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The father probably spoke in the Aeolian dialect of Cyme but Hesiod probably grew up speaking the local Boeotian, belonging to the same dialect group.However, while his poetry features some Aeolisms there are no words that are certainly Boeotian.The former poem says that his father came from Cyme in Aeolis (on the coast of Asia Minor, a little south of the island Lesbos) and crossed the sea to settle at a hamlet, near Thespiae in Boeotia, named Ascra, "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant" (Works 640).Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned lawsuits with his brother Perses, who seems, at first, to have cheated him of his rightful share thanks to corrupt authorities or "kings" but later became impoverished and ended up scrounging from the thrifty poet (Works 35, 396.).The personality behind the poems is unsuited to the kind of "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is instead "argumentative, suspicious, ironically humorous, frugal, fond of proverbs, wary of women." He resembles Solon in his preoccupation with issues of good versus evil and "how a just and all-powerful god can allow the unjust to flourish in this life".He recalls Aristophanes in his rejection of the idealised hero of epic literature in favour of an idealised view of the farmer.His farmer employs a friend (Works and Days 370) as well as servants (502, 573, 597, 608, 766), an energetic and responsible ploughman of mature years (469 ff.), a slave boy to cover the seed (441–6), a female servant to keep house (405, 602) and working teams of oxen and mules (405, 607f.).
Devotees of Orpheus and Musaeus were probably responsible for precedence being given to their two cult heroes and maybe the Homeridae were responsible in later antiquity for promoting Homer at Hesiod's expense.Pausanias asserted that Boeotians showed him an old tablet made of lead on which the Works were engraved.If he did write or dictate, it was perhaps as an aid to memory or because he lacked confidence in his ability to produce poems extempore, as trained rhapsodes could do.The first known writers to locate Homer earlier than Hesiod were Xenophanes and Heraclides Ponticus, though Aristarchus of Samothrace was the first actually to argue the case.Ephorus made Homer a younger cousin of Hesiod, the 5th century BC historian Herodotus (Histories II, 53) evidently considered them near-contemporaries, and the 4th century BC sophist Alcidamas in his work Mouseion even brought them together for an imagined poetic ágōn ( Imitations of his work have been observed in Alcaeus, Epimenides, Mimnermus, Semonides, Tyrtaeus and Archilochus, from which it has been inferred that the latest possible date for him is about 650 BC.