A piece of papyrus with the Greek poet/intellectual/librarian dude Callimachus’ collection of eulogy-like poems called Aetia, from the 1st century AD.
Callimachus was a Greek guy from the Hellenistic period who wrote poems in the Alexandrian style. That was a style of writing that was anti-epic: people who wrote these kinds of poems didn’t like poems written in the classical style of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Instead, they wanted to write cute lil poems that paid attention to meter and sound and the kind of literary stuff that we typically associate with poems nowaday.
There are two things that are funny/ironic about Callimachus’ intellectual life: Number 1, the job of chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria was passed over him to his arch nemesis who was a fan of epic poems, Apollonius of Rhodes. And Number 2, Callimachus’ most lasting legacy isn’t his mantra of short-poems-reign-supreme, but it was instead Pinakes, his bibliography of all of the texts at the Library of Alexandria which he created underneath Apollonius’ chief-ness. It’s kind of funny in my opinion that everybody remembers him not because he was a groundbreaking poet, but because he invented a classification system that would be duplicated in libraries around the world, organizing OTHER people’s poems.
What do you guys think about Callimachus and his beliefs on poetry versus the epic style of poetry?