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Praising Contemporaries

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, instances of Hellenistic poetic expressions of praise will be analyzed for what they reveal about their writers. This is the primary theme of the Phaenomena: the constellations are set in the heavens by Zeus as signs to be used by humans who, if they &t;read&t; them correctly, will greatly benefit from their message. For he hereby invites comparison with two of the most famous singers of an earlier generation of Hellenistic poetry: the epigrammatist Asclepiades of Samos (here called Sicelidas) and Philitas, the former tutor of Ptolemy Philadelphus, a poet greatly admired in elitist poetic circles. In both cases, the underlying wish appears to be rooted in a desire for distinction, the creation of a position in the field of cultural production, and the discussion about how the tradition should be incorporated in contemporary poetic practice.

Keywords: Asclepiades of Samos; constellations; Hellenistic; Phaenomena; Philitas; praising contemporaries; Ptolemy Philadelphus; Sicelidas; Zeus



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