Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
classics masthead classics masthead
Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Spring 2006

GK 385 • Hellenistic Poetry

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31300 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
CBA 4.336

Course Description

This seminar will provide a survey of the major authors and genres of Hellenistic poetry from the rise of the Alexandrian library in the early 3rd century BCE to the Garland of Meleager in the 1st century BCE. In view of the profound influence of Alexandrian models on the major Roman poets, this course should be valuable for Latinists as well as Hellenists. Topics discussed will include the interrelation between the development of Alexandrian scholarship and poetic style, modes and theories of learned allusion, allegorical interpretation, experimentation with genre and mixing of poetic forms, canonization of new genres, interconnection between poems and the development of the "poetry book," the tension between Hellenization and non-Greek racial identities, and the evolution of literary or performative media in the service of imperial regimes. In addition, we shall examine the influence of the various schools of Hellenistic philosophy and their aesthetic doctrines. The course will begin with an examination of the programmatic works of Callimachus and Theocritus that have traditionally defined critical perceptions of the Hellenistic poetic ideology. We shall then move to an examination of the genre of epigram, starting with the epigrams of Asclepiades and Callimachus: Prof. Peter Bing of Emory University, one of the world's leading authorities in this field, will lead the seminar for three weeks, with particular focus on the recently discovered papyrus find of an epigram collection attributed to Posidippus. Meleagers Garland will also be examined as a parallel case of an organized epigrammatic anthology. We shall then move to a more intensive investigation of Callimachus Aetia and Iambi as ordered books, read especially against the background of 4th century elegy (exemplified by Antimachus Lyde) and archaic iambic poetry respectively. Callimachus Hymns offer a similar example of revisiting a familiar archaic genre, but translating it into a contemporary Ptolemaic context. Next, we shall look at Theocritus Idylls, both bucolic and non-bucolic, as generic experiments: works such as Idyll 22 and Moschus Europa will illustrate the development of the epyllion. Finally, we shall turn to Hellenistic didactic poetry (Aratus Phaenomena) and epic, reading Books 1 and 3 of Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica. The course grade will be determined by a final research paper (50%), translation quizzes (25%), and seminar participation (25%). The participation grade will also include oral reports on secondary reading as well as some of the minor poets. Texts: N. Hopkinson, Hellenistic Anthology. K. J. Dover, Theocritus: Selected Idylls. R. Hunter, Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica, Book III. A Course Packet will contain numerous other texts and commentaries.


bottom border