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Hedylus (4 and 5 Gow–Page) and Callimachean Poetics

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The phrase λεπτὸν καί τι μελιχρὸν ἔπος in Hedylus 5 Gow–Page has been read as engaging with Callimachean esthetic language, though its precise significance has been debated. This paper argues that Hedylus’ engagement with Callimachean esthetic imagery and language is best understood by juxtaposing Hedylus 4 and 5 Gow–Page. The structure of the former, on a gold rhyton dedicated to Arsinoe Zephyritis, pointedly treats two Egyptian deities—one miniature, the other colossal—in language evocative of poetic composition, and does so in a way that effaces the bright oppositions between large and small in the prologue to Callimachus’ Aetia. At the same time, the poem identifies sounds made by wine with sounds made by water, and thus sheds light on Hedylus’ treatment of wine as a source of poetic inspiration in both epigrams. Far from being a rebuttal of Callimachean values, these poems appropriate and adapt his esthetic imagery and language to the genre of epigram.

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown UniversityWashington dc


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