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*(Hsi/odos), one of the earliest Greek poets, respecting whose personal history we possess little more authentic information than respecting that of Homer, together with whom lie is frequently mentioned bythe ancients. The names of these two poets, in fact, form as it were the two poles of the early epic poetry of the Greeks; and as Homer represents the poetry, or school of poetry, belonging chiefly to Ionia in Asia Minor, so Hesiod is the representative of a school of bards, which was developed somewhat later at the foot of Mount Helicon in Boeotia, and spread over Phocis and Euboea. The only points of resemblance between the two poets, or their respective schools, consist in their forms of versification and their dialect, but in all other respects they move in totally distinct spheres; for the Homeric takes for its subjects the restless activity of the heroic age, while the Hesiodic turns its attention to the quiet pursuits of ordinary life, to the origin of the world, the gods and heroes. The latter thus gave to its productions an ethical and religious character; and this circumstance alone suggests an advance in the intellectual state of the ancient Greeks upon that which we have depicted in the Homeric poems, though we do not mean to assert that the elements of the Hesiodic poetry are of a later date than the age of Homer, for they may, on the contrary, be as ancient as the Greek nation itself. But we must, at any rate, infer that the Hesiodic poetry, such as it has come down to us, is of later growth than the Homeric ; an opinion which is confirmed also by the language and expressions of the two schools, and by a variety of collateral circumstances, among which we may mention the range of knowledge being much more extensive in the poems which bear the name of Hesiod than in those attributed to Homer. Herodotus (2.53) and others regarded Homer and Hesiod as contemporaries, and some even assigned to him an earlier date than Homer (Gel. 3.11, 17.21; Suid. s.v. Ἡσίοδος; Tzetz. Chil. 12.163, 198, 13.650); but the general opinion of the ancients was that Homer was the elder of the two, a belief which was entertained by Philochorus, Xenophanes, Eratosthenes, Apollodorus, and many others.

