Important Virtues in Human Life: Plato’s Protagoras and Hesiod’s Works and Days Essay
The world of Greek and Roman mythology is rich and amazing indeed. Each author made his own attempt to demonstrate his understanding of the world and the virtues which had their own meanings and impacts on human lives. It is always interesting to investigate how different authors tried to evaluate the same aspects of life and define its strong and weak points.
The works by Ancient Greeks captivates the reader due to writers’ possibility to underline the essence of life and prove the effectiveness of their ideas through the story of Prometheus. Hesiod’s Works and Days was created around 700 BC, and Plato’s Protagoras was created around 450 BC. More than 400 years divide these two works; however, there are so many common ideas and suggestions offered by the poets as well as many captivating differences.
Plato and Hesiod tried to evaluate the ideas of justice in their worlds and the ways of how people prefer to use their possibilities and knowledge using the story of Prometheus; Plato focused on the confrontations between sophists and Socrates and the discussions about how virtues may be taught and how fair or unfair the action of Prometheus was; and Hesiod, in his turn, defined the truth of labor in Greece, the way of how people depend on each other, and how Prometheus tried to improve human life; in spite of different approaches chosen, Plato and Hesiod introduced the idea of person’s dependence on different factors of life.
It is possible to tell that these two works may supplement each other by means of evaluation Prometheus actions. The works by Plato and Hesiod are similar to each other because the main subject is still a human life and human dependence. “The gods never have let on how humans might make a living” (Hesiod, Works and Days, 162).
By Hesiod, the role of gods is crucial indeed, and people can hardly resist their powers and their wishes. So, Prometheus is a symbol by means of which people had to become free. The same thing is described by Plato but in other words: “a time when there were gods but no mortals creatures” so that gods made a decision “to create them… using the combination of earth, fire, and matter” (Plato, Protagoras, 362).
The thing that makes these works different is the approaches, the ways, chosen by the authors to disclose the essence of the message: Plato relied on the history of human creation and virtues that are crucial for all people; and Hesiod focused on labor and the conditions under which people had to live.
Details by Plato seem to be rather powerful: he admitted that “a man received a portion of the divine” and a chance to worship gods (Plato, Protagoras, 363). People are able to create clothes, statues, shoes, furniture, and other important for living items; but still all this is necessary just in order to appreciate gods’ powers and impacts on their lives. Prometheus tried to assist people and decrease the power of god; as a result, he was punished.
The detail chosen by Hesiod is about the five ages which people should pass through: the Golden, Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and Iron ages. Each age has its own ruler, and people should find the necessary ways to meet rulers’ demands. Another successful detail is the one connected with Pandora. Hesiod raised the theme of gender inequality and women’s desire to gain recognition and power over men: “nobody likes her, but everybody honors her” (Hesiod, Works and Days, 161).
Intentions of the authors seem to be similar from the very beginning: people are in need of important lessons and helpful ideas and they should know how to achieve a kind of perfection in this life. Plato aimed at defining the differences between the doctrines of Socrates and sophists and defining the truth by means of comparison.
And Hesiod made everything possible to describe the living conditions use personal experience and requirements set for people. Evaluation of details helps both authors to explain that people are not satisfied with the conditions they have to live under. The only point is that Plato did not want to concentrate on clear facts and feelings but on the arguments and discussions which are integral in human life. Hesiod chose another way with the help of which he demonstrated how perfect his ideas and his beliefs could be.
Talking about the effectiveness of the works under consideration, it is necessary to admit that both authors had one and the same purpose – to improve human understanding of the life, its virtues, and rules to follow or neglect using the example of Prometheus. People are not free to choose the conditions, they have to adapt to the already set rules: they “roam all over the land, shrouded in mist, tending to justice, repaying criminal acts and dispensing wealth” (Hesiod, Works and Days, 165).
The ideas chosen by Hesiod seem to powerful indeed: his desire to consider different aspects of life from gender differences to human responsibilities are rather persuading and clear.
Plato’s attention to history and Greek myths (like the one of Prometheus) demonstrates his choice’s correctness and his certain attention to details. This is why it is hard to define the most effective work but still it is correct to believe that both works seem to be good opportunities to grasp the ideas of the Ancient Greece, the style Greek life, and the virtues which were in demand.
Hesiod. “Works and Days”. Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. Ed. Stephen Trzaskoma, Scott Smith, and Stephen Brunet. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2004. 160 – 167. Print.
Plato. “Protagoras”. Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. Ed. Stephen Trzaskoma, Scott Smith, and Stephen Brunet. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2004. 361 – 363. Print.
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