A Companion to Hellenistic Literature

Delivering remarkable scope, A better half to Hellenistic Literature in 30 newly commissioned essays explores the social and highbrow contexts of literature construction within the Hellenistic interval, and examines the connection among Hellenistic and previous literature. offers a panoramic serious exam of Hellenistic literature, together with the works of well–respected poets along lesser–known old, philosophical, and clinical prose of the interval Explores how the indigenous literatures of Hellenized lands inspired Greek literature and the way Greek literature inspired Jewish, close to jap, Egyptian, and Roman literary works.

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Theocritus’ bucolic poetry takes the creation of fictional realities even further than other Hellenistic genres. Its humble herdsmen spend their time singing and in love in pleasurable surroundings without pressing needs, inhabiting a fiction that belongs to no world, mythological or real, outside the individual poems in which they appear (Payne). While these poems have a dramatic setting, they are largely plotless: the action revolves around the performance of songs, in which the herdsmen poets, all highly conscious of their predecessors, identify themselves with figures such as Daphnis or Polyphemus, creating microcosms within the poem that are somehow related to, yet separate from, the world of the dramatic frame.

Recent bite-sized introductions are Hunter 2003b and Krevans and Sens 2006, both largely restricted to poetry. Substantial discussions of Hellenistic literature in broader literary histories include Lesky 1971 (German) and 1966: 642–806 (English); Dihle 1991 (German) and 1994: 231–311 (English); Saı¨d 1997: 277–402 (French; a radically abbreviated English version in Saı¨d and Tre´de´ 1999: 93–118). Schmitt and Vogt 2005 includes substantial entries on all major Hellenistic authors and genres. Recent surveys of Hellenistic poetry in particular include Bulloch 1985, Hutchinson 1988, Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004, and Manakidou and Spanoudakis 2008 (in Greek).

In the many forms philosophical literature took, a feature that stands out is the prominence of the persona and voice of the philosopher himself, engaged in communication in genres such as dialogues, biographies, anecdotes, and letters; this phenomenon may be usefully compared to trends in contemporary poetry and historiography. As in the case of oratory, the close of the era saw a renewed interest in the originary texts of the discipline. Unlike Hellenistic oratory, however, Hellenistic philosophy was not obliterated by this development but remained the basis for interaction with the works of Classical authors such as Plato and Aristotle for a long time to come.

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