Callimachus

Callimachus

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Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

 and enjoyed the patronage of the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian–Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

s Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

 and Ptolemy III Euergetes
Ptolemy III Euergetes
-Family:Euergetes was the eldest son of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his first wife, Arsinoe I, and came to power in 246 BC upon the death of his father.He married Berenice of Cyrene in the year corresponding to 244/243 BC; and their children were:...

. Although he was never made chief librarian, he was responsible for producing a bibliograhpic survey based upon the contents of the Library. This, his Pinakes
Pinakes
Pinax may refer to:*Pinax, a votive tablet that served as a votive object deposited in a sanctuary or burial chamber*Pinakes, a 3rd-century-BCE work by Callimachus, the first library catalog system*Pinax...

, 120 volumes long, provided the foundation for later work on the history of Greek literature
Greek literature
Greek literature refers to writings composed in areas of Greek influence, typically though not necessarily in one of the Greek dialects, throughout the whole period in which the Greek-speaking people have existed.-Ancient Greek literature :...

. As one of the earliest critic-poets, he typifies Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 scholarship.

Family and early life


Callimachus was of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 origin. He was born and raised in Cyrene, as member of a distinguished family, his parents being Mesatme (or Mesatma) and Battus, supposed descendant of the first Greek king of Cyrene, Battus I
Battus I of Cyrene
Battus I of Cyrene was the founder of the Greek colony of Cyrenaica and its capital, Cyrene. He was the first king of Cyrenaica, the first Greek king in Africa, and the founder of the Battiad dynasty.-Background:...

, through whom Callimachus claimed to be a descendant of the Battiad dynasty, the Libyan Greek monarchs that ruled Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 for eight generations and the first Greek Royal family to have reigned in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. He was named after his grandfather, an "elder" Callimachus, who was highly regarded by the Cyrenaean citizens and had served as a general.

Callimachus married the daughter of a Greek man called Euphrates who came from Syracuse. However, it is unknown if they had children. He also had a sister called Megatime but very little is known about her: she married a Cyrenaean man called Stasenorus or Stasenor to whom she bore a son, Callimachus (so called "the Younger" as to distinguish him from his maternal uncle), who also became a poet, author of "The Island".

In later years, he was educated in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. When he returned to North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, he moved to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

.

Works



Elitist and erudite, claiming to "abhor all common things," Callimachus is best known for his short poems and epigram
Epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

s. During the Hellenistic period, a major trend in Greek-language poetry was to reject epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

s modelled after Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. Instead, Callimachus urged poets to "drive their wagons on untrodden fields," rather than following in the well worn tracks of Homer, idealizing a form of poetry that was brief, yet carefully formed and worded, a style at which he excelled. In the prologue to his Aetia, he claims that Apollo visited him and admonished him to "fatten his flocks, but to keep his muse slender," a clear indication of his choice of carefully crafted and allusive material. "Big book, big evil" (μέγα βιβλίον μέγα κακόν, mega biblion, mega kakon) is another of his verses, attacking long, old-fashioned poetry using the very style Callimachus proposed to replace it. Callimachus also wrote poems in praise of his royal patron and a wide variety of other poetic styles, as well as prose and criticism.

Due to Callimachus' strong stance against the epic, he and his younger student Apollonius of Rhodes
Apollonius of Rhodes
Apollonius Rhodius, also known as Apollonius of Rhodes , early 3rd century BCE – after 246 BCE, was a poet, and a librarian at the Library of Alexandria...

, who favored epic and wrote the Argonautica, had a long and bitter feud, trading barbed comments, insults, and ad hominem attacks for over thirty years. It is now known, through a papyrus fragment from Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus is a city in Upper Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered...

 listing the earliest chief librarians of the Library of Alexandra (P.Oxy. X 1241), that Ptolemy II never offered the post to Callimachus, but passed him over for Apollonius Rhodius. Some classicists, including Peter Green
Peter Green (historian)
Peter Green is a British classical scholar noted for his works on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age of ancient history, generally regarded as spanning the era from the death of Alexander in 323 BC up to either the date of the Battle of Actium or the death of Augustus in 14 AD...

, speculate that this contributed to the poets' long feud.

Though Callimachus was an opponent of "big books", the Suda
Suda
The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

 puts his number of works at (a possibly exaggerated) 800, suggesting that he found large quantities of small works more acceptable. Of these, only six hymns, sixty-four epigrams, and some fragments are extant; a considerable fragment of the Hecale
Hecale
In Greek mythology, Hecale, or Hekálē, was an old woman who offered succor to Theseus on his way to capture the Marathonian Bull.On the way to Marathon to capture the Bull, Theseus sought shelter from a storm in a shack owned by an ancient lady named Hecale. She swore to make a sacrifice to Zeus if...

