A Guide to Hellenistic Literature (Blackwell Guides to by Kathryn Gutzwiller

By Kathryn Gutzwiller

This booklet is a consultant to the terribly various literature of the Hellenistic period.A advisor to the literature of the Hellenistic age, from the loss of life of Alexander the nice in 323 BCE to the conflict of Actium in 31 BCProvides overviews of the social, political, highbrow and literary historic contexts during which Hellenistic literature used to be producedIntroduces the main writers and genres of the periodProvides information regarding sort, meter and languages to assist readers without previous wisdom of the language in figuring out technical features of literary GreekDistinctive in its insurance of present concerns in Hellenistic feedback, together with viewers reception, the political and social history, and Hellenistic theories of literature

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From the late third century unrest among the Egyptians, leading to a series of revolts, became increasingly common. The Rosetta Stone, which provided the key to decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, contains a trilingual inscription (in hieroglyphic and demotic Egyptian and in Greek) that concerns one of these rebellions. During this time as well, Ptolemaic power in the Aegean and in Syria began to fade. Ptolemy IV was murdered in 205 by two courtiers, who tried to hold on to power under the young Ptolemy V Epiphanes (‘‘God Manifest’’) partly by murdering his mother Arsinoe III.

From the early third century, Callimachus and other poets attempted to produce a smoother form of the hexameter by restricting the number of short words and avoiding unusual rhythms. One of the best-known features of this refined versification involves a sense pause after a dactylic fourth foot (consisting of a long and two short syllables); this pattern, which is quite common in Theocritus and so known as a ‘‘bucolic diaeresis,’’ may produce a songlike rhythm if used in consecutive lines. Another trend was the spondaic fifth foot, which consisted of two longs and so produced a heavy-sounding line, often involving a four-syllable word at line end.

It was not just a collection of texts but an active center for literary scholarship and criticism. Material for the copying of texts was plentiful, since an important local product, made from animal skins, was what the Romans called charta pergamena (‘‘Pergamene paper’’), from which our word parchment derives. The most famous scholar at Pergamum was Crates of Mallus, who was sent by Attalus II as an envoy to Rome in 159 and gave lectures that introduced the Romans to scholarship. In his allegorical method of interpreting Homer and the grammatical principles he applied to editing, he was the rival of the great Alexandrian scholar Aristarchus of Samothrace, who was his contemporary.

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