11
THE HORIZON OF CALLIMACHUS

WE have so far considered Alexandrian intellectual life in terms of production in defined fields. This has inevitably led to a certain impersonalization and rigidity of treatment, and in this chapter I hope to remedy this by consideration of some more personal features, and some general features which cut across those clearly defined themes. In so doing I shall focus my attention first and foremost on the life and writings of Callimachus, who not only reveals more of his personality to us than any other Alexandrian, but also dominated the intellectual life of the capital in its greatest period. His verse, and especially the Aetia and the Iambi, is a unique witness to the various struggles of personality and the polemics which occupied the literary world of Alexandria during his lifetime. After his death we are never again given the opportunity of looking out on the world through the eyes of an Alexandrian of undoubted, if limited, genius. Indeed, even if we were fortunate enough to possess more fragments than we do of the various works of Eratosthenes, the leading figure of the following generation, it seems probable that they would, in part at least, reveal different preoccupations from those reflected in Callimachus' writings: and this not only because Eratosthenes was probably less concerned than Callimachus with the local intellectual and literary problems of his day, and more with wider geographical and philosophical issues; but more generally because the intelligentsia itself that had thrived on such topics had passed away, or was in the process of doing so. The society to which Callimachus belonged was essentially an immigrant society, and its members were preoccupied with issues which were of particular significance to them because they had been reared in Greek schools, and more especially in the atmosphere of Aristotelian and similar studies. In this respect the reign of Euergetes I saw the beginning of a change. For various interacting reasons--the political decline of Alexandria, insecurity at home and abroad, and the decay of royal patronage--the immigré was being replaced by an inferior, locally-bred intellectual class. The death of Callimachus removed from the scene one of the mainstays of that intellectual society which flourished under Philadelphus and Euergetes, and may have contributed to its dissolution.

-717-

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Ptolemaic Alexandria
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publisher's Note (1984) vi
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Corrigenda xvi
  • Part I - The Frame Work 1
  • 1 - Foundation and Topography 3
  • 2 - The Population, its Organization and Composition 38
  • 3 - City and Sovereign 93
  • 4 - Industry and Trade 132
  • 5 - Religious Life 189
  • Part II - The Achievement 303
  • 6 - Ptolemaic Patronage: the Mouseion and Library 305
  • 7 - Alexandrian Science 336
  • 8 - Alexandrian Scholarship 447
  • 9 - Alexandrian Philosophy: the Main Phases 480
  • 10 - Aspects of Alexandrian Literature 495
  • 11 - The Horizon of Callimachus 717
  • Epilogue 794
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