If we inquire after the exact age of Hesiod, we are informed by Herodotus (l.c.) that he lived four hundred years before his time, that is, about B. C. 850. Velleius Paterculus (1.7) considers that between Homer and Hesiod there was an interval of a hundred and twenty years, and most modern critics assume that Hesiod lived about a century later than Homer, which is pretty much in accordance with the statement of some ancient writers who place him about the eleventh Olympiad, i. e. about B. C. 735. Respecting the life of the poet we derive some information from one of the poems ascribed to him, viz. the Ἔργα καὶ ἡμέραι. We learn from that poem (648, &c.), that he was born in the village of Ascra in Boeotia, whither his father had emigrated from the Aeolian Cuma in Asia Minor. Ephorus (Fragm. p. 268, ed. Marx) and Suidas state that both Homer and Hesiod were natives of Cuma, and even represent them as kinsmen,--a statement which probably arose from the belief that Hesiod was born before his father's emigration to Ascra; but if this were true, Hesiod could not have said that he never crossed the sea, except from Aulis to Euboea. (Op. et Dies, 648.) Ascra, moreover, is mentioned as his birthplace in the epitaph on Hesiod (Paus. 9.38.9), and by Proclus in his life of Hesiod. The poet describes himself (Theog. 23) as tending a flock on the side of Mount Helicon, and from this, as well as from the fact of his calling himself an ἀτίμητος (Op. et Dies, 636), we must infer that he belonged to a humble station, and was engaged in rural pursuits. But subsequently his circumstances seem to have been bettered, and after the death of his father, he was involved in a dispute with his brother Perses about his small patrimony, which was decided in favour of Perses. (Op. et Dies, 219, 261, 637.) He then seems to have emigrated to Orchomenos, where he spent the remainder of his life. (Pind. apud Proclum, γένος Ἡσιόδου, p. xliv. in Göttling's edit. of Hesiod.) At Orchomenos he is also said to have been buried, and his tomb was shown there in later times. This is all that can be said, with any degree of certainty, about the life of Hesiod. Proclus, Tzetzes, and others relate a variety of anecdotes and marvellous tales about his life and death, but very little value can be attached to them, though they may have been derived from comparatively early sources. We have to lament the loss of some ancient works on the life of Hesiod, especially those written by Plutarch and Cleomenes, for they would undoubtedly have enlightened us upon many points respecting which we are now completely in the dark. We must, however, observe that many of the stories related about Hesiod refer to his whole school of poetry (but not to the poet personally), and arose from the relation in which the Boeotian or Hesiodic school stood to the Homeric or Ionic school. In this light we consider, e. g. the traditions that Stesichorus was a son of Hesiod, and that Hesiod had a poetical contest with Homer, which is said to have taken place at Chalcis during the funeral solemnities of king Amphidamas, or, according to others, at Aulis or Delos. (Proclus, l.c. p. xliii. and ad Op. et Dies, 648; Plut. Conv. Sept. Sap. 10.) The story of this contest gave rise to a composition still extant under the title of Ἀγὼν Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου, the work of a grammarian who lived towards the end of the first century of our era, in which the two poets are represented as engaged in the contest and answering each other in their verses. The work is printed in Göttling's edition of Hesiod, p. 242-254, and in Westermann's Vitarum Scriptores Graeci, p. 33, &c. Its author knows the whole family history of Hesiod, the names of his father and mother, as well as of his ancestors, and traces his descent to Orpheus, Linus, and Apollo himself. These legends, though they are mere fictions, show the connection which the ancients conceived to exist between the poetry of Hesiod (especially the Theogony) and the ancient schools of priests and bards, which had their seats in Thrace and Pieria, and thence spread into Boeotia, where they probably formed the elements out of which the Hesiodic poetry was developed. Some of the fables pretending to be the personal history of Hesiod are of such a nature as to throw considerable doubt upon the personal existence of the poet altogether; and athough we do not deny that there may have been in the Boeotian school a poet of the name of Hesiod whose eminence caused him to be regarded as the representative, and a number of works to be attributed to him, still we would, in speaking of Hesiod, be rather understood to mean the whole school than any particular individual. Thus an ancient epigram mentions that Hesiod was twice a youth and was twice buried (Proclus; Suidas; Proverb. Vat. 4.3); and there was a tradition that, by the command of an oracle, the bones of Hesiod were removed from Naupactus to Orchomenos, for the purpose of averting an epidemic. (Paus. 9.38.3.) These traditions show that Hesiod was looked upon and worshipped in Boeotia (and also in Phocis) as an ancient hero, and, like many other heroes, he was said to have been unjustly killed in the grove of the Nemean Zeus. (Plut. Conviv. Sept. Sap. 19; Certamen Hom. et Hes. p. 251, ed. Göttling; comp. Panus. 9.31.3.) All that we can say, under these circumstances, is that a poet or hero of the name of Hesiod was regarded by the ancients as the head and representative of that school of poetry which was based on the Thracian or Pierian bards, and was developed in Boeotia as distinct from the Homeric or Ionic school.

The differences between the two schools of poetry are plain and obvious, and were recognised in ancient times no less than at present, as may be seen from the Ἀγὼν Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου (p. 248, ed. Göttling). In their mode of delivery the poets of the two schools likewise differed; for while the Homeric poems were recited under the accompaniment of the cithara, those of Hesiod were recited without any musical instrument, the reciter holding in his hand only a laurel branch or staff (ῥάβδος, σκῆπτρον, Hesiod, Hes. Th. 30; Paus. 9.30, 10.7.2; Pind.Isthm. 3.55, with Dissen's note; Callimach. Fragm. 138). As Boeotia, Phocis, and Euboea were the principal parts of Greece where the Hesiodic poetry flourished, we cannot be surprised at finding that the Delphic oracle is a great subject of veneration with this school, and that there exists a strong resemblance between the hexameter oracles of the Pythia and the verses of Hesiod; nay, there is a verse in Hesiod (Op. et Dies, 283), which is also mentioned by Herodotus (6.86) as a Pythian oracle, and Hesiod himself is said to have possessed the gift of prophecy, and to have acquired it in Acarnania. A great many allegorical expressions, such as we frequently find in the oracular language, are common also in the poems of Hesiod. This circumstance, as well as certain grammatical forms in the language of Hesiod, constitute another point of difference between the Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, although the dialect in which the poems of both schools are composed is, on the whole, the same,--that is, the Ionic-epic, which had become established as the language of epic poetry through the influence of Homer.


