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Poet and Court

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Chapter Summary

Beginning from an overview of Hellenistic monarchy this conribution turns first to Ptolemy I and his need for a royal court to establish himself in Egypt. Intellectuals in a variety of areas at the Ptolemaic court contributed in a major way to this development, intellectuals who were also in large part also friends of the King. We should understand Callimachus and his work in this context: the court with its personalities and events gave him material for poetic creation, and ensured its reception. The variety of his work can be understood as a reflection of the character of the court as political, administrative, intellectual, and social center—for Callimachus and his fellow poets were informed by the court’s structures of communication and interaction. These structures also make it possible for us to consider the contexts of publication and performance, as well as audience.

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