, one of Callimachus' few longer poems treating epic material, has also been discovered in the Rainer papyri
Papyrology
Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome...

. His Aetia ("Causes"), another rare longer work surviving only in tattered papyrus fragments and quotations in later authors, was a collection of elegiac
Elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

 poems in four books, dealing with the foundation of cities, obscure religious ceremonies, unique local traditions apparently chosen for their oddity, and other customs, throughout the Hellenic world
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 In the first three books at least, the formula appears to ask a question of the Muse
Muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

, of the form, "Why, on Paros
Paros
Paros is an island of Greece in the central Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades island group, it lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about wide. It lies approximately south-east of Piraeus. The Municipality of Paros includes numerous uninhabited offshore islets...

, do worshippers of the Charites
Charites
In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites , goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea , Euphrosyne , and Thalia . In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces"...

 use neither flutes nor crowns?" "Why, at Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 is a month named for 'lambs'?" "Why, at Leucas
Leucas
Leucas may refer to:* Leucas is a genus of plants from the family Lamiaceae.* Leucas, an English transliteration of the ancient Greek place name, Leukas ....

, does the image of Artemis have a mortar on its head?" A series of questions can be reconstituted from the fragments. One passage of the Aetia, the so called Coma Berenices, has been reconstructed from papyrus remains and the celebrated Latin adaptation of Catullus
Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

 (Catullus 66).

The extant hymns are extremely learned, and written in a style that some have criticised as labored and artificial. The epigrams are more widely respected, and several have been incorporated into the Greek Anthology
Greek Anthology
The Greek Anthology is a collection of poems, mostly epigrams, that span the classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature...

.

According to Quintilian
Quintilian
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing...

 (10.1.58) he was the chief of the elegiac poets; his elegies were highly esteemed by the Romans (see Neoteric
Neoteric
The Neotericoi , Neoterics or the Neoteric period refers to avant-garde poets and their poetry, specifically those Greek and Latin poets in the Hellenistic Period who propagated a new style of Greek poetry, deliberately turning away from the classical Homeric epic poetry.Their poems featured...

s), and imitated by Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

, Catullus
Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

, and especially Sextus Propertius
Sextus Propertius
Sextus Aurelius Propertius was a Latin elegiac poet of the Augustan age. He was born around 50–45 BC in Assisium and died shortly after 15 BC.Propertius' surviving work comprises four books of Elegies...

. Many modern classicists hold Callimachus in high regard for his major influence on Latin poetry.

Callimachus' most famous prose work is the Pinakes
Pinakes
Pinax may refer to:*Pinax, a votive tablet that served as a votive object deposited in a sanctuary or burial chamber*Pinakes, a 3rd-century-BCE work by Callimachus, the first library catalog system*Pinax...

 (Lists), a bibliographical survey of authors of the works held in the Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

. The Pinakes was one of the first known documents that lists, identifies, and categorizes a library’s holdings. By consulting the Pinakes, a library patron could find out if the library contained a work by a particular author, how it was categorized, and where it might be found. It is important to note that Callimachus did not seem to have any models for his pinakes, and invented this system on his own.

Critical Editions (Ancient Greek Texts)

  • Pfeiffer, R.
    Rudolf Pfeiffer
    Rudolf Carl Franz Otto Pfeiffer was a German classical philologist. He is known today primarily for his landmark, two-volume edition of Callimachus and the two volumes of his History of Classical Scholarship, in addition to numerous articles and lectures related to these projects and to the...

     Callimachus, vol. i: Fragmenta (Oxford, 1949). ISBN 978-0198141150.
  • Pfeiffer, R. Callimachus, vol. ii: Hymni et epigrammata (Oxford, 1953). ISBN 978-0198141167.
  • Lloyd-Jones, H.
    Hugh Lloyd-Jones
    Sir Peter Hugh Jefferd Lloyd-Jones FBA was a British classical scholar and Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford....

     et al. Supplementum Hellenisticum, (Berlin, 1983). ISBN 978-3110081718.

Commentary

  • Bing, Peter. Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos 1–99: Introduction and Commentary (Dissertation, U. Michigan, 1981).
  • Bulloch, A. W. Callimachus: The Fifth Hymn (CUP, 1985). ISBN 978-0521119993.
  • Harder, A. Callimachus: Aetia (OUP, 2011). ISBN 978-0199581016.
  • Hollis, A.S.
    Adrian Hollis
    Adrian Swayne Hollis , is an English correspondence chess grandmaster and was British Correspondence Chess Champion in 1966 , 1967, and 1971....

