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Dimensions of Power: Callimachean Geopoetics and the Ptolemaic Empire

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Chapter Summary

The paper offers a political reading of, mainly, the Aetia and Iambi, arguing that Callimachus creates Ptolemaic dimensions of space and time in these poems. First, many of the places prominently mentioned or described extensively by Callimachus may have had special political relevance for Ptolemaic politics. This seems to be the case with, e.g., Miletus, Athens and Attica, Ceos, Cos, and Rome. Further the Callimachean practice of juxtaposing episodes that are set at different places, propels a reader, in his imagination, through the Hellenistic world as if travelling by rocket. These mind-travels in Aetia I, Aetia III–IV and Iambi (plus Mele) map a Callimachean ‘geopoetics’. From such a perspective, the Aetia and Iambi assume features of a ‘Panhellenic reader’, that is a corpus of texts that presents the world from a Ptolemaic perspective. The chapter also explores an equivalent approach to the presentation of time in Callimachus (his ‘chronopoetics’).

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