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Antimachus


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Of Colophon in western Asia Minor, Greek poet and scholar (fl. 400 bc). He may have been taught by Stesimbrotus of Thasos; Plutarch, Lys. 18. 8 says he competed at the Lysandreia festival in Samos in Lysander's presence (therefore before 395 bc); his younger friend and admirer Plato sent Heraclides Ponticus (fr. 6 Wehrli) to Colophon to collect his poems.

works Small fragments survive: the Thebais was an epic, probably in 24 books, narrating the first expedition against Thebes, and exhibiting a wide knowledge of earlier poetry. Lyde was a narrative elegy in at least two books, allegedly composed after the death of his wife or mistress Lyde. It included very diverse mythological episodes, e.g. the Argonautica, Demeter's wanderings, Oedipus, and Bellerophon; unhappy love may have been one of its connecting themes. Other poems, Deltoi, Artemis, and Iachine (the title is probably corrupt), are mere names to us. Antimachus also produced an edition of Homer and wrote on his life, claiming him as a fellow Colophonian; Homeric glosses, along with scholarly neologisms and obscure periphrases, are prominent in his poetry. In his combination of the roles of scholar and poet Antimachus is the precursor of the great Hellenistic poets of the next century, who however took very varied views of his work. Callimachus criticized the Lyde as ‘fat and inelegant’ (fr. 398 Pf.), but the form of his own Aetia may be in part modelled on it; Posidippus of Pella and Asclepiades of Samos (both of whom were allegedly among a group of literary enemies whom Callimachus attacked) praised it. Apollonius Rhodius alluded to his poems in the Argonautica, and explained one of his rare words in a scholarly work. But it appears that Callimachus' condemnation prevailed, and Antimachus' works were apparently not frequently read in antiquity: though Quintilian 10. 1. 53 commends him, with reservations, as a writer of epic, the admiration felt for the Thebais by the emperor Hadrian (Cass. Dio 69. 4. 6 = test. 31 Wyss) was clearly eccentric. (The tendency to use Antimachus' name as the antithesis to another poet, usually Homer, admired by the author does not necessarily imply familiarity with Antimachus' works.)

Frederick John Williams

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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