Hesiod. Works & Days, 11-26.
Listen, there is not a single species of Strife. On the earth there are actually two. The perceptive person would applaud one, but the other is reprehensible. Each has a spirit thoroughly distinct from the other. One always propagates evil war and battle, being merciless. No one has affection for this oppressive Strife, but compelled by the will of the gods, people honor her.
Still, it was the other Strife dark Night birthed first. The son of Cronos, seated on high in the ether where he dwells, worked her into the roots of the earth. She’s the gentler one with mankind, and yet this Strife motivates even a totally good-for-nothing man to work. It’s on account of this Strife that when someone habitually sees a rich man who is still desirous of work–eager to plow and plant and set his house in order–then neighbor becomes envious of neighbor and hurries after riches of his own.
Therefore, this Strife is good for mankind: potter begrudges potter; carpenter feels rancor toward carpenter; beggar envies beggar; and, singer is jealous of singer.
οὐκ ἄρα μοῦνον ἔην Ἐρίδων γένος, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ γαῖαν
εἰσὶ δύω: τὴν μέν κεν ἐπαινέσσειε νοήσας,
ἣ δ᾽ ἐπιμωμητή: διὰ δ᾽ ἄνδιχα θυμὸν ἔχουσιν.
ἣ μὲν γὰρ πόλεμόν τε κακὸν καὶ δῆριν ὀφέλλει,
15σχετλίη: οὔτις τήν γε φιλεῖ βροτός, ἀλλ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀνάγκης
ἀθανάτων βουλῇσιν Ἔριν τιμῶσι βαρεῖαν.
τὴν δ᾽ ἑτέρην προτέρην μὲν ἐγείνατο Νὺξ ἐρεβεννή,
θῆκε δέ μιν Κρονίδης ὑψίζυγος, αἰθέρι ναίων,
γαίης ἐν ῥίζῃσι, καὶ ἀνδράσι πολλὸν ἀμείνω:
20ἥτε καὶ ἀπάλαμόν περ ὁμῶς ἐπὶ ἔργον ἔγειρεν.
εἰς ἕτερον γάρ τίς τε ἰδὼν ἔργοιο χατίζει
πλούσιον, ὃς σπεύδει μὲν ἀρώμεναι ἠδὲ φυτεύειν
οἶκόν τ᾽ εὖ θέσθαι: ζηλοῖ δέ τε γείτονα γείτων
εἰς ἄφενος σπεύδοντ᾽: ἀγαθὴ δ᾽ Ἔρις ἥδε βροτοῖσιν.
25καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ τέκτονι τέκτων,
καὶ πτωχὸς πτωχῷ φθονέει καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ.
Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.