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CALL. 17.04.2016: Casting Off Shadows: Hellenistic Poetry Beyond Callimachean Aesthetics - Cambridge

Third-century Alexandria is often conceptualised as a remarkable site of literary innovation and lauded as the pinnacle of Hellenistic Greek culture. The Ptolemies' cultural programme, drawing the heritage of the Greek mainland to their peripheral capital, figured Alexandria as a cultural crucible. Scholars of Hellenistic literature have capitalised on this Ptolemaic context to unlock multiple literary significances, from the Library's archival influence to the cross-pollination of Greek and non-Greek traditions. Callimachus, in particular, has gained from this contextualisation. The readings of his work have been so productive that he has come to represent the period’s literary habits: Hellenistic poetry slides into ‘Alexandrian’ poetry, which often simply becomes ‘Callimacheanism’. The Augustan fixation on Callimachus subsequently validates this vision; the ‘Roman’ Callimachus becomes the paradigmatic Hellenistic poet.

In this conference, we want to shift our focus away from third-century Alexandria and its ‘Callimachean poetry’ and to challenge this privileging of a ‘Golden Age Poetics’, an idea entangled with issues of colonialism, elitism and empire, both ancient and modern. Importantly, Callimachus’ third-century Alexandria was never the only site of literary production in the Hellenistic period. We want to illuminate what has been obscured by Callimachus’ enduring shadow and to redirect attention to the plurality of poetic styles and traditions throughout the Hellenistic world, with all their synchronic and diachronic diversity. At the same time, by highlighting the range of alternatives to, and interpretations of, ‘Callimachean’ poetics within the variegated world of Hellenistic poetry, we might gain a clearer appreciation of what (if anything) is distinctive about Alexandria and its most famous author. We are particularly interested in alternative traditions after Callimachus: the post-, non- and anti-Callimachean strands of Hellenistic poetry.




Faculty of Classics (Univeristy of Cambridge)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Thomas Nelson (University of Cambridge); Max Leventhal (University of Cambridge)

INFO: web - call - twitter


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