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In Theogony lines 207 to 209, Hesiod says (English translation by Richard Caldwell, 1987):

reproaching the sons whom he himself begot;
he said they strained in wickedness to do a
great wrong

What did Hesiod mean by that? I can't find an explanation in Caldwell's book.

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    He criticized his own sons harshly because they went to great lengths to commit bad acts. I think this is only answerable as an opinion.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 12 at 15:33

1 Answer 1

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Here’s a bit more context from Caldwell’s translation:

Great Ouranos, their father, called his sons Titans,
reproaching the sons whom he himself begot;
he said they strained in wickedness to do a
great wrong, but there would be revenge afterwards.

Hesiod. Theogony 207–210. Translated by Richard Caldwell (1987). Focus.

So in line 208, Ouranos is described as “reproaching” his sons by calling them “Titans”. Caldwell has a note explaining this:

Hesiod derives the name Titanes from the verb titaino [strain]; there is also a secondary connection with tisis [revenge].

Caldwell, p. 40. Note to lines 207–210.

So Hesiod says that when Ouranos named his sons “Titans”, he was reproaching them for their future treachery by accusing them of “straining in wickedness” via the similarity of their name Τιτάνης to the word τιταίνω meaning “stretch” or “strain”. The “great wrong” committed by the Titans will be their war against the Olympian gods which Hesiod briefly describes in lines 654–728, and the “revenge” afterwards will be the imprisonment of the Titans in Tartarus, which Hesiod describes in lines 729–766. In antiquity there was a longer poem, the Titanomachy, describing this war in more detail, but it has been lost.

Hesiod’s suggestions that Τιτάνης (Titans) might derive from τιταίνω (stretch, strain) or τίτας (avenger) are doubtful, but no-one knows the etymology for sure. Other suggested etymons are τίτο (sun, day) and τίτανος (white clay, gypsum).

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