The ancients attributed to the one poet Hesiod a great variety of works; that is, all those which in form and substance answered to the spirit of the Hesiodic school, and thus seemed to be of a common origin. We shall subjoin a list of them, beginning with those which are still extant.

1. Ἔργα or Ἔργα καὶ ἡμέραι, commonly called

In the time of Pausanias (9.31.3, &c.), this was the only poem which the people about Mount Helicon considered to be a genuine production of Hesiod, with the exception of the first ten lines, which certainly appear to have been prefixed by a later hand. There are also several other parts of this poem which seem to be later interpolations; but, on the whole, it bears the impress of a genuine production of very high antiquity, though in its present form it may consist only of disjointed portions of the original. It is written in the most homely and simple style, with scarcely any poetical imagery or ornament, and must be looked upon as the most ancient specimen of didactic poetry. It contains ethical, political, and economical precepts, the last of which constitute the greater part of the work, consisting of rules about choosing a wife, the education of children, agriculture, commerce, and navigation. A poem on these subjects was not of course held in much esteem by the powerful and ruling classes in Greece at the time, and made the Spartan Cleomenes contemptuously call Hesiod the poet of helots, in contrast with Homer, the delight of the warrior. (Plut. Apophth. Lac. Cleom. 1.) The conclusion of the poem, from 5.750 to 828 is a sort of calendar, and was probably appended to it in later times, and the addition καὶ ἡμέραι in the title of the poem seems to have been added in consequence of this appendage, for the poem is sometimes simply called Έργα. It would further seem that three distinct poems have been inserted in it; viz. 1. The fable of Prometheus and Pandora (47-105); 2. On the ages of the world, which are designated by the names of metals (109-201); and, 3. A description of winter (504-558). The first two of these poems are not so much out of keeping with the whole as the third, which is manifestly the most recent production of all, and most foreign to the spirit of Hesiod. That which remains, after the deduction of these probable interpolations, consists of a collection of maxims, proverbs, and wise sayings, containing a considerable amount of practical wisdom; and some of these γνῶμαι or ὑποθῆκαι may be as old as the Greek nation itself. (Isocrat. c. Nicocl. p. 23, ed. Steph.; Lucian, Dial. de Hes. 1, 8.) Now, admitting that the Ἔργα originally consisted only of such maxims and precepts, it is difficult to understand how the author could derive from his production a reputation like that enjoyed by Hesiod, especially if we remember that at Thespiae, to which the village of Ascra was subject, agriculture was held degrading to a freeman. (Heraclid. Pont. 42.) In order to account for this phenomenon, it must be supposed that Hesiod was a poet of the people and peasantry rather than of the ruling nobles, but that afterwards, when the warlike spirit of the heroic ages subsided, and peaceful pursuits began to be held in higher esteem, the poet of the plough also rose from his obscurity, and was looked upon as a sage; nay, the very contrast with the Homeric poetry may have contributed to raise his fame. At all events, the poem, notwithstanding its want of unity and the incoherence of its parts, gives to us an attractive picture of the simplicity of the early Greek mode of life, of their manners and their domestic relations. (Comp. Twesten, Commentat. Critica de Hesiodi Carmine, quod inscrib. Opera et Dies, Kiel, 1815, 8vo.; F. L. Hug, Hesiodi Ἔργα μέγαλα, Freiburg, 1835 ; Ranke, De Hesiodi Op. et Diebus, 1838, 4to ; Lehrs, Quaest. Epic. p. 180, &c.; G. Hermann, in the Jahrbücher für Philol. vol. 21.2. p. 117, &c.)

2. Θεογονία.

