God and the Land : The Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil: The Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil

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Oxford University Press, USA, May 18, 1998 - Philosophy - 272 pages
In this pathbreaking book, which includes a powerful new translation of Hesiod's Works and Days by esteemed translator David Grene, Stephanie Nelson argues that a society's vision of farming contains deep indications about its view of the human place within nature, and our relationship to the divine. She contends that both Hesiod in the Works and Days and Vergil in the Georgics saw farming in this way, and so wrote their poems not only about farming itself, but also about its deeper ethical and religious implications. Hesiod, Nelson argues, saw farming as revealing that man must live by the sweat of his brow, and that good, for human beings, must always be accompanied by hardship. Within this vision justice, competition, cooperation, and the need for labor take their place alongside the uncertainties of the seasons and even of particular lucky and unlucky days to form a meaningful whole within which human life is an integral part. Vergil, Nelson argues, deliberately modeled his poem upon the Works and Days, and did so in order to reveal that his is a very different vision. Hesiod saw the hardship in farming; Vergil sees its violence as well. Farming is for him both our life within nature, and also our battle against her. Against the background of Hesiods poem, which found a single meaning for human life, Vergil thus creates a split vision and suggests that human beings may be radically alienated from both nature and the divine. Nelson argues that both the Georgics and the Works and Days have been misread because scholars have not seen the importance of the connection between the two poems, and because they have not seen that farming is the true concern of both, farming in its deepest and most profoundly unsettling sense.
 

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Contents

Geneaological Table
2
Hesiods Works and Days
5
HESIODS WORKS AND DAYS
9
HESIOD POET AND FARMER
31
1 THE COMPOSITION OF HESIODS POEMS
41
2 THE MYTHIC BACKGROUND
59
VERGILS FARM
82
4 GOD
98
5 THE HUMAN CONTEXT
125
6 THE PLACE OF NATURE
152
Notes
171
Bibliography
231
Index
247
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Stephanie Nelson has a degree in finance and worked for ten years in sales and marketing with Procter and Gamble and Marriott Hotels. In 1995, she left the corporate world to stay home with her sons. In 2001, she founded her free website www.couponmom.com, which is committed to helping consumers save money and feed the hungry by increasing food donations to hunger organizations with the Cut out Hunger program. Since 2004, she has appeared on numerous television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and CBS Early Show.

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