Works & Days takes as a starting point the model of the farmer’s almanac, historically a collection of long range weather forecasts, aphorisms, and entertainment for the farmer and ameteur gardner alike. The exhibition’s namesake is one of the earliest known examples of an almanac, Hesiod’s Works & Days, part didactic poem and part almanac addressed to his brother and set against an agrarian crisis in Greece around 700 BCE. The structure of the almanac, once produced by Hesiod and Philadelphia's own Benjamin Franklin enabled me to think through complex environmental and political ecologies by connecting Philadelphia to Ancient Greece.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Alvarez
Like Hesiod, I have been on most accounts, stuck on the map in Philadelphia. Hesiod’s Theogony was often criticized for being small minded, too set within his own local landscape especially in comparison to “Homer’s broad canvas in the Iliad." ..."In the Works and Days, Hesiod’s eye rarely roams outside his isolated village under Helicon. He does not even look to the larger Thespiae a few kilometers away. But a bitter family quarrel over a small local farm is placed within the context of the five ages of man and Prometheus’s struggle with Zeus. Far from a blinkered horizon, these broadened vistas enlarge the local poet’s concerns into something approaching Homer’s universal themes."
(excerpt from Hesiod's Theogony by Stephen Scully)