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Hermesianax


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Of Colophon, Greek poet of the early 3rd cent. bc, pupil and friend of Philitas, author of Leontion and possibly also of Persica (fr. 12 Powell). Leontion (the title was apparently the name of his mistress) was in elegiacs, and in three books; it may have been modelled on the Lyde of Antimachus. It exemplifies several of the typical features of Hellenistic poetry: a fondness for linguistic rarities, interest in love (esp. if unhappy), and stress on aetiology. Fr. 1 (from bk. 1) describes Polyphemus gazing out to sea, which suggests a reworking of the Polyphemus—Galatea story from Philoxenus (himself mentioned in fr. 7. 69–74); frs. 2 and 3 (Daphnis and Menalcas) may belong to the same book, possibly devoted to the love affairs of herdsmen. Book 2 included the tale of Arceophon's rejection by Arsinoë, and her subsequent metamorphosis into stone (fr. 4 = Ant. Lib. Met. 39) and possibly also the story of Leucippus' incest (fr. 5 = Parth. Amat. narr. 5). The longest fragment (7), 98 lines long, is preserved, in a corrupt form, by Athenaeus (13. 597b); it consists of a fanciful catalogue of love affairs of poets from Orpheus to Philitas, and of philosophers (Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus). Typically, the poets' subjectmatter is presented as biographical evidence, and some of the pairings can hardly be meant to be taken seriously (e.g. Homer and Penelope, Hesiod and ‘Ehoea’; Alcaeus and Anacreon are, anachronistically, rivals for the love of Sappho; Socrates courts Aspasia). Fr. 8 mentions an elegy for the Centaur Eurytion, which strongly supports the ascription to Hermesianax of the newly recovered poem preserved in PBrux. 8934 and PSorbonn. 2254 (=Suppl. Hell. 970).

Frederick John Williams

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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