     Callimachus: Hecale (OUP, 1990); 2nd ed. 2009. ISBN 978-0199562466.
  • Hopkinson, Neil. Callimachus: Hymn to Demeter (CUP, 1984). ISBN 978-0521604369.
  • Hopkinson, Neil. A Hellenistic Anthology (CUP, 1988). ISBN 978-0521314251.
  • Kerkhecker, Arnd. Callimachus' Book of Iambi (OUP, 1999). ISBN 978-0199240067.
  • Massimilla, G. Aitia. libri primo e secondo (Pisa: Giardini editori, 1996). ISBN 978-8842700135.
  • Massimilla, G. Aitia. libro terzo e quarto (Pisa: F. Serra, 2010). ISBN 978-8862272827.
  • McKay, K. J. Erysichthon: A Callimachean Comedy (Brill, 1962). ISBN 978-9004014701.
  • McKay, K. J. The Poet at Play: Kallimachus, The Bath of Pallas (Brill, 1962).
  • McLennan, G. R. Callimachus: Hymn to Zeus (Edizioni dell'Ateneo & Bizzarri, 1977).
  • Williams, Frederick. Callimachus: Hymn to Apollo (OUP, 1978). ISBN 978-0198140078.

Translations

  • Lombardo, S.
    Stanley Lombardo
    Stanley F. Lombardo is an American professor of Classics at the University of Kansas. He is best known for his translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid...

     & Rayor, D.J. Callimachus: Hymns, Epigrams, Select Fragments (Johns Hopkins 1988). ISBN 978-0801832819
  • Mair, A.W. & Mair, G.R. Callimachus: Hymns and Epigrams. Lycophron and Aratus, Loeb Classical Library
    Loeb Classical Library
    The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each...

     No. 129, 2nd rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: 1955) ISBN 978-0674991439.
  • Nisetich, Frank. The Poems of Callimachus (Oxford 2001). ISBN 978-0198152248
  • Trypanis, C.A.
    C. A. Trypanis
    Constantine Athanasius Trypanis was a Greek classicist, literary critic, translator and poet.Born in Chios, Greece, Trypanis received his education at The Classical Gymnasium, Chios and the Universities of Athens, Berlin and Munich. He received a doctorate from the University of Athens in 1937...

     et al. Callimachus: Aetia, Iambi, Hecale and Other Fragments. Musaeus: Hero and Leander, Loeb Classical Library No. 421 (Cambridge, MA: 1958) ISBN 978-0674994638.

Criticism and history

  • Acosta-Hughes, B. Polyeideia: The Iambi of Callimachus and the Archaic Iambic Tradition (U. California, 2002). ISBN 978-0520220607.
  • Bing, P. The Well-Read Muse: Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets, 2nd ed. (University of Michigan Press, 2008). ISBN 978-0979971303.
  • Blum, R. Kallimachos. The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography, trans. H.H. Wellisch (U. Wisconsin, 1991). ISBN 978-0299131708.
  • Cameron, A.
    Alan Cameron (classical scholar)
    Alan Cameron is a British classicist, Charles Anthon Professor of the Latin Language and Literature at Columbia University.Cameron gained a BA from Oxford University, and his MA in 1964. He has taught at Columbia University since about 1977...

     Callimachus and his Critics (Princeton, 1995). ISBN 978-0691043678.
  • de Romilly, J.
    Jacqueline de Romilly
    Jacqueline Worms de Romilly, née David was a French philologist, classical scholar and fiction writer. Because she was of Jewish ancestry, the Vichy government suspended her from her teaching duties during the Occupation of France. she was the first woman nominated to the Collège de France, and in...

     A Short History of Greek Literature, trans. L. Doherty. (University of Chicago Press, 1985). ISBN 978-0226143125.
  • Fantuzzi, M. & Hunter, R.
    Richard L. Hunter
    Richard Lawrence Hunter is a classical scholar and has since 2001 been the 38th Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University.-Education and academic career:Richard Hunter was born and grew up in Australia...

     Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry (CUP, 2004). ISBN 978-0521835114.
  • Green, Peter
    Peter Green (historian)
    Peter Green is a British classical scholar noted for his works on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age of ancient history, generally regarded as spanning the era from the death of Alexander in 323 BC up to either the date of the Battle of Actium or the death of Augustus in 14 AD...

    . Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age (U. California, 1990) ISBN 978-0520083493, chapters 11 ('The Critic as Poet: Callimachus, Aratus of Soli, Lycophron') and 13 ('Armchair Epic: Apollonius Rhodius and the Voyage of Argo).
  • Hunter, R. The Shadow of Callimachus (CUP, 2006). ISBN 978-0521691796.
  • Hutchinson, G. O. (1988). Hellenistic Poetry. New York: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0198147480.
  • Selden, D. "Alibis," Classical Antiquity 17 (1998), 289–411.

External links