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Speaking with Authority: Polyphony in Callimachus’ Hymns

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Chapter Summary

Polyphony in Callimachus is often a strategy of persuasion: adopting a plurality of points of view in the presentation of an argument makes that argument more authoritative—especially when the authority of at least some of these points of view can be taken for granted. This paper investigates a few examples of the frequent overlapping of the authorial voice of Callimachus with different Callimachean voices impersonating or allusively evoking a series of more or less peremptory figures—a literary critic in defense of his poetics, the vox populi, the director of a ritual for a god, the god himself, or a series of saviors of the past. The paper concludes with an argument that the editor of Callimachus’ Hymns (Callimachus himself?) may have hidden behind the authority of Callimachus the “theologian”.

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