This poem was, as we remarked above, not considered by Hesiod's countrymen to be a genuine production of the poet. It presents, indeed, great differences from the preceding one: its very subject is apparently foreign to the homely author of the Ἔργα; but the Alexandrian grammarians, especially Zenodotus and Aristarchus, appear to have had no doubt about its genuineness (Schol. Venet. ad Il. 18.39), though their opinion cannot be taken to mean anything else than that the poem contained nothing that was opposed to the character of the Hesiodic school; and thus much we may therefore take for granted, that the Theogony is not the production of the same poet as the Ἔργα, and that it probably belongs to a later date. In order to understand why the ancients, nevertheless, regarded the Theogony as an Hesiodic work, we must recollect the traditions of the poet's parentage, and the marvellous events of his life. It was on mount Helicon, the ancient seat of the Thracian muses, that he was believed to have been born and bred, and his descent was traced to Apollo; the idea of his having composed a work on the genealogies of the gods and heroes cannot therefore have appeared to the ancients as very surprising. That the author of the Theogony was a Boeotian is evident, from certain peculiarities of the language. The Theogony gives an account of the origin of the world and the birth of the gods, explaining the whole order of nature in a series of genealogies, for every part of physical as well as moral nature there appears personified in the character of a distinct being. The whole concludes with an account of some of the most illustrious heroes, whereby the poem enters into some kind of connection with the Homeric epics. The whole poem may be divided into three parts: 1. The cosmogony, which widely differs from the simple Homeric notion (Il. 14.200), and afterwards served as the groundwork for the various physical speculations of the Greek philosophers, who looked upon the Theogony of Hesiod as containing in an allegorical form all the physical wisdom that they were able to propound, though Hesiod himself was believed not to have been aware of the profound philosophical and theological wisdom he was uttering. The cosmogony extends from 5.116 to 452. 2. The theogony, in the strict sense of the word, from 453 to 962; and 3. the last portion, which is in fact a heroogony, being an account of the heroes born by mortal mothers whose charms had drawn the immortals from Olympus. This part is very brief, extending only fron 5.963 to 1021, and forms the transition to the Eoeae, of which we shall speak presently. If we ask for the sources from which Hesiod drew his information respecting the origin of the world and the gods, the answer cannot be much more than a conjecture, for there is no direct information on the point. Herodotus asserts that Homer and Hesiod made the theogony of the Greeks; and, in reference to Hesiod in particular, this probably means that Hesiod collected and combined into a system the various local legends, especially of northern Greece, such as they had been handed down by priests and bards. The assertion of Herodotus further obliges us to take into consideration the fact, that in the earliest Greek theology the gods do not appear in any definite forms, whereas Hesiod strives to anthropomorphise all of them, the ancient elementary gods as well as the later dynasties of Cronus and Zeus. Now both the system of the gods and the forms under which he conceived them afterwards became firmly established in Greece, and, considered in this way, the assertion of Herodotus is perfectly correct. Whether the form in which the Theogony has come down to us is the original and genuine one, and whether it is complete or only a fragment, is a question which has been much discussed in modern times. There can be little doubt but that in the course of time the poets of the Hesiodic school and the rhapsodists introduced various interpolations, which produced many of the inequalities both in the substance and form of the poem which we now perceive; many parts also may have been lost. Hermann has endeavored to show that there exist no less than seven different introductions to the Theogony, and that consequently there existed as many different recensions and editions of it. But as our present form itself belongs to a very early date, it would be useless to attempt to determine what part of it formed the original kernel, and what is to be considered as later addition or interpolation. (Comp. Creuzer and Hermann, Brief über Hom. und Hes., Heidelberg, 1817, 8vo.; F. K. L. Sickler, (Cadmus I. Erklürung der Theogonie des Hesiod, Hildburghausen, 181, 4to. ; J. D. Guigniant, De la Théogonie d'Hesiod, Paris, 1335, 8vo.; J. C. Mützell, De Emendatione Theogoniae Hesiodi, Lips. 1833, 8vo.; A. Soetbeer, Versuch die Urform der Hesiod. Theogonie nachzuweisen, Berlin, 1837, 8vo.; O. F. Gruppe, Ueber die Theog, des Hesiod, ihr Verderbniss und ihre ursprüngliche Beschaffenheit, Berlin, 1841, 8vo. The last two works are useless and futile attempts; comp. Th. Kock, De pristina Theogoniae Hesiodeae Forma, pars. i. Vratislav. 1842, 8vo.)

3. Ἠοῖαι or ἠοῖαι μεγάλαι, also called κατάλοψοι γυναικῶν.

