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Callimachus in Context: From Plato to the Augustan Poets (Susan Stephens and Benjamin Acosta-Hughes)

Publication Date: 
1 January 2012
Citation: 
Scholarly reception has bequeathed two Callimachuses: the Roman version is a poet of elegant non-heroic poetry (usually erotic elegy), represented by a handful of intertexts with a recurring set of images - slender Muse, instructing divinity, small voice, pure waters; the Greek version emphasizes a learned scholar who includes literary criticism within his poetry, an encomiast of the Ptolemies, a poet of the book whose narratives are often understood as metapoetic. This study aims to situate these Callimachuses within a series of interlocking historical and intellectual contexts in order better to understand how they arose. In this narrative of his poetics and poetic reception four main sources of creative opportunism are identified: Callimachus' reactions to philosophers and literary critics as arbiters of poetic authority, the potential of the text as a venue for performance, awareness of Alexandria as a new place, and finally, his attraction for Roman poets.