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Literature in Praise of Ptolemaic Queens

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Glossary

Hellenistic

the style of Greek art or architecture during the period beginning with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the accession of Caesar Augustus in 27 BC

scribe

someone who could read and write; a highly respected title in ancient Egyptian times

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Greco-Roman Poets
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Alexandria was considered the center of Greek literature in the Hellenistic Period. One rarely hears of a major poet of this period who had not visited Alexandria or had not lived there, in order to be supported by its many patrons and benefit from its many literary resources. Because of this, all types of Greek poetry, except for the comedies, were highly influenced during this period by Alexandrian poetry.

Callimachus can be considered one of the foremost Alexandrian poets. He lived in the first half of the third century BC and was still writing poetry well into old age during the reign of Ptolemy the Third. The only first-rate Hellenistic poet to be born in Egypt was Apollonius, who was nevertheless called Apollonius of Rhodes as he settled there and became one of its citizens after he was expelled from the post of head scribe. Theocritus of Syracuse, one of the major poets of the third century BC, lived for a while in Alexandria and was the court poet of Ptolemy the Second.

The golden age of Alexandrian poetry lasted for less then half a century from about 290 to 240 BC, but pastoral poetry continued to flourish well into the first century BC.

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