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CL3062/CL4062 Hellenistic Poetry

This module introduces the Greek poetry of the third century BCE, notably that of the Ptolemaic court in Alexandria, in its literary and social context. Key concepts are poetics and aesthe­tics, intertextuality and genre, tradition and innovation, continuity and change, philosophy and ideology. In the first half, you will study selections from Callimachus, Theocritus and Aratus. In the second, the focus will be on Apollonius’ epic Argonautica, whose novel hero and heroine, Hellenistic world view, bold narrative experiments, and pervasive intertextuality and aetiology inspired Virgil’s Aeneid.
  • Module Organiser:
    • Dr Martine Cuypers
  • Duration:
    • One term (Sep - Dec)
  • Contact Hours:
    • CL3062: 33 (one 2-hour class and one 1-hour language lab per week); CL4062: 22 (one 2-hour class per week)
  • Weighting:
    • 10 ECTS
  • Assessment:
    • 40% continuous assessment (one assessed presentation, one written assignment), 60% final examination

Learning Outcomes

Upon the successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • translate and analyse the prescribed Greek texts
  • critically discuss the content, themes and style of the works of Calli­machus, Theocritus, and Apollonius of Rhodes studied in translation
  • recognise and evaluate the differences in poetics and aesthetics of between Hellenistic and earlier poetry
  • situate and evaluate current critical approaches to intertextuality, genre, patronage, and ancient literary criticism
  • discuss Hellenistic poetry in its historical, social, and ideological context, viz. the royal courts of the 3rd century BCE

Introductory Reading

  • Clauss, James J. and Cuypers, Martine (eds.), A Companion to Hellenistic Literature (Chichester 2014)
  • Fantuzzi, Marco and Hunter, Richard, Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry (Cambridge 2004)
  • Gutzwiller, Kathryn, A Guide to Hellenistic Literature (Malden 2007)
  • Hopkinson, Neil (ed.), A Hellenistic Anthology (Cambridge 1988)
  • Hopkinson, Neil (trans.), Theocritus, Bion, Moschus (Cambridge, MA 2015)
  • Nisetich, Frank (trans.). The Poems of Callimachus (Oxford 2001).
  • Race, William H. (ed., trans.), Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica (Loeb, 2008)
  • Verity, Anthony (trans.) and Hunter, Richard (ann.), Theocritus, Idylls (Oxford 2002)