Remember Jesus’ parable of the broad and narrow paths?
Plato (Laws, book 4, 718d-719a) reports a similar saying from Hesiod:
Most [people] only go to prove the wisdom of Hesiod’s remark that the road to vice is smooth and can be travelled without sweating, because it is very short; but ‘as the price of virtue,’ he says,
‘The gods have imposed the sweat of our brows, And long and steep is the ascent that you have to make; And rough, at first; but when you get to the top, Then the rugged road is easy to endure’ (Cooper’s edition of Plato’s Works, 1404-5, citing Hesiod, Works and Days 287-92)
Compare with Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV):
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
And compare to this parable of the later Rabbis: Mek. on Exod 14:5 (R. Simeon bar Yohai, ca. 140 C.E):
‘It compares to one who was sitting at a crossroads; and there were two paths before him. One started smoothly and ended with thorns. One started with thorns and ended smoothly. And he informed the passersby and the travellers. And he was saying to them: “Do you see this path which starts smoothly? For two or three steps you will walk easily, but it ends with thorns. And do you see this path that starts with thorns? For two or three steps you will walk through thorns, but it ends smoothly.”’
It makes one wonder whether Hesiod’s parable became (or already was) proverbial, being taken up and adapted in all sorts of contexts.