This paper aims at a comparison between a classic poem from ancient Greek literature, the Works and Days by Hesiod, and ancestral records of hemerology from Daba Culture, entitled Gelimu, collected during my fieldwork in South-West China. Both traditions use constellations to mark important dates throughout the year, providing similar instructions on how to deal with daily work in the fields. Moreover, their mnemonic strategies and formulaic verses reflect their origins from oral traditions passed down from generation to generation. Starting from these basic similarities, the author analyzed the roles of Daba priests, the calendars authors, and Hesiod, the poet prophet of ancient Greece. Being the community’s singers, the wisest men in primitive agricultural societies, they hand down the gods’ knowledge to human beings, the farmers. The gods’ world, holding the supreme knowledge and setting up the rules, is reverberated in the image of Nature. The poet, in other words, is the link between the sacred world and the profane world. This original comparative study illustrates deep similarities between these two texts developed in different times and geographical areas. My philological and linguistic analysis highlights, for the first time, the common ideological milieu of those two contexts, developed according to oral poetry principles and through the application of formulaic expressions.
"Farmer, Priest, and Poet: Knowledge Transmission and Wisdom in Works and Days and Gelimu."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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