From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Hesiod (Greek: Hesiodos) was an early Greek poet and rhapsode best-known for the "Theogony." He presumably lived around 700 BC. Hesiod and Homer are generally considered the earliest Greek poets whose work has survived since at least Herodotus's time and they are often paired. Scholars disagree about who lived first, and the fourth-century BCE sophist Alcidamas' Mouseion even brought them together in an imagined poetic agon, the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. Aristarchus first argued for Homer's priority, a claim that was generally accepted by later antiquity.
"Theogony," a poem which uses the same epic verse-form as the "Works and Days", is also attributed to Hesiod. Despite the different subject matter, most scholars, with some notable exceptions (like Evelyn-White), believe that the two works were written by the same man. As M. L. West writes, "Both bear the marks of a distinct personality: a surly, conservative countryman, given to reflection, no lover of women or life, who felt the gods' presence heavy about him."
The Theogony concerns the origins of the world (cosmogony) and of the gods (theogony), beginning with Gaia, Chaos and Eros, and shows a special interest in genealogy. Embedded in Greek myth, there remain fragments of quite variant tales, hinting at the rich variety of myth that once existed, city by city; but Hesiod's retelling of the old stories became, according to the fifth-century historian Herodotus, the accepted version that linked all Hellenes.
The creation myth in Hesiod has long been held to have Eastern influences, such as the Hittite Song of Kumarbi and the Babylonian Enuma Elis. This cultural crossover would have occurred in the eight and ninth century Greek trading colonies such as Al Mina in North Syria. (For more discussion, read Robin Lane Fox's Travelling Heroes and Walcot's Hesiod and the Near East.)