Along with Homer, Hesiod was one of the Ancient Greeks’ first epic bards, and one of their best. Hesiod is believed to have lived between 750 and 650 B.C., and along with Homer it was Hesiod’s work that was the oldest to survive in Ancient Greece. It is still unclear which one of the two great poets came before the other, a source of debate among scholars even during antiquity. Hesiod's writings are one of the oldest and most important sources on topics like Greek mythology, farming, economic thought, astronomy, and timekeeping.
Among the works credited to Hesiod is The Shield of Heracles, an archaic Greek epic poem consisting of 480 hexameter verses. The poem is about one of the journeys of Heracles, better known in English as Hercules. Heracles and his companion Iolaus seek out Cycnus, the son of Ares, who had challenged Heracles to combat. The Shield of Heracles is so descriptive that the Ancient Greek artist Hephaestus made art for some of the imagery and vignettes in the poem. Although there is doubt as to when The Shield of Heracles was written, it has been historically credited to Hesiod.
Theogony is an epic poem that discusses the beginning of the world, gods like Chaos, Gaia, and Eros, and the genealogy of the gods. Hesiod's work took all of the different mythologies spread among different regions of Greece and turned them into one national narrative for the entire nation.
Works and Days is an 800 verse epic poem that reads like a farmer's almanac. Hesiod instructs his brother Perses in the agricultural arts, including advice on how to live life morally. What makes the work famous, however, are the stories of Prometheus and Pandora, along with the Myth of Five Ages.