Mimesis and Aetiology in Callimachus' Hymns
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Mimesis and Aetiology in Callimachus' Hymns book
Mimesis has received a good deal of attention in studies of Hellenistic poetry; aetiology has received relatively little. Callimachus uses both mimesis and aetiology as a means of highlighting the essential textuality of his poetic recreation. He inherits his use of both mimesis and of aetiology from the two genres that are his chief models in the Hymns: hymn and epinician. At the close of the extant thirteenth Iambus Callimachus makes an exceedingly provocative and ambiguous statement. He has adapted the premise of a priamel—that the poet is telling the truth for a particular occasion of praise—only to emphasize the artificiality necessarily involved in imitating conventions of this sort. Callimachus uses aitia to undermine the authority his hymnic persona asserts. The chapter examines some of the ways in which he initially situates’ a poem's speaker, addressee and audience within an occasion of praise.