Hesiod may at first have been a rhapsodist learning the technique and vocabulary of the epic by memorizing and reciting heroic songs. He himself attributes his poetic gifts to the Muses, who appeared to him while he was tending his sheep; giving him a poet’s staff and endowing him with a poet’s voice, they bade him sing of the race of the blessed gods immortal. Hesiod had two extant epics, the Theogony is clearly the earlier. In it, following the Muses’ instructions, Hesiod recounts the history of the gods, beginning with the emergence of Chaos, Gaea, and Eros. Gaea gives birth to Uranus, the Mountains, and Pontus. The story of crime and revolt, which is the central subject of the Theogony, is interrupted by many additional pedigrees of gods.
Hesiod’s other epic poem, the Works and Days, has a more personal character. It is addressed to his brother Perses, who by guile and bribery has already secured for himself an excessive share of their inheritance and is seeking to gain another advantage in a similar manner. Hesiod in the first part of the poem illustrates the necessity for honest, hard work in man’s wretched life. Against the brutality and injustice of his contemporaries, Hesiod affirms his unshakable belief in the power of justice.
Hesiod has essentially serious outlook on life and is an artist who deals with the gloomier side of existence, relating, in his Theogony, the bloody power struggle among the divine dynasty Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, while his Works and Days demonstrates that, in Hesiod’s immediate circle at any rate, mankind’s situation on earth was equally deplorable during what he calls the “age of iron.”
Griffin, Jasper. Greek myth and Hesiod. The Oxford, 1986.
Penglase, Charles. Greek myths and Mesopotamia: parallels and influence in the Homeric hymns and Hesiod. Routledge, 2003.
Woodard, Roger D. "Hesiod and Greek myth." The Cambridge companion to Greek mythology (2007): 83-165.