ABSTRACT

Discontinuity, change, innovation: These are the terms which most scholars in this century have stressed - one-sidedly, perhaps - in characterizing Hellenistic poetry. Tradition (they argue), though mined, sifted, painstakingly studied and mastered, is deployed not for reproductive ends, but in the service of something different and new 1 . Alan Cameron now shifts the accent among these terms, placing it squarely on tradition: «Not only is there no evidence that third-century artists and writers thought of themselves as epigones living in a postclassical age. The real break came two centuries later» (pp. 27-28) 2 . Hellenistic poetry - on his view - was not so very different from what preceded it, even in Archaic times. In tendency, then, Cameron's work can be placed alongside G. Hutchinson's Hellenistic Poetiy (Oxford 1988) - though to be fair to the latter, the continuity for which Cameron argues in poetic convention, practice, and reception is incomparably more radical 3 . From this perspective, Cameron whips up a blizzard of polemic against almost any consensus one might care to name about Callimachus and 76Hellenistic poetry. This is not the place to take on the totality of Cameron's diffuse and complicated argument. I mean, rather, to address just two aspects of it - the kind of audience to which the chief poets of the age primarily addressed themselves, and the essential literariness of their works.