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Coming To Terms With Poetic Models

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Chapter Summary

On the surface, it looks like the most natural and traditional thing for Hellenistic poets to ground their poetic practice in that of their predecessors. For whenever Greek poets did not credit their ability to craft poetry to the Muses, Apollo or an inborn talent, they attributed it to what they had learned from their poetic predecessors, as for instance the following fragment from Bacchylides' Paeanes illustrates. Ancient poets who could serve as models were, as the numerous epitaphs composed in their honor amply testify, long dead by the time of Alexandria's heyday. Metaphorically speaking, the model-poets were the true Muses of the Hellenistic era; it was their cult that was celebrated in the Museum of Alexandria; but perhaps we could say that their priests, the competitive poets treading in their footsteps, were a quarrelsome lot.

Keywords: Alexandria; ancient poets; Greek poets; Hellenistic poets; poetic models



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