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date: 11 December 2018

Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi

Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi, Ἀγὼν Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου‎, abbreviation of Περὶ Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου καὶ τοῦ γένους καὶ ἀγῶνος αὐτῶν‎ (‘On Homer and Hesiod, their Ancestry and Their contest’), title of an anonymous treatise preserved in a Florence MS. It is a joint life of Homer and Hesiod, written round an account of a contest between them supposed to have taken place at Chalcis (the circumstances inspired by Hes. Op. 650–60). Hesiod is adjudged victor, despite the crowd's acclamation of Homer, after each has recited ‘the best’ part of his poetry: the passages are chosen to show Homer as the poet of war, Hesiod as the poet of peace (cf. Ar. Ran.1033–6). The story is familiar to Varro and later writers, ignored in the Lives of Homer. The treatise as we have it dates from the Antonine period, but much of it was taken bodily from an earlier source (it agrees closely with a papyrus fragment of the 3rd cent. bce, Catalogue of the Literary Papyri in the British Museum, ed. H. Milne (1927, 191), often thought to be the Mouseion of Alcidamas, to which Stobaeus 4. 52. 22 ascribes two verses found in the Certamen (78–9), and which contained accounts of the deaths of Hesiod (cited in Cert. 240) and Homer (PMich. 2754, agreeing closely with the end of Cert, but followed by what appears to be a transition to a new section). Some of the verses were current before this (78–9 = Thgn. 425, 427; 107–8 = Ar. Pax1282–3), and the contest of verses and riddles represents an early form (Rohde, Kl. Schr. (1901), 1. 103 f.); but it is not known whether Homer and Hesiod were matched before Alcidamas.

A fragment ascribed to Hesiod (357 M–W) referring to an earlier contest with Homer in Delos is of uncertain origin and date.



T. W. Allen, ed. Homeri opera. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford: Clarendon, 1911–1920, 5. 218 ff.Find this resource:

M. L. West, ed. and trans. Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer. Loeb Classical Library 496. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Vitae Homeri et Hesiodi (1916), 34 ff.Find this resource:


K. Hess, Der Agon zwischen Homer und Hesiod (1960).Find this resource:

M. L. West, Classical Quarterly 1967, 433 ff.Find this resource:

R. Renehan and G. L. Koniaris, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 1971, 85 ff.Find this resource:

N. J. Richardson, Classical Quarterly 1981, 1 ff.Find this resource:

K. Heldmann, Die Niederlage Homers im Dichterwettstreit mit Hesiod (1982).Find this resource:

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