Abstract This article presents a detailed study of an early section of the actual works and days of Hesiod's Works and Days. The treatment consistently eschews obsolete assumptions about this poem, in particular that it reduces to a didactic presentation to the early Greek farmer. A key principle of the method followed is to pay closer attention to the text's relation to epic forms than has been typical among the poem's commentators. The result is to find that a certain literary figure gradually develops in the section discussed. Namely, the plowing nominally covered there stands for the section's portion on the human condition, a condition implicitly compared with that associated with traditional epic. The figure evokes a well-rounded person, aware of the divine and of the world's uncertainties, with a long-term sense of purpose involving good organization of one's life, as opposed to someone engaged in helter-skelter pursuit of transitory activities, perhaps war specifically. With this identification of virtual protagonist established by the end of the section, the ground is prepared for any further development of the figure as that entity's undertakings or adventures in the remainder of the poem.
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