Callimachus

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Friendship often ends in love; but love in friendship, never.
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Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 310 BC – c. 240 BC) was a Greek poet, critic and bibliographer, of Libyan birth. He is considered the most influential figure of the Alexandrian school.

Sourced

  • A big book is a big misfortune.
    • Fragment 465; translation by A. W. Bulloch, in P. E. Easterling and B. M. W. Knox (eds.) The Cambridge History of Classical Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1989) vol. 1, part 4, p. 30.
  • Nothing unattested do I sing.
    • Fragment 612; translation by A. W. Bulloch, in P. E. Easterling and B. M. W. Knox (eds.) The Cambridge History of Classical Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1989) vol. 1, part 4, p. 30.

Epigrams

  • They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
    They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
    I wept, as I remembered, how often you and I
    Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
  • Two goddesses now must Cyprus adore;
    The Muses are ten, the Graces are four;
    Stella's wit is so charming, so sweet her fair face;
    She shines a new Venus, a Muse, and a Grace.
    • Epigram 5; translation by Jonathan Swift, cited from Henry Wellesley (ed.) Anthologia Polyglotta (London: John Murray, 1849) p. 47.
  • Here sleeps Saon, of Acanthus, son of Dicon, a holy sleep: say not that the good die.
    • Epigram 10; translation from J. Banks (ed.) The Works of Hesiod, Callimachus and Theognis (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1856) p. 194.
  • O Charidas, what of the under world? Great darkness. And what of the resurrection? A lie. And Pluto? A fable; we perish utterly.
  • Set a thief to catch a thief.
    • Epigram 43; translation by Robert Allason Furness, from Poems of Callimachus (London: Jonathan Cape, 1931) p. 103.

Criticism

  • His blend of sensitivity and detachment, elegance, wit, and learning, had a profound influence on later Roman poets, especially Catullus, Ovid, and Propertius (the last thought of himself as the Roman Callimachus), and through them on the whole European literary tradition.
    • D. E. W. Wormell, in The Penguin Companion to Literature (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969) vol. 4, p. 47.
  • The most outstanding intellect of this generation, the greatest poet that the Hellenistic age produced, and historically one of the most important figures in the development of Graeco-Roman (and hence European) literature.
    • A. W. Bulloch, in P. E. Easterling and B. M. W. Knox (eds.) The Cambridge History of Classical Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1989) vol. 1, part 4, p. 9.

External links

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