By G. O. Hutchinson
This extensive examine of the Hellenistic poets of the third century B.C. offers a miles wanted photograph of the poetry of the interval whereas demonstrating its caliber and energy. Hutchinson explores the paintings of such writers as Theocritus, Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes--developing a common notion of poetry that facilities round the poets' dealing with of tone, point, and form--and bargains a clean research of the impact of Hellenistic poetry on that of Rome.
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Extra resources for Hellenistic Poetry (Oxford University Press Academic Monograph Reprints)
Something has now been suggested of the preoccupations in Callimachus' poetry. With this in view, let us turn to consider the individual works. Those we know most of are the Aetia, the Iambi, the Hecale; six Hymns, and perhaps sixty-one complete Epigrams. The Hymns are transmitted entire by medieval manuscripts; the Epigrams appear mostly in the Byzantine anthologies, though some are only quoted by other writers. For our knowledge of the remaining works we depend on papyrus fragments of texts and commentaries, many extremely substantial, quotations in later authors, and a set of prose summaries (Diegeseis), also preserved, incomplete, on papyrus.
Callimachus exploits this; but he also positively cultivates divergences of tone. The poem on the sacrifice of Theodotus began with four lines describing some food sweeter than nectar or ambrosia (fr. 93. 33 The appearance of human sacrifice was to be a shock. In fr. ), but marks it off by using a parenthesis and a different perspective of time. The two founders of the city ignore a bird of ill omen, quarrel, consult Apollo's oracle, and learn that the city is to belong to neither of them. ). However, this simple story produces a ritual which is odder than we expected.
The effect is not, however, to undermine completely and destroy the serious and romantic elements in the narrative: the impact of the poetry is not so simple. The poet uses himself to enhance as well as to dissipate emotion, and this complexity in the treatment of the poet brings out the complexity of his work. The appeal of the story is not simply dissolved even when we have reached the ending. The `your fierce passion' lingering remembrance of that appeal is what makes the last lines piquant; reinforces that awareness.