Article Review on Froma, I Zeitlin Essay

The significant aspect of Hesiod’s descriptions of the origin of woman is specifically the elision of physical connection between the male and female sexes. He takes the peculiar stand by the refusal to mention the name of the child and does not provide the status of the mother to a woman and also is not willing to empower a man as the father. An economic stance is introduced by reliance on pairs of opposites like producer (he) and consumer (she), ownership and appropriation, plenty and paucity, self and that which affects adversely the functioning of self. Paternity is argued from an economic angle and thus it is commoditized, and it is categorized as the need of the male ego. The ideas articulated are so harsh and materialistic, listening to which even Karl Marx must be shifting in the grave. Love and affection have no place in the act of children supporting the old- aged, on the contrary, it is argued that an individual needs the support of someone to take care of him in the old age for the sole purpose to safeguard and upturn the legacy of the material assets. Fatherhood means the continuation of his property in the hands of his heir. “The triumph of paternity is projected instead into the worlds of immortal gods – in particular on Zeus who is both the first and the only instance of a divine child requiring the nurture and the sovereign ruler who earns the title “father of gods and mortals.”(1995, p.55) In effect, it is gods, who can achieve what men desire and dream of, exempt from both time and death.

Description of the evidence of the author and how he uses this evidence to support his claims

In her article Froma, I Zeitlin (1995) has detailed how Hesiod highlights the governance of the cosmos through the description of pairs of opposites in the Work and Days, which is a form of wisdom literature. It is explained through a game of wits between Prometheus and Zeus. Hephaistos, the artisan God, fabricates the first woman with thievish nature. In modern times this story has been interpreted in its practicalities as to how it affects the governance of humankind. Its socio-cultural contexts, issues of current interests have been brought into examination. The issues take the gender perspective and the relationship between man and woman has been argued as “two halves of a single extended narrative that mutually illuminate the double-sided question of the origin of woman and woman as origin”. (1995, p.49)Hesiod argues that a woman is divine, bestial and human. But she is fundamentally different from him. “Man and woman cannot converse with one another because she conceals the truth in order to deceive.”(1995, p.50)

The author gives evidence of the Revelation that a woman is not created as a companion to assuage man’s loneliness, as we are told, for example, in the biblical account of Adam and Eve(Gen.2:21) (1995,p.50)but rather as a punishment. But the special features of Hesiod’s economy go a step further. He gives utmost importance to men by asserting that only men work while women remain continuously idle and provide the source of never-ending resentment. He does not give much importance to the household work done by women and other feminine skills. A man works hard to increase the family wealth whereas the domain of the woman is within the house. Thus he indirectly acknowledges that the woman is needed to provide offspring and considers this act as the second source of evil.

The views of Hesiod may not be acceptable by the current standard of gender relations, nevertheless they create a good platform for further discussions on the status and role of women in the society, whether she is equal to man, less than equal, or more equal as compared to man, as she takes responsibility for the creative force of nature by bearing children.


Reference List
Zeitlin, Froma I. ‘The Economics of Hesiod’s Pandora,’ in Ellen D. Reeder (Ed.), Pandora:
Women in Classical Greece. Princeton University Press, Princeton: 1995.pp.49-55.

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