Don’t be a braying ass
- Callimachus in Context by Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan Stephens
Cambridge, 344 pp, £60.00, January 2012, ISBN 978 1 107 00857 1
- Brill’s Companion to Callimachus edited by Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Luigi Lehnus and Susan Stephens
Brill, 726 pp, £160.00, July 2011, ISBN 978 90 03 14672 4
- Aetia translated and edited by Annette Harder
Oxford, 362 pp. and 1061 pp, £225.00, May 2012, ISBN 978 0 19 958101 6
Recent comparisons of the Hellenistic Age with our own fragmented culture may have persuaded at least some curious readers to dip into Theocritus, Polybius or Apollonius Rhodius. Yet how many have so much as heard of Callimachus? The books discussed here are by serious scholars; they require, between them, an investment of some £450, and comprise a total of more than two thousand pages – at a generous estimate, one page for every intact surviving line of the author they discuss. Who, then, was the man who induced such largesse, and what might justify the evident devotion he here receives?
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[*] In A History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the Hellenistic Age (1968), Rudolph Pfeiffer points out that ‘free meals, high salaries, no taxes to pay, very pleasant surroundings, good lodgings and servants’ provided ‘plenty of opportunity for quarrelling with one another’. Modern parallels suggest themselves.