The name ἠοῖαι was derived, according to the ancient grammarians, from the fact that the heroines who, by their connection with the immortal gods, had become the mothers of the most illustrious heroes, were introduced in the poem by the expression οἳη. The poem itself, which is lost, is said to have consisted of four books, the last of which was by far the longest, and was hence called ἠοῖαι μεγάλαι, whereas the titles κατάλογοι or ἠοῖαι belonged to the whole body of poetry, containing accounts of the women who had been beloved by the gods, and had thus become the mothers of the heroes in the various parts of Greece, from whom the ruling families derived their origin. The two last verses of the Theogony formed the beginning of the ἠοῖαι, which, from its nature, might justly be regarded as a continuation of the Theogony, being as a heroogony (ἡρωογονία) the natural sequel to the Theogony. The work, if we may regard it as one poem, thus contained the genealogies or pedigrees of the most illustrious Greek families. Whether the Eoeae or Catalogi was the work of one and the same poet was a disputed point among the ancients themselves. From a statement of the scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius (2.181), it appears that it consisted of several works, which were afterwards put together; and while Apollonius Rhodius and Crates of Mallus attributed it to Hesiod (Schol. ad Hes. Theog. 142), Aristophanes and Aristarchus were doubtful. (Anonym. Gram. in Göttling's ed. of Hes. p. 92; Schol. ad Hom. Il. 24.30 ; Suid. and Apollon. s. v. μαχλοσύνη.) The anonymous Greek grammarian just referred to states that the first fifty-six verses of the Hesiodic poem Ἀσπὶς Ἡρακλέους (Scutum Herculis) belonged to the fourth book of the Eoeae, and it is generally supposed that this poem, or perhaps fragment of a poem, originally belonged to the Eoeae. The Ἀσπὶς Ἡρακλέους, which is still extant, consists of three distinct parts; that from 5.1 to 56 was taken from the Eoeae, and is probably the most ancient portion; the second from 57 to 140, which must be connected with the verses 317 to 480; and the third from 141 to 317 contains the real description of the shield of Heracles, which is introduced in the account of the fight between Heracles and Cycnus. When therefore Apollonius Rhodius and others considered the Ἀσρὶς to be a genuine Hesiodic production, it still remains doubtful whether they meant the whole poem as it now stands, or only some particular portion of it. The description of the shield of Heracles is an imitation of the Homeric description of the shield of Achilles, but is done with less skill and ability. It should be remarked, that some modern critics are inclined to lock upon the Ἀσπίς as an independent poem, and wholly unconnected with the Eoeae, though they admit that it may contain various interpolations by later hands. The fragments of the Eoeae are collected in Lehmann, De Hesiodi Carminibus perditis, pars i. Berlin, 1828, in Göttling's edition of Hesiod, p. 209, &c., and in Hermann's Opuscula, vi. 1, p. 255, &c. We possess the titles of several Hesiodic poems, viz. Κήϋκος γάμοι, Θησέως εἰς Ἅιδην κατάβασις, and Ἐπιθαλάμιος Πηλέως καὶ Θέτιδος, but all these poems seem to have been only portions of the Eoeae. (Athen. 2.49 ; Plut. Sympos. 8.8; Paus. 9.31.5; Schol. ad Hes. Theog. 142; comp. C. Ch. Heyler, Ueber Hesiods Schild des Hercules, Worms, 1787, 8vo. ; F. Schlichtegroll, Ueber den Schild des Heracles nach Hesiod, Gotha, 1788, 8vo.; G. Hermann, Opusc. 6.2, p. 204, &c.; Marckscheffel, De Cutalogo et Eoeis Carminibus Hesiodeis, Vratislav. 1838, 8vo., and the same author's Hesiodi, Eumeli, Cinaethonis, &c., Fragmenta colley. emend. dispos., Lips. 1840, 8vo.)

4. The Αἰγίμιος

The Αἰγίμιος, an epic poem, consisting of several books or rhapsodies on the story of Aegimius, the famous ancestral hero of the Dorians, and the mythical history of the Dorians in general. Some of the ancients attributed this poem to Cercops of Miletus. (Apollod. 2.1.3; D. L. 2.46.) The fragments of the Aegimius are collected in Göttling's edit. of Hesiod, p. 205, &c.

