Hesiod and Marx Disagree

Hesiod, Works & Days, 302-310.

Hunger follows the man who does not work.
Gods and men resent the one who lives his life
Work-shy, his nature that of a stingless drone
Which consumes the labors of other bees:
That is to say, he’s idle but still eats.

Welcome labor that’s sensibly arranged
So your stores are full of life’s needs each season.
From work men are rich in sheep and rich outright.
Besides, the immortals prefer hard workers.
Work is not disgraceful; not working is.

Karl Marx. Capital. Bk. I. Part III. Chpt. 10 (“The Workday”)

“During the 24 hours of the natural day a man can expend only so much of his vital energy . . . During a part of the day the energy must rest . . .”


λιμὸς γάρ τοι πάμπαν ἀεργῷ σύμφορος ἀνδρί.
τῷ δὲ θεοὶ νεμεσῶσι καὶ ἀνέρες, ὅς κεν ἀεργὸς
ζώῃ, κηφήνεσσι κοθούροις εἴκελος ὀργήν,
οἵ τε μελισσάων κάματον τρύχουσιν ἀεργοὶ
ἔσθοντες: σοὶ δ᾽ ἔργα φίλ᾽ ἔστω μέτρια κοσμεῖν,
ὥς κέ τοι ὡραίου βιότου πλήθωσι καλιαί.
ἐξ ἔργων δ᾽ ἄνδρες πολύμηλοί τ᾽ ἀφνειοί τε:
καὶ ἐργαζόμενοι πολὺ φίλτεροι ἀθανάτοισιν.
ἔργον δ᾽ οὐδὲν ὄνειδος, ἀεργίη δέ τ᾽ ὄνειδος.


Ein Mensch kann während des natuerlichen Tags von 24 Stunden nur ein bestimmtes Quantum Lebenskraft verausgben . . . Während eines Teils des Tags muß die Kraft ruhen . . .

image of president jimmy carter working to build a home
Seasoned Laborers.

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.

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