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Moschus

(fl. c. 150 bc)


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Of Syracuse, elegant hexameter poet of the mid‐2nd cent. bc; counted as second in the canonical list of three Bucolic poets, between Theocritus and Bion. Like most Hellenistic poets, he combined creative writing with scholarship. His masterpiece is Europa, a 166‐line pocket epic narrating the abduction of the Phoenician princess by Zeus in bull‐form. It exhibits all the marks of the classic ‘epyllion’: neat exposition of the situation in time and space, brief but rhetorical speeches, dreams and prophecies, a summary conclusion, and esp. the elaborate, 25‐line ekphrasis of the golden basket which Europa takes to the seaside meadow, inlaid by Hephaestus with scenes which (unbeknown to her) prefigure her own imminent fate. The language is highly polished; indeed, polished can become precious.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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