5. Μελαμποδία

Μελαμποδία, an epic poem, consisting of at least three books. Some of the ancients denied that this was an Hesiodic poem. (Paus. 9.31.4.) It contained the stories about the seer Melampus, and was thus of a similar character to the poems which celebrated the glory of the heroic families of the Greeks. Some writers consider the Melampodia to have been only a portion of the Eoeae, but there is no evidence for it, and others regard it as identical with the ἔπη μαντικά, an Hesiodic work mentioned by Pausanias. (l.c. ; comp. Athen. 2.47, xi. p. 498, xiii. p. 609 ; Clem. Al. Strom. vi. p. 751.) The fragments of the Melampodia are collected in Göttling's edit. of Hesiod, p. 228, &c.

6. Ἐξηγήσις ἐπὶ τέρασιν

Ἐξηγήσις ἐπὶ τέρασιν is mentioned as an Hesiodic work by Pausanias, and distinguished by him from another entitled ἔπη μαντικά; but it is not improbable that both were identical with, or portions of, an astronomical work ascribed to Hesiod, under the title of ἀστρικὴ βίβλος or ἀστρολογία. (Athen. 11.491; Plut. dee Pyth. Orac. 18; Plin. Nat. 18.25.) See the fragments in Göttling's edit. of Hesiod, p. 207.

7. Χείρωνος ὑποθῆκαι

Χείρωνος ὑποθῆκαι seems to have been an imitation of the Ἔργα. The few fragments still extant are given by Göttling, l.c. p. 230, &c.

Other Works

Strabo (vii. p.436) speaks of a γῆς Περίοδος as the work of Hesiod, but from another passage (vii. p. 434) we see that he means a compilation made by Eratosthenes from the works of Hesiod. Respecting a poem called Περὶ ῾λδαίων Δακτύλων, which was likewise ascribed to Hesiod, see Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 1156.


The poems of Hesiod, especially the Theogony, were looked up to by the Greeks from very early times as a great authority in theological and philosophical matters, and philosophers of nearly every school attempted, by various modes of interpretation, to bring about a harmony between the statements of Hesiod and their own theories. The scholars of Alexandria and other cities, such as Zenodotus, Aristophanes, Aristarchus, Crates of Mallus, Apollonius Rhodius, Seleucus of Alexandria, Plutarch, and others, devoted themselves with great zeal to the criticism and explanation of the poems of Hesiod; but all their works on this poet are lost, with the exception of sonic isolated remarks contained in the scholia on Hesiod still extant. These scholia are the productions of a much later age, though their anthors made use of the works of the earlier grammarians. The scholia of the Neo Platonist Proclus (though only in an abridged form, of Joannes Tzetzes, and Moschopulus, on the Ἔργα and introductions on the life of Hesiod, are still extant; the scholia on the Theogony are a compilation fiom earlier and later commentators. The most complete edition of the scholia on Hesiod is that in the third volume of Gaisford's Poetae Graeci Minores.


The Greek text of the Hesiodic poems was first printed at Milan in 1493, fol., together with Isocrates and some of the idyls of Theocritus. The next edition is that in the collection of gnomic and bucolic poems published by Aldus Manutius, Venice, 1495. The first separate edition is that of Junta, Florence, 1515, and again 1540, 8vo. The first edition that contains the Greek scholia is that of Trincavellus, Venice, 1537, 4to., and more complete at Cologne, 1542, 8vo., and Frankfurt, 1591, 8vo. The most important among the subsequent editions are those of Dan. Heinsius (Amsterdam, 1667, 8vo., with lectiones Hesiodeae, and notes by Scaliger and Gujetus; it was reprinted by Leclerc in 1701, 8vo), of Th. Robinson (Oxford, 1737, 4to., reprinted at Leipzig 1746, 8vo.), of Ch. F. Loesner (Leipzig, 1778, 8vo., contains all that his predecessors had accumulated, together with some new remarks), of Th. Gaisford (in vol. i. of his Poet. Gr. Min., where some new MSS. are collated), and of C. Göttling (Gotha and Erfurt, 1831, 8vo., 2d edit. 1843, with good critical and explanatory notes). The Ἔργα were edited also by Brunck in his Poetae Gnomici and other collections; the Theogony was edited separately by F. A. Wolf (Halle, 1783), and by D. J. van Lennep (Amsterdam, 1843, 8vo., with a very useful commentary). There are also two good editions of the Ἀσπίσ᾽, by C. Fr. Heinrich (Breslau, 1802, 8vo., with introduction, scholia, and commentary), and by C. F. Ranke (Quedlinburg, 1840, 8vo.).


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