Theogony – Hesiod.
(4 for value – ancient text and useful insight)
(3 for readability)
(3.5 for interest)
(3 for technicalities – formatting)
I’m not totally sure how to rate this – as an ancient work (8th Century BCE) it’s importance is supreme. It’s a great insight into the pantheon of the Ancient Greeks and their religion but it must be said it is NOT an easy read. This is partly as it is so old – these deities are alien to most of us, with unfamiliar names, roles and lives, if that is the right word, which are also rather fantastic. Mostly it reads as a list – so and so begat so and so. There’s a lot of that – sex is everywhere, as is violence, intrigue, deception, family squabbles and much more. From the modern view all the incest, patricide, misogyny and so forth is hard to deal with – although pretty standard for ancient religious text. The stories of Prometheus, of Earth and Sky and Earth’s revenge, plus the birth of Athena are the most outstanding accounts. In many ways it reads like a modern soap opera.
I’d say it is a great book for background information to the gods and supernatural beings of the period, but as a straight through read, or an adventure such as the Odyssey it is not nearly as exciting. The misogyny of the text is obvious – although to some extent reflects the ideas of the time.
The formatting on this version was a bit suspect – with large gaps, words running into one another and repeated phrases, which MAY have been intentional but maybe not. After a while it became fairly hard to read because of this. Some more notes to this particular version would be very useful.
Overall – I’d say a useful reference for study if one wants background into the deities of the Odyssey or Iliad, but not an especially interesting one – at least in this particular translation.