relation to the Works and Days as does the Megalai Ehoiai to the Catalogue of Women.[3]

Although the remains of the poem found in other ancient authors are meager, it can be said that the Megala Erga appears to have been concerned with both morality and the conveyance of more-or-less practical information like the extant Hesiodic poem upon which its title drew.[3] The scholia to the Myth of the Ages in the Works and Days, à propos of the Race of Silver (WD 128), reports that in the Megala Erga a genealogy for silver was given: it was a descendant of Gaia.[4] The other securely attributed fragment resembles many of the gnomic utterances that characterize the Works and Days:[5]

If someone sowed evils, he would reap evil profits;
if he suffered what he committed, the judgement would be straight[6]
εἰ κακά τις σπείραι, κακὰ κέρδεά <κ'> ἀμήσειεν·
εἴ κε πάθοι, τά τ' ἔρεξε, δίκη κ' ἰθεῖα γένοιτο

Other fragments that have been tentatively assigned to the poem concern the strengths man possesses at different points in his life (fr. 321),[7] religious practices (fr. 322)[8] and filial piety (fr. 323).[9]

Select editions and translations

Critical editions



  1. ^ The Latin translation of the title, Magna Opera, is occasionally used, as at Merkelbach & West (1967, p. 165).
  2. ^ Cingano (2009, p. 129), West (1978, p. 22 with n. 4).
  3. ^ a b Most (2006, p. lxi), Cingano (2009, p. 129).
  4. ^ Megala Erga fr. 287 Merkelbach–West.
  5. ^ Most (2006, p. lxi)
  6. ^ Megala Erga fr. 286, the translation is that of Most 2007 (his fr. no. 221).
  7. ^ "Deeds are of the young, counsels of the middle-aged, prayers of the old", trans. Most 2007 (his fr. no. 271).
  8. ^ "Howsoever the city performs sacrifice, ancient custom is the best", trans. Most 2007 (his fr. no. 272).
  9. ^ "To your father you must [ lacuna ] be obedient." For the attribution of these fragments to the Megala Erga see Most (2006, p. lxi).


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