Friday, 3 April 2015

Iron Age

A.E. Stallings discovers that Hesiod's Works and Days (an excerpt of her translation appears this month in The New Criterion) remains as fresh and relevant as ever:
I live in Greece, a transplant from over the sea. Translating this poem during the Greek financial crisis, I have, to my surprise, found it topical and resonant. The ancient poem speaks eerily to the moment, with its concerns about debt, corruption, justice, employment, and poverty. And who in Greece is not in a lawsuit with his brother over an inherited property? (Greece still lacks, disastrously, a complete land registry.) When Hesiod declares, disgustedly, that “this is an iron age indeed,” it is a line that could be spray-painted on the walls of Parliament. The Works and Days, far from being a fusty relic, demonstrates Pound’s dictum: “literature is news that stays news.”

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